much which is not serious, and that neither poetry nor prose, spoken
or written, is of any great value, if, like the compositions of the
rhapsodes, they are only recited in order to be believed, and not with
any view to criticism or instruction; and who thinks that even the
best of writings are but a reminiscence of what we know, and that only
in principles of justice and goodness and nobility taught and
communicated orally for the sake of instruction and graven in the
soul, which is the true way of writing, is there clearness and
perfection and seriousness, and that such principles are a man's own
and his legitimate offspring;-being, in the first place, the word
which he finds in his own bosom; secondly, the brethren and
descendants and relations of his others;-and who cares for them and no
others-this is the right sort of man; and you and I, Phaedrus, would
pray that we may become like him.
Phaedr. That is most assuredly my desire and prayer.
Soc. And now the play is played out; and of rhetoric enough. Go
and tell Lysias that to the fountain and school of the Nymphs we
went down, and were bidden by them to convey a message to him and to
other composers of speeches-to Homer and other writers of poems,
whether set to music or not; and to Solon and others who have composed
writings in the form of political discourses which they would term
laws-to all of them we are to say that if their compositions are based
on knowledge of the truth, and they can defend or prove them, when
they are put to the test, by spoken arguments, which leave their
writings poor in comparison of them, then they are to be called, not
only poets, orators, legislators, but are worthy of a higher name,
befitting the serious pursuit of their life.
Phaedr. What name would you assign to them?
Soc. Wise, I may not call them; for that is a great name which
belongs to God alone,-lovers of wisdom or philosophers is their modest
and befitting title.
Phaedr. Very suitable.