Soc. But even to fail in an honourable object is honourable.
Soc. Enough appears to have been said by us of a true and false
art of speaking.
Soc. But there is something yet to be said of propriety and
impropriety of writing.
Soc. Do you know how you can speak or act about rhetoric in a manner
which will be acceptable to God?
Phaedr. No, indeed. Do you?
Soc. I have heard a tradition of the ancients, whether true or not
they only know; although if we had found the truth ourselves, do you
think that we should care much about the opinions of men?
Phaedr. Your question needs no answer; but I wish that you would
tell me what you say that you have heard.
Soc. At the Egyptian city of Naucratis, there was a famous old
god, whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis is
sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as
arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and
dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters. Now in those
days the god Thamus was the king of the whole country of Egypt; and he
dwelt in that great city of Upper Egypt which the Hellenes call
Egyptian Thebes, and the god himself is called by them Ammon. To him
came Theuth and showed his inventions, desiring that the other
Egyptians might be allowed to have the benefit of them; he enumerated
them, and Thamus enquired about their several uses, and praised some
of them and censured others, as he approved or disapproved of them. It
would take a long time to repeat all that Thamus said to Theuth in
praise or blame of the various arts. But when they came to letters,
This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them