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[259a] Now if they should see us not conversing at mid-day, but, like most people, dozing, lulled to sleep by their song because of our mental indolence, they would quite justly laugh at us, thinking that some slaves had come to their resort and were slumbering about the fountain at noon like sheep. But if they see us conversing and sailing past them unmoved by the charm of their Siren voices, [259b] perhaps they will be pleased and give us the gift which the gods bestowed on them to give to men.

What is this gift? I don't seem to have heard of it.

It is quite improper for a lover of the Muses never to have heard of such things. The story goes that these locusts were once men, before the birth of the Muses, and when the Muses were born and song appeared, some of the men were so overcome with delight [259c] that they sang and sang, forgetting food and drink, until at last unconsciously they died. From them the locust tribe afterwards arose, and they have this gift from the Muses, that from the time of their birth they need no sustenance, but sing continually, without food or drink, until they die, when they go to the Muses and report who honors each of them on earth. They tell Terpsichore of those who have honored her in dances, and make them dearer to her; [259d] they gain the favor of Erato for the poets of love, and that of the other Muses for their votaries, according to their various ways of honoring them; and to Calliope, the eldest of the Muses, and to Urania who is next to her, they make report of those who pass their lives in philosophy and who worship these Muses who are most concerned with heaven and with thought divine and human and whose music is the sweetest. So for many reasons we ought to talk and not sleep in the noontime.

Yes, we ought to talk. [259e]

We should, then, as we were proposing just now, discuss the theory of good (or bad) speaking and writing.


If a speech is to be good, must not the mind of the speaker know the truth about the matters of which he is to speak?

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