Chapter 4. Stesichorus’ Palinode in the Phaedrus
Socrates’ statement foreshadows the theme of ‘possession’ or ‘madness’ (μανία) that is used in his future description of the state of being in love. More importantly, he is describing his divine inspiration in terms of ‘possession’; he thinks his madness may be attributed to the Nymphs of the locale.  His attributing the source of his madness to the Nymphs reappears at 241e3-5 when he hesitates to continue the tenor of this speech. Surely Phaedrus knows that Socrates will be possessed by the Nymphs into whose clutches the young man deliberately has thrown him (ἆρ’ οἶσθ’ ὅτι ὑπὸ τῶν Νυμφῶν, αἷς με σὺ προύβαλες ἐκ προνοίας, σαφῶς ἐνθουσιάσω;).  Socrates’ description of his present utterance as ‘not far from dithyrambic’ (238d2-3) is probably ironic insofar as the most famous composers of the dithyramb were already dead by the fourth century.  However, one must bear in mind that Socrates considers himself to be inspired,  even if his reference to the dithyrambic style may suggest that his relationship to the Muses is not what he thinks it ought to be. He is inspired at this point by the local Nymphs and not by the Muses.
This passage echoes Socrates’ earlier reference to his imminent possession by the Nymphs (238d 1-3); however, he now thinks that by the end of his speech he no longer utters dithyrambs but instead has broken out into epic (241el: ἤδη ἔπη φθέγγομαι). The shift in Socrates’ description of his style from ‘almost dithyrambic’ (238d2-3: οὐκέτι πόρρω διθυράμβων φθέγγομαι) to ‘epic’ is important because Socrates is stressing, once he has finished his speech to Phaedrus, how “carried away” he was while talking.  He is attempting to disclaim any responsibility for what he has said under the influence of external forces such as the Nymphs; like the poets who, he believes, do not have a true understanding of what they themselves say, Socrates himself has been “possessed.” The word he uses to designate his speech, μῦθος (241e8; cf. 237a9), is significant because it implies that Socrates views his speech as a story and not as a Lysianic oration designed to persuade Phaedrus.  Socrates sees Phaedrus as the instigator of this μῦθος that deserves to ‘suffer’ (πάσχειν) a dreadful fate.
The verb by which he describes his apprehension, ἐδυσωπούμην, conveys Socrates’ shamefacedness and alludes to his actual and figurative lack of vision during his first speech to Phaedrus.  By comparing himself to Ibycus, Socrates already places himself in the ranks of the lyric poets and therefore sets the stage for his forthcoming comparison to Stesichorus.
Socrates’ unveiling his head at this moment is significant. Like Stesichorus, he performs a gesture; however, Socrates regains his sight before delivering his palinode to Eros, while Stesichorus must complete his palinode to Helen before he can see again. The palinode, which is an act of atonement in the case of Stesichorus, becomes an apotropaic gesture for Socrates. As a result, the latter can be said to surpass the former. Stesichorus, whose own style may be considered “Homeric,” transcends Homer and is therefore called μουσικός by Socrates (243a6).  In a similar vein, Socrates’ first speech resembles that of Lysias but now the message of his second speech (the palinode to Eros) will be superior to that of Lysias. Perhaps it can be said that the composer of a palinode not only recants but also surpasses his predecessor’s work on a given theme.
And she demonstrated her own power to the poet Stesichorus also; for when he disparaged her in some way at the beginning of his song, he stood up and was deprived of his sight. When he understood the cause of his misfortune, he composed the so-called ‘palinode’ and she restored him to his original state.
There appears to be a relationship between “the external” and “the internal” in the first and second parts of the prayer. Socrates asks ‘to become fair within’. Perhaps Socrates’ being in the presence of the beauty of Phaedrus, as well as that of the surroundings, will result in Socrates’ becoming beautiful in both his body (representing “the external”) and his soul (representing “the internal”). One is reminded of Socrates’ remarks at 256d-e when he says that the souls of lovers will develop the same plumage. His second request, a prayer for a “friendly” relationship between his external possessions and his internal ones, can be interpreted as an expression of Socrates’ acknowledgment of the importance of divine inspiration combined with his fear of its power to beguile the soul. Like the cicada, Socrates can be understood to have no need for material things such as ‘gold’ (χρυσός) which, like food and drink, are regarded by nonphilosophers as essential for life.  The wisdom of the philosopher is the greatest possible wealth. The blessings of Eros thus resemble the blessings Socrates requests from Pan and the local deities.  Μουσική has become the heightened appreciation of the interrelationship between the various sorts of divinely inspired madness: prophecy, poetic sensibility, and love. In addition, it refers to the best possible relationship one can have with the external source of inspiration, the Muses: a relationship based on φιλοσοφία.  Plato ends the dialogue with a Socrates who has been inspired again by his surroundings. His inspiration has enabled him to be a lyric poet, a prophet, and, more importantly with respect to the young Phaedrus, a lover.