previous next


Tisias, the pupil of Korax, must have been born about 485 B.C. We hear that he was the master of Lysias at the colony of Thurii (founded in 443 B.C.), and of the young Isokrates at Athens—about 418 B.C.; Pausanias makes him accompany Gorgias to Athens in 427 B. C.; and speaks of him as having been banished from Syracuse (VI. 17 § 8). Whatever may be the worth of these details, the main facts about Tisias are clear. He led the wandering life of a Sophist.
The ‘Rhetoric’ of Tisias The topic of εἰκός further developed.
And in his Art of Rhetoric—the only work of his which antiquity possessed—he followed his master in further developing the topic of Probability (Plat. Phaedr. 267 A, 273 A—C).

Those who bring a scientific spirit to the study of Attic oratory need not be cautioned against allowing what is ignoble, puerile, or even immoral in the earliest Greek Rhetoric to prejudice their estimate of the real services afterwards rendered both to language and to thought by the conception of expression as an art. Popular sentiment is universally against new subtleties. To gauge the morality of the early Rhetoric by the feeling of the people would be as unreasonable as to judge Sokrates on the testimony of the Clouds. The real meaning of

Real meaning of the lawsuit story.
the story about the lawsuit between Korax and Tisias lies in its illustration of the people's feeling. Korax, suing Tisias for a fee, argued that it must be paid whether he gained or lost his cause; if he gained, under the verdict; if he lost, because the success of his pupil proved the fee to have been earned; Tisias inverted the dilemma; and the judges dismissed them both with the comment, ‘bad crow, bad eggs.’ What this really expresses is not the character of the earliest Rhetoric, but its grotesque unpopularity.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: