Early in the Phaedrus, after Phaedrus has read Lysias’ speech on love, Socrates opens his own speech on the subject with the invocation:
Come then, ye clear voiced Muses, whether it be from the nature of your song, or from the musical people of Liguria that ye came to be so styled, ‘assist the tale I tell’ under compulsion by my good friend here, to the end that he may think yet more highly of one dear to him, whom he already accounts a man of wisdom.
Socrates begins the account only to interrupt himself, asking, ‘Well, Phaedrus, my friend, do you think, as I do, that I am divinely inspired?’ When Phaedrus replies ‘Undoubtedly, Socrates, you have been vouchsafed a quite unusual eloquence’, Socrates bids him ‘listen to me in silence. For truly there seems to be a divine presence in this spot, so that you must not be surprised if, as my speech proceeds, I become as one possessed; already my style is not far from dithyrambic’ (239c-d).
Socrates represented so many and differing images to his contemporaries that modern scholars must continue to seek the ‘real’ person. Even so, from the perspective of historical development, there is some agreement on at least one point: it is not uncommon to find Socrates described as a pivot between two phases of ancient Greek culture. Victor Ehrenberg ended his study of classical Greece with Socrates; F.M. Cornford saw the history of philosophy in terms of Before and After Socrates. We believe that Socrates’ actions recorded in the Phaedrus are yet another illustration of his stance astride two ages with their quite different