Φαῖδρος, Faidros 

Thrasyllus: On the Love, Rakkaudesta (Περὶ ἔρωτοςPeri erōtos)

  • Φαῖδρος. Plato. Platonis Opera, ed. John Burnet. Oxford University Press. 1903. (Phdr. 227a-279c)
  • Phædrus. Plato. Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 9 translated by Harold N. Fowler. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1925.
  • Phaidros. Suomentanut Niilo Lehmuskoski. WSOY, Porvoo 1920.
  • Faidros. Platon: Teokset  III. Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava, Helsinki 1973.


SETTING: Outside the walls, bank of Ilissus, Socrates and Phædrus.

Know yourself


Socrates: “I am not yet able, as the Delphic inscription (γράμμα) has it, to know myself ( γνῶθι σεαυτόν); so it seems to me ridiculous (γελοῖον) when I do not yet know that, to investigate irrelevant things.”








By Hera, it is a charming resting place. For this plane tree is very spreading and lofty, and the tall and shady willow is very beautiful, and it is in full bloom, so as to make the place most fragrant; then, too, the spring is very pretty as it flows under the plane tree, and its water is very cool, to judge by my foot. And it seems to be a sacred place of some nymphs and of Achelous, judging by the figurines and statues. Then again, if you please, how lovely and perfectly charming the breeziness of the place is! and it resounds with the shrill summer music of the chorus of cicadas. But the most delightful thing of all is the grass, as it grows on the gentle slope, thick enough to be just right when you lay your head on it.




I. Phædrus: Lysias’ speech (231a – 234c).


Criticism of Lysias’s speech (234-237b)

II. Socrates: Speech of Phaedrus (237b – 241d)


Interlude(241e – 243e).



Speech of  Stesichorus, son of Euphemus of Himera (244a – 257b).



The greatest of good come to us through madness, sent as a gift of the gods

nνῦν δὲ τὰ μέγιστα τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἡμῖν γίγνεται διὰ μανίας, θείᾳ μέντοι δόσει διδομένης.

The types of divine madness (244a – 245b).

I. Oracular (μαντικός)

II. Purifying (καθαρμός)

III. Possessive (κατοκωχή)

“But he who without the madness of the Muses comes to the doors of the poetry, confident that he will be a good poet by art, meets with no success, and the poetry of the moderate vanishes into nothingness before that of the furious.”

The nature of soul (245c – 246a): Ungenerated and immortal


Every soul is immortal (ψυχὴ πᾶσα ἀθάνατος).

For whatever is ever-moving (ἀεικίνητος) is immortal. But that which moves something else or is moved by something else, when it ceases to move, ceases to live.

Only that which moves itself, since it does not leave itself, never ceases to move, and this is also the fount (πηγή) and beginning (ἀρχή) of motion (κίνησις) for all other things which have motion.

But the beginning is ungenerated.

For everything generated/born (γίγνομαι) is necessarily generated from a beginning (ἀρχή), but there is no beginning for this, since if the beginning were generated, it would not be a beginning.

And since it is ungenerated, it is necessarily also indestructible (ἀδιάφθορος)

For if the beginning were destroyed, it could never be generated from anything nor anything else generated from it, since all things must be generated from a beginning.

Thus that which moves itself is the beginning of motion. And that is incapable of being destroyed nor generated, otherwise all the heavens and all generation must fall in ruin and stop and never again have any source of motion or generation.

But since immortal appeared to be what moves itself, it is not badly said that this is the essence and principle of the soul.

For every body which is moved externally is soulless, but that which has its motion from itself has a soul, since that is the nature of the soul; and if this is so,  that that which moves itself is nothing else than the soul,—then the soul should necessarily be ungenerated and immortal.

The Idea (ἰδέα) of the soul

The story of it likeness (246a – 249d).


The soul can be likened to union of powers of winged horses and a charioteer.

 ἐοικέτω δὴ συμφύτῳ δυνάμει ὑποπτέρου ζεύγους τε καὶ ἡνιόχου

Soul as a whole takes care all that is without soul, traverses the whole heaven, sometimes in one form (εἶδος) and sometimes in another. As perfect and fully winged, it mounts upward and governs the whole cosmos. As perfect and fully winged, it mounts upward and governs the whole cosmos, but when it has sheds its wings it sinks until it gets hold of something solid, where it settles and takes on an earthly body, which seems to be self-moving, because of the power of this soul.

This combination of soul (ψυχή) and body (σῶμα) is called a living being (ζῷον) and further designated as mortal (θνητός).

It is not immortal by any argumentative saying, but though we have never seen or rightly conceived a god, we imagine an immortal living being which has both a soul and a body which are united for all time.

The wings have the power to soar upwards and raise that which is heavy up to the place where dwells the family of the gods. More than any other thing that pertains to the body it partakes of the divine soul. But the divine is beauty, wisdom, goodness, and all such qualities; by these then the wings of the soul are nourished and grow, but by the opposite qualities, such as vileness and evil, they are wasted away and destroyed.

The Life of Gods


Hyperspace (ὑπερουράνιος) beyond the heaven


This is colorless (ἀχρώματος), shapeless (ἀσχημάτιστος), and  impalpable (ἀναφής) really existing being (οὐσία ὄντως οὖσα), visible only to the mind (νόος), the steersman (κυβερνήτης) of the soul. This is the region of the lineage of the true knowledge  ἀληθοῦς ἐπιστήμης).

Now a god’s thought (διάνοια) is nourished by intelligence (νόος) and pure knowledge (ἐπιστήμῃ ἀκηράτῳ), as is the soul that is concerned to take in what is appropriate to it, rejoicing (ἀγαπᾷ) at last to see what is and watching what is true, feeding on all this and enjoying, until the circulation brings it around to where it started.

On the way around it has look down righteousness (δικαιοσύνη) itself, temperance (σωφροσύνη) and knowledge ἐπιστήμη), but not that, which has a beginning (γένεσις) and becomes different as knowing different things we call real down here, but the knowledge of what really is what it is.   

The Law (θεσμός) of Adrasteia and the law (νόμος) of the earthly souls


This is the ordinance (θεσμός) of Adrasteia [Inevitable]. Every soul that becomes a companion to a god and catches sight of anything that is true, will be unharmed until the next circuit; and if it is able to do this every time, is always unharmed.

But when, through inability to follow, it fails to see, and through some mischance is filled with forgetfulness (λήθη) and evil (κακία) and grows heavy, and when it has grown heavy, loses its wings and falls to the earth. Then it is the law (νόμος) that this soul shall never be planted into any beast (θήρειος) at its first birth.

The soul that has seen the most shall enter into the birth of a man who will become

  1. Philosopher (φιλόσοφος) or a lover of beauty (φιλόκαλος), or musical (μουσικός)  or amorous (ἐρωτικός´) one.
  2. Lawful king (βασιλέως ἐννόμου) or warring (πολεμικός) ruler (ἀρχικοῦ).
  3. Politician (πολιτικός) or anyone who is household manager (οἰκονομικός) or financier (χρηματιστικός).
  4. Lover of labor (Φιλόπονος) or gymnast (γυμναστικός) or one who will be concerned with the cure of the body.
  5. Oracle (μαντικόν) or anyone fit for finishing rites (τελεστικόν).
  6. Poet (ποιητικός) or some other imitator
  7. Craftsman (δημιουργικός) or farmer (γεωργικός)
  8. Sophist (σοφιστικός) or demagogue (δημοκοπικός)
  9. Tyrant (τυραννικός)

The wings of the philosophical thought


But a soul that never saw the truth cannot take our shape, since a human must understand speech in terms of form (εἶδος), proceeding to bring many sense-perceptions (αἴσθησις) together into a reasoned unity.  But this is but a recollection (ἀνάμνησις) of things our soul saw, when it journeyed with God and, lifting its vision above the things which we now say exist, rose up into real being. Therefore it is just (δίκαιος) that only the thought of the philosopher has wings, since its always tries to remembrance as far as it is able, what makes  gods to be divine.

A man who consults such memories (ὑπομνήμασιν) rightly, always being perfectly initiated into perfection, is the only one that can become perfect.  But since he displaces (ἐξίστημι) himself from human pursuits and turns toward the divine, he is rebuked by the many (πολλῶν), who consider him disturbed (παρακινέω) and do not notice that he is inspired (ἐνθουσιάζω).

The fourth madness (τετάρτης μανίας)

That which someone shows when he sees the beauty on earth and is reminded of true one; takes wings and flutters in his eagerness to rise up, but is unable to do so and like a bird gazes upward being careless on the things below, which causes him to be regarded as mad.

This is the best and noblest origin of all inspiration for anyone who has it or is connected to it, and he who partaking this madness, loves the beautiful, is called a lover (ἐραστής)

Holding your horses: Returning to the allegory of charioteer



II. THE NATURE OF SPEECH (257c – 279c).


The story of cicadas


The story goes that the cicadas used to be humans who lived before the birth of the Muses. When the Muses were born and song appeared, some were so overcome with enjoyment of singing, that they forgot the food and drink, until at last unconsciously they died. From them the cicadas came to being and, as a gift from the Muses, they have no need of nourishment once they are born. Instead, they immediately burst into song, without food or drink, until it is time for them to die, when they go to the Muses and report who honors each of them on earth.

The good and bad speech and writing

S: Won’t someone who is to speak well and beautifully have to have in mind the truth about the matters he is to speak?

Ph: I have heard that it is not necessary for the intending orator (ῥήτωρ) to learn what is really just (δίκαιος), but only what will seem (δόξαντ) so to the multitude (πλῆθος) who sit in judgement. Nor again know what is really good or beautiful, but only what will seem so. For that is what persuasion (πείθω) proceeds from, not truth (ἀλήθεια).

Is rhetoric art? 

S: But I hear already certain arguments approaching and protesting that that is a lie (ψεύδεται) and that rhetoric is not an art (τέχνη) but an artless routine (τριβή). As the Spartan said, there is no art of true sense (ἔτυμος) without a grasp of truth, and there never will be.

S: Is not rhetoric (ῥητορική) in its entire an art of soul-leading (ψυχαγωγία) by means of words (λόγος), not only in law courts (δικαστήριον) and the various other assemblages of people, but also in private?

The knowledge of similarity (ὁμοιότης) and dissimilarity (ἀνομοιότης).

S: We can therefore find the speaking on opposite sides (ἀντιλογική) not only in the law-courts (δικαστήρια) and in the people’s assembly (δημηγορίαν). Rather, it seems one and same art—if, of course, it is an art in the first place—in all speaking. By means of it one makes all that is possible similar with all that is possible, and to bring to the light the similarities made and disguised by others.

S: Therefore, if you are to deceive (ἀπατήσειν) another and not to be deceived yourself, you must discern (διαείδω) accurately the similarity (ὁμοιότης) and dissimilarity (ἀνομοιότης).

S: Could someone ever have the art to lead others little by little through similarities away from what is the case on each occasion to its opposite? Or could he escape this being done to himself? If he doesn’t know what each thing is.

S: Then, my friend, he who doesn’t know the truth and hunts opinions (δόξας) instead, attain an art of words which is ridiculous, and not an art at all.

Forms of madness

There are two forms of madness, one from human diseases, and the other from a divine release from the customary habits. The four divine kind area connected to four gods. Prophesy  (μαντικός) is inspired by Apollo, fulfilling/initiating (τελεστικός) by Dionysus, poetic (ποιητικός) by the Muses, forth the amorous (ἐρωτικός) madness, which we said to be the best, by Aphrodite and Love (ἔρως).

Techniques of rhetoric (266c – 269c).

Philosophy and rhetoric (269c-272b)

The true method of rhetoric (272b-274b)

The superiority if the spoken word. Myth of the invention of writing. (274b-278b)

Messages to Lysias and Isocrates (278b – 279c).