The Death of Socrates by Jaques-Louis David

Phaedo: The poet Evenus asks what he is to do in the composing festival in honor of Apollo. Why, Socrates, he is to choose among many young poets and some are from his own school.

Socrates: And what troubles the fine poet Evenus?
P: That he may not choose right, Socrates, because he knows how his students sing and may prefer their song over those of others?

S: And what if he should, Phaedo?

P: That others may think it unfair.

S: Why should others doubt the virtues of Evenus? Is he not a qualified poet to make a choice that is appealing to him, regardless of whom he chooses?

P: But others may wish to know the criteria supporting his choice?

S: What criteria can he possibly propose, Phaedo, that may please all?

P: He cannot, Socrates, but he can choose not to judge, letting another worthy poet take his place.

S: And what criteria shall that other use that may please all?

P: That is the quandary, but he may yet ask his students not to sing at the festival should he decide to be the judge.

S: How is he then to choose the best song if not all songs from all are song?

P: Indeed, that is why he asks you to help him, Socrates.

S: I am not a poet though I sense that one need not be a poet to seek truth.

P: How is Evenus to find truth?

S: By listening to all the songs and choosing one that does justice to Apollo.

P: But how is he to know it is the one?

S: He is to know that it is one, a worthy one among many, else they shall all stop singing to Apollo.

P: But that cannot be, Socrates.

S: No. That cannot be, dearest Phaedo, so Evenus cannot but seek the truth. He already knows that no one song alone shall please Apollo best.

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