I attempt to explain Plato's choice of dialogue through an analysis of what he regarded as the conditions of knowledge acquisition. I see the main contribution of the paper in exposing the way in which time and pain are, for Plato, conditions of knowledge acquisition. Plato endorsed the "learning through suffering," or pathei mathos, convention, central to Greek drama, and did so not through theory but through the praxis some of the dialogues employ. This addition of experiential components to the more cognitively oriented definitions of knowledge that Socrates uses complicates what these works may say about human knowledge. I analyze these tensions and the bearing they may have on the question of Plato's choice of dialogue, that is, on his rhetoric in practice. The requirements for actual persuasion, as Plato specifies them in the Seventh Letter, are only partially met by the fictional scenes of argumentation and knowledge conveying that Plato presents. However, such scenes permit transcending some of the limitations of written, systematic, nonpersonal discourse. The presentation of such interactions to a real reader through dialogue turns into a mode of writing that is closer to meeting the demands of actual communication of knowledge - at least knowledge regarding what Plato envisaged as being the highest sort of epistemic communication.