Gorgias was one of the most famous of the Greek sophists, travelling teachers who earned a living by training students in the art of rhetoric.
Gorgias was born in Leontini in Sicily. He is said to have been a pupil of Empedocles. He gained his first fame as an orator when his fellow citizens sent him to Athens to seek their help against the Syracusans, who had attacked Leontini. He is said to have greatly impressed the Athenians, and help was sent. He spent the rest of his life travelling and giving instruction and displays of oratory. He lived on the fees which he charged for his teaching. The subject which he taught was rhetoric, the art of argument. He did not, as some of his contemporaries did, claim to teach "virtue", and for this he was condemned some. For Gorgias, rhetoric, the art of argument, was the supreme art for its function is to persuade and control situations as you wish. His teaching relied largely on demonstration, but he appears to have provided written notes as well. Aristotle tells us of his advice to demolish an opponent's seriousness by humour and his humour by seriousness.
The only surviving works are the "Encomium of Helen" and "Defence of Palamedes", both ingenious defences of a mythical person traditionally condemned as bad and immoral. An earlier work "On What is Not" was possibly a parody of writers like Parmenides. Its major propositions were that nothing is; that even if it is, it is incomprehensible to man and can not be communicated. Gorgias was over one hundred years old when he died and is reported by Athenaeus to have attributed his longevity to never having done anything simply for pleasure.