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Soc. But even to fail in an honourable object is honourable.

Phaedr. True.

Soc. Enough appears to have been said by us of a true and false

art of speaking.

Phaedr. Certainly.

Soc. But there is something yet to be said of propriety and

impropriety of writing.

Phaedr. Yes.

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

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