Power and Rhetoric

In ancient Greek society, power was defined by the amount of control over people’s attention. There was a guarantee that any male could speak in the public square (isegoria), so the best speakers had the most power. It was necessary for men to be able to control the crowd and aid their thinking, because strength came in the form of the mind. A prime example is the justice system, which works the same today. The speeches devised by the prosecutors and defendants decide the ruling in any given case. The benefiting side is always the most well-spoken. The locations may change, but the practice of rhetoric does not. 

Though now they are frowned upon, Sophists were the most enviable and powerful citizens in the ancient Greek society. It is natural for the lesser-man to follow those who are born leaders, so they grew in influence by offering other male citizens education in the art of discourse. With the promise of virtue, excellence, and success, the Sophists quickly became the kings of the common-people. As Georgias stated on your power-point presentation, “effective rhetoric had a hypnotic speech”, so those who have capture our attention will not easily lose it. It is a vicious circle of power, where eventually the student overshadows the teacher.

Rhetoric can convince you to admire a breathtaking sunset, as well as it can sway you into believing a human being is horrifying. There is beauty behind the power of rhetoric, as it can establish both. Public speaking and deception can be as much a science as an art, and that makes it both elegant and destructive simultaneously. With great power comes great opportunity to be deceptive, so rhetoric holds the necessary outcome of the message over its honesty. If truth can be omitted for the good of the argument, then it very well will be.