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observation of particulars in speaking, and not make a mistake about
the class to which they are to be referred.
Soc. Now to which class does love belong-to the debatable or to
the undisputed class?
Phaedr. To the debatable, clearly; for if not, do you think that
love would have allowed you to say as you did, that he is an evil both
to the lover and the beloved, and also the greatest possible good?
Soc. Capital. But will you tell me whether I defined love at the
beginning of my speech? for, having been in an ecstasy, I cannot
Phaedr. Yes, indeed; that you did, and no mistake.
Soc. Then I perceive that the Nymphs of Achelous and Pan the son
of Hermes, who inspired me, were far better rhetoricians than Lysias
the son of Cephalus. Alas! how inferior to them he is! But perhaps I
am mistaken; and Lysias at the commencement of his lover's speech
did insist on our supposing love to be something or other which he
fancied him to be, and according to this model he fashioned and framed
the remainder of his discourse. Suppose we read his beginning over
Phaedr. If you please; but you will not find what you want.
Soc, Read, that I may have his exact words.
Phaedr. "You know how matters stand with and how, as I conceive,
they might be arranged for our common interest; and I maintain I ought
not to fail in my suit because I am not your lover, for lovers
repent of the kindnesses which they have shown, when their love is
Soc. Here he appears to have done just the reverse of what he ought;
for he has begun at the end, and is swimming on his back through the
flood to the place of starting. His address to the fair youth begins
where the lover would have ended. Am I not right, sweet Phaedrus?
Phaedr. Yes, indeed, Socrates; he does begin at the end.
Soc. Then as to the other topics-are they not thrown down anyhow? Is
there any principle in them? Why should the next topic follow next
in order, or any other topic? I cannot help fancying in my ignorance
that he wrote off boldly just what came into his head, but I dare
say that you would recognize a rhetorical necessity in the
succession of the several parts of the composition?
Phaedr. You have too good an opinion of me if you think that I
have any such insight into his principles of composition.
Soc. At any rate, you will allow that every discourse ought to be
a living creature, having a body of its own and a head and feet; there
should be a middle, beginning, and end, adapted to one another and
to the whole?
Soc. Can this be said of the discourse of Lysias? See whether you
can find any more connexion in his words than in the epitaph which
is said by some to have been inscribed on the grave of Midas the
Phaedr. What is there remarkable in the epitaph?
Soc. It is as follows:-
I am a maiden of bronze and lie on the tomb of Midas;
So long as water flows and tall trees grow,
So long here on this spot by his sad tomb abiding,
I shall declare to passers-by that Midas sleeps below.
Now in this rhyme whether a line comes first or comes last, as you
will perceive, makes no difference.
Phaedr. You are making fun of that oration of ours.
Soc. Well, I will say no more about your friend's speech lest I
should give offence to you; although I think that it might furnish
many other examples of what a man ought rather to avoid. But I will
proceed to the other speech, which, as I think, is also suggestive
to students of rhetoric.
Phaedr. In what way?
Soc. The two speeches, as you may remember, were unlike-I the one
argued that the lover and the other that the non-lover ought to be
Phaedr. And right manfully.
Soc. You should rather say "madly"; and madness was the argument
of them, for, as I said, "love is a madness."
Soc. And of madness there were two kinds; one produced by human
infirmity, the other was a divine release of the soul from the yoke of
custom and convention.
Soc. The divine madness was subdivided into four kinds, prophetic,
initiatory, poetic, erotic, having four gods presiding over them;
the first was the inspiration of Apollo, the second that of
Dionysus, the third that of the Muses, the fourth that of Aphrodite
and Eros. In the description of the last kind of madness, which was
also said to be the best, we spoke of the affection of love in a
figure, into which we introduced a tolerably credible and possibly
true though partly erring myth, which was also a hymn in honour of
Love, who is your lord and also mine, Phaedrus, and the guardian of
fair children, and to him we sung the hymn in measured and solemn
Phaedr. I know that I had great pleasure in listening to you.
Soc. Let us take this instance and note how the transition was
made from blame to praise.
Phaedr. What do you mean?
Soc. I mean to say that the composition was mostly playful. Yet in
these chance fancies of the hour were involved two principles of which
we should be too glad to have a clearer description if art could
give us one.
Phaedr. What are they?
Soc. First, the comprehension of scattered particulars in one
idea; as in our definition of love, which whether true or false
certainly gave clearness and consistency to the discourse, the speaker