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[273a] paying no attention to truth; for this method, if pursued throughout the whole speech, provides us with the entire art.

You have stated just what those say who pretend to possess the art of speech, Socrates. I remember that we touched upon this matter briefly before,1 but the professional rhetoricians think it is of great importance.

Well, there is Tisias whom you have studied carefully; now let Tisias himself [273b] tell us if he does not say that probability is that which most people think.

That is just what he says.

Apparently after he had invented this clever scientific definition, he wrote that if a feeble and brave man assaulted a strong coward, robbed him of his cloak or something, and was brought to trial for it, neither party ought to speak the truth; the coward should say that he had not been assaulted by the brave man alone, whereas the other should prove that only they two were present [273c] and should use the well-known argument, “How could a little man like me assault such a man as he is?” The coward will not acknowledge his cowardice, but will perhaps try to invent some other lie, and thus give his opponent a chance to confute him. And in other cases there are other similar rules of art. Is that not so, Phaedrus?


Oh, a wonderfully hidden art it seems to be which Tisias has brought to light, or some other, whoever he may be and whatever country he is proud to call his own! [273d] But, my friend, shall we say in reply to this, or shall we not—


“Tisias, some time ago, before you came along, we were saying that this probability of yours was accepted by the people because of its likeness to truth; and we just stated that he who knows the truth is always best able to discover likenesses. And so, if you have anything else to say about the art of speech, we will listen to you; but if not, we will put our trust in what we said just now, that unless a man take account of the characters of his hearers [273e] and is able to divide things by classes and to comprehend particulars under a general idea, he will never attain the highest human perfection in the art of speech. But this ability he will not gain without much diligent toil, which a wise man ought not to undergo for the sake of speaking and acting before men, but that he may be able to speak and to do everything, so far as possible,

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