[258δ] Σωκράτης: τοῦτο μὲν ἄρα παντὶ δῆλον, ὅτι οὐκ αἰσχρὸν αὐτό γε τὸ γράφειν λόγους.
Φαῖδρος: τί γάρ;
Σωκράτης: ἀλλ᾽ ἐκεῖνο οἶμαι αἰσχρὸν ἤδη, τὸ μὴ καλῶς λέγειν τε καὶ γράφειν ἀλλ᾽ αἰσχρῶς τε καὶ κακῶς.
Φαῖδρος: δῆλον δή.
Σωκράτης: τίς οὖν ὁ τρόπος τοῦ καλῶς τε καὶ μὴ γράφειν; δεόμεθά τι, ὦ Φαῖδρε, Λυσίαν τε περὶ τούτων ἐξετάσαι καὶ ἄλλον ὅστις πώποτέ τι γέγραφεν ἢ γράψει, εἴτε πολιτικὸν σύγγραμμα εἴτε ἰδιωτικόν, ἐν μέτρῳ ὡς ποιητὴς ἢ ἄνευ μέτρου ὡς ἰδιώτης;
Φαῖδρος: ἐρωτᾷς εἰ δεόμεθα; τίνος μὲν οὖν ἕνεκα κἄν τις ὡς εἰπεῖν ζῴη, ἀλλ᾽ ἢ τῶν τοιούτων ἡδονῶν ἕνεκα; οὐ γάρ που ἐκείνων γε ὧν προλυπηθῆναι δεῖ ἢ μηδὲ ἡσθῆναι, ὃ δὴ ὀλίγου πᾶσαι αἱ περὶ τὸ σῶμα ἡδοναὶ ἔχουσι: διὸ καὶ δικαίως ἀνδραποδώδεις κέκληνται.
Σωκράτης: σχολὴ μὲν δή, ὡς ἔοικε: καὶ ἅμα μοι δοκοῦσιν ὡς ἐν τῷ πνίγει ὑπὲρ κεφαλῆς ἡμῶν οἱ τέττιγες ᾁδοντες καὶ [259α] ἀλλήλοις διαλεγόμενοι καθορᾶν καὶ ἡμᾶς. εἰ οὖν ἴδοιεν καὶ νὼ καθάπερ τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐν μεσημβρίᾳ μὴ διαλεγομένους ἀλλὰ νυστάζοντας καὶ κηλουμένους ὑφ᾽ αὑτῶν δι᾽ ἀργίαν τῆς διανοίας, δικαίως ἂν καταγελῷεν, ἡγούμενοι ἀνδράποδ᾽ ἄττα σφίσιν ἐλθόντα εἰς τὸ καταγώγιον ὥσπερ προβάτια μεσημβριάζοντα περὶ τὴν κρήνην εὕδειν: ἐὰν δὲ ὁρῶσι διαλεγομένους καὶ παραπλέοντάς σφας ὥσπερ Σειρῆνας [259β] ἀκηλήτους, ὃ γέρας παρὰ θεῶν ἔχουσιν ἀνθρώποις διδόναι, τάχ᾽ ἂν δοῖεν ἀγασθέντες.
Φαῖδρος: ἔχουσι δὲ δὴ τί τοῦτο; ἀνήκοος γάρ, ὡς ἔοικε, τυγχάνω ὤν.
Σωκράτης: οὐ μὲν δὴ πρέπει γε φιλόμουσον ἄνδρα τῶν τοιούτων ἀνήκοον εἶναι. λέγεται δ᾽ ὥς ποτ᾽ ἦσαν οὗτοι ἄνθρωποι τῶν πρὶν μούσας γεγονέναι, γενομένων δὲ Μουσῶν καὶ φανείσης ᾠδῆς οὕτως ἄρα τινὲς τῶν τότε ἐξεπλάγησαν ὑφ᾽ ἡδονῆς, [259ξ] ὥστε ᾁδοντες ἠμέλησαν σίτων τε καὶ ποτῶν, καὶ ἔλαθον τελευτήσαντες αὑτούς: ἐξ ὧν τὸ τεττίγων γένος μετ᾽ ἐκεῖνο φύεται, γέρας τοῦτο παρὰ Μουσῶν λαβόν, μηδὲν τροφῆς δεῖσθαι γενόμενον, ἀλλ᾽ ἄσιτόν τε καὶ ἄποτον εὐθὺς ᾁδειν, ἕως ἂν τελευτήσῃ, καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα ἐλθὸν παρὰ μούσας ἀπαγγέλλειν τίς τίνα αὐτῶν τιμᾷ τῶν ἐνθάδε. Τερψιχόρᾳ μὲν οὖν τοὺς ἐν τοῖς χοροῖς τετιμηκότας αὐτὴν ἀπαγγέλλοντες [259δ] ποιοῦσι προσφιλεστέρους, τῇ δὲ Ἐρατοῖ τοὺς ἐν τοῖς ἐρωτικοῖς, καὶ ταῖς ἄλλαις οὕτως, κατὰ τὸ εἶδος ἑκάστης τιμῆς: τῇ δὲ πρεσβυτάτῃ Καλλιόπῃ καὶ τῇ μετ᾽ αὐτὴν Οὐρανίᾳ τοὺς ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ διάγοντάς τε καὶ τιμῶντας τὴν ἐκείνων μουσικὴν ἀγγέλλουσιν, αἳ δὴ μάλιστα τῶν Μουσῶν περί τε οὐρανὸν καὶ λόγους οὖσαι θείους τε καὶ ἀνθρωπίνους ἱᾶσιν καλλίστην φωνήν. πολλῶν δὴ οὖν ἕνεκα λεκτέον τι καὶ οὐ καθευδητέον ἐν τῇ μεσημβρίᾳ.
[258d] Socrates: Then that is clear to all, that writing speeches is not in itself a disgrace.
Phaedrus: How can it be?
Socrates: But the disgrace, I fancy, consists in speaking or writing not well, but disgracefully and badly.
Socrates: What, then, is the method of writing well or badly? Do we want to question Lysias about this, and anyone else who ever has written or will write anything, whether a public or private document, in verse or in prose, be he poet or ordinary man?
[258e] Phaedrus: You ask if we want to question them? What else should one live for, so to speak, but for such pleasures? Certainly not for those which cannot be enjoyed without previous pain, which is the case with nearly all bodily pleasures and causes them to be justly called slavish.
Socrates: We have plenty of time, apparently; and besides, the locusts seem to be looking down upon us as they sing and talk with each other in the heat. [259a] Now if they should see us not conversing at mid-day, but, like most people, dozing, lulled to sleep by their song because of our mental indolence, they would quite justly laugh at us, thinking that some slaves had come to their resort and were slumbering about the fountain at noon like sheep. But if they see us conversing and sailing past them unmoved by the charm of their Siren voices, [259b] perhaps they will be pleased and give us the gift which the gods bestowed on them to give to men.
Phaedrus: What is this gift? I don't seem to have heard of it.
Socrates: It is quite improper for a lover of the Muses never to have heard of such things. The story goes that these locusts were once men, before the birth of the Muses, and when the Muses were born and song appeared, some of the men were so overcome with delight [259c] that they sang and sang, forgetting food and drink, until at last unconsciously they died. From them the locust tribe afterwards arose, and they have this gift from the Muses, that from the time of their birth they need no sustenance, but sing continually, without food or drink, until they die, when they go to the Muses and report who honors each of them on earth. They tell Terpsichore of those who have honored her in dances, and make them dearer to her; [259d] they gain the favor of Erato for the poets of love, and that of the other Muses for their votaries, according to their various ways of honoring them; and to Calliope, the eldest of the Muses, and to Urania who is next to her, they make report of those who pass their lives in philosophy and who worship these Muses who are most concerned with heaven and with thought divine and human and whose music is the sweetest. So for many reasons we ought to talk and not sleep in the noontime.
What is a bug? I mean not only, “what natural creature or virtual feature can/do we name ‘bug?’” but also,
“how can/do we account for the intensities and potentialities of bug bodies, in all their astounding multiplicity?”
This post drops out of a specific insect encountered in my reading, one which very quickly manifested as multiplex—
moving across multiple channels of meaning simultaneously; moving me and my simplistic relationship to the text surprisingly.
Flipping through my Loeb Phaedrus one day, I came upon an error I’d apparently glossed over in every prior reading:
Harold North Fowler translates τέττιγες/τεττίγων (from τέττιξ: “cicala, Cicada plebeia”) as "locust.”
In the first place, I thought, cicadas are not the same as locusts. Not at all. Biologically speaking...
In the second place, I quickly surmised, our (human) interpretation of cicadas and their behavior is markedly different from our interpretation of locusts and their behavior...
Thus, this single slip between “cicada” and “locust” significantly altered a number of potential readings
(from the character of Socrates, to the origin myth Socrates relates in 258d-259d, to Plato’s stance on rhetoric and the technology of the written word).
This was, then, a bug of transmission propagated within the body of the “actual” insect, τέττιξ. Or was it propagated within the body of an “actual” text, Phaedrus
(Fowler’s translation, Loeb’s pub, my particular edition or copy)? This was a multi-layered bug, one which pushed me into ever-deeper media excavations.
What is τέττιξ as a biological creature, a mythical figure, a replicating textual error;
what is meant by the use of τέττιξ by Plato or his so-called mouthpiece, Socrates;
what does any of it mean for ancient rhetorical theory or for me, a still-green rhetorician?
After doing a bit of research (mostly to see if I was just going mad), I discovered mistranslations of τέττιξ have grieved cultural entomologists and entomological historians for some time...
For more on the cicada/cricket/locust distinction in Greek and Latin literature, see Rory B. Egan, "Cicadas in Ancient Greece: Ventures in Classical Tettigology."
For more on cicada vocalizations, see Pauline A. LeVen, "Mythologies of the Voice: Plato’s Cicadas and the Nature of the Voice."