Socratic Duelogue

"My dear Socrates, why are you rendering these fables of Aesop in verse?"

"There comes a time, Aristophanes, when every philosopher must sing."

"Then the rumors are true! Already drawn toward the cool shadows of Hades, you've abandoned a lifelong stroll beneath the fiery orb of Truth, and now flee the warmth of sunlight to embrace the apparitions of whimsical fancy!"

"Not so quickly, my friend. All exists, so in every thing slumbers a revelation. Even fables such as these convey a peculiar type of wisdom."

"So you still meander along the winding path which Truth illuminates in the human soul? You find pleasure in philosophical discourse?"

"As if they were lovers, Truth and the Good walk hand in hand, and therein lies pleasure."

"But what will happen if true words are clothed in lovely verse? Will not the result be more colorful than the naked Truth?"

"That I cannot deny."

"Then you admit your verse is obscuring the facts--that you have abandoned philosophy for the seductive trappings of poesy!"

"Nothing of the kind."

"But how can you, Socrates--the most loyal disciple of Truth--unravel this knot?"

"Quite simply." Socrates offered a sheet of verse to his companion. "My song does not deceptively embellish Truth because it only employs bad verse."

Aristophanes examined the poem, grimaced, then responded with a half-smile: "I am afraid, Socrates, that Truth is a miserable poet."

"For that, my old rival, I cannot be blamed. Our souls are but oracles of Truth; we can choose to voice the words of Olympus or conceal them, but no one can reveal that which is not."

The poet responded while folding the sheet several times: "In this case, my prescription is the same as that Asclepius administered to his ailing father--silence." He jettisoned the poem out the window.

The two men stood immobilized, transfixed by a single sheet of bad verse scampering away on the crest of a breeze. After a few moments, Socrates broke the silence: "I'll bet I can make the next one fly all the way to that temple yonder."

"Can not."

"Can so."