previous next

[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.”

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

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

Phaedrus
Certainly.

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

Phaedrus
Assuredly.

Socrates
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?

Phaedrus
Yes.

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

Phaedrus
Not at all; do you? [274c]

Socrates
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?

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

Socrates
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;


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Egypt (Egypt) (2)
Naucratis (Egypt) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: