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