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[274a] in a manner pleasing to the gods. For those who are wiser than we, Tisias, say that a man of sense should surely practice to please not his fellow slaves, except as a secondary consideration, but his good and noble masters. Therefore, if the path is long, be not astonished; for it must be trodden for great ends, not for those you have in mind. Yet your ends also, as our argument says, will be best gained in this way, if one so desires.”

I think what you have said is admirable, if one could only do it.

But it is noble to strive after [274b] noble objects, no matter what happens to us.


We have, then, said enough about the art of speaking and that which is no art.


But we have still to speak of propriety and impropriety in writing, how it should be done and how it is improper, have we not?


Do you know how you can act or speak about rhetoric so as to please God best?

Not at all; do you? [274c]

I can tell something I have heard of the ancients; but whether it is true, they only know. But if we ourselves should find it out, should we care any longer for human opinions?

A ridiculous question! But tell me what you say you have heard.

I heard, then, that at Naucratis, in Egypt, was one of the ancient gods of that country, the one whose sacred bird is called the ibis, and the name of the god himself was Theuth. He it was who [274d] invented numbers and arithmetic and geometry and astronomy, also draughts and dice, and, most important of all, letters. Now the king of all Egypt at that time was the god Thamus, who lived in the great city of the upper region, which the Greeks call the Egyptian Thebes, and they call the god himself Ammon. To him came Theuth to show his inventions, saying that they ought to be imparted to the other Egyptians. But Thamus asked what use there was in each, and as Theuth enumerated their uses, expressed praise or blame, according as he approved [274e] or disapproved. The story goes that Thamus said many things to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts, which it would take too long to repeat; but when they came to the letters, “This invention, O king,” said Theuth, “will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories; for it is an elixir of memory and wisdom that I have discovered.” But Thamus replied, “Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another;

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