Phaedruss Quest (Phaedrus and the Land beyond the last hill.)
His father was the owner of his mother, a slave, and the protagonist was also a slave. After his father's death, he was sold into the arena to be a gladiator and fight to the death. He's understandably bitter about all this, and bitter toward his father. This may bother some readers, though I didn't have a huge problem with it, at least since it wasn't prominent. It was mentioned, but only briefly. It's very subtly implied based on the somewhat flamboyant way he acts and dresses, and nothing is ever stated or conclusive - but I felt like I was correct in assuming that without being told.
I actually didn't have too much of a problem with this, but I know some readers will. Most readers will not have a problem with this at all, and will see it as a positive thing, and others won't notice it at all - but I'm just seeking to objectively inform those who are interested. I actually really loved, liked, enjoyed, and cared about this character, regardless of that. I just suspected based on the barest hints that they were a couple at one point.
It's very subtle, and impossible to know for sure - much less obvious even than the first character being gay. The context of their lives and experiences also made sense with that assumption.
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It evoked a lot of emotion in me as the reader, since it was powerfully written, and since I had come to care about the main character so much. This event was doubly alarming to me because of the way it was portrayed - as a good and honorable thing - and because the way it was written made me feel that it was, even though at the same time, I knew that, according to my beliefs, the opposite was true. I personally do not believe this action is ever morally justified, though I also do not think it's unforgivable - but nothing is.
This was my single biggest issue with the book. It was very, very concerning to me. I do not believe this should ever be glorified or portrayed in a positive light. It's a horrible thing. No matter who the reader is, or what their beliefs are, it's harmful for every person to read about. As much as I respect Sutcliff, I cannot agree with her choice to write about this issue in this way. I don't think it's justified even for a secular author. This action is never, ever okay, for a character and in real life. It's not just fiction, and it's extremely harmful.
And portraying it in fiction as a positive thing is dangerous.
I won't discuss all of them, and this is one thing for which I don't remember all the details. But it's important to mention, because certain readers are sensitive to this and affected by it. A very violent sacrifice took place in a ritual ceremony of the book. It involved killing a horse in a very violent and bloody way. As part of the same ceremony, there was a duel to the death between two people. I don't remember the details, but I do remember that this duel and the resulting death was basically a ritual human sacrifice I'll leave it at that.
Unlike the other major instances of content, this one is very hazy in my memory, instead of clear. The abused main characters were this villain's daughter and two nephews. Abuse is normally a trigger topic for me, but I was mostly fine with it in this book. The author handled it subtly and sensitively, even though it was still alarming and uncomfortable.
Battles, blood, death, and killing are described and sometimes graphic. I won't go into all the violence, but let that suffice. If you're sensitive to extreme violence, I strongly recommend you don't read this book. The violence is about on level another of Sutcliff's books, Frontier Wolf , even though this one is much worse with regard to other content. Both books are much, much more violent than Sutcliff's other Roman Britain books. Even though I don't remember details for this specific book, I can be very sure that the characters swear by gods or other things and spiritual figures of their respective pagan religions.
This is typical of Sutcliff's pagan characters. There's usually no swearing equivalent to modern swear words. I cannot recommend it to anyone, and especially not to those who are affected by any kind of content. Unless this content doesn't bother you at all, I would warn you away from reading this book. I definitely caution anyone who is below adult age - though it may be okay for some mature older teens, depending on what they're used to. For reference, I have not yet given it to my youngest brother, who is in high school, and I would not be comfortable allowing him to read it, since he's not very mature.
I'll probably give it to him when he graduates high school, but not before - since I'll no longer have the task of protecting him from content at that point, even if I wish to. However, most families aren't as careful about content as mine is, and that's fine. I read this book shortly after I turned 18, and I don't regret it - but I was still concerned by the content. If you're looking for a Roman Britain book or a Rosemary Sutcliff book without this level of content, I recommend reading Eagle of the Ninth and several of its sequels. Eagle of the Ninth , , The Shield Ring , and most of the other Dolphin Ring series sequels are much cleaner, apart from mild violence, and suitable for a teenage audience as well as for adults.
Frontier Wolf is shockingly violent, graphic, and bloody, but has no other content. However, another Sutcliff book that I absolutely cannot recommend, that I warn people away from, and that I will never read myself - because of content even worse in some ways than Mark of the Horse Lord - is Sword at Sunset. One last note - I did not set out to review the story, characters, themes, etc. These aspects of the book were usually very good and well-written - though sometimes problematic - and I enjoyed them, for the most part.
However, as I touched on above, some of the events, characters, and themes were concerning to me, and could be harmful for some readers, in addition to the content above. I will warn that there were issues with the themes and some other things that I didn't discuss above, except in some cases that I went into very briefly.
Though I've avoided reviewing The Mark of the Horse Lord for a long time, I've decided it's important to make this content information available to individuals who need to know, including my friends. That's my sole purpose in writing this review. I hope this review will be helpful for people who are seeking content information about The Mark of the Horse Lord. View all 10 comments.
Jan 06, Dan Lutts rated it it was amazing Shelves: young-adult-fiction , historical-fiction. Roman Britain, circa or A. Red Phaedrus has been a slave his whole live. After his first master died, Phaedrus was sold to a new master and then changed hands a few more times. His last master sold him to a gladiator's school to repay a debt. The story opens four years later when Phaedrus has become a popular gladiator.
To his dismay, he and his best friend are paired together. He manages to kill his friend in a fight that stirs the crowd into a frenzy. In fact the fight was such a sens Roman Britain, circa or A. In fact the fight was such a sensation that Phaedrus is granted his freedom. Free at last! But he's never experienced freedom before. That's when things start happening. At loose ends, Phaedrus falls in one evening with a rowdy bunch of drunken Romans who take him "bar hopping. The Romans flee but Phaedrus is arrested. Then the next evening a mysterious stranger has him released in a most unofficial way.
It turns out that the stranger, a merchant named Sinnoch, is helping a tribe called Dalriads aka Scots in what is now western Scotland. Some years ago their queen usurped the throne and her husband -- King Midir, the horse lord -- went missing. Phaedrus is a spitting image of Midir and the Dalriads want Phaedrus to impersonate Midir, help assassinate the queen, and rule their tribe as Midir, the rightful king and horse lord. The challenge gives Phaedrus a purpose in life, and he agrees. He has to be careful, though, because — except for the people who are in on the conspiracy — the Dalriadains can never learn that he is an impostor.
Phaedrus must play the role for the rest of his life. Things go wrong for Phaedrus from the beginning of the assassination attempt, and he soon finds himself and the Dalraids opposing the queen and her powerful allies in a war the Dalriads can't hope to win. But Phaedrus takes his position as horse lord seriously and devotes his life to defeating the queen. Toward the end, unexpectedly on the crest of victory, the situation takes an unexpected and terrible turn when the Romans intervene, and Phaedrus has to find a way to obtain freedom for his tribe.
For me, the book was a page turner until the very last page. During his time as horse lord, Phaedrus has to make choices that require personal sacrifices. He also finds love in an unexpected place. At the end, Phaedrus is faced with a horrible choice that results in a conclusion that is totally unexpected. But, looking back on the story, his choice was the only one he could make as the legitimate horse lord. After I read a book, I usually don't think much about it afterwards. But the way this one ended, I thought about the novel for quite some time.
But the theme -- a person finding an identity and a place to belong -- is powerful in this book. View all 4 comments. May 26, Mark Adderley rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction. The Mark of the Horse Lord is about a freed gladiator, Phaedrus, in second-century Britain, whose accidental resemblance to the king of the northern tribe of Dalriada involves him in a plot to replace that king and enter into a war with a rival tribe, the Caledones. Her respect is as great for the Roman fort commander, Titus Hilarius, as it is for Phaedr The Mark of the Horse Lord is about a freed gladiator, Phaedrus, in second-century Britain, whose accidental resemblance to the king of the northern tribe of Dalriada involves him in a plot to replace that king and enter into a war with a rival tribe, the Caledones.
Her respect is as great for the Roman fort commander, Titus Hilarius, as it is for Phaedrus. This time, the clash arises between the patriarchal Dalriads and the matriarchal Caledones. Into this cultural mix come the businesslike Romans, who just want peace on the frontier. Most likely, she reconstructed it by comparing the Dalriads and Caledones known historically as the Scotti and the Picts to other tribes at a similar stage of cultural and technological development.
Ultimately, though, historical accuracy, even if this is possible in a book on this subject, is of very little importance. It is an inner journey, a journey that is as important to us today as it would have been in second-century Britain. When we first meet Phaedrus, he is dead inside, a slave to his animal passions to kill, preserve himself, and make love. The substitution thrusts him into a situation in which he has to act like a king, and it is not until the end—by a beautifully-handled piece of symbolism—that we see he has finally found the secret of what it means to be a king, and has internalized it to such an extent that he becomes capable of self-sacrifice.
Sutcliff proved, many years ago, that literature about the distant past can be not merely relevant, but important to the present. View 2 comments. Feb 28, Nikki rated it it was ok Shelves: historical-fiction-alternatehistory , children-s-and-ya. This is shocking for me with a Rosemary Sutcliff book, especially one a lot of other people loved, but I didn't really like this. I somehow didn't really care.
I didn't much like Phaedrus, which helped, but I'm sure I would've got to like him in the normal way of things with one of Sutcliff's books, but nope.
Maybe it's the fact that I've been working on Sword at Sunset for my dissertation for months and either I'm burnt out on Sutcliff or this just doesn't compare, or even a bit of both. Plus, t This is shocking for me with a Rosemary Sutcliff book, especially one a lot of other people loved, but I didn't really like this. Sutcliff's never that wonderful with female characters, really, but that aspect really took the cake.
View 1 comment. Sep 05, Margaret rated it it was amazing Shelves: sci-fi-and-fantasy. I am fully aware that I just read this book in September and that reading it again is adding nothing to my reading challenge and that the whole of life is just a shout in the void but I had a very good reason: Conory and his cat. Apr 11, Annie rated it really liked it Shelves: good-enough-to-own-and-read-over-ag.
If I were sent to a deserted island with as many books as there are fingers on my right hand, this would be one of them. I found this book in its original edition in a small town library over twenty years ago and have sought it out in every library in every town I've been in since. Its that kind of story. If the heart of a good story is the soul-journey taken by the main character, then this book deserves a place in the canon of great literature because Phaedros' journey is truly epic, starting If I were sent to a deserted island with as many books as there are fingers on my right hand, this would be one of them.
If the heart of a good story is the soul-journey taken by the main character, then this book deserves a place in the canon of great literature because Phaedros' journey is truly epic, starting tightly coiled within his own needs, spiraling outward with each challenge he faces, finally culminating in the most magnificently expansive act a man can perform. Images from this story will rematerialize in the reader's mind long after the back cover is closed upon the bittersweet ending. Highly recommended. Jan 23, Nadine Jones rated it it was amazing Shelves: young-adult , re-read , all-time-favorites , historical-fiction , era-early-civ , scotland , lost-kid-ya-books.
At first he had been wild with loathing of his new life, but in four years it had become part of him, so that whether he hated or loved it no longer mattered. I re-read this to fulfill the Popsugar reading challenge category, "book you loved as a child. I am amazed that I remember it so clearly now, almost forty years later. I remember the ending clearly, but not the events leading up to it, so it was just as suspenseful for me on this second reading, and just as moving. It is such a delight to revisit childhood classics and discover that they are truly awesome books. I had good taste!
It is interesting for me to see how I misinterpreted this story. I read a lot of fantasy back then, and so I read this as a fantasy, not realizing that it's straight-up historical fiction. I read passages like this, and just assumed these were made up fantasy names and words, not realizing they were real and I just hadn't seen them before: The eyes of Forgall the Envoy were dark and opaque, as those of the Old People, whose blood ran strong in the Caledones; but little red sparks glowed far back in them, and his face was beginning to have the same pinched whiteness round the nostrils that had been there last night in the Fire Hall.
It is yourself, Midir Mac Levin, no more than the son of a son of a son, who sit where you have no right to be! You have forsaken the Mother and the True Way to follow strange Gods, and the curse of the Cailleach lies on such as you—on all the Dalriadain who would seek to drive her from her rightful place in the heart of men! It's not an actual kidnapping, but still, Murna is not happy about it.
It's kind of disturbing now, but at the time I read it as magical and romantic. Hey, I was, like, Excitement rose in them all; laughter and hunting cries began to break from the men behind him. The girl had turned with a cry of fury and lashed him across the face with her horse-rod; but he had her reins and they were racing along the flank of the bog, perilously locked together, floundering in and out of solid ground and sinking pocket, but drawing steadily away from the livid greenness of the hungry mire.
The wild-eyed mare, lightened of her load, sprang away and went streaking back toward the hills, with a couple of the Companions in pursuit. And Phaedrus, still riding full gallop, was clamping the Royal Woman against him with his free arm, while she struggled to break free and fling herself off. Then quite suddenly the fight seemed to go out of her as they slackened pace from that wild gallop to a canter. Phaedrus freed one hand—he was controlling the panting stallion with his knees now—and caught at the red mareskin mask.
Wondered with a little shiver of cold between his shoulder blades whether it would be a human face at all, or something else, something that was not good to see…. Then he pulled away the mask and flung it behind him among the following horsemen. And for that one instant, despite the dusk, he could look into her face instead of only at the surface of it.
Still feeling rather sick from the nearness of the bog, he laughed in sudden triumph, and bent his head and kissed her. Surprisingly, she yielded against him and kissed him back. But as she did so, he felt her hand steal out, light as a leaf but not quite light enough, toward the dagger in his belt. His own hand flashed down and caught her wrist, twisting the weapon from her grasp before she well had hold of it, and sent it spinning into a furze bush.
She could have no other weapon about her, or she would not have gone for his dagger. She gave a sharp cry of baffled fury, and became a thing as rigid and remote as one of the stocks of wood, charmed into human shape, that the People of the Hills left behind in its place when they stole a child of the Sun Folk. And yet the odd thing—Phaedrus knew it beyond all doubt—was that the kiss she had given him had been as real as her hand feeling for his dagger.
Words I had to look up: Net and trident men - a type of gladiator, who fought with weapons inspired by fishermen, including a weighted net, a trident, and a dagger Strigil - an instrument with a curved blade used, especially by ancient Greeks and Romans, to scrape sweat and dirt from the skin in a hot-air bath or after exercise; a scraper.
Gralloch - to disembowel Bothy - a small hut or cottage Gleeds - glowing coals Heron-hackles - long slender, often glossy feathers from the back of the neck of a male heron. Corrie - circular hollow in the side of a mountain Scottish ; cirque. Maybe I need to create a new bookshelf for "ya" because this isn't exactly a children's book I know I read every Sutcliff book that my library had in the young adult section, but this is the only book I remember clearly. Sep 22, Dorothea rated it liked it. I'm not quite sure what I think of this one. I really, really liked the opening scene, describing the end of Phaedrus's career as a gladiator.
That could have been a good short story in itself. But I liked it so much that it took me some time to adjust to the different setting of the rest of the story. I really liked how becoming the Horse Lord is a good career transition for an ex-gladiator, and how Phaedrus's gladiatorial skills are useful to him as the Horse Lord. I liked how Phaedrus feels bad I'm not quite sure what I think of this one. I liked how Phaedrus feels bad about pretending to be someone else and becoming king when he has no right to it, and the means by which he's persuaded to do it anyway.
The ease with which Phaedrus, raised in a Roman town, adapts to Daldriadain culture is rather unbelievable. The explanation is that his mother was from the North and that her culture is "in his blood. The big culture clash in this book does Sutcliff always have one?
Patriarchy, which was rather uncomfortable for me, especially since the big villain is the queen whom Phaedrus is called upon to depose. There are a few examples of bad things she's done, but for the most part her wickedness and unworthiness to lead is established through Phaedrus sensing that she's evil and describing her basically as Shelob. Naturally, this does not make me feel unsympathetic to her. There are several instances in which Sutcliff allows her characters to have a less black-and-white view of matriarchy and patriarchy, but the main way she makes up for the Evil Life-Sucking Queen is to have her daughter, Murna, be extremely awesome.
I mostly love this. Murna is great. She fights! She's political! She talks back to Phaedrus and she probably knows his secret! But I also get the sense that she's allowed to be such a strong character because ultimately she does oppose her mother and agree to patriarchal rule. Her submission isn't without complications, but her power certainly has careful limits. The same-sex best friend in The Horse Lord is an interesting twist on the theme, compared to the other Sutcliff juvenile novels I've read. I am well convinced that Sutcliff wrote Conory, the best friend of the king whom Phaedrus is replacing, as the replaced-king's lover, and that all of the other characters know that, perhaps so well that it would be redundant to actually say anything about it never mind s publishing conventions.
I don't think that Phaedrus actually takes the other king's place so far as to replace him as Conory's lover, although perhaps a closer reading would change my mind. A more plausible speculation to me is that one of the differences between the replaced-king and Phaedrus was that the replaced-king was gay and Phaedrus is bi or straight. Jun 03, LeAnn rated it it was amazing. MHL is the story of Red Phaedrus, a former slave of mixed Celtic-Greek ancestry who begins the story as a gladiator in a fight against his best friend,Vortimax.
He kills Vortimax and thereafter finds hi Anyone looking for a truly excellent YA historical read should look no further than Rosemary Sutcliff's The Mark of the Horse Lord, set in the second-century A. He kills Vortimax and thereafter finds himself free in a world that he's never been free in.
Time for an adventure. Very quickly Phaedrus lands in jail after a drunken fight with Roman legionaries. When his freedom is bought by Gault and Sinnoch, two tribesmen of the Dalriadain, he's ready and willing to adopt a new persona as Midir, dispossessed heir to the Sun Lord's tribe. Phaedrus' time as The Horse Lord over the next year show his growth from a friendless young man with not much reason to live and no place to belong into a worthy king of a loyal, passionate tribe of Celts. Sutcliff is a tremendous writer, effortlessly transporting the reader to the era so that both Romans, who are tangential characters, and the native peoples that they subdue and keep at bay come to life.
Her language is rich and her voice unique, capturing the rhythm and syntax of modern Irish speakers e. She also manages to walk that hard-to-find line between YA and adult fiction that I daresay many writers and editors either don't know about or are only too happy to push. Although Phaedrus is typical YA age 20 ,and his struggles for identity and place in the adult world worthy of YA fiction, the situations that he faces and the decisions he must make are, of a necessity, very grave and weighty.
Phaedrus is very grown up and is at home among adults older than he. His growth as a character is less an internal one to maturity, but more that of a young man who is prepared, tested, and found worthy.
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Sutcliff also writes at a higher reading level than many adult books while simultaneously eschewing excessive graphic or mordant details that seem too often to stand in for adult-level complexity. Aug 23, Colin MacDonald rated it liked it Shelves: historical-fiction. Interesting change from Sutcliff's other Roman Britain books in that it focuses on conflicts between British tribes outside of Roman-occupied territory. But it feels like it's all war and warriors - too many battle scenes, not enough world- and character-building. The battle lines are also too clear-cut, and most of the enemies too faceless, or caricatures.
Apr 27, Steve Shilstone rated it it was amazing. Descriptions are vivid, images alive. You can tell she was a painter. Tribes battle in Scotland during Roman Britain times. Unlike most of Sutcliff's novels set in Roman Britain, Phaedrus, the protagonist of The Mark of the Horse Lord , isn't a Roman soldier; instead, he's a half-British ex-gladiator, son of a Greek wine merchant and a slave woman, who lived his whole life as a slave until being freed after winning a fight in the arena.
By coincidence, he discovers that he is the exact double of Midir, the exiled prince of the Dalriad tribe, and is persuaded to impersonate Midir and travel beyond the northern boundary of the Empire to lead a rebellion and win back the kingdom of the Dalriads from Queen Liadhan, who has seized the throne and imposed the old matrilineal rule of the Earth-Mother in place of the patrilineal worship of the Sun-God.
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The plot is not dissimilar to The Prisoner of Zenda , really, as Phaedrus tries to take over another man's life and relationships and learn how to be a king. This isn't my favorite Sutcliff; Phaedrus is a less sympathetic protagonist than the various members of the family in the Dolphin Ring saga, hardened by the years in the arena as he is, although he does become more sympathetic as the story goes on.
I also don't find the society of the Dalriads, beyond the frontiers of the Empire, as interesting as the Roman society depicted in the books set inside the Empire, and, revisiting it now, I also feel that the conflict between the matrilineal and patrilineal societies is probably more nuanced than the book really suggests, and I wish we had got to see Liadhan's point of view as well as Phaedrus's. Feb 21, Almielag rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction. Apr 09, Basicallyrun rated it it was amazing Shelves: asnc-y. Just to make things clear at this point: there are no limits to how much I adore Rosemary Sutcliff.
I have yet to read a book by her I've disliked, and this one's no exception. I swear with careful reading you could pass an exam on Roman Britain using the term historically - obviously the Dalriads and Caledones are pretty far from being Romanised just from Sutcliff's books. It's so, so immersive and beautiful, and she has this trick of describing things in ways that really oughtn't work but somehow do. Things are bitter and bloody and real. And then the end.
Not to spoil it for anyone, but oh. I may expand upon this point when I get round to talking about Shadows of Avalon, which I've also just finished. In the meantime, I shall be cryptic and annoying. Aaand finally I like how in most of Sutcliff's books you don't get a faceless Evil Empire full of goons for the hero to slaughter guilt-free. Most of them are acting from perfectly decent intentions. Actually, only Liadhan comes off as truly unsympathetic, and even then, it's nearly possible to make a case for her clinging on to power.
A bit harder to defend her methods, but then, life in general seems pretty brutal for the Dalriads. But neither the one nor the other is the case ; I do know Phaedrus ; I know full well that on hearing Lysias read the speech, he was not content with hearing it once only, but kept urging him to repeat it again and again ; and Lysias was quite as eager to comply. Phaedrus however was not satisfied even with this, but at last took the book from the other s hands, and looked over again the parts he especially fancied.
And being wearied with sitting all the morning thus engaged, he set out for a walk, though not, I fully believe, till he had learnt the entire speech by heart, un less it was a very long one. And he was going outside the walls to con it over by himself. But on his way he met with a man who is afflicted with a weakness for listening to speeches, and when he saw him he was charmed oh so charmed at the sight, for says he, I shall now have a friend to share in my raptures.
So he requested his friend to join him in his walk. When however this lover of speeches asked him to commence, he began to be coy, as though disinclined, albeit determined I am sure, if he could get no willing hearer, to speak out at last even to unwilling ears. Do you therefore, Phaedrus, request him to do at once what at all events he is sure to do presently.
My wisest plan, there seems little doubt, is to repeat the speech as well as I am able ; for I believe you have made up your mind on no account to let me go, till I have given it you in some way or other. You have defined my intentions to a nicety. Well then I ll do my best, though really, Socrates, I can assure you that I have not learnt the words by heart ; but if you are con tent with a general view of the points of dif ference, as Lysias laid them down, between the claims of the impassioned and unimpassioned suitor, I am ready to go through them in order under their several heads, beginning where he began.
Thank you, my obliging friend ; not till you have shown me though, what it is you have got there in your left hand beneath your cloak, as I have a shrewd suspicion that it is the speech itself. If so, I must beg you to understand that, fond as I am of you, I have yet no intention at all of lending myself for you to practise upon, while Lysias is also present.
So let us see what you have got. Enough, Socrates, I confess ; you have dashed down the hope I entertained of prac tising my memory on you. But where would you like us to sit down and read the speech? Let us turn aside here, and go down by the Ilissus, and then wherever we find a spot to our taste we will sit down and rest. Our easiest plan then is to walk along the streamlet with our feet in the water, and we shall find it by no means disagreeable, considering the season of the year, and the hour of the day.
Come on then, and keep at the same time a look-out for a seat. Do you see that towering plane-tree yonder? Of course I do. Well, there we shall find shade and a gentle breeze, and grass enough for a seat, or if we prefer it, for a bed. Let us walk towards it. Tell me, Socrates, was it not from some where hereabouts on the Ilissus that Boreas is said to have carried off Orithyia? So the tale goes. Must it not have been from this very spot? So beautiful is the water here, so clear and transparent, and just such as one can fancy maidens loving to play by. No, not here, but about a quarter of a mile lower down, just where we cross over to the temple of the Huntress.
And if I am not mis taken, there is an altar on the spot to Boreas. I have never noticed it. But tell me honestly, Socrates, do you believe this tale of mythology to be true?
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Why, I should do nothing strangely out of the way if I were to refuse it credit, as the learned do ; and go on in their rational ising method to say that as the girl was playing 14 PHALDRUS with Pharmacsea she was blown over the ad joining cliffs by a blast of the wind Boreas ; and that, having met with her death in this manner, she was fabled to have been carried off by the god Boreas either from this place, or if you like from Mars s hill, which, accord ing to another account, was the scene of her adventure.
But for my part, Phaedrus, though I consider such explanations sufficiently pretty, yet I esteem them the peculiar province of a very subtle, painstaking, and by no means par ticularly enviable person ; if for no other reason than that he will be called upon, as soon as he has finished this subject, to set us right as to the form of the Hippocentaurs, and again as to that of the Chimaera, and then he will have pouring in upon him a like crowd of Gorgons and Pegasuses, and such a wondrous host of portentous and impossible creations, that if he were to disbelieve them all, and, with a kind of vulgar acuteness, apply to each successively the test of probability, he would require no small amount of time and labour for the task.
But I have no leisure for such studies and the reason, my friend, is this : I cannot as yet obey the Delphic inscription, which bids me know myself ; and it seems to me ridiculous for one who is still destitute of this knowledge to busy himself with matters which in no wise concern him. But by the bye, Phaedrus, was not this the tree to which you were leading me? The very one. Well, really, this is a glorious resting- place. For the plane-tree I find is thick and spreading, as well as tall, and the size and shadiness of the agnus castus here is very beautiful, and being at the height of its flower it must render our retreat most fragrant.
How delicious too is this spring trickling under the plane-tree, and how cold its water, to judge by the foot! It would seem from these images and votive offerings that the place is sacred to some nymphs and river-god. Again, how lovely and enjoyable above measure is the airiness of the spot! But the most charming thing of all is this abundant grass, with its gentle slope just made for the head to fall back on luxuriously. Really, Phaedrus, you make a most admirable guide.
And you, Socrates, are a most un accountable being. In fact, as you say, you are just like a stranger who is being shown the beauties of the place, and not like a native of the country ; the consequence this of your never leaving the city either to cross the frontier, or even, I do believe, for so much as a walk outside the walls.
You must bear with me, dear Phaedrus I am so fond of learning. Now trees, you know, and fields won t teach me anything, but men in the city will. You, however, would appear to have discovered the charm that can entice me out. For as shepherds draw after them their hungry flocks by shaking branches or grain up and down before their eyes, so could you, I believe, make me follow you, not only all round Attica, but also wherever else you might wish to lead, by simply holding out to me a written speech as a bait. And since we have reached this spot on the present occasion, I cannot do better than lay me down to listen, and do you choose that posture which you think most convenient for reading in, and be gin the speech.
Attend then : With the state of my affairs you are acquainted, and that I expect advantage to us both from this arrangement you have heard. Now I claim not to be disappointed in my suit on the ground of my not belonging to the number of your lovers. For they repent of the benefits they have conferred the moment that their desire ceases ; but for us, who never love, there is no particular time at which we may be expected to change our minds.
For it is not under the influence of a resistless passion, but of our own free choice, that we do you a kindness, consulting what our means will allow, and what is best for our interests to bestow. Again, lovers take into consideration PSMDRUS 17 the derangement of their private affairs which their love has occasioned, and the services they have rendered their favourites ; and add ing all the trouble they have taken to the reckon ing, they conceive that by all this they have long ago paid the return which is due to the object of their affection.
We, on the other hand, are not able to pretend that we have neglected our fortunes for love ; we cannot take into account the labours we have endured, nor plead the domestic quarrels which have resulted from our devotion ; so that, as our suit is divested of all such evils as these, we have nothing left us but cheerfully to do what ever we may think we shall please you by per forming. Again, if it be a fair reason for set ting store on a lover, that he professes greater attachment for his favourite than for any one else, and is ready both by word and deed to incur the enmity of all the world beside, if he can but gratify the object of his passion, it is easy to perceive that, if his profession be a true one, all of whom he may hereafter become enamoured will be held of greater account than his earlier love ; and it is clear that, if the for mer wish it, he will not hesitate to do even harm to the latter.
And when this man is restored to his senses, how can he possibly judge that to be well done about which he was so desirous when in such a state of mind? And further, if you were to select the best from among your lovers, your choice would be made from a small number ; but if from the rest of the world you were to select the man who is most suit able to yourself, it would be made from a large number ; so that there is far more reason to expect that in the larger number exists the one who is deserving of your attachment. If, moreover, you stand in awe of public opinion, and dread its reproaches on the affair being discovered, it is but natural to suppose that lovers, from an idea that others will deem them as happy as they esteem themselves, will be so elated as to talk of their intimacy, and with ostentatious vanity give all men to know that their labour has not been spent in vain ; but that we on the other hand, who by never loving never lose the dominion over ourselves, should prefer what is truly advantageous to any cele brity that is to be had in the world.
Again, men cannot help hearing and seeing how lovers run after their favourites, and that too with elaborate parade ; so that the mere fact of their being seen talking together is sufficient to give rise to suspicion ; whereas no one would think of suspecting us for holding con versation with you, as they know that people cannot help talking with some one or other,. And further, if you have ever conceived an alarm from remembering how difficult it is for a friendship to last, and from the reflection that in ordinary cases, when a quarrel has taken place, the misfortune is felt equally on both sides ; but that in love, as it is you who have lavished what you prize most highly, so it is you who will suffer most deeply by a rup ture ; let me remind you that here again it is those who are in love that you have most reason to look upon with terror.
For many are the causes that irritate lovers, and they think that everything is done to hurt and annoy them. For which reason also they are anxious to deter you from associating with the world, fearing those who are possessed of substance, lest they outbid them with money, and those who are educated, lest they outshine them in ability ; and so, whatever may be the advant age a man possesses, they look with suspicion on his influence in that particular. If then they succeed in persuading you to abstain from society, they leave you at last without a friend in the world ; but if, with an eye to your own interests, you adopt a different and wiser course, a quarrel will be the inevitable result.
By us, on the other hand, who are not in love, but owe to our merit the accomplishment of our desires, no jealousy would be entertained for those who cultivate your acquaintance, but rather dislike for such as avoid it ; as we should consider ourselves slighted by the neglect of the latter, but benefited by the in- 20 PHMDRUS timacy of the former. And such being our feelings, surely you have reason to expect that friendship rather than hatred will result from our intercourse. And further, lovers frequently conceive a desire for the person before they have discovered the character or become acquainted with the other circumstances of their favourites, so that it is impossible for you to tell whether their disposition for friendship will outlast the continuance of their desire.
And further, you must not forget the superior opportunities of improvement which will be afforded you by favouring my suit. Lovers are so neglectful of your best interests, that they praise everything you say and do, partly for fear of giving offence, and partly because their own judgment is debased by their passion. So that I consider pity to be far more suitable than congratulation for the ob jects of such an attachment.
I on the other hand, if you yield to my wishes, will associate with you on the following terms. For such conduct is a sure sign of a friendship that will long endure. But if the thought, as is not unlikely, has suggested itself to you, that it is impossible for attachment to be strong if unaccompanied by passion, you ought to bear in mind, that in that case we should care but little either for our sons or for our fathers and mothers, nor should we ever possess faithful friends on any other footing than an amatory connection.
Again, if it is proper to bestow favours most on those who need them most, it follows that from the world in general you ought to select, not the best, but the neediest as the objects of your charity for the greater the misery they are rescued from, the greater is the debt of gratitude they will owe you. Nay, further, when you give an entertainment, you will be expected to ask not friends to your board, but those who beg an invitation and require a meal ; for they will be charmed with your kindness, and will follow in your train and throng your doors, and express themselves highly delighted and deeply grateful, and invoke countless blessings on your head.
Remember now, I pray you, all I have said ; and also bear in mind that lovers are taken to task by their friends on the score that their course of life is a bad one ; whereas never have those who do not love been reproached by any of their relatives with neglecting on that account their private affairs. You may perhaps ask me whether I recommend you to bestow your favours on all who do not love you. But neither, I imagine, would a lover bid you enter tain such sentiments towards all your lovers alike. No, if you view the matter reasonably, you cannot consider such conduct deserving of equal gratitude, nor, however you might wish it, would you be equally able to preserve the affair 23 secret from the world.
And harm, you must re member, ought to accrue to neither from the tran saction ; advantage should rather result to both. My suit has now been urged with arguments which for my part I deem convincing should you see in them any defect or omission, they are open to any questions you may choose to ask.
Well, Socrates, what do you think of the speech? Is it not wonderfully fine, especially in point of language? Nay, divinely, my good friend ; it quite threw me into an ecstasy. And this sensation I owe to you, Phaedrus ; for all the time you were reading, I kept my eye on your face, and saw it glow with rapture under the influence of the speech. And esteeming you a better judge in such matters than myself, I thought I could not do better than follow your example, and so I have shared with you in all your transports, my god-inspired friend.
Nay, Socrates, always so bent on jesting? Oh, no more of this, Socrates ; but tell me honestly, as you love me, do you believe that any man in Greece could write more ably and fully on the same subject? How do you mean, Phaedrus? Are we required to praise the speech for the fitness of its subject-matter, or merely on the ground that every word in it is clear, and rounded and polished off with a nice precision?
For I was merely directing my attention to its rhetorical merit, though this I did not imagine even Lysias himself would consider sufficient.
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In fact, I thought, Phaedrus please correct me if I am wrong that he repeated the same things two or three times over, as though he found it no such easy matter to say much on one subject. Perhaps, though, it was that he did not mind this sort of thing ; nay, I could even fancy that he was showing off with a young man s display the power he possessed of expressing his ideas in two different ways, and in both with the finest possible language. You are quite wrong, Socrates ; the very merit which you deny is to be found in the speech in even an eminent degree.
Of all appropriate topics which the subject contained, it has not omitted a single one ; so that I am sure, that after what he has said no one could ever support the same position at greater length, or with arguments of greater value. On this point, Phaedrus, it will be no longer in my power to agree with you. For wise men and women of old time, who have written and spoken on the subject, will rise up and bear witness against me, if out of com plaisance to you I make this concession.
Whom do you mean? DRUS 25 Soc. I cannot say just at the moment, though I am sure I have heard it somewhere, either perhaps by the fair Sappho, or the sage Anacreon, or may be by some prose writer or other. What leads me, you will ask, to this conclusion? The fact is, my worthy Phaedrus, that my breast, I know not how, is full of matter, and I feel that I could be delivered of a speech different from, and in no wise inferior to this.
Now that I have invented none of it myself, I am confident, as I am no stranger to my own stupidity. It remains then, I think, that like a pitcher I have been filled, through my ears, from some foreign springs ; but here again so stupid am I, that I have quite for gotten both how and where I gained my information. Never mind, Socrates, you have told me most excellent tidings ; don t trouble your self about telling me how or from whom you heard it, but just do the very thing that you say.
Undertake to produce a speech of equal length and merit with that which I have got written here, without availing yourself of any of its arguments, and for my part I promise you, after the fashion of the nine archons, that 1 will dedicate to the god at Delphi a golden statue as large as life, not only of myself, but also of you. You are very kind, Phaedrus, and quite deserve the statue of gold, if you understand me to mean that Lysias missed his mark altogether, and that it is possible to produce a 26 PHJEDRUS speech which shall contain nothing that he said. No, I do not think this could be done with even the most worthless writer.
Since, to take our present subject, do you suppose that any man who was maintaining the superior claims of the unimpassioned to those of the impassioned suitor, would be able to proceed with his arguments if he were to omit lauding the sanity of the one, and blaming the insanity of the other? No, such arguments ought, I think, to be allowed and conceded to the author ; and in all such it is not the invention, but the arrangement that should be admired ; whereas in those which, instead of being impossible to miss, are difficult to find, the invention as well as the arrange ment may claim our approval.
I admit the distinction, as it appears to me to be fairly stated. And what is more, I will act up to it. I will allow you to assume that a man in love is in a more diseased con dition than one who is not in love, and if, when this point is put out of the question on both sides, you surpass Lysias in the number and value of your arguments, you may expect to figure in massive gold at Olympia by the side of the offering of the Cypselidas. You have taken it quite to heart, Phaedrus, that in teasing you I have laid hold upon your favourite ; and I see you expect that I shall really attempt, in emulation of his skill, to produce something still more skilfully wrought.
For that matter, my friend, you have given me quite as good a hold on you. For speak you must as well as you are able ; there is no help for it. But do take care that we are not compelled to have recourse to the vulgar stage-trick of retorting upon each other ; pray don t force me to say as you did just now : My good Socrates, if I don t know Socrates, I don t know Phaedrus any longer ; and again, 1 Socrates is dying to speak, but affects to be coy.
No, make up your mind that we will not stir from this spot, till you have disclosed what you said you had in your breast. For here we are by ourselves in a retired place, and I am the younger and stronger man of the two. All which things being considered, you had better mind what I say, and determine to speak of your own free will rather than by compulsion. But really, Phaedrus, it would be ludic rous in a novice like me to set myself in com parison with an experienced author, and extem porise on a subject which he has discussed. I ll tell you what it is, Socrates ; you must let me have no more of this coquetting, as I am pretty sure I have that to say which will compel you to speak.
Pray don t say it then. Nay, but I will, and here it is. And it shall be in the form of an oath. I swear to you by whom, by what god shall I swear? Shall it be by this plane-tree? Ah, wretch, well have you discovered the means of compelling a speech-enamoured man to do your bidding, whatever it be! What makes you hang back, then? I will do so no more, since you, Phaedrus, have sworn this oath. For how could I ever have the heart to exclude myself from such a feast? Begin then. Shall I tell you what I mean to do? About what?
I mean to speak with my face covered, that I may hurry through the speech as quickly as possible, and not break down for shame, by looking at you. Well, do but speak, and you may settle everything else as you like. Come now, ye Muses called Ligaean, whether it be to the nature of your song, or to the music -loving race of the Ligyans that ye owe the name, come help me in the tale which my kind friend here is forcing me to tell, in order that his favourite, who even here tofore seemed to him to be wise, may -now seem wiser than ever.
There was once upon a time a boy, say rather a youth, of surpassing beauty. Now this youth had very many lovers ; but one of them was a cunning fellow, who though he loved him no less warmly than his rivals, had made the youth believe that he loved him not. DRUS 29 d one day as he was urging his suit, he dertook to prove this very point, that the dispassionate suitor had a better claim on his favour than the impassioned lover.
And here is his proof. On every subject, my friend, there is but one mode of beginning for those who would deliberate well. They must know what the thing is on which they are deliberating, or else of necessity go altogether astray. Most men, however, are blind to the fact that they are ignorant of the essential character of each in dividual thing. Fancying therefore that they possess this knowledge, they come to no mutual understanding at the outset of their inquiry ; and in the sequel they exhibit the natural con sequence, an inconsistency with themselves and each other.
Let not you and me then fall into the error which we condemn in others ; but since the question before us is, whether love or the absence of love is desirable in friendship, let us first establish by mutual consent a de finition of love that will explain its nature and its powers ; and then, with this to look back upon and refer to, let us proceed to consider whether it is profitable or injurious in its results. Now that love is a kind of desire is clear to every one, and equally clear is it on the other hand, that without being in love we desire beautiful objects.
How then are we to mark the lover? Now these two principles at one time maintain har mony ; while at another they are at feud within us, and now one and now the other obtains the mastery. When judgment leads us with sound reason to virtue, and asserts its authority, we assign to that authority the name of temper ance ; but when desire drags us irrationally to pleasures, and has established its sway within us, that sway is denominated excess. Now excess, you must know, is a thing of many names, as it is of many parts and many forms.
And of these forms, that which may happen to have obtained the predominance brands its possessor with its own name, and that one neither honourable nor worth possessing. For instance, when desire in regard of eating gets the better of the highest reason and the other desires, it will be termed gluttony, and cause its possessor to be called a glutton. If again it has usurped dominion in the matter of drink ing, and drags the individual affected by it in this direction, I need not say what designation it will acquire.
And since in general names akin to these names are applied to desires akin to these desires, it is sufficiently clear what is the proper appellation of the desire which for the time being happens to be domi nant. Now my motive for introducing these previous remarks must by this time be pretty well evident ; but nothing is so clear that it PHsEDRUS 31 does not admit of becoming clearer by being spoken.
When desire, having rejected reason and overpowered judgment which leads to right, is set in the direction of the pleasure which beauty can inspire, and when again under the influence of its kindred desires it is moved with violent motion towards the beauty of corporeal forms, it acquires a sur name from this very violent motion, and is called love. But by the way, my dear Phae- drus, do I appear to you, as I do to myself, to have been speaking under some influence divine?
There certainly can be no doubt, So crates, that an unusual kind of fluency has come upon you. Hearken then in silence to my words, for in very truth the place where we are sitting seems holy ground. So that if haply in the course of my oration I become entranced by the spirits of the spot, you must not marvel thereat ; for my present utterance falls no longer far short of a dithyrambic strain.
Most true ; it does not. And for this, Phsedrus, you are answer able. But listen to the remainder of my speech, for it may be that I shall escape the trance. This, however, will be as Heaven pleases ; for ourselves, we must return in our discourse to the beautiful boy. Come then, my excellent youth. If a man be governed by desire and the slave of pleasure, he must of necessity, I think, endeavour to render his beloved the source of as much pleasure to himself as he possibly can. Now, to a sick man everything gives pleasure that does not oppose itself to his wishes, but whatever asserts a superiority or even an equality, excites his dislike.
A lover, therefore, if he can help it, will not bear his favourite to be either superior to or on a level with himself, but is always striving to lower him and make him inferior. Now ignorance is inferior to learning, cowardice to courage, incapacity as a speaker to oratorical skill, heaviness of intellect to a ready wit.
Such, among many others, are the mental defects which a lover must needs rejoice to find in his loved one if they are naturally inherent, and which, if they result from education, he must endeavour to instil, or else forfeit his immediate gratification. The consequence is, that your lover will regard you with a jealous eye, and by debarring you from many valuable acquaint ances, the cultivation of which would be most conducive to your growth in manliness, he will do you serious harm, and the greatest harm of all by excluding you from that which would make you most truly wise ; I mean the study of Divine Philosophy, from which your lover PHJEDRUS 33 will be sure to keep you as far as possible asunder, for fear of your there learning to despise him.
And not content with this, he will so scheme as to leave you in total ignor ance of every subject whatever, so that on every subject you may be compelled to look to him for information ; as this is the condition for you to be in that will cause him the keenest delight, but yourself the most ruinous harm. So far then as mental improvement is con cerned, you cannot have a less profitable guide and companion than a suitor who is under the influence of love.
Let us now proceed to consider what will be your corporeal habit, and what your course of bodily discipline, if you have for your lord and master a man who cannot help pursuing plea sure in preference to virtue. Such a person will be seen running after a delicate stripling, not hardy in frame nor reared beneath a scorch ing sun, but fondled under the shade of blend ing trees ; a stranger to manly toil and healthful sweatings, but no stranger to the softness of a woman s life, decking his person with false colours and ornaments, in lack of nature s graces, and given in short to all such practices as are the natural concomitants of these.
What they are, you know so well that I need not dilate on them further ; but, summing them up under one general head, I will proceed to an other branch of my subject. To pass from these obvious reflections, let us in the next place examine what advantage or what injury to your fortune we may expect to find resulting from the companionship and management of a lover. Clear it must be to every one, and to the lover himself most of all, that there is nothing he would pray for so earnestly as for the object of his attachment to be deprived of his dearest, fondest, and holiest treasures.
Gladly would he see him bereft of father and mother, of relations and friends, as in them he views only so many censors and obstacles in the way of that commerce with his beloved which he loves most dearly. More over, if a youth be possessed of property in gold or other kind of substance, he will not appear so ready a prey, nor so easy of manage ment when caught in the toils. And thus it can not possibly be but that a lover will grudge his favourite the possession of fortune, and rejoice sincerely in its loss.
Nay more, he would fain have him remain as long as possible without wife, or child, or home, in his desire of reaping for the longest time he can the full enjoyment of his own delights. There are, I am aware, other evils beside this in the world, though few with which some deity has not mingled a temporary gratification. A mistress moreover may be condemned as a dangerous evil ; and the same objection may be made to a variety of similar creatures and pursuits, which are yet capable of affording, for the passing hour at least, the keenest enjoy ment.
But a lover, beside being detrimental to his favourite, is of all distasteful things the most distasteful in daily intercourse. We are told by an ancient saying, that youth is pleased with youth, and age with age : I suppose be cause a similarity of years, leading to a simi larity of pleasures, by virtue of resemblance engenders friendship. But yet the intercourse even of equals is not unattended by satiety.
And further, in every transaction every one, it is said, finds compulsion irksome ; and this is an evil which, in addition to their want of sympathy, is felt in the highest degree by the favourite in the society of his lover. And if, during the continuance of his passion, a lover is at once hurtful and disgusting, as surely, when his passion is over, will he be for the remainder of his life a traitor to one whom with many promises, aye and many an oath and prayer, he could scarcely prevail on to endure the present burden of his society in hope of future advantage.
Yes, I say, at the time when payment should be made, he finds that he has received within his breast a new ruler and a new lord, to wit, wisdom and tem perance, in the stead of passion and madness, and that he is become a new man, without his favourite being conscious of the change. So the youth demands a return for former favours, and reminds him of all that has passed between them in word and deed, under the impression rHsEDRUS 37 that he is speaking to the same person.
But the other, for very shame, dares neither avow the alteration that has come upon him, nor can he bring himself to fulfil the oaths and pro mises of that former insensate reign, now that wisdom and temperance have set their throne in his heart, for fear that, if he should act as he did before, he might become like what he was before, and return back again to his old condition.
And thus it is that he is a run away, and of necessity a defrauder, where once he was a lover, and in the turning of a pot sherd is changed from pursuer into pursued : for the youth is compelled to give chase with indignation and curses, having alas! Think deeply, my beautiful boy, on the words I have spoken, and remember that a lover s friendship is no attachment of good will, but that with an appetite which lusts for repletion, As wolves love lambs, so lovers love their loves.
Ah PhaDdrus, the very thing I dreaded! Why, Socrates, I thought it was only half finished, and that it would have quite as much to say in supporting the claim of the unimpassioned suitor, and enumerating the advantages which he has to offer in oppo sition. How is it then that you are leaving off now? Did you not observe, my learned friend, that I had already got beyond dithyrambics, and was giving utterance to epics, and that too, while engaged in blaming?
Pray what do you imagine will become of me, if I commence a panegyric? For fear then of such a fate, I tell you in a single word, that for all the evil I have spoken of the one, I attribute just the opposite good to the other. And what need of a pro tracted discourse, when enough has been said upon both sides? And thus my tale will meet with that reception which it deserves : and for myself I will cross the stream, and go home before you force me into something more serious still.
Not yet, Socrates, not till the heat of the day is past. Don t you see that the sun is already near standing still at high noon, as they phrase it? I do believe, that of all the speeches that have been composed during your lifetime, a greater number owe their existence to you than to any other person in the world, whether they be of your own composition, or extorted from some one else by fair means or foul. If we except Simmias of Thebes, there is no one who will bear competition with you.
And now again I believe we shall find another speech which will have to thank you for its delivery. No bad tidings these, certainly; but how is this the case, and what speech do you mean Soc. Now,, you must know, 1 possess something of prophetic skill, though no very great amount, but, like indifferent writers, just enough for my own purposes. And thus it is that I have now at last a clear perception of my error.
I say at last, because I can assure you, my good friend, that the soul too is in some sort prophetic. For mine pricked me some time ago, as I was uttering that speech, and my face, as Ibycus says, was 40 PH. But now I have discovered my sin. And pray what was it? That was a shocking, shocking speech which you brought here yourself, Phaedrus, and so was the one you forced me to utter.
In what way were they shocking? They were foolish, and somewhat im pious withal ; and what can be more shocking than this? Nothing, if your charge be a true one. And is it not? Don t you believe Love to be the son of Aphrodite, and a god? He is said to be so, certainly. Certainly not by Lysias, nor by that speech of yours which found utterance through my lips after they had been bewitched by you. This, therefore, is the offence they were guilty of with regard to Love ; and not only this, but with a naivete that is highly amusing, though they do not utter a single sound or true word throughout, they yet talk as gravely as if they were of consequence, on the strength, it may be, of expecting to impose upon some poor simpletons, and win a fair name among them.
I therefore, for my part, Phaedrus, must of necessity purify myself. For when he was deprived of his eyesight for maligning Helen, he was not ignorant, like Homer, of the cause, but a true votary of the Muses, he learnt his fault, and straightway sang False was my tale unpassed the rolling sea, And Troy s proud turrets never viewed by thee.
And so, having composed all his palinode, as it is called, he immediately recovered his sight. I, however, will be wiser than either of those bards in one particular. Ere any evil befall me for my defamation of Love, I will offer him my palinode by way of atonement, with my head bare, and no longer, as before, muffled up for shame. You could not have said anything that would give me greater pleasure than this.
I believe you, my good friend ; for you feel as well as I do, how shameless was the tone of both our speeches. For just conceive their being overheard by some gentleman of mild and generous feeling, who is either now, or has at some past time of his life been, enamoured of a youth of congenial disposition.
I don t doubt it, Socrates. Out of delicacy then to such a lover as this, and for fear of the god of love himself, I desire by a fresh and sweet discourse to wash out, so to speak, the brackish taste of the stuff we have just heard. And I would recommend Lysias too to make all the haste he can to prove that, under similar circumstances, the suit of a lover should be preferred to that of one who is not in love. You need have no doubt of this being done, Socrates. If you deliver your panegyric on love, Lysias most certainly shall not escape composing another on the same side.
Well, I can trust you for this, so long as you are the man you are. Speak on then with confidence. But where, I want to know, is the boy to whom I addressed my former speech, as I should be sorry for him to run away without hearing this as well, and favour in his haste the suit of an unimpassioned wooer. Here he is by your side, quite ready for you when you want him. Now, it must begin on this wise : False is the tale which says that when a lover is present, favour ought rather to be shown to one, who is no lover, on the score, forsooth, of the one being mad and the other sane.
For if it were true, without exception, that madness is an evil, there would be no harm in the assertion ; but, as it is, we owe our greatest blessings to madness, if only it be granted by Heaven s bounty. For the pro phetess at Delphi, you are well aware, and the priestesses of Dodona, have in their moments of madness done great and glorious service to the men and the cities of Greece, but little or none in their sober mood.
And if we were to speak of the Sibyl and all others, that by exercise of inspired divination have told before hand many things to many men, and thereby guided them aright in their future courses, we should run to a great length in telling only what every one knows. There is one fact, however, to which it would be worth our while solemnly to appeal ; I mean that, in the opinion of the name-givers of ancient times, madness was no disgrace or reproach ; else they would never have attached this very name to that most glorious art whereby the future is dis cerned.
As much then as divination is a more perfect and a more precious thing than augury both in name and efficiency, so much more glorious, by the testimony of the ancients, is madness than sober sense, the inspiration of Heaven than the creation of men. Again, for those sore plagues and dire afflictions, which you are aware lingered in certain families as the wraith of some old ancestral guilt, madness devised a remedy, after it had entered into the heart of the proper persons, and to the proper persons revealed its secrets ; for it fled for refuge to prayer and services of the gods, and thence obtaining purifications and atoning rites made its possessor whole for time present and time to come, by showing him the way of escape from the evils that encompassed him, if only he were rightly frenzied and possessed.
And thirdly, there is a possession and a mad ness inspired by the Muses, which seizes upon a tender and a virgin soul, and, stirring it up to rapturous frenzy, adorns in ode and other verse the countless deeds of elder time for the PHALDRUS 45 instruction of after ages.
But whosoever with out the madness of the Muses comes to knock at the doors of poesy, from the conceit that haply by force of art he will become an efficient poet, departs with blasted hopes, and his poetry, the poetry of sense, fades into obscurity before the poetry of madness. Such, and yet more, are the glorious results I can tell you of as proceeding from a madness inspired by the gods. Let us not therefore regard with apprehension the particular result we are considering, nor be perplexed and frightened by any arguments into the belief that we ought to select the sensible rather than the enraptured man as our friend.
No, our opponent must not carry off the palm of victory till he has likewise made it evident, that for no good is love sent from heaven to lover and beloved. With us, on the other hand, rests the proof that such a madness as this is given by God to man for his highest possible happiness. Now my proof, I am aware, will meet with no credit from the subtle disputant, but in the eyes of the truly wise it will be convincing.
First of all then I must investigate the truth with regard to the nature of the soul, both human and divine, by observ ing its conditions and powers. And thus do I begin my demonstration. Every soul is immortal for whatever is in perpetual motion is immortal.
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Now the thing which moves another and is by another moved, as it may cease to be moved, may cease also 46 PHALDRUS to live ; it is only that which moves itself, inasmuch as it never quits itself, that never ceases moving, but is to everything else that is moved a source and beginning of motion. Now a beginning is uncreate ; for everything that is created must be created from a beginning, but a beginning itself from nothing whatever : for if a beginning were created from anything, it would not be a beginning.
Again, since it is uncreate, it must also of necessity be inde structible. For if a beginning be destroyed, it can neither itself be at any time created from anything, nor can anything else be created from it, if, as is evidently true, everything must be created from a beginning. Thus we see then that that which is self-moved is the be ginning of motion, and as being such can neither be created nor destroyed ; else must all the universe and all creation collapse and come to a standstill, and never at any time find that whereby they may be again set in motion and come into being.
And now that that which is moved by itself has been found to be immortal, none will hesitate to assert that this power of self-motion is implied in the very essence and definition of a soul. For every body which receives motion from without we call soulless ; but that, which receives motion from within of itself, we say is possessed of soul, as though in this lay the soul s very nature.
And if it be true, that that which is self- moved is nothing else than the soul, it follows of necessity that the soul must be a PHsEDRUS 47 thing both uncreate and immortal. For its immortality let this suffice. In considering its form let us proceed in the following manner. To explain what the soul is, would be a long and most assuredly a god like labour ; to say what it resembles, is a shorter and a human task.
Let us attempt then the latter ; let us say that the soul re- sembles the combined efficacy of a pair of w i iiged steeds and a charioteer! In the first place, with us men the supreme ruler has a pair of horses to manage, and then of these horses he finds one generous and of generous breed, the other of opposite descent and opposite character. And thus it neces sarily follows that driving in our case is no easy or agreeable work.
We must at this point endeavour to express what we mean respectively by a mortal and an immortal animal. All that is soul presides over all that is without soul, and patrols all heaven, now appearing in one form and now in another. The immortal, on the other hand, has received its name from the conclusion of no human reasoning ; but without having either seen or formed any adequate conception of a god, we picture him to ourselves as an im mortal animal, possessed of soul and possessed of body, and of both in intimate conjunction from all eternity.
But this matter I leave to be and to be told as Heaven pleases my task is to discover what is the cause that makes the feathers fall off the soul. It is something, I conceive, of the following kind. The natural efficacy of a wing is to lift up heavy substances, and bear them aloft to those upper regions which are inhabited by the race of the gods.
And of all the parts connected with the body it has perhaps shared most largely with the soul in the divine nature. Now of this nature are beauty, wisdom, virtue, and all similar qualities. By these then the plumage of the soul is chiefly fostered and increased ; by ugliness, vice, and all such con traries, it is wasted and destroyed. Zeus, the great chieftain in heaven, driving a winged car, travels first, arranging and presiding over all things ; and after him comes a host of gods and inferior deities, marshalled in eleven divi- sions, for Hestia stays at home alone in the mansion of the gods ; but all the other ruling powers, that have their place in the number of the twelve, march at the head of a troop in PIL EDRUS 49 the order to which they have been severally appointed.
Now there are, it is true, many ravishing views and opening paths within the bounds of heaven, whereon the family of the blessed gods go to and fro, each in performance of his own proper work ; and they are followed by all who from time to time possess both will and power ; for envy has no place in the celestial choir. But whenever they go to feast and revel, they forthwith journey by an uphill path to the summit of the heavenly vault. Now the chariots of the gods being of equal poise, and obedient to the rein, move easily, but all others with difficulty; for they are burdened by the horse of vicious temper, which sways and sinks them towards the earth, if haply he has received no good training from his charioteer.
Where upon there awaits the soul a crowning pain and agony. For those which we called immortal go outside when they are come to the topmost height, and stand on the outer surface of heaven, and as they stand they are borne round by its revolution, and gaze on the ex ternal scene. Now of that region beyond the sky no earthly bard has ever yet sung or ever will sing in worthy strains.
But this is the fashion of it ; for sure I must venture to speak the truth, especially as truth is my theme. Real existence, colourless, formless, and in tangible, visible only to the intelligence which sits at the helm of the soul, and with which the family of true science is concerned, has its abode in this region.
And during the circuit it sees distinctly absolute justice, and absolute temper ance, and absolute science ; not such as they appear in creation, nor under the variety of forms to which we nowadays give the name of realities, but the justice, the temperance, the science, which exist in that which is real and essential being. And when in like manner it has seen all the rest of the world of essence, and feasted on the sight, it sinks down again into the interior of heaven, and returns to its own home.
And on its arrival, the charioteer takes his horses to the manger, and sets before them ambrosia, and gives them nectar to drink with it. Such is the life of the gods ; but of the other souls, that which follows a god most closely and resembles him most nearly, succeeds in raising the head of its charioteer into the outer region, and is carried round with the immortals in their revolution, though sore en cumbered by its horses, and barely able to contemplate the real existences ; while another rises and sinks by turns, his horses plunging so violently that he can discern no more than a part of these existences.
Hence ensues the extremest turmoil and struggling and sweating ; and herein, by the awkward ness of the drivers, many souls are maimed, and many lose many feathers in the crush ; and all after painful labour go away without being blessed by admission to the spectacle of truth, and thenceforth live on the food of mere opinion. And now will I tell you the motives of this great anxiety to behold the fields of truth. And in all these various conditions those who have lived justly receive afterwards a better lot ; those who have lived unjustly, a worse.
For to that same place from which each soul set out, it does not re- turn for ten thousand years ; so long is it before it recovers its plumage, unless it has belonged to a guileless lover of philosophy, or a philosophic lover of boys. But these souls, during their third millennium, if only they have chosen thrice in succession this form of exist ence, do in this case regain their feathers, and at its conclusion wing their departure. But in the thousandth year both divisions come back again to share and choose their second life, and they select that which they severally please.
And then it is that a human soul passes into the life of a beast, and from a beast who was once a man the soul comes back into a man again. For the soul which has never seen the truth at all can never enter into the human form ; it being a necessary con dition of a man that he should apprehend according to that which is called a generic form, which, proceeding from a variety of per ceptions, is by reflection combined into unity.
And this is nothing more nor less than a re collection of those things which in time past our soul beheld when it travelled with a god, and, looking high over what we now call real, lifted up its head into the region of eternal essence. And thus you see it is with justice that the mind of the philosopher alone recovers its plumage, for to the best of its power it is ever fixed in memory on that glorious spectacle, by the contemplation of which the godhead is divine.
And it is only by the right use of such memorials as these, and by ever perfect ing himself in perfect mysteries, that a man becomes really perfect. It will now appear what conclusion the whole course of our argument has reached with regard to the fourth kind of madness, with which a man is inspired whenever, by the sight of beauty in this lower world, the true beauty of the world above is so brought to his remembrance that he begins to recover his plumage, and feeling new wings longs to soar aloft ; but the power failing him gazes upward like a bird, and becomes heedless of all lower matters, thereby exposing himself to the imputation of being crazed.
And the conclusion is this, that of all kinds of en thusiasm this is the best, as well in character as in origin, for those who possess it, whether fully or in part ; and further, that he who loves beautiful objects must partake of this madness before he can deserve the name of lover.
For though, as I said before, every man s soul has by the law of his birth been a spectator of eternal truth, or it would never have passed into this our mortal frame, yet still it is no easy matter for all to be reminded of their past by their present existence. It is hot easy either for those who, during that struggle I told you of, caught but a brief glimpse of upper glories, nor for those who, after their fall to this world, were so unfortunate as to be turned aside by evil associations into the paths of wickedness, and so made to forget that holy spectacle.
And these few, whenever they see here any resemblance of what they witnessed there, are struck with wonder, and can no longer contain themselves, though what it is that thus affects them they know not, for want of sufficient discernment. Now in the likenesses existing here of justice, and temperance, and all else which souls hold precious, there is no brightness ; but through the medium of dull dim instruments it is but seldom and with difficulty that people are en abled on meeting with the copies to recognise the character of the original.
But beauty not only shone brightly on our view at the time when in the heavenly choir we, for our part, followed in the band of Zeus, as others in the bands of other gods, and saw that blissful sight and spectacle, and were initiated into that mystery which I fear not to pronounce the most blessed of all mysteries ; for we who celebrated it were perfect and untainted by the evil that awaited us in time to come, and per fect too, and simple, and calm, and blissful were the visions which we were solemnly admitted to gaze upon in the purest light, ourselves being no less pure, nor as yet en tombed in that which we now drag about with us and call the body, being fettered to it as an oyster to his shell.
Excuse my so far indulg ing memory, which has carried me to a greater length than I intended, in my yearning for a happiness that is past. I return to beauty. Not only, as I said before, did she shine brightly 56 PHALDRUS among her fellows there, but when we came hither we found her, through the medium of our clearest sense, gleaming far more clearly than them all.
For sight is the keenest of our bodily senses, though it fails of distinguishing wisdom. For terrible would be the passion inspired by her, or by any other of those lovely realities, if they exhibited to the eye of sense any such clear resemblance of themselves as is the image afforded by beauty. No, to beauty alone is the privilege given of being at once most conspicuous and most lovely. The man, it is true, whose initiation is of ancient date, or who has lost his purity here, is slow in being carried hence to the essential beauty of the upper world, when he sees that which bears its name in this.
For he has received through his eyes the emanation of beauty, and has been warmed thereby, and his native plumage is watered.