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unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the

attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a

solemn silence. And the same may be said of speeches. You would

imagine that they had intelligence, but if you want to know anything

and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one

unvarying answer. And when they have been once written down they are

tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them,

and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not: and, if they

are maltreated or abused, they have no parent to protect them; and

they cannot protect or defend themselves.

Phaedr. That again is most true.

Soc. Is there not another kind of word or speech far better than

this, and having far greater power-a son of the same family, but

lawfully begotten?

Phaedr. Whom do you mean, and what is his origin?

Soc. I mean an intelligent word graven in the soul of the learner,

which can defend itself, and knows when to speak and when to be


Phaedr. You mean the living word of knowledge which has a soul,

and of which written word is properly no more than an image?

Soc. Yes, of course that is what I mean. And now may I be allowed to

ask you a question: Would a husbandman, who is a man of sense, take

the seeds, which he values and which he wishes to bear fruit, and in

sober seriousness plant them during the heat of summer, in some garden

of Adonis, that he may rejoice when he sees them in eight days

appearing in beauty? at least he would do so, if at all, only for

the sake of amusement and pastime. But when he is in earnest he sows

in fitting soil, and practises husbandry, and is satisfied if in eight

months the seeds which he has sown arrive at perfection?

Phaedr. Yes, Socrates, that will be his way when he is in earnest;

he will do the other, as you say, only in play.

Soc. And can we suppose that he who knows the just and good and

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