Phaedrus

by

Plato

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Speech/Logos Term Analysis

The term “logos” in Greek can have many shades of meaning—it can refer to words, speeches, talking, everyday discussion, and philosophical discourse. Frequently used throughout Phaedrus, the word is used at various times in each of these ways, sometimes with intentional wordplay. For example, at the beginning of the dialogue, Socrates describes himself as someone sick with passion for hearing people speak.” Phaedrus, fresh from listening to a compelling speech, thinks that Socrates is talking about sharing his enjoyment of the art of rhetoric, but Socrates is referring more specifically to dialectic, the philosophical conversation method he loves. As Phaedrus goes on, Socrates uses this latter meaning—focused on philosophical questioning and discovery—to guide Phaedrus away from his more surface-level appreciation of words and towards a deeper delight in discussion that’s aimed at wisdom and beautifying the soul.

Speech/Logos Quotes in Phaedrus

The Phaedrus quotes below are all either spoken by Speech/Logos or refer to Speech/Logos. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Phaedrus published in 2005.
227a-230e Quotes

Phaedrus — if I don’t know Phaedrus, I’ve forgotten even who I am. But I do, and I haven’t; I know perfectly well that when he heard Lysias’ speech he did not hear it just once, but repeatedly asked him to go through it for him, and Lysias responded readily. But for Phaedrus not even that was enough, and in the end he borrowed the book and examined the things in it which he was most eager to look at, and doing this he sat from sun-up until he was tired and went for a walk [] knowing the speech quite off by heart, unless it was a rather long one. He was going outside the wall to practice it, when he met the very person who is sick with passion for hearing people speak — and [] he was glad, because he would have a companion in his manic frenzy, and he told him to lead on.

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus, Lysias
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
231a-234c Quotes

Yet how is it reasonable to give away such a thing to someone in so unfortunate a condition — one that no person with experience of it would even try to prevent? For the ones who suffer it agree themselves that they are sick rather than in their right mind, and that they know they are out of their mind but cannot control themselves; so how, when they come to their senses, could they approve of the decisions they make when in this condition? Moreover, if you were to choose the best one out of those in love with you, your choice would be only from a few, while if you chose the most suitable to yourself out of everybody else, you would be choosing from many; so that you would have a much greater expectation of chancing on the man worthy of your affection among the many.

Related Characters: Phaedrus (speaker), Lysias (speaker), Socrates
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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234d-241d Quotes

In everything, my boy, there is one starting-point for those who are going to deliberate successfully: they must know what they are deliberating about, or they will inevitably miss their target altogether. Most people are unaware that they do not know what each thing really is. So then, assuming that they know what it is, they fail to reach agreement about it at the beginning of their enquiry, and, having gone forward on this basis, they pay the penalty one would expect: they agree neither with themselves nor with each other. So let us, you and I, avoid having happen to us what we find fault with in others: since the discussion before you and me is whether one should rather enter into friendship with lover or with non-lover, let us establish an agreed definition of love, about what sort of thing it is and what power it possesses, and look to this as our point of reference while we make our enquiry as to whether it brings help or harm.

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus, Lysias
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
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241e-243e Quotes

When I was about to cross the river, my good man, I had that supernatural experience, the sign that I am accustomed to having — on each occasion, you understand, it holds me back from whatever I am about to do — and I seemed to hear a kind of voice from the very spot, forbidding me to leave until I make expiation, because I have committed an offence against what belongs to the gods. Well, I am a seer; not a very good one, but like people who are poor at reading and writing, just good enough for my own purposes; so I already clearly understand what my offence is. For the fact is, my friend, that the soul too is something which has divinatory powers; for something certainly troubled me some while ago as I was making the speech, and I had a certain feeling of unease, as Ibycus says (if I remember rightly), ‘that for offences against the gods, I win renown from all my fellow men’. But now I realize my offence.

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus, Lysias
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
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244a-257b Quotes

[It is not true that] when a lover is there for the having, one should rather grant favors to the one not in love, on the grounds that the first is mad, while the second is sane. That would be rightly said if it were a simple truth that madness is a bad thing; but as it is, the greatest of goods come to us through madness, provided that it is bestowed by divine gift. The prophetess at Delphi, no less, and the priestesses at Dodona do many fine things for Greece when mad, both on a private and on a public level, whereas when sane they achieve little or nothing; and if we speak of the Sibyl and of others who by means of inspired prophecy foretell many things to many people and set them on the right track with respect to the future, we would spin the story out by saying things that are obvious to everyone.

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus, Lysias
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
257c-274a Quotes

Socrates: Well then, for things that are going to be said well, and beautifully, mustn’t there be knowledge in the mind of the speaker of the truth about whatever he means to speak of?

Phaedrus: What I have heard about this, my dear Socrates, is that there is no necessity for the man who means to be an orator to understand what is really just but only what would appear so to the majority of those who will give judgement; and not what is really good or beautiful but whatever will appear so; because persuasion comes from that and not from the truth.

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
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Socrates: [I]t would be [ridiculous] when I tried in earnest to persuade you by putting together a speech in praise of the donkey, labelling it a horse and saying that the beast would be an invaluable acquisition both at home and on active service, useful to fight from and capable too of carrying baggage, and good for many other purposes.

Phaedrus: Then it would be thoroughly ridiculous.

Socrates: Well then, isn’t it better to be ridiculous and a friend than to be clever and an enemy? [] So when an expert in rhetoric who is ignorant of good and bad finds a city in the same condition and tries to persuade it, by making his eulogy not about a miserable donkey as if it were a horse but about what is bad as if it were good, and — having applied himself to what the masses think — actually persuades the city to do something bad instead of good, what sort of harvest do you think rhetoric reaps after that from the seed it sowed?

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Soul-Chariot’s Horses
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Socrates: Isn’t this sort of thing, at least, clear to anyone: that we’re of one mind about some things like this, and at odds about others? [] When someone utters the name of iron, or of silver, don’t we all have the same thing in mind?

Phaedrus: Absolutely.

Socrates: What about the names of just, or good? Doesn’t one of us go off in one direction, another in another, so that we disagree both with each other and with ourselves? [] So in which of the two cases are we easier to deceive, and in which does rhetoric have the greater power?

Phaedrus: Clearly in those cases where we go off in different directions.

Socrates: So the one who means to pursue a science of rhetoric must first have divided these up methodically and grasped some mark which distinguishes each of the two kinds, those in which most people are bound to tread uncertainly, and those in which they are not.

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus (speaker)
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Now I am myself, Phaedrus, a lover of these divisions and collections, so that I may be able both to speak and to think; and if I find anyone else who I think has the natural capacity to look to one and to many, I pursue him ‘in his footsteps, behind him, as if he were a god’. And the name I give those who can do this - whether it’s the right one or not, god knows, but at any rate up till now I have called them ‘experts in dialectic’.

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus (speaker)
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

The method of the science of medicine is, I suppose, the same as that of the science of rhetoric. [] In both sciences it is necessary to determine the nature of something, in the one science the nature of body, in the other the nature of soul, if you are to proceed scientifically, and not merely by knack and experience, to produce health and strength in the one by applying medicines and diet to it, and to pass on to the other whatever conviction you wish, along with excellence, by applying words and practices in conformance with law and custom.

Related Characters: Socrates (speaker), Phaedrus (speaker)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Speech/Logos Term Timeline in Phaedrus

The timeline below shows where the term Speech/Logos appears in Phaedrus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
227a-230e
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
Socrates asks if Lysias had been “feasting you all with his speeches.” Phaedrus says that it will be appropriate for Socrates to hear about Lysias’s speech because... (full context)
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
With a heavy dose of sarcasm, Socrates remarks that Lysias’s speech sounds admirable, and that if only he were arguing in favor of a poor man... (full context)
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
The Limits of Writing Theme Icon
Socrates retorts that if he knows Phaedrus at all, Phaedrus asked to hear Lysias’s speech not once, but repeatedly, and even borrowed a copy to memorize. He’s sure that Phaedrus... (full context)
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
The Limits of Writing Theme Icon
Phaedrus agrees to run through the speech, but Socrates asks to see what’s hidden under Phaedrus’s cloak. It’s a copy of the... (full context)
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
...Phaedrus find a shady spot on the riverbank where they can sit and read Lysias’s speech. Phaedrus asks if this is the spot where the wind god Boreas was said to... (full context)
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
The Limits of Writing Theme Icon
...anything from the country, but from the people of the city. He teases Phaedrus that “speeches in books” will be just the thing to get him out in nature more. (full context)
231a-234c
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Phaedrus reads Lysias’s speech to Socrates. Lysias begins by claiming that he will not “fail to achieve the things... (full context)
Love and Madness Theme Icon
...aren’t simply interested in your youthful beauty, but in sharing their advantages with you. His speech trails off soon after. (full context)
234d-241d
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
Phaedrus finishes reading Lysias’s speech and asks Socrates what he thought of it. Socrates replies that he was “beside himself”... (full context)
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
Phaedrus says that Socrates is “talking nonsense,” and that Lysias’s speech lacked nothing worth saying on the subject. Though Socrates pleads “ignorance” and his layman status,... (full context)
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Socrates calls upon the Muses for help with his speech. He opens by telling the story of a handsome young lad with many lovers. One... (full context)
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
...too, is under divine inspiration. Phaedrus agrees that he’s speaking especially fluently. Socrates resumes the speech, arguing that one who’s ruled by desire will want to make his beloved as appealing... (full context)
241e-243e
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
Socrates explains that there’s no need for a lengthy speech lauding the opposite characteristics from those he’s already criticized. Anyway, the riverbank is the home... (full context)
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Socrates then tells Phaedrus he will have to make another speech. He explains that as he was about to cross the Ilissus (the river by which... (full context)
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
...that Love is a god, the son of Aphrodite. That being the case, both Lysias’s speech and his own slandered Love by attributing bad things to him. Furthermore, both speeches were... (full context)
244a-257b
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Socrates begins his second speech. He opens by saying that it isn’t true that “one should rather grant favors to... (full context)
257c-274a
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
The Limits of Writing Theme Icon
Phaedrus praises Socrates’s speech and admits that Lysias now appears “wretched” to him by comparison. He muses that he... (full context)
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
Socrates asserts that writing speeches itself isn’t to be considered shameful, but speaking and writing poorly is shameful. He suggests... (full context)
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
...that a donkey was a horse and Socrates knew no better. If Socrates gave a speech persuading Phaedrus to get a donkey, thinking it was a horse, it would be quite... (full context)
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
...good and bad, who finds a city as ignorant as he is and gives a speech commending something bad as if it were good and persuading the city to act accordingly.... (full context)
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
...by saying that rhetoric is “a kind of leading of the soul by means of speech.” Socrates also suggests that it’s important for a speaker to understand the truth of things... (full context)
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
Socrates and Phaedrus decide to examine Lysias’s speech and Socrates’s own, in order to see whether they accord with the science of rhetoric,... (full context)
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
...out that Socrates indeed toyed with his audience by describing love as harmful in one speech and as the greatest of gifts in the other. They look again at Lysias’s speech... (full context)
Love and Madness Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
After Phaedrus reads the beginning of Lysias’s speech again, Socrates points out that Lysias didn’t even “begin from the beginning,” but tried “to... (full context)
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Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
In contrast to Lysias’s speech, Socrates points out how he began his second speech by first distinguishing between human and... (full context)
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
Socrates and Phaedrus talk for a while about the various components of a proper speech, according to the consensus of famous Greek rhetoricians. But Socrates maintains that there’s a gap... (full context)
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
...one “[passes] on to the [soul] whatever conviction you wish, along with excellence, by applying words and practices.”  (full context)
The Soul’s Struggle for Wisdom Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Philosophy Theme Icon
...that a rhetorician must understand the various types of souls and how various types of speech can be successfully applied to each. Therefore, anyone who claims to teach rhetoric accurately, yet... (full context)
274b-279c
The Limits of Writing Theme Icon
Socrates says there’s a better kind of speech—that which is “written together with knowledge in the soul of the learner.” Such speech knows... (full context)