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A. A Walk in the Woods (227 – 230)

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 (227)

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 3 SOCRATES: Phaedrus, my friend! Where have you been? And where are you going?

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 1 PHAEDRUS: I was with Lysias, the son of Cephalus, Socrates, and I am going for a walk outside the city walls because I was with him for a long time, sitting there the whole morning. You see, I’m keeping in mind the advice of our mutual friend Acumenus, who says it’s more refreshing to walk along country roads than city streets.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 SOCRATES: He is quite right, too, my friend. So Lysias, I take it, is in the city?

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 PHAEDRUS: Yes, at the house of Epicrates, which used to belong to Morychus, near the temple of the Olympian Zeus.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 SOCRATES: What were you doing there? Oh, I know: Lysias must have been entertaining you with a feast of eloquence.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 PHAEDRUS: You’ll hear about it, if you are free to come along and listen.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 PHAEDRUS: Lead the way, then.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 SOCRATES: If only you will tell me.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 PHAEDRUS: In fact, Socrates, you’re just the right person to hear the speech that occupied us, since, in a roundabout way, it was about love. It is aimed at seducing a beautiful boy, but the speaker is not in love with him this is actually what is so clever and elegant about it: Lysias argues that it is better to give your favors to someone who does not love you than to someone who does.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 1 SOCRATES: What a wonderful man! I wish he would write that you should give your favors to a poor rather than to a rich man, to an older rather than to a younger one – that is, to someone like me and most other people: then his speeches would be really sophisticated, and they’d contribute to the public good besides! In any case, I am so eager to hear it that I would follow you even if you were walking all the way to Megara, as Herodicus recommends, to touch the wall and come back again. (228)

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 PHAEDRUS: What on earth do you mean, Socrates? Do you think that a mere dilettante like me could recite from memory in a manner worthy of him a speech that Lysias, the best of our writers, took such time and trouble to compose? Far from it – though actually I would rather be able to do that than come into a large fortune!

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 SOCRATES: Oh, Phaedrus, if I don’t know my Phaedrus I must be forgetting who I am myself – and neither is the case. I know very well that he did not hear Lysias’ speech only once: he asked him to repeat it over and over again, and Lysias was eager to oblige. But not even that was enough for him. In the end, he took the book himself and pored over the parts he liked best. He sat reading all morning long, and when he got tired, he went for a walk, having learned – I am quite sure – the whole speech by heart, unless it was extraordinarily long. So he started for the country, where he could practice reciting it. And running into a man who is sick with passion for hearing speeches, seeing him – just seeing him – he was filled with delight: he had found a partner for his frenzied dance, and he urged him to lead the way. But when that lover of speeches asked him to recite it, he played coy and pretended that he did not want to. In the end, of course, he was going to recite it even if he had to force an unwilling audience to listen. So, please, Phaedrus, beg him to do it right now. He’ll do it soon enough anyway.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 PHAEDRUS: Well, I’d better try to recite it as best I can: you’ll obviously not leave me in peace until I do so one way or another.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 SOCRATES: You are absolutely right.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 SOCRATES: What? Don’t you think I would consider it “more important than the most pressing engagement,” as Pindar says, to hear how you and Lysias spent your time?

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 PHAEDRUS: That’s what I’ll do, then. But, Socrates, it really is true that I did not memorize the speech word for word; instead, I will give a careful summary of its general sense, listing all the ways he said the lover differs
from the non-lover, in the proper order.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 SOCRATES: Only if you first show me what you are holding in your left
 hand under your cloak, my friend. I strongly suspect you have the speech itself. And if I’m right, you can be sure that, though I love you dearly, I’ll never, as long as Lysias himself is present, allow you to practice your own speechmaking on me. Come on, then, show me.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 PHAEDRUS: Enough, enough. You’ve dashed my hopes of using you as my training partner, Socrates. All right, where do you want to sit while we read? (229)

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 SOCRATES: Let’s leave the path here and walk along the Illisus; then we can sit quietly wherever we find the right spot.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 PHAEDRUS: How lucky, then, that I am barefoot today – you, of course, are always so. The easiest thing to do is to walk right in the stream; this way, we’ll also get our feet wet, which is very pleasant, especially at this hour and season.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 SOCRATES: Lead the way, then, and find us a place to sit.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 PHAEDRUS: Do you see that very tall plane tree?

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 SOCRATES: Of course.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 PHAEDRUS: It’s shady, with a light breeze; we can sit or, if we prefer, lie down on the grass there.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 SOCRATES: Lead on, then.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 1 PHAEDRUS: Tell me, Socrates, isn’t it from somewhere near this stretch of the Illisus that people say Boreas carried Orithuia away?”

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 SOCRATES: So they say.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 PHAEDRUS: Couldn’t this be the very spot? The stream is lovely, pure and clear: just right for girls to be playing nearby.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 SOCRATES: No, it is two or three hundred yards farther downstream, where one crosses to get to the district of Agra. I think there is even an altar to Boreas there.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 PHAEDRUS: I hadn’t noticed it. But tell me, Socrates, in the name of Zeus, do you really believe that that legend is true?

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 1 SOCRATES: Actually, it would not be out of place for me to reject it, as our intellectuals do. I could then tell a clever story: I could claim that a 
gust of the North Wind blew her over the rocks where she was playing
with Pharmaceia; and once she was killed that way people said she had 
been carried off by Boreas – or was it, perhaps, from the Areopagus? The story is also told that she was carried away from there instead. Now, Phaedrus, such explanations are amusing enough, but they are a job for 
a man I cannot envy at all. He’d have to be far too ingenious and work too hard-mainly because after that he will have to go on and give a rational account of the form of the Hippocentaurs, and then of the Chimera; and a whole flood of Gorgons and Pegasuses and other monsters, in large numbers and absurd forms, will overwhelm him. Anyone who does not believe in them, who wants to explain them away and make them plausible by means of some sort of rough ingenuity, will need a great deal of time. But I have no time for such things; and the reason, my friend, is this. (230) I am still unable, as the Delphic inscription orders, to know myself; and it really seems to me ridiculous to look into other things before I have understood that. This is why I do not concern myself with them. I accept what is generally believed, and, as I was just saying, I look not into them but into my own self: Am I a beast more complicated and savage than Typhon or am I a tamer, simpler animal with a share in a divine and gentle nature? But look, my friend while we were talking, haven’t we reached the tree you were taking us to?

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 PHAEDRUS: That’s the one.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 SOCRATES: By Hera, it really is a beautiful resting place. The plane tree is tall and very broad; the chaste-tree, high as it is, is wonderfully shady, and since it is in full bloom, the whole place is filled with its fragrance. From under the plane tree the loveliest spring runs with very cool water ­ our feet can testify to that. The place appears to be dedicated to Achelous and some of the Nymphs, if we can judge from the statues and votive
 offerings. Feel the freshness of the air; how pretty and pleasant it is; how it echoes with the summery, sweet song of the cicadas’ chorus! The most exquisite thing of all, of course, is the grassy slope: it rises so gently that you can rest your head perfectly when you lie down on it. You’ve really been the most marvelous guide, my dear Phaedrus.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 PHAEDRUS: And you, my remarkable friend, appear to be totally out of
 place. Really, just as you say, you seem to need a guide, not to be one of the locals. Not only do you never travel abroad – as far as I can tell, you
 never even set foot beyond the city walls.

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 SOCRATES: Forgive me, my friend. I am devoted to learning; landscapes 
and trees have nothing to teach me – only the people in the city can do 
that. But you, I think, have found a potion to charm me into leaving. For
 just as people lead hungry animals forward by shaking branches of fruit before them, you can lead me all over Attica or anywhere else you like simply by waving in front of me the leaves of a book containing a speech. But now, having gotten as far as this place this time around, I intend to lie down; so choose whatever position you think will be most comfortable 
for you, and read on.

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