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[261a]

Phaedrus
We have need of these arguments, Socrates. Bring them here and examine their words and their meaning.

Socrates
Come here, then, noble creatures, and persuade the fair young Phaedrus that unless he pay proper attention to philosophy he will never be able to speak properly about anything. And let Phaedrus answer.

Phaedrus
Ask your questions.

Socrates
Is not rhetoric in its entire nature an art which leads the soul by means of words, not only in law courts and the various other public assemblages, [261b] but in private companies as well? And is it not the same when concerned with small things as with great, and, properly speaking, no more to be esteemed in important than in trifling matters? Is this what you have heard?

Phaedrus
No, by Zeus, not that exactly; but the art of speaking and writing is exercised chiefly in lawsuits, and that of speaking also in public assemblies; and I never heard of any further uses.

Socrates
Then you have heard only of the treatises on rhetoric by Nestor and Odysseus, which they wrote [261c] when they had nothing to do at Troy, and you have not heard of that by Palamedes?

Phaedrus
Nor of Nestor's either, unless you are disguising Gorgias under the name of Nestor and Thrasymachus or Theodorus under that of Odysseus.

Socrates
Perhaps I am. However, never mind them; but tell me, what do the parties in a lawsuit do in court? Do they not contend in speech, or what shall we say they do?

Phaedrus
Exactly that.

Socrates
About the just and the unjust?

Phaedrus
Yes.

Socrates
Then he whose speaking is an art will make [261d] the same thing appear to the same persons at one time just and at another, if he wishes, unjust?

Phaedrus
Certainly.

Socrates
And in political speaking he will make the same things seem to the State at one time good and at another the opposite?

Phaedrus
Just so.

Socrates
Do we not know that the Eleatic Palamedes (Zeno) has such an art of speaking that the same things appear to his hearers to be alike and unlike, one and many, stationary and in motion?

Phaedrus
Certainly.

Socrates
Then the art of contention in speech [261e] is not confined to courts and political gatherings, but apparently, if it is an art at all, it would be one and the same in all kinds of speaking, the art by which a man will be able to produce a resemblance between all things between which it can be produced, and to bring to the light the resemblances produced and disguised by anyone else.

Phaedrus
What do you mean by that?

Socrates
I think it will be plain if we examine the matter in this way. Is deception easier when there is much difference between things or when there is little?


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