Soc. Yes, my friend ; but you must first of all show what
you have got in your left hand under your cloak, for that roll,
as I suspect, is the actual discourse. Now, much as I love you,
I would not have you suppose that I am going to have your
memory exercised upon me, if you have Lysias himself here.
Phcedr. Enough ; I see that I have no hope of practicing
upon you. But if I am to read, where would you please
to sit ?
Soc. Turn this way ; let us go to the Ilissus, and sit down
at some quiet spot.
Phcedr. I am fortunate in not having my sandals, and as
you never have any, I think that we may go along the brook
and cool our feet in the water : this is the easiest way, and at
midday and in the summer is far from being unpleasant.
Soc. Lead on, and look out for a place in which we can sit
Phcedr. Do you see that tallest plane - tree in the distance ?
Phcedr. There are shade and gentle breezes, and grass on
which we may either sit or lie down.
Soc. Move on.
Phcedr. I should like to know, Socrates, whether the place
144 PLATO THE TEACHER
is not somewhere here at which Boreas n is said to have car-
ried off Orithyia from the banks of the Ilissus.
Soc. That is the tradition.
Phozdr. And is this the exact spot? The little stream is
delightfully clear and bright; I can fancy that there might be
maidens playing near.
Soc. I believe that the spot is not exactly here, but about a
quarter of a mile lower down, where you cross to the tem-
ple of Artemis, 12 and I think that there is some sort of altar of
Boreas at the place.
Phcedr. I don't recollect; but I wish that you would tell
me whether you believe this tale.
Soc. The wise are doubtful, and if, like them, I also
doubted, there would be nothing very strange in that. I
might have a rational explanation that Orithyia was playing
with Pharmacia, 13 when a northern gust carried her over the
neighboring rocks : and this being the manner of her death,
she was said to have been carried away by Boreas. There is
a discrepancy, however, about the locality, as according to
another version of the story she was taken from the Areopa-
gus, 14 and not from this place. Now I quite acknowledge
that these explanations are very nice, but he is not to be en-
vied who has to give them; much labor and ingenuity will be
required of him ; and when he has once begun, he must go on
and rehabilitate centaurs 15 and chimeras 16 dire. Gorgons 17
and winged steeds flow in apace, and numberless other incon-
ceivable and impossible monstrosities and marvels of nature.
And if he is skeptical about them, and would fain reduce them
all to the rules of probability, this sort of crude philosophy
will take up all his time. Now I have certainly not time for
11 Boreas (bo're-as) : mythological personification of the north wind, who
lived in Thrace. He loved Orithyia (or'f-thy'ya), daughter of the king of
Athens, and carried her away from the banks of the Ilissus where she was
12 Artemis (ar'te-rms) : one of the major Greek divinities, goddess of the
moon, and of the chase, corresponding to the Roman Diana.
13 Pharmacia (far-ma'si-a) : the nymph of a spring near the Ilissus, and
playmate of Orithyia.
14 Areopagus (ar'e-6p'a-gus) or Mars Hill : a hill in Athens. See Acts
15 Centaur (sen'taur) : a fabulous creature, half man and half horse.
'"Chimera (kf-me'ra) : a fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion,
the body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent.
17 See Symposium, note 24.
this ; shall I tell you why ? I must first know myself, as the
Delphian inscription 18 says ; and I should be absurd indeed,
if while I am still in ignorance of myself I were to be
curious about that which is not my business. And there- 23 °
fore I say farewell to all this ; the common opinion is enough
for me. For, as I was saying, I want to know not about this,
but about myself. Am I indeed a wonder more complicated
and swollen with passion than the serpent Typho, 19 or a creat-
ure of a gentler and simpler sort, to whom Nature has given
a diviner and lowlier destiny ? But here let me ask you,
friend : Is not this the plane-tree to which you were conduct-
Phcedr. Yes, this is the tree.
Soc. Yes, indeed, and a fair and shady resting-place, full of
summer sounds and scents. There is the lofty and spreading
plane-tree, and the agnus castus * high and clustering, in the
fullest blossom and the greatest fragrance ; and the stream
which flows beneath the plane-tree is deliciously cold to the
feet. Judging from the ornaments and images, this must be a
spot sacred to Achelous 21 and the Nymphs a ; moreover, there
is a sweet breeze, and the grasshoppers chirrup ; and the great-
est charm of all is the grass like a pillow gently sloping to the
head. My dear Phsedrus, you have been an admirable guide.
Phcedr. I always wonder at you, Socrates j for when you
are in the country, you really are like a stranger who is being
led about by a guide. Do you ever cross the border ? I
rather think that you never venture even outside the gates.
Soc. Very true, my good friend ; and I hope that you will
excuse me when you hear the reason, which is, that I am a
lover of knowledge, and the men who dwell in the city are
my teachers, and not the trees, or the country. Though I do,
indeed, believe that you have found a spell with which to draw
me out of the city into the country, as hungry cows are led by
shaking before them a bait of leaves or fruit. For only hold
18 The words " know thyself" were inscribed upon the temple of Apollo
19 Typho (ty'fo) : a fearful monster with one hundred dragon heads, eyes
that shot fire, and many terrible voices. He tried to usurp the throne of
Zeus, but failed.
80 A willow-like tree.
21 Achelous (Sk'e-lo'us) : god of the river Achelous, the largest in Greece.
22 Goddesses of lower rank, dwelling in groves, forests, caves, beside
springs and rivers, on hills and lonely islands.
146 PLATO THE TEACHER
up the bait of discourse, and you may lead me all round
Attica, and over the wide world. And now having arrived, I
intend to lie down, and do you choose any posture in which
you can read best. Begin.
[Phaedrus reads the speech ■ of Lysias about love.
The lover, Lysias claims, should be avoided as an un-
reasonable, disagreeable, fickle, jealous person, who spoils
the object of his affection by undue praise, selfishly deprives
him of other friends and of many like advantages, and at last
deserts him for another. Whereas the non-lover is a truly
disinterested admirer, who desires at all times only the good
of his friend. His affection is for the advantage of both, and
for the injury of neither.
The speech is very pretentious in style, and although it
contains a germ of truth, the author's purpose is evidently to
make fine phrases, and not to arrive at a true conclusion about
his subject. When he has finished reading, Phaedrus appeals
to Socrates thus :]
Now, Socrates,' what do you think ? Is not the discourse
excellent, especially the language ?
Soc. Yes indeed, admirable ; the effect on me was ravish-
ing. And this I owe to you, Phaedrus, for I observed you
while reading to be in an ecstasy, and thinking that you are
more experienced in these matters than I am, I followed your
example, and, like you, became inspired with a divine frenzy.
Phcedr. Indeed, you are pleased to be merry.
Soc. Do you mean that I am not in earnest ?
Phcedr. Now, don't talk in that way, Socrates, but let me
have your real opinion ; I adjure you, by the god of friendship,
to tell me whether you think that any Hellene 24 could have
said more or spoken better on the same subject.
Soc. Well, but are you and I expected to praise the senti-
ments of the author, or only the clearness, and roundness, and
accuracy, and tournure of the language? As to the
first I willingly submit to your better judgment, for I
am unworthy to form an opinion, having only attended to the
rhetorical manner ; and I was doubting whether Lysias him-
23 Probably not written by Lysias but invented by Plato.
self would be able to defend that ; for I thought, though I
speak under correction, that he repeated himself two or three
times, either from want of words or from want of pains; and
also, he appeared to me wantonly ambitious of showing how
well he could say the same thing in two or three ways.
Phcedr. Nonsense, Socrates ; that was his exhaustive treat-
ment of the subject ; for he omitted nothing ; this is the special
merit of the speech, and I do not think that any one could
have made a fuller or better.
Soc. I cannot go so far as that with you. Ancient sages,
men and women, who have spoken and written of these things,
would rise up in judgment against me, if I lightly assented to
Phcedr. Who are they, and where did you hear anything
better than this ?
Soc. I am sure that I must have heard ; I don't remember
at this moment from whom \ perhaps from Sappho 25 the fair,
Anacreon 26 the wise j or, possibly, from a prose writer. What
makes me say this ? Why, because I perceive that my bosom
is full, and that I could make another speech as good as that
of Lysias and different. Now I am certain that this is not an
invention of my own, for I am conscious that I know nothing,
and therefore I can only infer that I have been filled through
the ears, like a pitcher from the waters of another, though I
have actually forgotten in my stupidity who was my informant.
Phcedr. That is grand. But never mind where you heard
the discourse or of whom ; let that, if you will, be a mystery
not to be divulged even at my earnest desire. But do as you
say; promise to make another and better oration of equal
length on the same subject, with other arguments ; and I, like
the nine Archons, 27 will promise to set up a golden image at
Delphi 28 not only of myself, but of you, and as large as life.
Soc. You are a dear golden simpleton if you 'suppose me
to mean that Lysias has altogether missed the mark, and that
I can make a speech from which all his arguments are to be
excluded. The worst of authors will say something that is to
25 Sappho (saffo) : a celebrated Greek lyric poetess living in the latter part
of the seventh century B. C.
»• Anacreon (a-nak're-on, 550 (?) — B.C.) : a famous Greek lyric poet.
27 Archons (ar'konz): the chief magistrates at Athens, nine in number.
2 8 See Apology, note 12. It was customary to place there statues and
other votive offerings in honor of the god.
I48 PLATO THE TEACHER
the point. Who, for example, could speak on this thesis of
yours without praising the discretion of the non-lover and
blaming the folly of the lover ? These are the common-
3 places which must come in (for what else is there to be
said ?) and must be allowed and excused ; the only merit is
in the arrangement of them, for there can be none in the in-
vention ; but when you leave the commonplaces, then there
may be some originality.
Phcedr. I admit that there is reason in that, and I will be
reasonable too, and will allow you to start with the premise
that the lover is more disordered in his wits than the non-
lover ; and if you go on after that and make a longer and bet-
ter speech than Lysias, and use other arguments, then I say
again that a statue you shall have of beaten gold, and take
your place by the colossal offering of the Cypselids at Olym-
Soc. Is not the lover serious, because only in fun I lay a
finger upon his love ? And so, Phaedrus, you really imagine
that I am going to improve upon his ingenuity ?
Phcedr. There I have you as you had me, and you must
speak "as you best can," and no mistake. And don't . . .
compel me to say to you as you said to me, " I know Socrates
as well as I know myself, and he was wanting to speak, but he
gave himself airs. ' ' Rather I would have you consider that
from this place we stir not until you have unbosomed yourself
of the speech ; for here are we all alone, and I am stronger,
remember, and younger than you ; therefore perpend, and do
not compel me to use violence.
Soc. But, my sweet Phaedrus, how can I ever compete with
Lysias in an extempore speech ? He is a master in his art and
I am an untaught man.
Phcedr. You see how matters stand ; and therefore let there
be no more pretences ; for, indeed, I know the word that is
Soc. Then don't say it.
' 29 Olympia (o-ljfan'pi-a) : a small plain in Elis near the south-western
coast of Greece, about no miles from Athens. Here was a grove sacred to
Zeus, adorned with many temples, altars, statues, and votive offerings. Of
the offerings of the Cypselids, who were descendants of Cypselus (syp'se-lus
6 55- 6 25 B.C.), a tyrant of Corinth, Grote says: "Their offerings conse-
crated at Olympia excited great admiration, especially the gilt colossal
statue of Zeus." [History of Greece, I., ch. 9.]
Phcedr. Yes, but I will ; and my word shall be an oath.
" I say, or rather swear " — but what god will be the witness
of my oath? — " I swear by this plane-tree, that unless you re-
peat the discourse here, in the face of the plane-tree, I will
never tell you another \ never let you have word of an-
other ! "
Soc. Villain ! I am conquered ; the poor lover of discourse
has no more to say.
Phcedr. Then why are you still at your tricks?
Soc. I am not going to play tricks now that you have taken
the oath, for I cannot allow myself to be starved.
Soc. Shall I tell you what I will do ?
Phcedr. What? 237 '
Soc. I will veil my face and gallop through the dis-
course as fast as I can, for if I see you, I shall feel ashamed and
not know what to say.
Phcedr. Only go on and you may do as you please.
[After an invocation to the Muses, Socrates begins his speech,
which he addresses to an imaginary youth, by inquiring into
the nature and power of love. He says that in every person
there are two principles, a better and a worse, which are in
conflict with each other. The better one, reason, if allowed
to rule, leads to temperance. The worse, desire, when vic-
torious, leads to excess. Excess has many forms and many
names, and among them is found love.]
And now, dear Phaedrus, I shall pause for an instant to
ask whether you do not think me, as I appear to myself, in-
Phcedr. Yes, Socrates, you seem to have a very unusual flow
Soc. Listen to me, then, in silence ; for surely the place is
holy ; so that you must not wonder, if, as I proceed, I appear
to be in a divine fury, for already I am getting into dithyram-
Phcedr, That is quite true.
30 The dithyramb was a kind of poetry of a lofty but often inflated style.
The term was used metaphorically, as here, of any bombastic language. (L.
150 PLATO THE TEACHER
Soc. And that I attribute to you. But hear what follows,
and perhaps the fit may be averted ; all is in their hands above.
And now I will go on talking to my youth. Listen : —
[Socrates proceeds in much the same strain as Lysias, to set
forth all the disadvantages and harm that result to a youth
from his association with a lover. His speech is a parody on
that of Lysias. He shows that he can surpass the rhetoricians
in their own art. At the same time he develops still further
the germ of truth presented by Lysias, that there is an un-
worthy and spurious form of love which should be rejected.
He concludes his censure of the lover thus :]
Consider this, fair youth, and know that in the friendship
of the lover there is no real kindness : he has an appetite and
wants to feed upon you.
"As wolves love lambs so lovers love their loves."
But, as I said before, I am speaking in vdrse, and therefore
I had better make an end ; that is enough.
Phcedr. I thought that you were only half-way and were
going to make a similar speech about all the advantages of
accepting the non-lover. Why don't you go on?
Soc. Does not your simplicity observe that I have got out
of dithyrambics into epics ; and if my censure was in verse,
what will my praise be? Don't you see that I am already
overtaken by the Nymphs to whom you have mischievously
exposed me? And therefore I will only add that the non -lover
has all the advantages in which the lover is charged with being
deficient. And now I will say no more; there has been enough
said of both of them. Leaving the tale to its fate, I will cross
the river and make the best of my way home, lest a worse
thing be inflicted upon me by you.
Phcedr. Not yet, Socrates j not until the heat of the day
has passed ; don't you see that the hour is noon, and the sun
is standing over our heads ? Let us rather stay and talk over
what has been said, and then return in the cool.
Soc. Your love of discourse, Phaedrus, is superhuman, simply
marvelous, and I do not believe that there is any one of your
contemporaries who in one way or another has either made or
been the cause of others making an equal number of speeches.
I would except Simmias 31 the Theban, but all the rest are far
behind you. And now I do verily believe that you have been
the cause of another.
Phcedr. That is good news. But what do you mean ?
Soc. I mean to say that as I was about to cross the stream
the usual sign was given to me ; that is the sign which never
bids but always forbids me to do what I am going to do ^ ; and
I thought that I heard a voice saying in my ear that I had
been guilty of impiety, and that I must not go away until I had
made an atonement. Now I am a diviner, though not a very
good one, but I have enough religion for my own needs, as you
might say of a bad writer — his writing is good enough for
him. And, O my friend, how singularly prophetic is the soul !
For at the time I had a sort of misgiving, and, like Ibycus, 33
" I was troubled," and I suspected that I might be receiving
honor from men at the expense of sinning against the gods.
Now I am aware of the error.
Phcedr. What error ?
Soc. That was a dreadful speech which you brought with
you, and you made me utter one as bad.
Phcedr. How was that ?
Soc. Foolish, I say, and in a degree impious ; and what can
be more dreadful than this ?
Phcedr. Nothing, if the speech was really such as you de-
Soc. Well, and is not Eros M the son of Aphrodite M a
mighty god ?
Phcedr. That is the language of mankind about him.
Soc. But that was not the language of Lysias' speech any
more than of that other speech uttered through my lips when
under the influence of your enchantments, and which I may
call yours and not mine. For Love, if he be a god or divine,
cannot be evil. Yet this was the error of both our
speeches. There was also a solemnity about them which
was truly charming ; they had no truth or honesty in them,
and yet they pretended to be something, hoping to succeed in
31 See Phaedo, note 1.
32 See Apology, 31 and 40.
33 Ibycus (ib'^-cus) : a Greek lyric poet who wrote about 530 B. c.
34 Eros (e'ros) ■ the god of love. See Symposium, note 16.
88 See Symposium, note ia.
152 PLATO THE TEACHER
deceiving the manikins of earth and be famous among them.
And therefore I must have a purgation. And now I bethink
me of an ancient purgation of mythological error which was
devised, not by Homer 36 for he never had the wit to discover
why he was blind, but by Stesichorus, 37 who was a philosopher
and knew the reason why ; and, therefore, when he lost his
eyes, for that was the penalty which was inflicted upon him for
reviling the lovely Helen, he purged himself. And the pur-
gation was a recantation, which began with the words : —
"That was a lie of mine when I said that thou never embarkedst on
the swift ships, or wentest to the walls of Troy."
And when he had completed his poem, which is called " the
recantation," immediately his sight returned to him. Now
I will be wiser than either Stesichorus or Homer, in that I am
going to make a recantation before I lose mine ; and this I
will attempt, not as before, veiled and ashamed, but with
forehead bold and bare.
Phcedr. There is nothing which I should like better to
Soc. Only think, my good Phaedrus, what an utter want
of delicacy was shown in the two discourses; I mean, in my
own and in the one which you recited out of the book.
Would not any one who was himself of a noble and gentle
nature, and who loved or ever had loved a nature like his
own, when he heard us speaking of the petty causes of lovers'
jealousies, and of their exceeding animosities, and the injuries
which they do to their beloved, have imagined that our ideas
of love were taken from some haunt of sailors to which good
manners were unknown — he would certainly never have ad-
mitted the justice of our censure ?
Phcedr. Certainly not.
Soc. Therefore, because I blush at the thought of this per-
son, and also because I am afraid of the god Love, I desire to
wash down that gall and vinegar with a wholesome draught ;
and I would counsel Lysias not to delay, but to write another
86 See Apology, note 39. According to tradition Homer was a wandering
minstrel, poor and blind.
37 Stesichorus (ste-sfk'o-rus, 632-552 B.C.): a celebrated Greek poet of
Sicily. There is a fable of his being miraculously struck blind after writing
an attack upon Helen (see Apology, note 21), and recovering his sight after
he composed a recantation.
discourse, which shall prove other things being equal that the
lover ought to be accepted rather than the non-lover.
Phosdr. Be assured that he shall. You shall speak the
praises of the lover, and Lysias shall be made to write them in
another discourse. I will compel him to do this.
Soc. You will be true to your nature in that, and there-
fore I believe you.
Phcedr. Speak, and fear not.
Soc. But where is the fair youth whom I was addressing,
and who ought to listen, in order that he may not be misled
by one side before he has heard the other ?
Phcedr. He is close at hand, and always at your service.
[The second discourse of Socrates is a serious attempt 2 44"
on his part to make clear what he regards as the truth
about love in its highest form. He begins — " That was a lie in
which I said that the beloved ought to accept the non-lover
and reject the lover, because the one is sane and the other
mad. For that might have been truly said if madness were
simply an evil ; but there is also a madness which is the spe-
cial gift of heaven and the source of the chiefest blessings
among men. ' ' This divine madness is of four kinds — the gift
of prophecy, religious ecstasy in which the soul is purified
from sin, poetical inspiration, and lastly the madness of
I might tell of many other noble deeds which have sprung
from inspired madness. And therefore, let no one frighten
or flutter us by saying that temperate love is preferable to
mad love, but let him further show, if he would carry off the
palm, that love is not sent by the gods for any good to lover
or beloved. And we, on our part, will prove in answer to
him that the madness of love is the greatest of Heaven's
blessings, and the proof shall be one which the wise will re-
ceive, and the witling disbelieve. And, first of all, let us
inquire what is the truth about the affections and actions of
the soul, divine as well as human. And thus we begin our
[The soul is immortal because it is the source of all motion
both in itself and in all other things.]
154 PLATO THE TEACHER
Her form is a theme of divine and large discourse j human
language may, however, speak of this briefly, and in a figure.
^ Let our figure be of a composite nature, — a pair of
4 winged horses and a charioteer. Now the winged
horses and the charioteer of the gods are all of them noble,
and of noble breed, while ours are mixed ; and we have a
charioteer who drives them in a pair, and one of them is
noble and of noble origin, and the other is ignoble and of ig-
noble origin ; and, as might be expected, there is a great
deal of trouble in managing them. I will endeavor to ex-
plain to you in what way the mortal differs from the immor-
tal creature. The soul or animate being has the care of the
inanimate, and traverses the whole heaven in divers forms
appearing ; when perfect and fully winged she soars upward,
and is the ruler of the universe; while the imperfect soul
loses her feathers, and drooping in her flight at last settles on
the solid ground, — there, finding a home, she receives an
earthly frame which appears to be self-moved, but is really