think that the Hellenes want a rhapsode with his golden crown, and do
not want a general?
Ion. Why, Socrates, the reason is, that my countrymen, the Ephesians,
are the servants and soldiers of Athens, and do not need a general;
and you and Sparta are not likely to have me, for you think that you
have enough generals of your own.
Soc. My good Ion, did you never hear of Apollodorus of Cyzicus?
Ion. Who may he be?
Soc. One who, though a foreigner, has often been chosen their general
by the Athenians: and there is Phanosthenes of Andros, and Heraclides
of Clazomenae, whom they have also appointed to the command of their
armies and to other offices, although aliens, after they had shown
their merit. And will they not choose Ion the Ephesian to be their
general, and honour him, if he prove himself worthy? Were not the
Ephesians originally Athenians, and Ephesus is no mean city? But,
indeed, Ion, if you are correct in saying that by art and knowledge
you are able to praise Homer, you do not deal fairly with me, and
after all your professions of knowing many, glorious things about
Homer, and promises that you would exhibit them, you are only a
deceiver, and so far from exhibiting the art of which you are a
master, will not, even after my repeated entreaties, explain to me the
nature of it. You have literally as many forms as Proteus; and now you
go all manner of ways, twisting and turning, and, like Proteus, become
all manner of people at once, and at last slip away from me in the
disguise of a general, in order that you may escape exhibiting your
Homeric lore. And if you have art, then, as I was saying, in
falsifying your promise that you would exhibit Homer, you are not
dealing fairly with me. But if, as I believe, you have no art, but
speak all these beautiful words about Homer unconsciously under his
inspiring influence, then I acquit you of dishonesty, and shall only
say that you are inspired. Which do you prefer to be thought,
dishonest or inspired?
Ion. There is a great difference, Socrates, between the two
alternatives; and inspiration is by far the nobler.
Soc. Then, Ion, I shall assume the nobler alternative; and attribute
to you in your praises of Homer inspiration, and not art.