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writer, to teach us this?
Phaedr. Need we? For what should a man live if not for the pleasures
of discourse? Surely not for the sake of bodily pleasures, which
almost always have previous pain as a condition of them, and therefore
are rightly called slavish.
Soc. There is time enough. And I believe that the grasshoppers
chirruping after their manner in the heat of the sun over our heads
are talking to one another and looking down at us. What would they say
if they saw that we, like the many, are not conversing, but slumbering
at mid-day, lulled by their voices, too indolent to think? Would
they not have a right to laugh at us? They might imagine that we
were slaves, who, coming to rest at a place of resort of theirs,
like sheep lie asleep at noon around the well. But if they see us
discoursing, and like Odysseus sailing past them, deaf to their
siren voices, they may perhaps, out of respect, give us of the gifts
which they receive from the gods that they may impart them to men.
Phaedr. What gifts do you mean? I never heard of any.
Soc. A lover of music like yourself ought surely to have heard the
story of the grasshoppers, who are said to have been human beings in
an age before the Muses. And when the Muses came and song appeared
they were ravished with delight; and singing always, never thought
of eating and drinking, until at last in their forgetfulness they
died. And now they live again in the grasshoppers; and this is the
return which the Muses make to them-they neither hunger, nor thirst,
but from the hour of their birth are always singing, and never
eating or drinking; and when they die they go and inform the Muses
in heaven who honours them on earth. They win the love of
Terpsichore for the dancers by their report of them; of Erato for
the lovers, and of the other Muses for those who do them honour,
according to the several ways of honouring them of Calliope the eldest
Muse and of Urania who is next to her, for the philosophers, of
whose music the grasshoppers make report to them; for these are the
Muses who are chiefly concerned with heaven and thought, divine as
well as human, and they have the sweetest utterance. For many reasons,
then, we ought always to talk and not to sleep at mid-day.
Phaedr. Let us talk.
Soc. Shall we discuss the rules of writing and speech as we were
Phaedr. Very good.
Soc. In good speaking should not the mind of the speaker know the
truth of the matter about which he is going to speak?
Phaedr. And yet, Socrates, I have heard that he who would be an
orator has nothing to do with true justice, but only with that which
is likely to be approved by the many who sit in judgment; nor with the
truly good or honourable, but only with opinion about them, and that
from opinion comes persuasion, and not from the truth.
Soc. The words of the wise are not to be set aside; for there is
probably something in them; and therefore the meaning of this saying
is not hastily to be dismissed.
Phaedr. Very true.
Soc. Let us put the matter thus:-Suppose that I persuaded you to buy
a horse and go to the wars. Neither of us knew what a horse was
like, but I knew that you believed a horse to be of tame animals the
one which has the longest ears.
Phaedr. That would be ridiculous.
Soc. There is something more ridiculous coming:-Suppose, further,
that in sober earnest I, having persuaded you of this, went and
composed a speech in honour of an ass, whom I entitled a horse
beginning: "A noble animal and a most useful possession, especially in
war, and you may get on his back and fight, and he will carry
baggage or anything."
Phaedr. How ridiculous!
Soc. Ridiculous! Yes; but is not even a ridiculous friend better
than a cunning enemy?
Soc. And when the orator instead of putting an ass in the place of a
horse puts good for evil being himself as ignorant of their true
nature as the city on which he imposes is ignorant; and having studied
the notions of the multitude, falsely persuades them not about "the
shadow of an ass," which he confounds with a horse, but about good
which he confounds with evily-what will be the harvest which
rhetoric will be likely to gather after the sowing of that seed?
Phaedr. The reverse of good.
Soc. But perhaps rhetoric has been getting too roughly handled by
us, and she might answer: What amazing nonsense you are talking! As if
I forced any man to learn to speak in ignorance of the truth! Whatever
my advice may be worth, I should have told him to arrive at the
truth first, and then come to me. At the same time I boldly assert
that mere knowledge of the truth will not give you the art of
Phaedr. There is reason in the lady's defence of herself.
Soc. Quite true; if only the other arguments which remain to be
brought up bear her witness that she is an art at all. But I seem to
hear them arraying themselves on the opposite side, declaring that she
speaks falsely, and that rhetoric is a mere routine and trick, not
an art. Lo! a Spartan appears, and says that there never is nor ever
will be a real art of speaking which is divorced from the truth.
Phaedr. And what are these arguments, Socrates? Bring them out
that we may examine them.
Soc. Come out, fair children, and convince Phaedrus, who is the
father of similar beauties, that he will never be able to speak
about anything as he ought to speak unless he have a knowledge of
philosophy. And let Phaedrus answer you.
Phaedr. Put the question.
Soc. Is not rhetoric, taken generally, a universal art of enchanting
the mind by arguments; which is practised not only in courts and
public assemblies, but in private houses also, having to do with all
matters, great as well as small, good and bad alike, and is in all
equally right, and equally to be esteemed-that is what you have heard?
Phaedr. Nay, not exactly that; I should say rather that I have heard