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
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