Polus vs. Socrates.

Essay by Venus142University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2003

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When a person unjustly puts another person to death, who should be pitied? Most will argue that the person who was unjustly killed should be pitied, as he is the most miserable. While Polus would agree, Socrates would adamantly refute such an opinion, as he did in Plato's Gorgias. During a discussion between Plato and Socrates (p.31-42) an argument arises over what act deserves more pity, committing an injustice or suffering one.

The heated argument begins when Socrates states that he would choose "suffering over doing what's unjust (469c)." Polus adamantly disagrees. The example of a tyrant is brought up and they conclude, "sometimes it's better to do those things we were just now talking about, putting people to death and banishing them and confiscating their property, and at other times it isn't (470b)." They then begin to discuss when to draw the line. Socrates claims that when these things are done justly, it is better than when they are done unjustly.

Polus seems to have a different argument.

Polus claims that there are many unjust people, such as Archelaus, that are happy. As they dispute this, Socrates argues that happiness is determined by education and justice and that an admirable and good person is happy, and that an unjust one is miserable. He then relates this to Archelaus, saying that because he is unjust, he is miserable. Polus is floured by this statement, as most people would be. Socrates is going against common sense. Most would imagine that someone such as Archelaus, who escaped from slavery and killed people in his path to the top, while wrong in his actions, is much happier than he would be, were he still enslaved. In his frustration with Socrates, Polus resorts to falsely claiming to Socrates "You're just unwilling to admit...