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phaedrus   



the proverb is really the long arm of the Nile. And you appear to be

equally unaware of the fact that this sweet elbow of theirs is also

a long arm. For there is nothing of which our great politicians are so

fond as of writing speeches and bequeathing them to posterity. And

they add their admirers' names at the top of the writing, out of

gratitude to them.

Phaedr. What do you mean? I do not understand.

Soc. Why, do you not know that when a politician writes, he begins

with the names of his approvers?

Phaedr. How so?

Soc. Why, he begins in this manner: "Be it enacted by the senate,

the people, or both, on the motion of a certain person," who is our

author; and so putting on a serious face, he proceeds to display his

own wisdom to his admirers in what is often a long and tedious

composition. Now what is that sort of thing but a regular piece of

authorship?

Phaedr. True.

Soc. And if the law is finally approved, then the author leaves

the theatre in high delight; but if the law is rejected and he is done

out of his speech-making, and not thought good enough to write, then

he and his party are in mourning.

Phaedr. Very true.

Soc. So far are they from despising, or rather so highly do they

value the practice of writing.

Phaedr. No doubt.

Soc. And when the king or orator has the power, as Lycurgus or Solon

or Darius had, of attaining an immortality or authorship in a state,

is he not thought by posterity, when they see his compositions, and

does he not think himself, while he is yet alive, to be a god?

Phaedr. Very true.

Soc. Then do you think that any one of this class, however

ill-disposed, would reproach Lysias with being an author?

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