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Symposion: Griechisch-Deutsch

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Platon (Eflatun, İÖ yaklaşık 428 / 7-İÖ yaklaşık 348 / 7); Bugünkü üniversitenin atası sayılan Akademia’nın kurucusu (İÖ 387) ve hocası Sokrates’i konuşturduğu "diyaloglar"la felsefeyi yazıya en iyi aktarmış olan ustalardan biridir. En tanınmış diyaloglarından Şölen ve Dostluk’ta ise Platon, denebilirse, İnsanlığın anlamaya çalıştığı en temel duygu "sevgi"nin izini sürmekted Platon (Eflatun, İÖ yaklaşık 428 / 7-İÖ yaklaşık 348 / 7); Bugünkü üniversitenin atası sayılan Akademia’nın kurucusu (İÖ 387) ve hocası Sokrates’i konuşturduğu "diyaloglar"la felsefeyi yazıya en iyi aktarmış olan ustalardan biridir. En tanınmış diyaloglarından Şölen ve Dostluk’ta ise Platon, denebilirse, İnsanlığın anlamaya çalıştığı en temel duygu "sevgi"nin izini sürmektedir. Sabahattin Eyüboğlu (1908-1973); Hasan Âli Yücel'in kurduğu Tercüme Bürosu'nun başkan yardımcısı ve Cumhuriyet döneminin en önemli kültür insanlarından biridir. Azra Erhat (1915-1982); Tercüme Bürosu'nun en önemli çevirmenlerindendir. Ortaklaşa yaptığı Homeros ve Hesiodos çevirilerinin yanısıra, dilimize bir de telif Mitoloji Sözlüğü kazandırmıştır.


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Platon (Eflatun, İÖ yaklaşık 428 / 7-İÖ yaklaşık 348 / 7); Bugünkü üniversitenin atası sayılan Akademia’nın kurucusu (İÖ 387) ve hocası Sokrates’i konuşturduğu "diyaloglar"la felsefeyi yazıya en iyi aktarmış olan ustalardan biridir. En tanınmış diyaloglarından Şölen ve Dostluk’ta ise Platon, denebilirse, İnsanlığın anlamaya çalıştığı en temel duygu "sevgi"nin izini sürmekted Platon (Eflatun, İÖ yaklaşık 428 / 7-İÖ yaklaşık 348 / 7); Bugünkü üniversitenin atası sayılan Akademia’nın kurucusu (İÖ 387) ve hocası Sokrates’i konuşturduğu "diyaloglar"la felsefeyi yazıya en iyi aktarmış olan ustalardan biridir. En tanınmış diyaloglarından Şölen ve Dostluk’ta ise Platon, denebilirse, İnsanlığın anlamaya çalıştığı en temel duygu "sevgi"nin izini sürmektedir. Sabahattin Eyüboğlu (1908-1973); Hasan Âli Yücel'in kurduğu Tercüme Bürosu'nun başkan yardımcısı ve Cumhuriyet döneminin en önemli kültür insanlarından biridir. Azra Erhat (1915-1982); Tercüme Bürosu'nun en önemli çevirmenlerindendir. Ortaklaşa yaptığı Homeros ve Hesiodos çevirilerinin yanısıra, dilimize bir de telif Mitoloji Sözlüğü kazandırmıştır.

30 review for Symposion: Griechisch-Deutsch

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Συμπόσιον = Symposium, Plato The Symposium (Ancient Greek: Συμπόσιον) is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–370 BC. It depicts a friendly contest of extemporaneous speeches given by a group of notable men attending a banquet. The men include the philosopher Socrates, the general and political figure Alcibiades, and the comic playwright Aristophanes. عنوانها: ضیافت؛ سخن در خصوص عشق؛ اثر: افلاطون؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه سپتامبر سال 1984 میلادی عنوان: ضیافت، یا، سخن در خصوص عشق؛ اثر: افلاطون Συμπόσιον = Symposium, Plato The Symposium (Ancient Greek: Συμπόσιον) is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–370 BC. It depicts a friendly contest of extemporaneous speeches given by a group of notable men attending a banquet. The men include the philosopher Socrates, the general and political figure Alcibiades, and the comic playwright Aristophanes. عنوانها: ضیافت؛ سخن در خصوص عشق؛ اثر: افلاطون؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه سپتامبر سال 1984 میلادی عنوان: ضیافت، یا، سخن در خصوص عشق؛ اثر: افلاطون؛ ترجمه و پیشگفتار: محمدعلی فروغی؛ ویراستار و پی نوشت: محمدابراهیم امینی فرد؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، جامی، 1385، در 160 ص، از مجموعه افلاطون، شابک: 9642575000؛ کتاب با عنوان «ضیافت: درس عشق از زبان افلاطون» با ترجمه «محمود صناعی» توسط انتشارات جامی در سال 1381 نیز منتشر شده است، چاپ دوم 1386، چاپ سوم 1389؛ موضوع: عشق، سقراط (469 تا 399 پیش از میلاد) - فلسفه یونان پس زمین و عشق بودند، که جانشین هرج و مرج و بی شکلی آغازین هستی شدند. این رساله از رساله‌ های سقراطی افلاطون است، که در آنها سقراط، چهره ی نخست رویداد بوده است. روایتی‌ ست، که در بخشی از آن خوانشگر شاهد گفتگوی بازیگران آن، با یکدیگر است. نام این داستان نیز، اشاره به مهمانی‌هایی دارد، که در یونان باستان برگزار می‌شد، و مهمانان پس از خوردن خوراک، به نوشیدن باده، و گفتگو و بحث، پیرامون موضوعی مشخص، می‌پرداختند. تاریخ نگارش این رساله به درستی آشکار نیست، ولی از نشانه ها برمی‌آید، که پس از سال 385 (پیش از میلاد)، نوشته‌ شده باشد. ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Plato’s Symposium is one of the most loved classics from the ancient world, a work of consummate beauty as both philosophy and as literature, most appropriate since the topic of this dialogue is the nature of love and includes much philosophizing on beauty. In the spirit of freshness, I will focus on one very important section, where Socrates relates the words of his teacher Diotima on the birth of Love explained in the context of myth: “Following the birth of Aphrodite, the other gods were havin Plato’s Symposium is one of the most loved classics from the ancient world, a work of consummate beauty as both philosophy and as literature, most appropriate since the topic of this dialogue is the nature of love and includes much philosophizing on beauty. In the spirit of freshness, I will focus on one very important section, where Socrates relates the words of his teacher Diotima on the birth of Love explained in the context of myth: “Following the birth of Aphrodite, the other gods were having a feast, including Resource, the son of Invention. When they’d had dinner, Poverty came to beg, as people do at feasts, and so she was by the gate. Resource was drunk with nectar (this was before wine was discovered), went into the garden of Zeus, and fell into drunken sleep. Poverty formed the plan of relieving her lack of resources by having a child by Resource; she slept with him and became pregnant with Love. So the reason Love became a follower and attendant of Aphrodite is because he was conceived on the day of her birth; also he is naturally a lover of beauty and Aphrodite is beautiful.” Diotima continues but let’s pause here as according to many teachers within the Platonic tradition there are at least two critical points to be made about this passage. The first is how love is conceived in the garden of Zeus, and that’s Zeus as mythical personification of Nous or true intellectual understanding. In other words, for one seeking philosophic wisdom, love is born and exists within the framework of truth and understanding, thus, in order to have a more complete appreciation of the nature of love, one must be committed to understanding the nature of truth. The second point is how within the Platonic tradition, truth is linked with beauty. Two of my own Plato teachers were adamant on this point, citing how modern people who separate beauty from truth can never partake of the wisdom traditions. (Incidentally, these exact two points are made eloquently by Pierre Grimes in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1cbh... ). Although I am not a strict Platonist, I tend to agree. When I encounter people who have sharp minds and are keenly analytical but communicate their ideas in snide or sarcastic unbeautiful language or are in any way disingenuous or degrading of others, I find such behavior very much in bad taste. In a very real sense, I feel these individuals have cut themselves off from the world’s wisdom traditions, particularly from the Platonic tradition. I wanted to focus on this one paragraph to convey a sense of the richness of this magnificent Platonic dialogue. One could mine wisdom nuggets from each and every paragraph. And, yes, I get a kick every time I read the speech of Aristophanes featuring those cartwheeling prehumans with four arms and four legs. Also, two fun facts: One: reflecting on Alcibiades, the history of philosophy records another incredibly handsome man with a similar great head of curly hair and full curly beard, a man (fortunately!) with a much stronger character – the Stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Two: Diogenes Laertius reports the Greek philosopher Epicurus also wrote a book with the title Symposium. Unfortunately, this piece of writing is lost to us. Darn!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 2* of five, all for Aristophanes's way trippy remix of the Book of Genesis While perusing a review of Death in Venice (dreadful tale, yet another fag-must-die-rather-than-love piece of normative propaganda) written by my good friend Stephen, he expressed a desire to read The Symposium before he eventually re-reads this crapulous homophobic maundering deathless work of art. As I have read The Symposium with less than stellar results, I warned him off. Well, see below for what happened next Rating: 2* of five, all for Aristophanes's way trippy remix of the Book of Genesis While perusing a review of Death in Venice (dreadful tale, yet another fag-must-die-rather-than-love piece of normative propaganda) written by my good friend Stephen, he expressed a desire to read The Symposium before he eventually re-reads this crapulous homophobic maundering deathless work of art. As I have read The Symposium with less than stellar results, I warned him off. Well, see below for what happened next. Stephen wrote: "Damn...can you do a quick cliff notes summary or maybe a video lecture? I would much rather take advantage of your previous suffering than have to duplicate it." THE SYMPOSIUM So this boring poet dude wins some big-ass prize and has a few buds over for a binge. They're all lying around together on couches, which is as promising a start to a story as I can think of, when the boys decide to stay sober (boo!) and debate the Nature of Luuuv. Phaedrus (subject of a previous Socratic dialogue by Plato) gives a nice little speech, dry as a popcorn fart, about how Love is the oldest of the gods, and Achilles was younger than Patroclus, and Alcestis died of love for her husband, and some other stuff I don't remember because I was drifting off, and so I got up to see if I would stay awake better on the patio. It was a little nippy that day. So next up is the lawyer. I know, right? Ask a lawyer to talk about love! Like asking a priest to talk about honor, or a politician to talk about common decency! So he pontificates about pederasty for a while, which made me uncomfortable, so I got up to get some coffee. I may have stopped by the brandy bottle on the way back out, I can't recall. So after the lawyer tells us when *exactly* it's okay for a grown man to pork a teenager, the doctor chimes in that luuuuuv is the drug, it's everything, man, the whole uuuuuuuniiiiiveeeeeeeeeerse is luuuuv. Who knew they had hippies in those days? I needed more brandy, I mean coffee!, and the text of my ancient Penguin paperback was getting smaller and smaller for some reason, so I went to look for the brandy get the magnifying glass so I could see the footnotes. Then comes Aristophanes. Now seriously, this is a good bit. Aristophanes, in Plato's world, tells us why we feel whole, complete, when we're with our true love: Once upon a time, we were all two-bodied and two-souled beings, all male, all female, or hermaphroditic. When these conjoined twins fell into disfavor, Zeus cleaved them apart, and for all eternity to come, those souls will wander the earth seeking the other half torn from us. Now being Aristophanes, Plato plays it for laughs, but this is really the heart of the piece. Plato quite clearly thought this one through, in terms of what makes us humans want and need love. It's a bizarre version of Genesis, don'cha think? So there I was glazed over with brandy-fog admiration for the imagination of this ancient Greek boybanger, and I was about to give up and pass out take my contemplations indoors when the wind, riffling the pages a bit, caused me to light on an interesting line. I continued with the host's speech. Now really...is there anything on this wide green earth more boring than listening to a poet bloviate? Especially about luuuuv? Blah blah noble blah blah youthful yakkity blah brave *snore* Then it's Socrates's turn, and I was hoping Plato gave him some good zingers to make up for the tedium of the preceding sixteen years of my life. I mean, the previous speech. It was a little bit hard to hold the magnifying glass, for some reason, and it kept getting in the way of the brandy bottle. I mean, coffee thermos! COFFEE THERMOS. I'm not all the way sure what Plato had Socrates say, but it wasn't riveting lemme tell ya what. I woke up, I mean came to, ummm that is I resumed full attention when the major studmuffin and hawttie Alcibiades comes in, late and drunk (!), and proceeds to pour out his unrequited lust for (older, uglier) Socrates. He really gets into the nitty-gritty here, talking about worming his way into the old dude's bed and *still* Socrastupid won't play hide the salami. Various noises of incredulity and derision were heard to come from my mouth, I feel sure, though I was a little muzzy by that time, and it is about this point that the brandy bottle COFFEE THERMOS slid to the ground and needed picking up. As I leaned to do so, I remember thinking how lovely and soft the bricks looked. When I woke up under the glass table top, the goddamned magnifying glass had set what remains of the hair on top of my head on fire. The moral of the story is, reading The Symposium should never be undertaken while outdoors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    OPRAH: Good evening and welcome to What's the Most Spiritual Book of All Time? For people who missed last week's exciting semi-final round, The Sermon on the Mount beat The Bhagavad Gita 4-1 while Jonathan Livingston Seagull unexpectedly lost 3-2 to outsider The Symposium. Let's all welcome our finalists! [Applause. Enter JESUS CHRIST and SOCRATES, both wearing tuxedos. They shake hands. More applause.] OPRAH: And now let me introduce our jury. I'm thrilled to have with us living legend Paul McCar OPRAH: Good evening and welcome to What's the Most Spiritual Book of All Time? For people who missed last week's exciting semi-final round, The Sermon on the Mount beat The Bhagavad Gita 4-1 while Jonathan Livingston Seagull unexpectedly lost 3-2 to outsider The Symposium. Let's all welcome our finalists! [Applause. Enter JESUS CHRIST and SOCRATES, both wearing tuxedos. They shake hands. More applause.] OPRAH: And now let me introduce our jury. I'm thrilled to have with us living legend Paul McCartney, world-famous novelist E.L. James, the beautiful and talented Lindsay Lohan, controversial scientist Richard Dawkins and ever-popular hockey mom Sarah Palin! [The crowd goes wild, with some people clapping and others booing. It's impossible to make out a word anyone says.] OPRAH: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm just going to remind you of the rules before we start. Each member of the jury gives us a short speech, and then we count up the votes to see who our lucky winner is. Over to you, Paul! MCCARTNEY: Thank you, Oprah. Well, I look at our two finalists, and you know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking they won that special place they have in our hearts because they told us about Love. And I remember back in 1966 when John gave that interview where he said - no offense intended - "we're more popular than Jesus". [JESUS holds up a hand to show he's cool.] They gave John a hard time about that, but all he wanted to say was that even though Jesus had shown us the power of Love, maybe, at that exact moment in history, we could do a better job of bringing it to the people and telling them all how amazing Love is. Because it is amazing, isn't it? [He takes out a guitar.]Perhaps some of you remember this song we wrote.There's nothing you can do that can't be done Nothing you can sing that can't be sung Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game It's easy Nothing you can make that can't be made No one you can save that can't be saved Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time It's easy All you need is love--OPRAH: That's wonderful, Paul, but who are you voting for? MCCARTNEY: Oh, er... well, if John were here, I think he'd want me to vote for The Symposium. He was always had a thing for Socrates. George too. Yes, Socrates it is. [Applause. The scoreboard shows 1-0. SOCRATES looks a little embarrassed, while JESUS curiously examines MCCARTNEY's guitar.] OPRAH: That's terrific, Paul, beautiful, beautiful song. Really takes me back. So Socrates is in the lead, but it's early days yet. Your turn, Erika! JAMES: Good evening, and I'm thrilled to be here. Now, I'm sure some of you have read the Fifty Shades books, and I believe a lot of people misunderstand them. It's easy just to think about the sex and the glitz and the limos and the handcuffs and the blindfolds and the whips and the-- OPRAH: I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say here, Erika. JAMES: Just let me finish, Oprah. What most people don't realize is that these books aren't about sex, they're about Love. They're a spiritual journey, where Ana has to help Christian - have you ever wondered why he's called Christian? - find himself and discover the difference between empty eroticism and the redeeming power of-- OPRAH: I'm afraid I'm going to have to cut you off there, Erika. You'll have to tell us now who you're voting for. JAMES: Well, Jesus, of course. Really, Fifty Shades is an allegory, a modern version of Dante's-- OPRAH: That's incredibly interesting, Erika, and I wish we had more time to talk about it. But now the score's 1-1, and we're moving on to our third member of the jury. Your turn, Lindsay! LOHAN: Thank you everyone, and I'd particularly like to thank my parole officer for allowing me to join you tonight. She said it'd be good for me. [Laughter, applause]. So, yeah, Love. To me, love's about trying to find my soulmate. I bet there's plenty of you people who feel the same way I do, there's someone out there who's, like, the other half of me and I have to find that person to be complete. You know? And it's really hard to guess who that person is, maybe it's a guy, like, you know, maybe Justin or Ashton or Zac or Ryan, and we were once this person who was half a man and half a woman and we got split apart, or maybe it's a woman, like maybe Sam or-- OPRAH: Lindsay, that's such a moving thought, but we've got to watch the clock. Who are you voting for? LOHAN: Well, duh, Socrates of course. It's all there in the Symposium. The Aristophanes speech. I must have read it a million times. OPRAH: Lindsay, thank you so much, and I really hope you find your soulmate one day. You just need to keep looking. So Socrates has taken a 2-1 lead and we're going over to our next speaker. Richard? DAWKINS: Ah, yes. Now, I've been sitting here listening to all of you, and I've enjoyed your contributions, but I'm a scientist and I've got to think about things in a scientific way. When I think about love as a scientist, all I ultimately see is tropisms and feedback loops. An organism feels a lack of something - it could be as simple as an E. coli needing an essential nutrient - and it does what it can to get it. Love is just the concrete expression of that negative feedback loop. There's nothing-- OPRAH: This all sounds like Socrates's speech. I take it you're voting for him then? DAWKINS: What? Oh, no, no, not at all. Jesus, every time. [He takes off his jacket, revealing a T-shirt that says ATHEISTS FOR JESUS.] I can't stand Platonic forms and all that mystical nonsense. Jesus, now there's a straightforward, plain-speaking person with solid humanist values. Just a shame he got mixed up with the religion business. [Boos, catcalls, some scattered clapping. The scoreboard shows 2-2.] OPRAH: Er - right. Always ready to surprise us, Richard! So it's up to Sarah to cast the deciding vote. Over to you, Sarah! PALIN: Well Oprah, I'm afraid I'm not as imaginative as Richard. I'm just a regular small-town girl with regular small-town values, and I was brought up readin' the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, blessed are ye when men shall revile you, smaller government, lower taxes, support Israel, no to-- OPRAH: Is that all in the Sermon on the Mount, Sarah? PALIN: Maybe not in those exact words. But it's there. And you can bet your boots I'm not votin' for a liberal type who hangs around with a bunch of guys what're openly tryin' to get into his- [JESUS and SOCRATES exchange puzzled glances.] PALIN: Anyways. I'm votin' for Jesus. OPRAH: Ah - thank you Sarah. Forthright as ever! So that's 3-2 to The Sermon on the Mount, but well done The Symposium, you were so close. And thank you everyone, particularly Socrates and Mr. Christ, for an amazing and deeply spiritual experience, it's been incredible meeting you all, thank you again, and we'll be back next week. [Credits, theme music]

  5. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    “It’s been less than three years that I’ve been Socrates’ companion and made it my job to know exactly what he says and does each day. Before that, I simply drifted aimlessly. Of course, I used to think that what I was doing was important, but in fact I was the most worthless man on earth—as bad as you are this very moment: I used to think philosophy was the last thing a man should do.” In Praise of Love: An Encore This is a dialogue about the human aspiration towards happiness, and how that “It’s been less than three years that I’ve been Socrates’ companion and made it my job to know exactly what he says and does each day. Before that, I simply drifted aimlessly. Of course, I used to think that what I was doing was important, but in fact I was the most worthless man on earth—as bad as you are this very moment: I used to think philosophy was the last thing a man should do.” In Praise of Love: An Encore This is a dialogue about the human aspiration towards happiness, and how that desire is best satisfied.  Plato’s overriding concern as a teacher is how to achieve eudamonia or how to live the good life. However, this is as difficult a topic to capture in teaching as it is to achieve in action. Hence he approaches the topic by defining many peripheral topics - by showing various aspects of the good life. In The Symposium too the same ultimate question is approached, this time through the question of how to love perfectly. Many wonderful explanation of Love are given but in the end it boils down to how to live the good life  through the question of what should one love to do and hence what should one do in life. The answer that emerges is simple - love only things that are ends in themselves, do only them. Ends-in-themselves are not to done for any further end, to achieve something else. And most importantly, they should be eternal. Symposium: The Setting Plato’s dialogues are fictional and often richly dramatic snippets of philosophical imagination. The Symposium is a particularly dramatic work. It is set at the house of Agathon, a tragic poet celebrating his recent poetic victory. Those present are amongst the intellectual elite of the day, including an exponent of heroic poetry (Phaedrus), an expert in the laws of various Greek states (Pausanias), a representative of medical expertise (Eryximachus), a comic poet (Aristophanes) and a philosopher (Socrates). And the political maverick Alcibiades towards the end. The Symposium The Symposium consists mainly of a series of praise speeches (encomia), delivered in the order in which these speakers are seated: They begin with the discourse of Phaedrus, and the series contains altogether eight parts divided into two principal sequences: The Speeches 1. Phaedrus: Love makes us noble and gods honor it. Love is the greatest god. Love is nobility. This is the simplest of the speeches. An unconditional praising of Love and this from the same Phaedrus who unconditionally condemns it in his own eponymous dialogue ! 2. Pausanias (perhaps the most interesting of these speeches for this reviewer): Wants to define Love before praising it. Love is not in itself noble and worthy of praise; it depends on whether the sentiments it produces in us are themselves noble. Differentiates between “Common Love” & “Divine Love”: How hasty vulgar lovers are, and therefore how unfair to their loved ones? "Love is, like everything else, complex: considered simply in itself, it is neither honorable nor a disgrace - its character depends entirely on the behavior it gives rise to. The common, vulgar lover loves the body rather than the soul, his love is bound to be inconstant, since what he loves is itself mutable and unstable. The moment the body is no longer in bloom, “he flies off and away,” his promises and vows in tatters behind him. How different from this is a man who loves the right sort of character, and who remains its lover for life, attached as he is to something that is permanent." Pausanias goes on from this to provide a theory on the origins of Social Customs (of courtship, etc): "We can now see the point of our customs: they are designed to separate the wheat from the chaff, the proper love from the vile. That’s why we do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for lovers to press their suits and as difficult as possible for young men to comply; it is like a competition, a kind of test to determine to which sort each belongs. This explains two further facts: First, why we consider it shameful to yield too quickly: the passage of time in itself provides a good test in these matters. Second, why we also consider it shameful for a man to be seduced by money or political power, either because he cringes at ill-treatment and will not endure it or because, once he has tasted the benefits of wealth and power, he will not rise above them. None of these benefits is stable or permanent, apart from the fact that no genuine affection can possibly be based upon them." *** "Only in this case, we should notice, is it never shameful to be deceived; in every other case it is shameful, both for the deceiver and the person he deceives. Suppose, for example, that someone thinks his lover is rich and accepts him for his money; his action won’t be any less shameful if it turns out that he was deceived and his lover was a poor man after all. For the young man has already shown himself to be the sort of person who will do anything for money—and that is far from honorable. By the same token, suppose that someone takes a lover in the mistaken belief that this lover is a good man and likely to make him better himself, while in reality the man is horrible, totally lacking in virtue; even so, it is noble for him to have been deceived. For he too has demonstrated something about himself: that he is the sort of person who will do anything for the sake of virtue—and what could be more honorable than that? It follows, therefore, that giving in to your lover for virtue’s sake is honorable, whatever the outcome. And this, of course, is the Heavenly Love of the heavenly goddess. Love’s value to the city as a whole and to the citizens is immeasurable, for he compels the lover and his loved one alike to make virtue their central concern. All other forms of love belong to the vulgar goddess." Makes one wonder if we should really be proud of our modern methods, sans the niceties of elaborate courtship. 3. Eryximachus: Differentiates between “Healthy” & “Unhealthy” Love, doctor that he is. Everything sound and healthy in the body must be encouraged and gratified. Conversely, whatever is unhealthy and unsound must be frustrated and rebuffed: that’s what it is to be an expert in medicine. 4. Aristophanes:  Bases Love on the conception of Longing & Completion - beautifully illustrated in his famous Myth of Soulmates: We used to be complete wholes in our original nature, and now “Love” is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete. Plato also uses this occasion to make fun of Aristophanes by painting whims lewd and bawdy man, given to sensual pleasures and fits of hiccups. There are even direct references to Aristophanes’s irreverent clouds: “Aristophanes, do you really think you can take a shot at me, and then escape? Use your head! Remember, as you speak, that you will be called upon to give an account. Though perhaps, if I decide to, I’ll let you off.” 5. Agathon: Decides to stop the praising of Love and focus on the Qualities of Love - "For every praise, no matter whose: you must explain what qualities in the subject of your speech enable it to give the benefits for which we praise it. So now, in the case of Love, it is right for us to praise him first for what it is and afterwards for its gifts." He goes on toe elaborate on the perfection of Love’s qualities - about the god’s justice, moderation, bravery and wisdom - and how Love confers all these qualities to its devotees. Thus, Love is the source of all good, according to Agathon. 6. Socrates: Enough with the Eulogies! Socrates sets out with a series of questions, in an attempt to pin down Love: “You have beautifully and magnificently expounded his qualities in other ways, tell me this, too, about Love. Is Love such as to be a love of something or of nothing?" He proceeds through the same arguments as in Phaedrus and arrives at: “No one is in need of those things he already has.” *** “Whenever you say, I desire what I already have, ask yourself whether you don’t mean this: I want the things I have now to be mine in the future as well." Socrates’ Conclusion: Love is a lack and desire to fill that. It is a desire for something lacking or a desire for preservation of what has been acquired. What constitutes eudaimonia is not to be had in a moment in time. “In a word, then, love is wanting to possess the good forever.” If this is the objective of Love, The next question is how to pursue this objective. Answer: Seek Love in Beauty; and Reproduction and Birth, in Beauty - The argument does not deviate much from that in Phaedrus; readers will want to compare this speech on Love with those of Socrates in Phaedrus. Socrates’ account thus moves from an analysis of the nature of such desire to an account of knowledge and its acquisition; for if we all have a desire for our own good and happiness, the issue becomes how to identify correctly the nature of this good. He defines intellectual activity to be the best good, and more central to human happiness than any other activity. 7. Alcibiades: An almost pointless speech, does not contribute much to the dialogue directly, and yet it does, by adding to the context: Plato’s Political Intent: Praise Socrates & Distance Socrates from the follies of this young man. Alcibiades’ account reveals that although he desires the wisdom he perceives in Socrates, there is a competing value pulling him away: “Yet when I leave him I am equally aware that I am giving in to my desire for honor from the public, so I skulk out of his sight like a runaway slave.”  This conflict between the attractions of wisdom and the sort of excellence that earns honour from the people is the very one argued out theoretically in Socrates’ speech. Alcibiades’ choice to organize his life around the pursuit of personal honor exonerates Socrates from any association with the terrible events that resulted from his choices. Socrates was not responsible for the corruption. Plato’s Philosophical Intent: Also, show how even Socrates’ teachings are not flawless. Even Philosophy is dependent on good students to produce results. Symposium: A Conclusion The Symposium belongs with the dialogues concerned with Education, especially the moral education of the young. Its discussion of the nature and goals of loving relationships takes us to the heart of Plato’s concern with the good life and how it is achieved. That Education and Desires are seen to play such an important role in moral development draws on a theme elaborated in the Republic , and is concerned with the development of character and how that contributes to the good life. Though Plato leads us to the lofty heights of the Forms as the true end of our desire for good things and happiness, his account is nonetheless one that resonates beyond such abstractions. The Symposium does not contain a fully developed theory of the self, although it outlines with considerable care the dimensions of concern which preoccupy human beings. Its achievement is a rich and unitary image of human striving. Through this conception, even if narrow, of a flourishing life where certain things are advocated to the young as valuable, the dialogue explores the nature of eudaimonia, which may be translated as "happiness" or "flourishing". This is ultimately why a dialogue devoted, on the surface, to the nature of erotic relationships is an ethical work at its core, which culminates in the specification of ‘the life which a human being should live’. And it is this concern that relates the Symposium to a fundamental question that informs a variety of Platonic dialogues: How should one live? Thus, Plato’s concern with desire and its role in the good life leads to his conclusion: One’s ability to act well and to lead a worthwhile and good life depends, in part, on desiring the right kinds of things and acting on that basis. What, or whom, one desires determines the choices one makes and thereby affects one’s chances of leading a worthwhile and happy life. It is by prompting us to reflect more deeply on the relationship between our desires and their real end, and the role that our lovers might play in helping us to achieve it, that the Symposium really makes its mark.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    In this book Socrates argues that it is not always a good idea to have sex with boys and Aristophanes explains we were once co-joined creatures of three sexes - either male/female, male/male or female/female and were shaped like balls. How could anyone not find this a book worth reading?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    The Symposium holds the key to ancient psychology. One has but to compare post-Freudian psychology's understanding of the drives with Plato's discourse on human longing here in order to measure the distance between the ancient and modern orientations to reality. It is strange for us to conceive this in the post-Darwinian, post-Freudian era, but Plato genuinely held that the longing to know is the fundamental human drive, with sexuality (the modern candidate foundational drive) being derived ther The Symposium holds the key to ancient psychology. One has but to compare post-Freudian psychology's understanding of the drives with Plato's discourse on human longing here in order to measure the distance between the ancient and modern orientations to reality. It is strange for us to conceive this in the post-Darwinian, post-Freudian era, but Plato genuinely held that the longing to know is the fundamental human drive, with sexuality (the modern candidate foundational drive) being derived therefrom. What a different psychology this basic belief reveals! And with this alternate psychology Plato reveals an orientation to the world that opens up horizons entirely other to those we are accustomed to. Plato has shown a concern for the way that our pre-rational orientation to the real feeds into and constrains our capacity to reason already in other dialogues, such as The Republic. One gets the feeling that the arch-rationalist becomes progressively haunted, in each dialogue, by the realization that what we love determines in advance the direction our rationality can take in its approach to the real. Nietzsche commented admiringly on Plato's psychological acumen evinced by his discovery that our strongest longing is the true, but hidden, master of our reason. Already with the Symposium we see that the structure of reasoning crystallizes itself around this primordial, pre-rational engagement with the real. Early on in the dialogue, Socrates makes the rather cheeky claim that it is only the genuine philosopher who can understand the real meaning of desire. Socrates further proposes, to the incredulity of others present, that indeed, philosophy is somehow connected with the pursuit of the fulfillment of this deepest desire. And what better setting could Plato choose to prove the power of Socrates's insight into the human drives than a drinking party? Here, Socrates proves his superior capacity to harmonize and rein in his whole human capacity for feeling not merely by displaying his superior discursive prowess, but also by drinking every last one of his companions under the table by banquet's end. The banquet setting thus seems like a mock ordeal which allows Socrates to reveal his deeper mastery over his animal nature. It is the depth of his transformation of his pre-rational nature that makes him the better philosopher. What Socrates shows us is that our longing is the hunger for completion awakened by our growing awareness of finitude. It is a drive to transcend the boundaries of our finitude through an effort to establish a relationship to a reality that is registered as being more complete than that possessed by the finite self. Socrates' famous speech on the real nature of love in this dialogue attests to the fact that our desire for sexual love is an offshoot of this primordial drive - which is part and parcel of the structure of consciousness itself - to find our fullest orientation to reality in an act of knowing that relates all that we are to a world which is for the first time experienced as a unity. In the growth of our consciousness, we first learn to relate body to human body, immersing ourselves in the physical continuum of interchanges in a game of self-forgetful clinging to outward shadows. At this level of self-development, (according to Plato's account of the levels of understanding in the Republic) our relation is merely to the shifting outward images of being. Because we cannot conceive the unity of things at this level, we fall short of that supreme mark of reality, which is the knowledge of the unity of things. Our love at this level thus remains a game of hide-and-seek, played with ourselves as much as with one another. But as the power of our minds grows, we cannot fail to realize deeper dimensions of our longing to relate. We now come to long for a relationship to the real established on the basis of our most characteristic capacity. We long to relate to the world on the level of mind, and we find that this relation to the world not only takes us deeper into the heart of the real. Our deepest desire is realized in the perception of the world on the level of form. This level of perception also takes us deeper into ourselves, as well as revealing the true basis for relating to one another. Our real community is a communion of minds. Socrates proposition to us is that we are selves and lovers to the extent that we realize our true nature as knowers. And we attain realization as selves to the extent that we progress from being driven by our shadow-loving sexual love to that more comprehensive love in us that is wisdom itself. The rest of Plato's philosophy is arguably built on this psychology of self-realization. Plato's identification (through Socrates) of Love, the Good, the Beautiful, and the True is really the best definition of the most consummate philosophic vision. In our highest reasonings, Plato's Socrates claims, these four things become one. Their union, in the actuality of an experience, is what we call wisdom, the end goal of the whole search that structures our lives from the first awakening of consciousness in infancy. Modern philosophy would be different if we operated under the same definition of reason. The greatest proof of its power, to me, is that even Nietzsche, who was its most serious critic, nonetheless pined for the loss of it. It seems that Plato's description of the goal of human development was accurate after all, even if it remains only an inescapable regulative ideal for philosophic inquiry without ever becoming a stable, humanly realizable reality. This dialogue is worth reading if only for Alcibiades' drunkenly revealing speech expressing Socrates' effect on those poor souls, like himself, whom he manages to convert to his way of life. Surely there has been no greater portrait of the psychology of a great philosopher anywhere, nor of the effect that such a figure inevitably will have on natures less in tune with the original drive to know that structures human nature! But Alcibiades nonetheless proves himself to be Socrates' truest disciple, even as he expresses his frustration at his inability (read: unwillingness) to follow him to the end. Alcibiades poignantly shows what's in store for all of us as soon as we start to take this gig seriously: the way that Socrates represents will cleave us into two warring parts so that we become strangers to our old desires and attachments, and strangers in the world, awaiting a new birth.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    I Never Met a Physician Who Wasn’t Descended from a Greek This might just be the work that put the "meta-" (at least the "metafiction") in "metaphysics". Plato’s name is attached to it, but its principal focus is Socrates. And guess what? Socrates doesn’t so much elaborate on his own views as (1) recount the views of others (especially those of the female philosopher Diotima) and (2) indirectly reveal his views by his conduct and his responses to the views of others (especially the taunts of Alcib I Never Met a Physician Who Wasn’t Descended from a Greek This might just be the work that put the "meta-" (at least the "metafiction") in "metaphysics". Plato’s name is attached to it, but its principal focus is Socrates. And guess what? Socrates doesn’t so much elaborate on his own views as (1) recount the views of others (especially those of the female philosopher Diotima) and (2) indirectly reveal his views by his conduct and his responses to the views of others (especially the taunts of Alcibiades). Even the concept of "Platonic Love" could possibly be more accurately attributed to Socrates, but more likely to Diotima. In fact, I wonder whether this work proves that the Greek understanding of Love (as we comprehend it) actually owes more to women than men. The Epismetology of the Word "Symposium" Despite being familiar with the word for decades, I had no idea that "symposium" more or less literally means a "drinking party" or "to drink together". In Socrates’ time, it was like a toga party for philosophers. It’s great that this learned tradition was reinvigorated by Pomona College in 1953. How appropriate that Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruitful abundance. Of course, many of us will remember our first experience of a toga party from the film "Animal House". More recently, perhaps in tribute to the film, the concept has transformed into a "frat party" (notice the derivation from the masculine word "fraternity"), which Urban Dictionary defines in its own inimitable way: "A sausage fest with douchebag frat boys who let a lot of girls in and hardly any guys so they can slip date rape drugs into the girls’ drinks and have sex with them because obviously they can't rely on their charm." If you substitute philosophers for frat boys, young boys for young girls, and wine and mead for date rape drugs, then you have the recipe for "The Symposium". Alcohol-Free Daze I should mention one other aspect of the plot (sorry about the spoiler, but the work is 2,400 years old today, so you've had enough time to catch up), and that is that Socrates appears to have attended two symposia over the course of two consecutive days. In those days, future philosophers were counselled to embrace alternating alcohol-free days. In breach of this medical advice, Socrates and his confreres turn up to this Symposium hung-over from the previous night. As a result, there was more talking than drinking. If this had just been your run-of-the-mill Saturday Night Live Symposium, it’s quite possible that the legacy of this particular night might never have eventuated. Instead, we have inherited a tradition of Greek Love, Platonic Love, Socratic Method and Alcohol-Free Tutorials. An Artist in Comedy as Well as Tragedy One last distraction before I get down to Love: It has always puzzled readers that "The Symposium" ends with a distinct change of tone as the feathered cocks begin to crow and the sun rises on our slumber party: "Aristodemus was only half awake, and he did not hear the beginning of the discourse; the chief thing which he remembered was Socrates compelling the other two to acknowledge that the genius of comedy was the same with that of tragedy, and that the true artist in tragedy was an artist in comedy also." Researchers at the University of Adelaide now speculate that what Socrates was saying was, "When you’re pissed, nobody can tell whether you’re serious or joking." There is still some contention as to whether Socrates was referring to the inebriation of the artist or the audience. Anyway, it remains for us to determine how serious this Socratic Dialogue on Love should be taken. Togas on? Hey, Ho! Let’s go! The Mocking Socrates’ Easy Touch OK, so the tale starts with Apollodorus telling a companion a story that he had heard from Aristodemus (who had once before narrated it to Glaucon, who had in turn mentioned it to the companion – are you with me?). The tale concerns a Symposium at the House of Agathon. On the way, Socrates drops "behind in a fit of abstraction" (this is before the days of Empiricism) and retires "into the portico of the neighbouring house", from which initially "he will not stir". When he finally arrives, he is too hung-over to drink or talk, so he wonders whether "wisdom could be infused by touch, out of the fuller into the emptier man, as water runs through wool out of a fuller cup into an emptier one." Addressing his host, he adds, "If that were so, how greatly should I value the privilege of reclining at your side!" As often seems to be the fate of flirts, Agathon rebuffs him, "You are mocking, Socrates." Instead, it is agreed that each of the attendees will regale the withered assembly with their views on Love. Phaedrus (on Reciprocity) Phaedrus speaks of the reciprocity of Love and how it creates a state of honour between Lover and Beloved. A state or army consisting of lovers whose wish was to emulate each other would abstain from dishonor, become inspired heroes, equal to the bravest, and overcome the world. Phaedrus also asserts that the gods admire, honour and value the return of love by the Beloved to his Lover, at least in a human sense, more than the love shown by the Lover for the Beloved. Paradoxically, this is because the love shown by the Lover is "more divine, because he is inspired by God". I had to have an alcohol-free day before I understood this subtle distinction, so don’t worry if you’re having trouble keeping up. Pausanius (on the Heavenly and the Common) Pausanius argues that there are two types of Love that need to be analysed: the common and the heavenly (or the divine). The "common" is wanton, has no discrimination, "is apt to be of women as well as youths, and is of the body rather than of the soul". In contrast, heavenly love is of youths: "...they love not boys, but intelligent beings whose reason is beginning to be developed, much about the time at which their beards begin to grow…and in choosing young men to be their companions, they mean to be faithful to them, and pass their whole life in company with them." This love is disinterested (it is not "done from any motive of interest, or wish for office or power") and involves both honourable attachment and virtuous service. Eryximachus (on the Healthy and the Diseased) Eryximachus, a physician, defines Love in terms of both the soul and the body. He distinguishes two kinds of love: the desire of the healthy and the desire of the diseased. These two are opposites, and the role of the physician is to harmonise or "reconcile the most hostile elements in the constitution", by analogy with music, which is an "art of communion". Aristophanes (on "The Origin of Love") Aristophanes explains the origin of the gender and sexuality of mankind in terms of three beings, one of which was a double-male (now separated into homosexual men), one a double female (now separated into homosexual women) and the third an androgynous double (now separated into heterosexual male and female) by Zeus: "...the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover’s intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment ...human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love." Agathon (on Beauty) Agathon praises the god of love first and then his gift. Love in the form of Temperance is the master of pleasures and desires. It "empties men of disaffection and fills them with affection." Love is concerned with Beauty. Socrates (on Good) Socrates approaches the topic of Love by asking questions, for example, "whether Love is the Love of something or nothing?" Socrates elicits the answer that Love wants Beauty and in doing so it wants what is Good. He then quotes Diotima extensively. The Pizmotality of Diotima Diotima, by a process that we would now call the Socratic Method, leads Socrates to the conclusion that Love is the love of the "everlasting possession of the Good". We seek Good, so that we can maintain it eternally. "Love is of immortality." Because Man is mortal, our way of achieving eternity or immortality of possession is the generation or birth of Beauty. We achieve immortality by way of fame and offspring. Diotima argues that Beauty applies to both the soul and the body. However, the "Beauty of the Mind is more honourable than the Beauty of the outward Form." She advocates the contemplation of "Beauty Absolute": "...a Beauty which if you once beheld, you would see not to be after the measure of gold, and garments, and fair boys and youths, whose presence now entrances you; and you and many a one would be content to live seeing them only and conversing with them without meat or drink, if that were possible – you only want to look at them and to be with them…[you would not be] clogged with the pollutions of mortality and all the colours and vanities of human life..." Socrates does not reveal how else Diotima tutored him in the art and science of Love or whether she herself was a Beauty Absolute whose appeal was greater than that of boys and youths. Alciabades (on Indifference) At this point, the younger Alciabades speaks. He is equal parts frat and prat, he is evidently "in love" with Socrates, and seems intent on complaining that Socrates has resisted his sexual advances. Even though Alciabades had slept a night with "this wonderful monster in my arms... he was so superior to my solicitations...I arose as from the couch of a father or an elder brother." It is clear that Socrates has no affection for the mind of Alciabades, no matter what he might think of his body. He teases him by proposing that Socrates and Agathon share a couch for the night. The Pompatus of Love And that's how it ends, but for the discussion of Comedy and Tragedy. If this had been a PowerPoint Presentation, Socrates, Plato and I would have told you what we were going to say, then say it, and end by telling you what we had just said. But because this work is pre-Microsoft, I will end this disquisition here, largely because I want to read Plato’s complementary work on Love, "Phaedrus", and see what more he has to say about Socrates, this mentor of frat boys who was so much more than a picker, a grinner, a lover and a sinner. Only then will I be able to speak more definitively of the Pompatus of Love. VERSE: The Object of Love [According to Aristophanes] I would love To find One, An Other, So we could Each love one Another, In divine Unity. SOUNDTRACK: Steve Miller Band – "The Joker" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89QliW... Hedwig and the Angry Inch - "The Origin of Love" Scroll to 3:57 for video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29fiaL... Hedwig and the Angry Inch - "The Origin of Love" Spanish subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTTNJZ... John Cameron Mitchell on "The Origin of Love" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Hu4UL... Carol Zou - Animation of "The Origin of Love" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BgvD0... StickdudeSeven - Animation of "The Origin of Love" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HgJ6x... FoxmanProductions - Animation of "The Origin of Love" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvcX_m... Jinkx Monsoon - "The Origin of Love" [Live with cocktail glass] Starts at 2:50 (but the intro is fun): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFbC6k... Jinkx Monsoon - "The Origin of Love" [Live at the 2013 Capital Pride Festival] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNQBSB... Rufus Wainwright - "The Origin of Love" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYQGgl... Robyn Hitchcock - "Intricate Thing" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7Av0x... The Velvet Undergound & Nico - "Femme Fatale" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjjDmX... Lou Reed - Sweet Jane (Live with Steve Hunter) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrMLt9... Cowboy Junkies - "Sweet Jane" (Official Video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4XVJj... Cowboy Junkies - "Sweet Jane" (Live on Japanese TV) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJ3W9i...

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    The life of the party 26 August 2015 You've really got to love the way Plato writes philosophy. Whereas everybody else simply writes what is in effect a work of non-fiction explaining some ideas, Plato seems to have the habit of inserting them into a story. Okay, he may not be the only philosopher that uses a story to convey his philosophical ideas, but he certainly stands out from his contemporaries, who simply wrote treatises. I've read a few of his works, and he always seems to structure it in The life of the party 26 August 2015 You've really got to love the way Plato writes philosophy. Whereas everybody else simply writes what is in effect a work of non-fiction explaining some ideas, Plato seems to have the habit of inserting them into a story. Okay, he may not be the only philosopher that uses a story to convey his philosophical ideas, but he certainly stands out from his contemporaries, who simply wrote treatises. I've read a few of his works, and he always seems to structure it in a similar way, usually beginning with a conversation that has absolutely nothing to do with the ideas that he is trying to explore, but rather idle chit-chat. The Symposium stands out from his over works because the discussion occurs during a party (nice one Plato). In fact as I was reading this I could almost imagine the exact same scenario happening today. A group, who had had a pretty heavy night of drinking the night before decide to take it a little easier tonight, order a pizza, grab a couple of six packs of beer, and sit in the lounge room for a quiet one while still nursing the remnants of a hangover. Instead of turning on the television they decide to have a conversation. However, as the night wears on there is a knock at the door, and upon opening it we find the guy that we all know with two bottles of Jack Daniels in his hands who invites himself into the discussion. However this guy is hardly the philosophical type, and his discussion simply turns into how wonderful he thinks this other guy happens to be. Then there is another knock at the door, and as it happens he has invited all his friends over, and that quiet night ends up turning into another free-for all. Come morning, one of the guys from the original group picks himself off the couch, and in the haze of a hangover sees that three of the original group are still up and are talking about something completely different. However he is way too hungover to join in so he makes his way home. That's basically the plot of the Symposium. However Plato simply isn't telling a story about the party, he is exploring the idea of love. In fact it is suggested that what he is actually doing is recounting the discussion that occurred during an actual Symposium years before (and from the last couple of paragraphs it appears that the person who was telling the story was Aristodemus – whoever he happens to be – but he is telling it to another guy named Apollodorus, who I suspect is then telling Plato). This book is really interesting on so many levels. Not only are we allowed to listen into a discussion between Greeks about the nature of love, we are also given a pretty detailed glimpse of what went on during a symposium (or at least one that initially wasn't supposed to be a drunken free for all, but then again I'm sure we have all experienced something similar in our lives). Not only is it a work of philosophy, it is a work that gives us a very clear picture of the Ancient Athenian culture. Before I continue I must say one thing – Socrates is a freak. The book opens with Aristodemus meeting up with Socrates and then Socrates invites himself along to a party at Agathon's house. However when they arrive Socrates doesn't enter, he just stands outside staring into space. The ensuring conversation goes a little like this: AGATHON: Hey, weren't you with Socrates? ARISTODEMUS: Yeah, he's just outside. AGATHON: What's he doing out there, invite him in! ARISTODEMUS: I suspect he's contemplating the nature of the universe. AGATHON: There's plenty of time to do that, I'm going to bring him in. ARISTODEMUS: Don't bother. You know what he's like. He'll come in once he's had his revelation. … AGATHON: What! He's still out there! This is getting ridiculous, I'm bringing him inside! ARISTODEMUS: I wouldn't worry too much about him Agathon. You know how he exists in his own little world. Come to think of it, he sound's like that cat that stands at the open door, but really has no intention of going inside, or even staying outside. However, as I have indicated (and as many of you probably already know) this book is more than a story about what happened at Agathon's party (though I am sure many of us have had the experience where somebody we know comes along and gives us a detailed account of the party they went to the other night – though it is no where near as good as actually being there) but an exposition of love. Each of the main characters gives a dissertation of their idea of love, and as is expected, Socrates' dissertation is left until last. However I am sort of wandering whether the conversation occurred how it has been reported, or whether Plato is altering the events to suit his own purpose (I can't remember the intricate details, or the philosophical discussion I had at any of the parties I went to – all I can remember is talking about George Bush). For instance, we have Pausanius talk about how there are two kinds of love – physical and celestial. In a way there is the base love that we humans experience, a love that is expressed in physical actions (such as sex). However there is also spiritual love, that which is expressed in spiritual actions (such as self-sacrifice). I should pause here and state that my view of love unfortunately is tarnished by my Christian upbringing. I say that because the way I view love is that it exists entirely on the spiritual level. To me the love that Pausanius describes as physical love is actually little more than lust. However, Socrates does suggest that love is the desire to possess that which is beautiful, which does fall into the category that Pausanius describes. In my mind, love is not so much a feeling but rather expressed through actions such as self-sacrifice. Love is also unconditional – it doesn't play favourites, which means that it is impossible to love one person and no another (though due to our human nature, and our natural instinct to play favourites, unconditional love is a state that is very difficult to achieve). Now I wish to say a few things about my view on desire and sex. In my mind sex has two purposes – a means to stimulate the pleasure centres of the brain (much like a drug) and to procreate. The reason that it stimulates the pleasure centres is because it is a mechanism to encourage us to procreate. However we won't know about its pleasurable aspects unless we actually engage in it, which is why many of us develop this desire for members of the opposite sex. These desires exist to encourage us to have sex so that we might perpetuate the species. Note that I don't speak about 'falling in love' simply because I do not believe that these biological desires have anything to do with love – once again Hollywood is lying to us. Anyway, lets get on to Socrates: Socrates describes love as being the desire to possess that which is beautiful. In a way what he is suggesting is that if we possesses that which is beautiful then we are happy. In my mind Socrates is confusing love with happiness, but let us continue. He starts off by suggesting that this love begins on a physical level where we see a single person who we believe is beautiful and we desire to possess that person. This possession is fulfilled in the sexual act. However he suggests that to seek true beauty we simply cannot rest on one person, but we must begin to see the beauty in many people. As such our desire for that one person begins to diminish as we begin to see everybody else as being just as beautiful as this one person. However, he then takes the next step and suggests that we begin to move away from physical beauty to come to see the mental beauty (that is the intelligence) of individual people. As such we begin to lose interest in those whose beauty is not intellectual to focus on those who are. As such physical beauty begins to take a back seat. From there we move on to understand absolute beauty, namely that we can see beauty in everything without differentiation. This absolute is quite interesting – Plato rejects relativism. In his mind there must be an absolute because the universe simply cannot exist without one. A relative world is a world that is chaotic and has no form, but by looking at the world he can see that there is an absolute form, but he realises that everybody sees these forms differently. Thus his quest is the search for the absolute, and to move beyond relativism and the world of the opinion to try to understand and grasp the absolute truth. This the the goal of this book, to reject the relativism of physical beauty and to seek out the absolute of the celestial beauty. However, he does something really interesting – once Socrates finishes his speech in comes Alcibaides and brings the entire discussion back to reality. Not only does he interject into the discussion, he turns it completely on its head by telling everybody how wonderful he thinks Socrates is (he lusts after Socrates, but Socrates won't have a bar of it). Plato understands the real world, and this is what Alcibaides represents. While we may begin to ascend the ladder towards our grasp of absolute beauty, things will happen that will bring us crashing back down to reality. As I said, Socrates was a freak, which is why he was able to rebuff Alcibaides' advances.

  10. 4 out of 5

    7jane

    I'm glad I chose this translation (by Robin Waterfield), and this publisher (Oxford World's Classic) - the introduction is of great help, and the text flows easily and is very understandable, and doesn't feel stiff and such. This book's subject is a series of speeches praising Love (both of sexual and of mind-kind; the former producing sometimes children, the latter creative works and learning - the latter is more immortal and superior in author's opinion). The book ends with useful notes and a n I'm glad I chose this translation (by Robin Waterfield), and this publisher (Oxford World's Classic) - the introduction is of great help, and the text flows easily and is very understandable, and doesn't feel stiff and such. This book's subject is a series of speeches praising Love (both of sexual and of mind-kind; the former producing sometimes children, the latter creative works and learning - the latter is more immortal and superior in author's opinion). The book ends with useful notes and a name index that shines light on the party guests and names popping up in conversations. Plato wrote the book between 385-378 BC (most likely around 380 BC). Plato sets this imagined high-society dinner-part in Athens, 416 BC, which is told about to others just after the death of one of the guests, Alcibades, in 404 BC. Other guests include the comic poet Aristophanes (who of course gets the funny hiccups that is cured with sneezing), and Plato's teacher, Socrates, who gets to be the giver of Plato's opinion on the subject (Socrates himself gets it from not-certain-if-existed person that is Diotima, a wise woman). I liked this quote: "On the other hand, ignorant people don't love knowledge or desire wisdom either, because the trouble with ignorance is precisely that if a person lacks virtue and knowledge, he's perfectly satisfied with the way he is. If a person isn't aware of a lack, he can't desire the thing which he isn't aware of lacking." Seven speeches are heard: Socrates' turn comes at the end, but when Alcibades bursts into the part, he gives one more speech, praising Socrates, and clearly showing that to him, the mind-part of Love is more of a stranger; he doesn't really get why Socrates rejects his advances. (Alcibades comes to a bad end in exile, murdered by the Persians; Socrates, as we know from history, gets a death sentence, having to drink poison). But all ends well in this story: people leave the party, some sleep to the next morning, and Socrates goes back to the Lyceum (gymnasium and public baths) in the morning as usual (he has a good alcohol tolerance). We get a great dinner-party conversation about love, that hold surprisingly noble, interesting thoughts to carry with us to life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    HEADLINE: This is priceless! When I was a young man, I and my friends certainly had some strange conversations, possibly aided by some substances of questionable legality in certain countries, but we never quite managed to attain the heights of strangeness reached at this banquet/drinking party(*) held in 416 BCE when Socrates was approximately 53 years old, once again the principal figure in this "dialogue" written by Plato between 12 and 15 years after Socrates' death by poisoning in 399 BCE. P HEADLINE: This is priceless! When I was a young man, I and my friends certainly had some strange conversations, possibly aided by some substances of questionable legality in certain countries, but we never quite managed to attain the heights of strangeness reached at this banquet/drinking party(*) held in 416 BCE when Socrates was approximately 53 years old, once again the principal figure in this "dialogue" written by Plato between 12 and 15 years after Socrates' death by poisoning in 399 BCE. Plato was 11 years old when the banquet took place, so, as in Crito and Phaedo , all the speeches are Plato's invention, though he may well have listened to stories about the banquet from participants. The general topic of the speeches: love in all of its forms. Each of the participants in the banquet is, in turn, to deliver a speech about Love. And deliver they do... Eryximachus, first up to bat, laments that so little poetry has been dedicated to the topic of Love. Phaedrus, in honorable Greek tradition, reaches into the past and recalls what Hesiod and Parmenides, among others, had to say. Love is the eldest and most beneficent of the gods. Then he launches into an explanation why the love between men fosters and supports honor and virtuous behavior. (A common theme at this banquet, which makes me wonder why the Christians permitted this text to survive. Thank goodness the Christian crusade against "sodomy" is ebbing into impotence.) Phaedrus unfavorably contrasts Orpheus' love for his wife with Achilles' love for Patroclus (and can't resist asserting that Achilles was the bottom, not Patroclus, because he was the fairer, beardless and younger; he doesn't use "bottom", but in the Greco-Roman world, those are the attributes of the "passive" partner in a homosexual relationship - I've heard some conversations like this at drunken parties, but Achilles usually wasn't the subject of the gossip). Pausanias then holds forth on the distinction between noble Love, expressed for youths who are "beginning to grow their beards", and common Love, whose object is women and boys. (At this point I'd be wondering if somebody had slipped something into the wine. But I'd be listening closely.) He gives a lengthy and closely reasoned moral argument in favor of this. I wonder how it would go over in the House of Representatives? Eryximachus, in a return engagement, is a physician and reinterprets Pausanias' moral distinctions in terms of the concepts of "healthy" and "diseased". In a process of what appears to be free association (was Plato smirking while he was writing this?), the good doctor throws in music, agriculture, astronomy, divination (OK, pass the blunt over here again), ... . Finally, he turns the floor over to the playwright Aristophanes, who clearly had brought his private stash to the party. For he commences to explain that originally mankind had three sexes. Moreover, primeval man was round, had four hands and feet, two faces on one head, etc. etc. In his LSD dream, this primeval man was so powerful that Zeus was envious and smote primeval man in twain. With some cosmetic work by Apollo, which is described in fascinating detail, and after a few false starts, voilà , mankind as we know it. Which explains, of course, why we are always looking for our other half. Instead of being helped away to a sanatorium, Aristophanes goes on to explain how the original three sexes of primeval man fit into the picture. Enjoy! I know I did. After this gobsmackingly strange speech (which would have had me trying to figure out where he hid his stash), the boys engage in some good natured banter, and then Agathon takes the floor. He makes a bad start, and then it goes downhill from there. Let's just say that Love had better not drop the soap in the shower when Agathon is around. (I know Plato was laughing up his sleeve on this one.) Now it is The Man's turn - Socrates steps to the plate. He goes into his usual "Ah, shucks" routine and then starts asking Agathon questions. Please see my review of Plato's Phaedo to see how that goes. After Agathon agrees with everything Socrates says, Socrates launches into a long story, the upshot of which is: the only true love is Love of the Absolute! (This sounds more like Plato than Socrates, but no surprise there.) Upon which Alcibiades comes staggering into the room. After a brief argument with Socrates about which of the two has the greater hots for the other, Alcibiades stumbles up to the plate. He sings the praises of Socrates' virtue, nobility, fortitude and pedagogy. This speech, if authentic, is one of the most detailed glimpses into Socrates' life we have and is fascinating. As literature, Plato really surpassed himself in this dialogue - even the weakest speeches (from the point of view of content and wit) were most savorously eloquent. And all were entertaining, each in a very distinct way. While I personally find Plato's physics, metaphysics and epistemology to be absurd and his politics to be frightening, the man could turn a phrase and draw a convincing characterization through speech. While I am completely unconvinced by claims that the Symposium can be viewed as a novel, one can, nonetheless, read it with great pleasure as a purely literary product. By the way, is any of that wine left? (Re-read in Benjamin Jowett's translation.) (*) A possibly amusing sidenote: The participants take a vote and decide "that drinking is to be voluntary, and that there is to be no compulsion" (they decided this only because so many of them were hung over from the previous evening!). One pauses at the idea that some of the brightest lights of Western culture comported themselves in their middle age like frat boys on a Saturday night... One of Socrates' many reported virtues was he could drink everybody else under the table and walk away into the dawn perfectly sober.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Non-Linguistic Constructs: "The Symposium" by Plato, Christopher Gill (trans.) (Original Review, 2003-03-02) The problem for me is that philosophy is surely about ideas which are themselves constructed out of language. Dinosaurs, or evidence for them in the fossil record, are not linguistic constructs - but philosophical ideas would seem to be.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    And Agathon said, It is probable, Socrates, that I knew nothing of what I had said. And yet spoke you beautifully, Agathon, he said. Back in the late 1990s a cowpunk band named The Meat Purveyors had a song, Why Does There Have To Be A Morning After? It detailed stumbling around in the cruel light of day, sipping on backwash beer from the night before and attempting to reconstruct what at best remains a blur. The event depicted here is a hungover quest for certainty. The old hands in Athens have b And Agathon said, It is probable, Socrates, that I knew nothing of what I had said. And yet spoke you beautifully, Agathon, he said. Back in the late 1990s a cowpunk band named The Meat Purveyors had a song, Why Does There Have To Be A Morning After? It detailed stumbling around in the cruel light of day, sipping on backwash beer from the night before and attempting to reconstruct what at best remains a blur. The event depicted here is a hungover quest for certainty. The old hands in Athens have been tippling. Socrates is invited to the day after buffet. The Symposium attempts to explore the Praise for Love which occupies such a crucial yet chaotic corner of our earthly ways. There is ceremonial hemming-and-hawing about the sublime and then Socrates steps into the fray. All is vanity, Love is a bastard child of Poverty: the attempts at the Ininite and Eternal only reflect poorly on our scrawny and fleeting tenure.

  14. 4 out of 5

    James

    The nature of eros is discussed in this famous dialogue by Plato. Symposium literally means "drinking party" in ancient Greek and this was one well-attended party with the likes of Alcibiades, Aristophanes, Agathon, Pausanias, Eryximachus and Socrates. A variety of views are put forward by the participants during the witty dialog that befits a drinking party. Some believe that eros is a somewhat shadowy thing, neither beautiful nor ugly, good nor bad. The most famous view is Aristophanes myth of The nature of eros is discussed in this famous dialogue by Plato. Symposium literally means "drinking party" in ancient Greek and this was one well-attended party with the likes of Alcibiades, Aristophanes, Agathon, Pausanias, Eryximachus and Socrates. A variety of views are put forward by the participants during the witty dialog that befits a drinking party. Some believe that eros is a somewhat shadowy thing, neither beautiful nor ugly, good nor bad. The most famous view is Aristophanes myth of a time when humans were split into two halves with each seeking their other half to become whole, thus explaining the power of eros. The beauty of the prose, the intricacy of the structure and, above all, the fascinating theories that are propounded combine to make this one of the most profound and enjoyable of all of Plato's dialogues. I highly recommend this to all serious readers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    In one of those strange literary coincidences this short treatise on Love by Plato has been referenced this past week in my reading of Barth’s The Friday Book and Hilton Als’s White Girls. And for completely different reasons. I haven’t plunged head-first into White Girls just yet, so this is a great opportunity to pause and catch up on a work of antiquity. My copy of The Symposium is translated from the Greek by Percy Bysshe Shelley - he titles the work The Banquet of Plato rather than the more In one of those strange literary coincidences this short treatise on Love by Plato has been referenced this past week in my reading of Barth’s The Friday Book and Hilton Als’s White Girls. And for completely different reasons. I haven’t plunged head-first into White Girls just yet, so this is a great opportunity to pause and catch up on a work of antiquity. My copy of The Symposium is translated from the Greek by Percy Bysshe Shelley - he titles the work The Banquet of Plato rather than the more common title used today. John Barth loves this work because he loves literature with telescoping frames of stories (One Thousand and One Nights is by far his favorite work - he admits to having the biggest lit crush possible on Scheherazade, his Muse). In this short piece, we have the general framework story of Apollodorus and Friend on a journey; Friend implores Apollodorus to tell him a story about the great Socrates that he recently overheard. Apollodorus confesses that his story is second hand from his other friend Aristodemus, and so Apollodorus unfurls the tale as told to him by Aristodemus. With me so far? We are now in Aristodemus’s narrative: He and Socrates are going to friend Agathon’s house for dinner - the night before Agathon was crowned by Athens as their laureate; that celebration was a real Bacchanalian blowout. On this night Agathon and guests agree to not get hammered and just drink respectably and talk about Love. Each party member offers their dialectic on the topic of Love, when it is Socrates’s turn, he tells a story about the stranger Priestess Diotima who instructs him on the true meaning of Love. This is Barth Bliss - we are now three levels deep in storytelling. Everything gets wrapped up nicely by the sudden invasion of the dinner by the shitfaced Alcibiades, who takes a few pages to explain in his drunken state just how much he loves Socrates. The evening ends with more wine, some guests leaving, others passing out, and ultimately Socrates puts the remaining friends to sleep and leaves. The story ends suddenly, like Plato had just remembered a more important engagement and needed to wrap things up quickly. Hilton Als, in the opening essay “Tristes Tropiques” of White Girls uses one of the vignettes on love from The Symposium to describe his feeling for his best friend: a platonic love that feels like being separated from a twin. Having finished Plato’s work, I now understand his reference (and have only about ten more books to read or movies to watch to divine the rest of the references Als makes in his opening essay). Even if I wasn’t necessarily along for the ride on Plato’s “Love fest” in this work, I did love the construct of the narrative, the characters, the drunken party crashing Alcibiades and the Barthian telescoping storytelling. As the piece can be read in a single sitting I can recommend it as time well spent.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    I'm not a philosophy or ancient history student, I picked up Plato's "Symposium" to challenge myself and see if I could understand it. The "Symposium" is a gathering of Greek thinkers who sit around and give speeches about love. Phaedrus talks about the greatness of love and how those who have it achieve great things. Pausanias talks of the merits of boy/man love where the boy pleasures the man while the man passes on his wisdom to the boy and that this is the best kind of love, not the lesser l I'm not a philosophy or ancient history student, I picked up Plato's "Symposium" to challenge myself and see if I could understand it. The "Symposium" is a gathering of Greek thinkers who sit around and give speeches about love. Phaedrus talks about the greatness of love and how those who have it achieve great things. Pausanias talks of the merits of boy/man love where the boy pleasures the man while the man passes on his wisdom to the boy and that this is the best kind of love, not the lesser lover of procreation between man and woman. Eryximachus talks about how love is the source of all happiness. Aristophanes talks about how once upon a time there was no man or woman but a single human who had both sexes' characteristics. These creatures tried to scale the heavens and so Zeus cut them in half and ever since then man and woman have sought to create that single creature again. Socrates talks about his teacher Diotima and how she taught him that love was the only way human beings could be immortal. "The Symposium" is a short read not to be rushed as there are some fascinating ideas here. Not new ones though but ones that have influenced western culture and thought for centuries. Aristophanes' and Diotima's especially are ideas I've come across before but didn't know they originated in this text. It's also very pro-pederasty which I thought was amusing and can see why some people might have thought Plato was a closet homosexual. Those Greeks certainly were liberated though. It's an accesible and interesting little book though this Penguin Great Ideas edition features no notes, contextual history, introduction, glossary, reading list, etc which the Penguin Classics edition does so if you're studying this text I'd get that edition rather than this one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    I love Plato—platonically, of course. Plato could have staked his reputation on being an enormously talented writer, and he would have secured immortal fame. But no, he had to add brilliance to style. What Plato had that almost all of his successors lacked was a genuine love for the pursuit of knowledge, irrespective of the possibility of its attainment.The Symposium is a perfect monument to this idea. The guests all have different ideas, different styles, and different sensibilities, and all wo I love Plato—platonically, of course. Plato could have staked his reputation on being an enormously talented writer, and he would have secured immortal fame. But no, he had to add brilliance to style. What Plato had that almost all of his successors lacked was a genuine love for the pursuit of knowledge, irrespective of the possibility of its attainment.The Symposium is a perfect monument to this idea. The guests all have different ideas, different styles, and different sensibilities, and all work towards the truth of the matter from different directions. Almost two thousand years later, John Milton summed up this principle rather nicely in his defense of free speech: “And though the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?” Because of the spirit of Socratic enquiry, Plato’s dialogues are valuable even (or especially) when we disagree with his conclusions. At the end of this book, Plato seems to advocate a kind of mysticism that reminds me a bit of Sufi poetry—a sort of erotic love-affair with the divine. But for anyone who has actually been in love, I suspect Aristophanes’s speech will seem much closer to the truth. Regardless, what Plato does miraculously well is to orient us towards problems of intimidating difficulty and perennial relevance. This is why his dialogues are evergreen. Even if these problems were conclusively solved, it would not do to just give the answer to children like a multiplication table. It is rather like Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the answer (42) is meaningless when you don’t know the steps that lead up to it. So read, I say. Read, ponder, and pose your own solution.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Quiver

    This is Plato's book on love in general. Upper-class Athenian men sprawl on couches arranged in a horseshoe, drink wine, and look for ways to entertain themselves with music, dancers, and sexual partners. This is what happens at a symposium. The symposium that Plato describes has seven men—Phaedrus, Pausanias, Aristophanes, Eryximachus, Agathon, Socrates, and Alcibiades—find entertainment in giving speeches that praise Love (encomiums). The company is illustrious. The first five speeches, all in This is Plato's book on love in general. Upper-class Athenian men sprawl on couches arranged in a horseshoe, drink wine, and look for ways to entertain themselves with music, dancers, and sexual partners. This is what happens at a symposium. The symposium that Plato describes has seven men—Phaedrus, Pausanias, Aristophanes, Eryximachus, Agathon, Socrates, and Alcibiades—find entertainment in giving speeches that praise Love (encomiums). The company is illustrious. The first five speeches, all in different styles, with different aims and strategies, build up to the grand speech of Socrates. Alcibiades arrives late and offers his own encomium, not having heard the rest (this is an important point). Of the seven speeches three are memorable: Aristophanes' contains the fairly famous story which says mankind originally consisted of conjoined entities (man-man, man-woman, woman-woman) who the gods punished for hubris by cleaving them into the current forms, thereby creating different types of sexual orientations (we each yearn for the half that was taken from us). Socrates' contains Diotima's teachings that sexual love (the love of earthly beauty) can be used to climb a metaphorical ladder which leads towards the love of wisdom, or philosophy. However, after Socrates' convincing (though logically flawed) speech, one would think that nothing could top it, or that anything that followed would be an anticlimax. Not so. Alcibiades' speech comes last and contains a number of anecdotes about the man he is in love with, the man who is both the ugliest gadfly and wisest midwife of Athens—about Socrates. Because handsome Alcibiades wasn't present at the other speeches, his has an kind of ingenuousness that serves to bolster Socrates' reputation and therefore also his arguments about Love. In summary, this is a short, but complex and brilliantly crafted dialogue. The Oxford World's Classics edition includes an excellent Introduction by Robin Waterfield that should help guide non-expert readers. A great pleasure—I will be rereading it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angel Vanstark

    I am outraged after reading this. First, the approach that was taken (multiple layers of theory of mind) opposed the main topic, love. How the fuck do you expect to talk about love if you don't even have the balls to honor it enough at a close degree. Why the hell am I, as the reader, supposed to believe what comes from the grapevine; Plato and his crew were sketchy mother fuckers. The second and third issue I had with this piece of literature are more pertinent to culture and how the academic w I am outraged after reading this. First, the approach that was taken (multiple layers of theory of mind) opposed the main topic, love. How the fuck do you expect to talk about love if you don't even have the balls to honor it enough at a close degree. Why the hell am I, as the reader, supposed to believe what comes from the grapevine; Plato and his crew were sketchy mother fuckers. The second and third issue I had with this piece of literature are more pertinent to culture and how the academic world ran with this. Love was conversed about while everyone was DRUNK; other than lowered inhibitions, drunk people don't really come up with the most coherent ideas. Yes, some of the definitions and concepts presented are very applicable into a larger context, but academics forget that this was a prototype conversation about love. How can so many people blindly follow this shit religiously? Are you really that emotionally unaware? Yes, the conversations were somewhat elegant, but why the fuck do you take it for fact and allow this to influence so much of our cultural systems now? I don't understand why people have taken this as one of the last needed steps towards making sense of love. It's ludicrous! People should begin to realize that this is a very small starting point. There should be an expansion in the terms of affection to aid humanity in being able to describe the level of their emotional attachment. By accepting the Symposium as a done deal, you have limited your emotional understanding of the very complex realms of your self. In English there are very few words to describe the level of affection one has towards another (like, admire, yearn, lust, and love); it's no wonder people in our following generations have so much fucking trouble understanding why breakups hurt so fucking god damn always. People do not understand the depth or the magnitude of their emotions, and it is evident in the limited language that we have to be able to admit it. I have even found myself using stupid made up shit like, "I like like you." What the fuck is that? If you expand the language, you will more likely be able to help people understand their emotions, and therefore help them manage their emotions. Furthermore, isn't it convenient that, like in the use of the bible, people pick and chose the parts of the symposium that they want to talk about. The text was about half-naked, drunk men getting together to talk about love; that's pretty gay if you ask me (I'm using gay with the proper definition of a man who has emotional, physical, and spiritual attraction to the same sex). Then they go on to talk about gay relationships (I won't tell between who for those of you who haven't read this), and they even talk about a story in which that was an accepted norm. It's ridiculous that people use this text to bestow their wishful desires onto themselves, and yet they ignore an entire part of the community just because of cultural context. Why aren't the fucking academics advocating for gay marriage with this literature? Why is society favoring a couple of lines in the bible that are fallaciously revamped out of historical context in order to oppress people of non-heterosexual identity? I write this review in hopes that others begin to reflect on what the fuck they pick and choose; people deserve to know MORE about love. The Symposium was a cute start; now, let's get the party going a bit more. I think its long over due.

  20. 5 out of 5

    M.L. Rio

    This is the gayest thing I've ever read in my life and it's absolutely marvelous. A tragic poet throws a party and the attendant guests take turns waxing poetic about Love until Socrates ruins the mood with too much philosophy. Fortunately Alcibiades arrives just in time, already wasted and wearing a flower crown, to demand that everyone get on his level while he regales them with a long story about getting friendzoned by Socrates.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    Sex and Socrates? Awesome. Plato's work is a many layered exploration on the nature, purpose and design of love.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    I suppose one should read some Plato to be considered an educated person. I really want to be an educated person, but this is an example of a book I would never get around to reading if I weren't pushed by some situation outside of myself. In this case the push came from a book group of which I am co-organizer. I am fortunate that the group has attracted participants with knowledge of the classics that exceeds my own. Therefore, my rough impressions from reading the material have a chance to be I suppose one should read some Plato to be considered an educated person. I really want to be an educated person, but this is an example of a book I would never get around to reading if I weren't pushed by some situation outside of myself. In this case the push came from a book group of which I am co-organizer. I am fortunate that the group has attracted participants with knowledge of the classics that exceeds my own. Therefore, my rough impressions from reading the material have a chance to be enhanced by the group's discussion. One comment I heard toward the end of our group's discussion was that we hadn't talked much about love given the fact that the book is about love. That pretty well describes the book for me. It's a long drawn out description of an all night bull session among the intelligentsia of 4th Century B.C. Classical Athens, and the topic of the evening is love. Monologues are given by five different individuals with Socrates being the last with the ultimate conclusion that love is a desire for the perfection of the soul. He describes the pursuit of this goal passing from the love of many to the love of one, to the love of the soul, and then to the love of knowledge and wisdom, thence to laws and institutions, and finally to the forms. The goal is something above us, something Else (with a capital “E”). After Socrates is finished a drunken Alcibiades enters the room and gives a sixth monologue about love that is in debased contrast to the lofty words of Socrates. I've learned from previous reading of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War and Plutarch's Lives that Alcibiades was a famous, and later notorious, Greek who subsequently changed sides multiple times in the Peloponnesian War. All the characters in the story are real life Greeks of the classical era. Plato wrote this book about thirty years after the time of the story, and was thus writing from the perspective of knowing about the fall of Athens to the Spartans at the end of the Peloponnesian War. The dialogue as written by Plato is constructed to reveal themes that deal with the spectrum of issues and problems of Greek society in his troubled times. The following are some lecture notes published by The Teaching Company. I found them helpful and decided to leave them here in case any readers of this review want a more detailed "blow-by-blow" account of the book. Lecture Fourteen Symposium—The Pride of Love (from: "Plato, Socrates and the Dialogues" by Michael Sugrue, Ph.D., published by The Teaching Co.) Scope: The Symposium rightfully holds the position of the greatest dialogue after the Republic, due both to its wonderful poetry and to its treatment of multiple themes, the key of which is love. Among the dramatis personae, we will encounter many familiar names from other dialogues, as well as some famous figures from Greek society of the time. Again, the target of the dialogue, set at an all-night drinking bout, is what Plato takes to be the errors in the teaching of the Sophists, which has corrupted the youth of Athens. Thus, we can expect Gorgias and the other Sophist teachers to come in for a dialectical beating here, and we are not disappointed. Likewise, the poet Aristophanes and the political leader Alcibiades (both enemies of Socrates) are held up to ridicule by Plato as a kind of pay-back for their role in Socrates’ death. The crux of the dialogue is love, or more particularly, what is the best kind of love. The characters other than Socrates are used to show gradations of misguided, self-seeking and ultimately futile love. Plato skillfully does this not only with his poetry, but the physical actions and even disguises in which he places the characters. In the end, the disinterested, higher, “sober” love of Socrates shines forth as the other players essentially sink into an abyss of drunkeness and ignorance. A careful consideration of this magnificent dialogue will reveal other themes that Plato often played on dealing with the entire spectrum of human (Greek) society of his troubled times. I. After the Republic, the Symposium is considered to be the greatest of the Platonic dialogues. The main theme is love, but other important themes are introduced, especially towards the end. A. There are levels of symbolism which must be analyzed in the context of the other Platonic dialogues. B. Many of the interlocutors and characters of the Protagoras (see Lecture 10) are present in Symposium. Also making an appearance is Aristophanes, the great comic playwright, and also Alcibiades. C. The setting is a banquet in honor of Agathon, a young poet (taught by Gorgias, the Sophist) whose tragedies have just won first prize in an Athens religious festival. 1. Socrates gets into his good clothes to go to the party. But he stops along the way because he has fallen into a contemplative reverie. 2. The early discussion of the seating arrangement is important because of the idea of the proximity of bodies (cf. to the Platonic idea of the proximity of souls). It must also be understood in light of the homosexuality of that stratum of Greek society in that late 5th century B.C. time period. 3. We must also keep in mind the “corruption” theme, since these young men are either poets or have been educated by Gorgias, or both. They decide to give speeches in honor of the god of love, Eros. This is Plato’s device to reveal their souls from what they love. 4. Socrates comes in late and sits next to Agathon (which means “good” in Greek). This is in itself symbolic. 5. They decide not to let this degenerate into a wild drinking party, since they are still hung over from the last night’s carousing. This shows their immoderation and “bronze” love that features self-indulgence. There is a “soul-sickness” afflicting these people. II. One after the other, the men give their speeches to Eros, straddling piety and bodily interests and desires. A. Phaedrus, beloved of Eriximachus, student of Hippias, makes a very uninspiring speech, in which the gods or souls are never mentioned. It seems he didn’t learn anything from Socrates. His speech praising selfish, calculating love is well received. It is clear he has a “small” soul and has no concept of real love. B. Pausanius, lover of Agathon, praises selfish, pederast love. He advocates changing the nomos (law) of Athens in favor of the homosexual lover. 1. He is speaking like a sophist, trying to gratify himself and change the external world rather than to concentrate on his soul. 2. The guests at the banquet applaud the speech which is slightly better than that of Phaedrus. C. The next speaker is Aristophanes, the comic playwright. 1. We must recall that Aristophanes has targeted Socrates in his plays, making fun of him and even making him look like a Sophist or worse (cf. to the Apology, where Socrates says his real accusers are the poets and playwrights who have made him appear to be a Sophist). 2. Thus, Plato is getting his “revenge” by showing Aristophanes in a bad light. 3. Aristophanes is unable to speak due to his over-indulgence. There is a short comic interlude when Aristophanes begins to hiccough and asks Eriximachus to cure him and/or speak next. This hiccoughing and the cure of sneezing are symbolic of “spasms” of desire that characterize Aristophanes. 4. Eriximachus, a doctor, begins to speak of the unity of opposites as the goal of the soul. However, he is really interested in what gratifies him (in this case, homosexual love which is really the unity of the same). 5. Eriximachus’ speech is, like the first two, rather mundane, selfish and aimed at the body, compared to the ones that will follow. D. Aristophanes now gets his turn to speak. He begins by talking about mythos (poetry or religious myth) which in his opinion supersedes the physical, mechanical view of the first three speeches. 1. He tells the myth that humans used to have a connection of bodies: two faces, one head, four arms and four legs. These humans tried to scale the heights of Olympus, and Zeus split them in two. 2. Thus, humans are seeking completeness, their “other half.” 3. This really means that Aristophanes is half a man, who desires strongly and wants to gratify them in a maximal way. 4. Humans are basically impious monsters who are now split in two. Aristophanes exemplifies this with his pursuit of Dionysus and Aphrodite. 5. This is actually a very unbalanced, “un-Greek” conception of the soul and self. E. Agathon is next to speak, and his speech is better than all the preceding. But he is a student of Gorgias, so we can expect corruption. He is very narcissistic and his speech to Eros is really a speech or encomium to himself. 1. He uses the Gorgian formula, which requires no thought whatsoever. The adjectives and phrases could apply to anyone or anything. 2. He likens himself to the great Homer. He has won the prizes, and is totally in love with himself, not seeing that this is false love. 3. He really has no identity, because he doesn’t need other people (other than to fawn over him). 4. At the end of the glittering speech, Socrates gets in an ironic line about Agathon’s praise of himself, disguised as praise to the god, Eros. F. Socrates is next, and starts out by saying (with ironic understatement) that he doubts if he can measure up to the speeches of Aristophanes and the others. 1. He says that he learned about love from an woman prophetess named Diatina (in Greek, “the honor of God”). He states that love is a daimon, connecting the human and divine. 2. The speech is actually a poetic mimesis of a Socratic dialogue within the larger dialogue. It is not like the rhetorical speeches of the others. 3. He defines, or rather describes, love as a longing (therefore, it cannot be a god, since gods do not lack for any completeness). 4. Love is mostly a desire for the perfection of the soul (bodies might enter into it, but that is not the focus). Diatima leads him up the “ladder of beauty,” which leads to the image of the final beauty in the beloved. 5. Thus love moves from the love of many to the love of one, to the love of the soul, and then to the love of knowledge and wisdom, thence to laws and institutions, and finally to the forms. The goal is something above us, something Else (with a capital “E”). 6. In the soul of our beloved, we see the image of the perfect beauty and love, which is outside of time and space. G. Everyone except Aristophanes stands and applauds. Aristophanes (who is now completely drunk) wants to rebut Socrates. But before he can do it, Alcibiades enters (recall that he was responsible for the loss of the Peloponnesian War because of the ill-fated Sicilian expedition; he is bad, daemonic, traitorous, corrupt). 1. He represents the exact opposite of Socrates: disordered and evil, but outwardly eloquent and charming. 2. Socrates is really Diatima’s “daimon of love.” 3. Alcibiades enters drunk and dressed as the god Dionysus and places a laurel wreath on Agathon (Dionysus is the god of wine and also of tragedy and comedy). 4. He recognizes Socrates and wants to place a wreath on Socrates (“there is no head like this in all of Greece”), even though Socrates makes him very uncomfortable. 5. He invites everyone to drink deeply. He goes on about Socrates, and the crowd asks him for an encomium on Socrates. Alcibiades, in delivering this speech, first discusses his attempt to seduce him for homosexual love (thinking he would get Socrates’ wisdom). 6. Socrates begins to emerge as the daemon of love, who does not care about the body or other human urges. He (Socrates) seeks the higher, purer love. 7. This encomium really becomes a speech of accusation. Alcibiades accuses Socrates of hubris, of being non-human, of being too good. Since Alcibiades is in the form of a god, he can get away with this accusation of the partially divine daemon. 8. At the end of the speech, the revelers (the demos) fill the room and the drinking picks up. Socrates’ gets both the tragic poet (Agathon) and the comic poet (Aristophanes) together with him. They eventually pass out; only Socrates remains sober. 9. Socrates is arguing that the same poet can write both comedy and tragedy. Plato is saying that Socrates is the new tragic hero, yet he lacks a tragic flaw. H. Thus we can see that this great poem about love is also about politics, art, rhetoric and the soul. Readings: Essential: The dialogue Symposium Supplementary: Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, Chapter XI (this discusses the historical Socrates and his circle and makes references to several passages in Symposium) Questions to Consider: 1. Compare and contrast the treatment of the theme of love in Symposium (a middle dialogue) and Phaedrus (a late dialogue). Do you detect a maturity of Plato’s concept in the latter? 2. Compare Diatima’s “ladder of beauty” with the “divided line” of Republic.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

    Though he is regarded as the father of philosophy, Plato is often undervalued as a literary dramatist. People refer casually to “Plato’s thought” as if its contours were as easily deducible and straightforward as they are in the more staid and laborious expositions of Aristotle; but whenever someone speaks of something Plato said, they’re really speaking about something one of Plato’s characters said. Though Socrates is clearly his philosophical paragon (and nowhere is this made more explicit tha Though he is regarded as the father of philosophy, Plato is often undervalued as a literary dramatist. People refer casually to “Plato’s thought” as if its contours were as easily deducible and straightforward as they are in the more staid and laborious expositions of Aristotle; but whenever someone speaks of something Plato said, they’re really speaking about something one of Plato’s characters said. Though Socrates is clearly his philosophical paragon (and nowhere is this made more explicit than in the Symposium), Plato represents his antagonists so convincingly that one is tempted to suggest that the meaning of Plato is not to be found so much in the specific arguments his Socrates makes, but rather in his all-embracing love of wisdom, which both accommodates and elevates the loving embrace of truth in whatever form it may take. Who can really say that the young Socrates overcame the sophistry of Protagoras, or, in the present case, that the conception of love he imbibed from the enigmatic Diotima necessarily prevails over Aristophanes’ curiously-charming fable about humanity’s original hermaphroditism? Anyone who has tried their hand at writing fiction appreciates the challenge of trying to represent an authentic voice that is convincingly separate from one’s own; that Plato so profoundly accomplished this with eight characters is a testament to one of the great themes of the Symposium: that whatever love is, knowledge and artistry alike must both be infused with it. The Symposium is about nothing less than how to speak rightly about love. It is a story within a story; Apollodorus relates the story as it was told to him in his childhood by Aristodemus. Agathon is hosting the symposium to celebrate an award he has won for his first play. The attendees agree to engage in a competition, to be judged by the god Dionysus, over who can deliver the best speech in praise of love. Phaedrus speaks first and starts the conversation on a surprising note. Love, he says, is important and beneficial to the pursuit of the good life because it allows us to feel shame. Nothing makes us cringe so terribly as being caught in some disgraceful or dishonorable action in front of someone we love. Love inspires us to be virtuous in the sight of our beloved, and in so doing provides the foundation of a stable and ethical society. It is a web of moral accountability that holds us all together in mutual regard. Pausanias speaks next. He draws a distinction between two types of love, represented by dual aspects of the goddess Aphrodite. There is a Celestial Aphrodite, who has no mother and whose father was Uranus, and there is a Common Aphrodite, who was born of Zeus and Dione. Common Aphrodite is the matron of random, undiscriminating, uncontrolled bodily lust. She champions both heterosexual and homosexual desire, loving only carnal gratification and paying no heed to the minds of its objects or the propriety of its ends. According to Pausanias, this is love as most people experience it; directionless, untamed, and immature. In contrast, the love accompanied by Celestial Aphrodite is, like her, entirely male (she was created from the genitals of Uranus [giggle] and was not born of a woman). She has been made mature and cerebral by her great age. As a masculine force, she inspires attraction to strength and intelligence rather than to the body, which is why she is the patroness of the erastes/eromenos relationship. The love she inspires is powerful and enduring, because its object—the mind and character of the beloved—is a more permanent foundation than physical beauty. It is the love of Celestial Aphrodite which deserves our praise, because it is oriented towards that which is good and imperishable. Aristophanes is supposed to go next, but he has a bad case of the hiccups, so Eryximachus takes his turn. He accepts Pausanius’s bifurcation of love and expands upon the concept through medical analogies. There are positive and negative loves, and it is the physician’s task to reconcile hostilities between the bodily elements, and to make them love each other. He determines that the Celestial love introduced by Pausanius is a love that cultivates moderation by allowing for pleasure without self-indulgence. Aristophanes, now cured of his hiccups, delivers his memorable story about the origins of love and desire. According to this story, there were originally thee genders—male, female, and androgynous—and they were fused together in each person, who was round, had four legs, four arms, two heads, two sets of genitalia, and who moved around by doing cartwheels in every direction. These globular, cartwheeling hermaphrodites were apparently powerful enough to challenge the gods, and so Zeus took them down a peg by dividing each one into the uni-sexed people who exist today. Because the essence of each person had been split in two, each half seeks to regain its original unity by finding another half to meld with. Love can thus be conceptualized as that which “draws our original nature back together; he tries to reintegrate us and heal the split in our nature.” Love is the desire for wholeness. Agathon gives a fairly prosaic speech, praising the youth, beauty, and goodness of love, but his real purpose in the dialogue seems to be to act as a foil for Socrates’s cross-examination. Socrates gets Agathon to concede that if love entails desire, and desire can only be manifested for something one lacks, then the objects of love cannot be part of its nature. If love loves beauty and goodness, it cannot rightly be said that love is beautiful or good. Socrates then admits that he was given this revelation by an enigmatic woman named Diotima of Mantinea, who likewise demonstrated to Socrates that love was neither good or attractive. But neither, according to Diotima, is it necessarily bad or unattractive. Rather, it is a mediating presence between all things: neither good nor bad, neither godly nor human, neither mortal nor immortal. Love is one of the mediating spirits that fill the space between humans and gods and make the universe an interconnected whole. These spirits make communication between gods and mortals possible, as the two cannot access each other directly. Love is a desire arising from an intermediate state between knowledge and ignorance, which is the state which all mortals occupy. Love must love wisdom, because knowledge is one of the most attractive things there is; but in order to love wisdom, one must be both sufficiently lacking in wisdom to desire it and knowledgeable enough to recognize the lack. Everyone loves good things that will make them happy, even if they pursue this love in a multitude of ways. “The object of love”, says Diotima, “is the permanent possession of goodness for oneself.” The purpose of love is “physical and mental procreation in an attractive medium.” If our ultimate desire is for permanent goodness, then we must desire immortality as well, and some type of procreative effort—whether it’s physical childbearing or the creation of lasting works of art—is the means to that end. Diotima advises Socrates to climb a ladder of ascent in the contemplation of love: “The proper way to go about or be guided through the ways of love is to start with beautiful things in this world and always make the beauty I’ve been talking about the reason for your ascent. You should use the things of this world as rungs in a ladder. You start by loving one attractive body and step up to two; from there you move on to physical beauty in general, from there to the beauty of people’s activities, from there to the beauty of intellectual endeavours, and from there you ascend to that final intellectual endeavour, which is no more and no less than the study of that beauty, so that you finally recognize true beauty. ‘“What else could make life worth living, my dear Socrates,” the woman from Mantinea said, “than seeing true beauty?” It would seem fitting to end the dialogue on this pleasing note, but right at this moment of rarefied contemplation a drunken Alcibiades comes staggering through the door. He begins telling stories about Socrates that have the effect of depicting him as the very embodiment of Diotima’s conception of love. Alcibiades complains, in essence, that Socrates kindles his desire; but rather than satisfying that desire on a fleshly level, he redirects that desire into the love of wisdom—into philosophy. He is not taken in by the pleasures of the phenomenal world—no one has ever seen Socrates drunk—but rather he follows the lower things to the higher ones. The symposium becomes a bacchanal; the guests fall asleep in a drunken stupor. But the dawn’s light finds Socrates awake and alert, and we last see him stepping over his slumbering counterparts and emerging into the morning air.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)

    Originally posted on A Frolic Through Fiction RATED 4.5/5 STARS I went into this fully expecting not to understand a word of it. I mean, an ancient classic discussing philosophy? Both genres being something I’m used to. But, on recommendation from a friend, and the fact it’s only 100 pages long, I figured what the hell and threw myself into it. And I’m so glad I did. I was pleasantly surprised! First off, it was easy to understand. I don’t know whether that’s a translation thing or if the ancient Originally posted on A Frolic Through Fiction RATED 4.5/5 STARS I went into this fully expecting not to understand a word of it. I mean, an ancient classic discussing philosophy? Both genres being something I’m used to. But, on recommendation from a friend, and the fact it’s only 100 pages long, I figured what the hell and threw myself into it. And I’m so glad I did. I was pleasantly surprised! First off, it was easy to understand. I don’t know whether that’s a translation thing or if the ancient philosophers just didn’t wrap their point in three million extra words, like some of the other classics I’ve read, but either way I’m glad for it. What seemed like a huge topic in a tiny book turned out to be much less daunting than I anticipated. As for the actual philosophy talk, I much preferred the first half of the book over the second. The first half covers a group of people discussing what love is, whether it’s beautiful etc etc, and more importantly *cough* in my opinion *cough* they talk myths, my favourite being the myth of every person actually having 4 legs and 4 arms, only to be cut in half by Zeus to spend their lives looking for their “other half”. It was genuinely so so intriguing to see every person in this group stand up and say their bit about love. Not only did every person have some new view to consider, but everyone was open-minded and you could see their views changing as they considered each person’s viewpoint. Not only that, but it kind of blows my mind how accepting they were about homosexuality. Mainly because I read their complete acceptance of it and thought “where the hell did that vanish to?” *sigh* As for the second half, I still enjoying it but not quite as much as the first half. Simply because there were a lot of similes and metaphors all thrown together that proved at first to be a tad hard to follow. That being said, I still got the point of everything overall and found it to be very meaningful – if only they’d cut out on the roundabout method of explaining. These 100 pages honestly surprised me so much. I feel like this is the sort of book I’ll come back to many times in the future – and I think I might even get the bulkier edition with more of an introduction/general information etc etc to see what more I can learn. Who’d have thought, eh?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    On second reading I realised I'd not spent nearly enough time deconstructing and thinking about the contents of this book. Definitely going to be rereading this a number of times.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leopold Benedict

    Impressive dialogue on beauty and sexuality. Interesting parallels to Freud's study of the sublimation of sexual urges are to be continued.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fariba

    My first 5-star read of 2018 goes to Plato's Symposium. This dialogue had everything I could ask for in a philosophical work: witty one-liners, compelling characters, and (of course) a powerful message on true goodness and beauty. Socrates is such a mysterious figure.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shivam Kalra

    Hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time. It's almost unbelievable that the idea of love hasn't change much at all since this text was first written. This is definitely worth a read and must be taught and discussed, especially now that the idea of "love" has been romanticised so much that it is something our generation sorely desires.

  29. 5 out of 5

    A.

    "In that form of life, my dear Socrates," said the Mantinean stranger, "if in any, human life should be lived, gazing on beauty itself." (pp. 49)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Grant

    The most accessible and fun work of Plato's I've ever read. There's an intimacy all throughout this work that really immerses the reader in Plato's world. If I had to recommend any book to a friend that would introduce them to Plato, it would be this one!

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