preliminary conditions of it, and when these have been taught by
them to others, fancy that the whole art of rhetoric has been taught
by them; but as to using the several instruments of the art
effectively, or making the composition a whole,-an application of it
such as this is they regard as an easy thing which their disciples may
make for themselves."
Phaedr. I quite admit, Socrates, that the art of rhetoric which
these men teach and of which they write is such as you
describe-there I agree with you. But I still want to know where and
how the true art of rhetoric and persuasion is to be acquired.
Soc. The perfection which is required of the finished orator is,
or rather must be, like the perfection of anything else; partly
given by nature, but may also be assisted by art. If you have the
natural power and add to it knowledge and practice, you will be a
distinguished speaker; if you fall short in either of these, you
will be to that extent defective. But the art, as far as there is an
art, of rhetoric does not lie in the direction of Lysias or
Phaedr. In what direction then?
Soc. I conceive Pericles to have been the most accomplished of
Phaedr. What of that?
Soc. All the great arts require discussion and high speculation
about the truths of nature; hence come loftiness of thought and
completeness of execution. And this, as I conceive, was the quality
which, in addition to his natural gifts, Pericles acquired from his
intercourse with Anaxagoras whom he happened to know. He was thus
imbued with the higher philosophy, and attained the knowledge of
Mind and the negative of Mind, which were favourite themes of
Anaxagoras, and applied what suited his purpose to the art of