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phaedrus   



Soc. Suppose I tell you something which somebody who knows told me.

Phaedr. Certainly.

Soc. May not "the wolf," as the proverb says, claim a hearing"?

Phaedr. Do you say what can be said for him.

Soc. He will argue that is no use in putting a solemn face on

these matters, or in going round and round, until you arrive at

first principles; for, as I said at first, when the question is of

justice and good, or is a question in which men are concerned who

are just and good, either by nature or habit, he who would be a

skilful rhetorician has; no need of truth-for that in courts of law

men literally care nothing about truth, but only about conviction: and

this is based on probability, to which who would be a skilful orator

should therefore give his whole attention. And they say also that

there are cases in which the actual facts, if they are improbable,

ought to be withheld, and only the probabilities should be told either

in accusation or defence, and that always in speaking, the orator

should keep probability in view, and say good-bye to the truth. And

the observance, of this principle throughout a speech furnishes the

whole art.

Phaedr. That is what the professors of rhetoric do actually say,

Socrates. I have not forgotten that we have quite briefly touched upon

this matter already; with them the point is all-important.

Soc. I dare say that you are familiar with Tisias. Does he not

define probability to be that which the many think?

Phaedr. Certainly, he does.

Soc. I believe that he has a clever and ingenious case of this

sort:-He supposes a feeble and valiant man to have assaulted a

strong and cowardly one, and to have robbed him of his coat or of

something or other; he is brought into court, and then Tisias says

that both parties should tell lies: the coward should say that he

was assaulted by more men than one; the other should prove that they

were alone, and should argue thus: "How could a weak man like me

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