Sunday, July 7, 2013

Nibley on Rhetoric XV

Nibley on rhetoric and the fate of the Roman Empire:
The effect of this sort of thing [rhetoric] on serious thought and learning can be imagined, but it does not need to be: the whole history of the Empire is there to illustrate it and to confirm in every detail all the charges that Plato had with unerring insight brought against rhetoric in the beginning. Hippias, Gorgias, Polus, Prodicus, and the other great Sophists "achieved wonderful reputations," Dio Chrysostom recalls, "and acquired great wealth in public activities from cities, dynasts, kings, and private individuals. . . . They spoke a great deal, but were sadly lacking in intelligence," and they confounded issues and destroyed philosophy. It was in their interest to do so, for they confessed that public ignorance was their greatest ally. (Hugh Nibley, "Victoriosa Loquacitas," CWHN 10:265.)