Polus (Greek: Πῶλος, "colt"; fl. c. 5th century BCE) was an Ancient Greek Athenian philosophical figure best remembered for his depiction in the writing of Plato. He was a pupil of the famous orator Gorgias, and teacher of oratory from the city of Acragas, Sicily.
All that is known of Polus derives from the Socratic dialogues of Plato, which suggests he was an associate of Socrates. He features heavily in the Gorgias, a dialogue on the nature of rhetoric. Polus also appears in the Phaedrus and Theages dialogues, and book 1 of Aristotle's Metaphysics.
Much of what is known about Polus comes from Plato's Gorgias. What we get from this text is a look into Polus' belief of rhetoric. Polus advertises rhetoric as the quick route to the life of a tyrant who can run over others and escape punishment for his crimes. Polus saw rhetoric as the highest of all human arts and thinks that rhetoric is the only knowledge one needs to live well. Polus also saw rhetorical knowledge as a matter of experience rather than an art. Polus believed that experience makes our life to proceed in accordance with art whereas inexperience causes it to proceed in accordance with chance. Digging deeper into Plato's Gorgias shows that Polus and Socrates often clash and Socrates purposely criticized rhetoric in order to trigger Polus' shameless defense of rhetoric. Polus is also seen as calling attention to rhetoric for its capacity for injustice. Polus had many philosophical views that did not directly agree with Socrates views. Polus sees rhetorical knowledge as something that comes from experience and sees rhetoric as something that is used for evil and serves a tyrannical desire in one's life.
- Polus, Plato, and Aristotle by R. Renehan p. 68-72 "The Classical Quarterly", 01/1995, Volume 45, Issue 1.
- Ancient Greek Philosophy: From the Presocratics to the Hellenistic Philosophers by Thomas A. Blackson, Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (March 7, 2011).
- The Unity of Plato's Gorgias: Rhetoric, Justice, and the Philosophic Life by Devin Stauffer, Cambridge University Press (April 10, 2006).