translated by Benjamin Jowett
PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: SOCRATES; PHAEDRUS. Scene: Under a
plane-tree, by the banks of the Ilissus.
Socrates. My dear Phaedrus, whence come you, and whither are you
Phaedrus. I come from Lysias the son of Cephalus, and I am going
to take a walk outside the wall, for I have been sitting with him
the whole morning; and our common friend Acumenus tells me that it
is much more refreshing to walk in the open air than to be shut up
in a cloister.
Soc. There he is right. Lysias then, I suppose, was in the town?
Phaedr. Yes, he was staying with Epicrates, here at the house of
Morychus; that house which is near the temple of Olympian Zeus.
Soc. And how did he entertain you? Can I be wrong in supposing
that Lysias gave you a feast of discourse?
Phaedr. You shall hear, if you can spare time to accompany me.
Soc. And should I not deem the conversation of you and Lysias "a
thing of higher import," as I may say in the words of Pindar, "than
Phaedr. Will you go on?
Soc. And will you go on with the narration?
Phaedr. My tale, Socrates, is one of your sort, for love was the
theme which occupied us -love after a fashion: Lysias has been writing
about a fair youth who was being tempted, but not by a lover; and this
was the point: he ingeniously proved that the non-lover should be
accepted rather than the lover.
Soc. O that is noble of him! I wish that he would say the poor man
rather than the rich, and the old man rather than the young one;
then he would meet the case of me and of many a man; his words would
be quite refreshing, and he would be a public benefactor. For my part,
I do so long to hear his speech, that if you walk all the way to
Megara, and when you have reached the wall come back, as Herodicus
recommends, without going in, I will keep you company.
Phaedr. What do you mean, my good Socrates? How can you imagine that
my unpractised memory can do justice to an elaborate work, which the
greatest rhetorician of the age spent a long time in composing.
Indeed, I cannot; I would give a great deal if I could.
Soc. I believe that I know Phaedrus about as well as I know
myself, and I am very sure that the speech of Lysias was repeated to
him, not once only, but again and again;-he insisted on hearing it
many times over and Lysias was very willing to gratify him; at last,
when nothing else would do, he got hold of the book, and looked at
what he most wanted to see,-this occupied him during the whole
morning; -and then when he was tired with sitting, he went out to take
a walk, not until, by the dog, as I believe, he had simply learned
by heart the entire discourse, unless it was unusually long, and he
went to a place outside the wall that he might practise his lesson.
There he saw a certain lover of discourse who had a similar