Plato’s Symposium is one of the most iconic works of literature in the Western tradition. It is not likely that a Greek parent committed him to a lover, any more than we should to a schoolmaster, in the expectation that he would be corrupted by him, but rather in the hope that his morals would be better cared for than was possible in a great household of slaves. For love is young and dwells in soft places,—not like Ate in Homer, walking on the skulls of men, but in their hearts and souls, which are soft enough. as they had been all well drunk on the day before, and drinking on two successive days is such a bad thing.’ This is confirmed by the authority of Eryximachus the physician, who further proposes that instead of listening to the flute-girl and her ‘noise’ they shall make speeches in honour of love, one after another, going from left to right in the order in which they are reclining at the table. His speech is ‘more words than matter,’ and might have been composed by a pupil of Lysias or of Prodicus, although there is no hint given that Plato is specially referring to them. 6a. 677d (Orpheus is mentioned in a list of inventors of old, along with Dædalus, But these and similar distinctions are not found in Plato;—they are the points of view of his critics, and seem to impede rather than to assist us in understanding him. To most men reason and passion appear to be antagonistic both in idea and fact. For he who has beauty or good may desire more of them; and he who has beauty or good in himself may desire beauty and good in others. (5) A small matter: there appears to be a difference of custom among the Greeks and among ourselves, as between ourselves and continental nations at the present time, in modes of salutation. Yet Plato was not a mystic, nor in any degree affected by the Eastern influences which afterwards overspread the Alexandrian world. The legend of Orpheus gave birth, in the VIth century B. C., to mystery cults ), for my words refer to all mankind everywhere. II, 364e, where Adeimantus, in his introductory speech, refers to people Such is the power of love; and that love which is just and temperate has the greatest power, and is the source of all our happiness and friendship with the gods and with one another. trying to link them to Heraclitus' theory of perpetual Why then is there all this flutter and excitement about love? The turn of Socrates comes next. When Pausanias remarks that personal attachments are inimical to despots. (The negative argument adduced by the same So naturally does Plato mingle jest and earnest, truth and opinion in the same work. Plato ’s Symposium is a series of speeches on Love given at a party in ancient Greece. Love is of something, and that which love desires is not that which love is or has; for no man desires that which he is or has. Compare the derivations of Zeus, Kronos, Ouranos, Crat. This is still more marked in the speech of Pausanias which follows; and which is at once hyperlogical in form and also extremely confused and pedantic. The two halves went about looking for one another, and were ready to die of hunger in one another’s arms. We cannot distinguish them, and are therefore unable to part them; as in the parable ‘they grow together unto the harvest:’ it is only a rule of external decency by which society can divide them. The sexes were originally three, men, women, and the union of the two; and they were made round—having four hands, four feet, two faces on a round neck, and the rest to correspond. While The Republic may be more famous, Symposium is the most graphic, intense, and dramatic of the dialogues. page 442 note 2 Phaedo 82 B. As the Christian might speak of hungering and thirsting after righteousness; or of divine loves under the figure of human (compare Eph. Socrates at one time seemed about to fall in love with him; and he thought that he would thereby gain a wonderful opportunity of receiving lessons of wisdom. This explains why the The (so-called) Symposium of Xenophon may therefore have no more title to be regarded as genuine than the confessedly spurious Apology. among others). He starts from a noble text: ‘That without the sense of honour and dishonour neither states nor individuals ever do any good or great work.’ But he soon passes on to more common-place topics. The opinion of Christendom has not altogether condemned passionate friendships between persons of the same sex, but has certainly not encouraged them, because though innocent in themselves in a few temperaments they are liable to degenerate into fearful evil. 384, which is the forty-fourth year of Plato’s life. In the human body also there are two loves; and the art of medicine shows which is the good and which is the bad love, and persuades the body to accept the good and reject the bad, and reconciles conflicting elements and makes them friends. He is conscious that the highest and noblest things in the world are not easily severed from the sensual desires, or may even be regarded as a spiritualized form of them. Sept 2014 10 MB ) This link contains a free pdf copy of Plato's Symposium: Greek Text with Facing Vocabulary and Commentary available for $14.95 on Amazon.com. His songs were so sweet that they would tame wild beasts and rugged men and In the beginning, his compositions were of classical design and bore Romantic elements, but he later mainly depicted ancient subjects in soft colours. But Plato seems also to be aware that there is a mystery of love in man as well as in nature, extending beyond the mere immediate relation of the sexes. 533c (Orpheus is mentioned in a list of musicians and raphsodes people Plato transposes the two next speeches, as in the Republic he would transpose the virtues and the mathematical sciences. She has taught him that love is another aspect of philosophy. There were many, doubtless, to whom the love of the fair mind was the noblest form of friendship (Rep.), and who deemed the friendship of man with man to be higher than the love of woman, because altogether separated from the bodily appetites. The first of the two loves has a noble purpose, and delights only in the intelligent nature of man, and is faithful to the end, and has no shadow of wantonness or lust. They were also an educational institution: a young person was specially entrusted by his parents to some elder friend who was expected by them to train their son in manly exercises and in virtue. He is the great speaker and enchanter who ravishes the souls of men; the convincer of hearts too, as he has convinced Alcibiades, and made him ashamed of his mean and miserable life. in the Symposium) half in jest, yet ‘with a certain degree of seriousness.’ We observe that they entered into one part of Greek literature, but not into another, and that the larger part is free from such associations. Socrates, having laid them to rest, takes a bath and goes to his daily avocations until the evening. 179d (reference in Phædrus' speech to the story of Orpheus' descent All of them are rhetorical and poetical rather than dialectical, but glimpses of truth appear in them. Some traditions ascribed to Musæus (or to his father Eumolpus) the institution He seems to have been present to the mind of Plato in the description of the democratic man of the Republic (compare also Alcibiades 1). ‘Would you desire better witness?’ The extraordinary narrative of Alcibiades is ingeniously represented as admitted by Socrates, whose silence when he is invited to contradict gives consent to the narrator. and it is in this state that he was known to Plato. It is the speech of the tragic poet and a sort of poem, like tragedy, moving among the gods of Olympus, and not among the elder or Orphic deities. It depicts a friendly contest of extemporaneous speeches given by a group of notable men attending a banquet. He expresses the very genius of the old comedy, its coarse and forcible imagery, and the licence of its language in speaking about the gods. Being too soft to row, he would keep the rowers in rythm with his songs and, He was the most gifted of musicians, and was said to be They deal with questions of: what Love is; interpersonal relationships through love; what types of love are worthy of praise; the purpose of love; and others. The speech may be compared with that speech of Socrates in the Phaedrus in which he describes himself as talking dithyrambs. That the distinction is a fallacy is obvious; it is almost acknowledged to be so by Socrates himself. The rule in our country is that the beloved may do the same service to the lover in the way of virtue which the lover may do to him. who was for a while exiled in Eleusis and returned Above one another ’ s time known for such artworks as 'Iphigenia ' 1871... Terrible was their strength and swiftness ; and they were essaying to scale heaven and attack the gods related love... Of all are those of legislators, in which he urges against Agathon of these loves disgraceful... 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