Gorgias' Encomium of Helen Speech and How Powerful Speech Can Be

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1290 Words
Date:  2022-05-15

Speech is a highly powerful tool that can move people to do incredible acts both positive and negative. As Gorgias utilizes his Encomium of Helen to convey his skill and influence of rhetoric, I will argue that the influence of persuasive speech is equal to that of his other arguments of love, violence, and fate regarding determining Helen's innocence. The persuaded should not be blameless but rather pitied because they were blinded by the power of speech. I will utilize the example of a cult in the fact that they actively leave their "normal" lives behind to follow a leader to a different life because of speech. In some instances, it is this ability to persuade by speech that compels members to commit heinous acts of violence. Otherwise, law-abiding citizens would not have committed any unjust acts if it were not for the power of speech by a person so skilled. The influence of speech should be viewed in the same realm as that of violence, love or fate because it is a "powerful lord" as Gorgias states. Socrates believes that rhetoric is only a tool used for personal motivations. However, it can be utilized for both positive and negative gains. Therefore, it is not always a bad thing, just as a drug could have both helpful and harmful effects. Overall, persuasive speech is highly powerful, but not something that should always be viewed negatively.

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In Gorgias' Encomium of Helen, he utilizes this speech to convey his skill and thus the reasoning for Helen to be deemed innocent. He offers four arguments to prove her innocence, including fate, violence, speech, and love. Gorgias explains that the power of persuasive speech is the reasoning for Helen's innocence as he states, "Helen similarly, against her will, might have come under the influence of speech, just as if ravished by the force of the mighty." (pg. 32) Thereby offering the notion that persuasion by speech has extreme power to influence outcomes just as threats of violence or fate of the gods. According to Gorgias, speech has the same effects on the soul as a drug would have on the body. Although one chooses to take the drug, they do not have control over what it does to the body, just as one listens to the speech, they do not necessarily realize the incredible effects because persuasion can be blinding to the actual reality. In this case, the persuaded become the victims of the persuader. The skilled persuader knows their ability to manipulate. Therefore, drugs are similar to speech since others bring joy, pain, stir the boldness of audience, or bewitch an individual's soul with evil persuasion.

Gorgias tries to use fate, violence, and love in Encomium of Helen to explain her innocence as she is held responsible for the source of Trojan War. Gorgias is using rhetoric in persuading the audience to believe that there are four reasons which can explain the reason Helen was drove to Troy. Gorgias argue that all the four reasons were not Helen's fault. Fate and focus are some of the reasons. Gorgias mostly focused on Lagos's words or power. Gorgias argues that Helen might have been bounded with love. Although Gorgias did not mention force a great deal, he argues that if she was taken forcefully, then it would be the fault of abductors and not hers. He says that the abductor who committed the act could get the punishment and blame. In the end, Helen is robbed of her friends and home, and thus, she should get sympathy and not blames. The main cause was the main cause followed by force. Hellen could have been bounded with love. Fate is also explanatory. Gorgias argues that individuals do not have the capability of obstructing God's will or fate since human beings are weak while God is strong. Helen is just a mere human being; thus, she could not stand the way of fate.

The effect of speech is the same as others utilizing example of a cult. The impact of speech on an individual can be compared to the way people use the cult to explain what befall them. Cult has both positive and negative influences on people. The potential members can be influenced by a leader because of speech to leave their normal lives and join a group that is divergent from their regular world without a threat or possible influence of fate or love. A person may be forced to join a cult because of love for money. He or she can believe that joining it will bring more money. It also relates to a speech as it can have seductive powers of convincing an individual about a certain issue. Fate may make one join cult just like a speech. One can just find that he or she has joined cult due to some supernatural powers that cannot be controlled. Therefore, speech and cult are connected.

People affected by speech are blameless, rather, should be pitied. Gorgias said, "Speech is a powerful lord that with the smallest and most invisible body accomplishes most god-like works. It can banish fear and remove grief and instill pleasure and enhance pity." It means that a speech is very important and it can be used to accomplish important things. A speech can be utilized in removing fear, improve pity, and impart pleasure on an individual. In this case, Gorgias used speech as a powerful tool to prove that Helen is innocent by compelling the mind of the persuaded in approving all the things that happened. Furthermore, Helen has the potential of leading most bodies in a rivalry utilizing her body as the only weapon. Gorgias also argues that Hellen should not be blamed for the misfortunes, instead, instead, the audience should have pity on her because the things might have come under the influence of fate, love, and violence. Furthermore, the effects of speech are so strong to the cult members willing to commit heinous acts despite never being violent individuals. Cult members may engage in violent things although they were known to be good people in the past as it can make a person change. Cult members can resolve to engage in any activity irrespective of their impacts on the society or families.

Persuasive speech is a skill techne that is most convincing in front of an ignorant audience. I agree with Gorgias because only a few skilled can persuade by means of speech, the listeners are preyed upon according to their weaknesses, and thus they become victims. Most of the listeners usually agree on what the persuader says. Gorgias speech has a narcotic and incantatory impact on the audience due to the language used. Persuasive speech is a skill techne that is most convincing in the front of an ignorant audience. The reason is that it can be used in persuading an audience to a course of action. Even though rhetoric exists in every Sophist's curriculum, Gorgias put more prominence as compared to the others. Plato also tries to explain what rhetoric can do in meeting the requirements which are considered a techne instead of a dangerous knack to have to have both the audience and orator. Speech is regarded as a powerful techne since it subordinates the other technai. In the 459c of Plato's Gorgias quote, Socrates makes Gorgias approve that rhetorician can convince an ignorant audience than an expert since mastering the persuasion tools convinces a person more than meagre facts. Gorgias accepted this criticism and proclaimed that it is advantageous to his profession in that an individual can be regarded to be above experts without learning anything substantial. Socrates also refers to rhetoric as a type of pandering and associates it to beatification and baking.

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Gorgias' Encomium of Helen Speech and How Powerful Speech Can Be. (2022, May 15). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/gorgias-encomium-of-helen-speech-and-how-powerful-speech-can-be

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