As the Christian might speak of hungering and thirsting after righteousness; or of divine loves under the figure of human (compare Eph. The (so-called) Symposium of Xenophon may therefore have no more title to be regarded as genuine than the confessedly spurious Apology. 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. Apology, trade behind mystery religion and prophecy) ; When Eryximachus says that the principles of music are simple in themselves, but confused in their application, he touches lightly upon a difficulty which has troubled the moderns as well as the ancients in music, and may be extended to the other applied sciences. Nothing in Aristophanes is more truly Aristophanic than the description of the human monster whirling round on four arms and four legs, eight in all, with incredible rapidity. On his appearing he and the host jest a little; the question is then asked by Pausanias, one of the guests, ‘What shall they do about drinking? 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. Frag. trying to link them to Heraclitus' theory of perpetual 384, which is the forty-fourth year of Plato's life. And it is quite possible that the malignity of Greek scandal, aroused by some personal jealousy or party enmity, may have converted the innocent friendship of a great man for a noble youth into a connexion of another kind. The turn of Socrates comes next. There are so many half-lights and cross-lights, so much of the colour of mythology, and of the manner of sophistry adhering—rhetoric and poetry, the playful and the serious, are so subtly intermingled in it, and vestiges of old philosophy so curiously blend with germs of future knowledge, that agreement among interpreters is not to be expected. His father was sometimes said to be Eumolpus He is the impersonation of lawlessness—’the lion’s whelp, who ought not to be reared in the city,’ yet not without a certain generosity which gained the hearts of men,—strangely fascinated by Socrates, and possessed of a genius which might have been either the destruction or salvation of Athens. Free download or read online The Symposium pdf (ePUB) book. The love of women is regarded by him as almost on an equality with that of men; and he makes the singular remark that the gods favour the return of love which is made by the beloved more than the original sentiment, because the lover is of a nobler and diviner nature. Part 2. Pausanias is very earnest in the defence of such loves; and he speaks of them as generally approved among Hellenes and disapproved by barbarians. with women again. The men include the philosopher Socrates, the general and political figure Alcibiades, and the comic playwright Aristophanes. Aristodemus follows. Such, Phaedrus, is the tale which I heard from the stranger of Mantinea, and which you may call the encomium of love, or what you please. There is no criterion of the date of the Symposium, except that which is furnished by the allusion to the division of Arcadia after the destruction of Mantinea. Such was the love of Alcestis, who dared to die for her husband, and in recompense of her virtue was allowed to come again from the dead. ), is not a mere fiction of Plato’s, but seems actually to have existed at Thebes in the days of Epaminondas and Pelopidas, if we may believe writers cited anonymously by Plutarch, Pelop. SYMPOSIUM part 1 of 2. Musaeus showed us the cures for diseases and oracular words [khrēsmoi], while Hesiod showed us the ways to work the land, and the seasons for harvesting. of Orpheus" looking at the body as a prison (sèma) for the He will speak of the god first and then of his gifts: He is the fairest and blessedest and best of the gods, and also the youngest, having had no existence in the old days of Iapetus and Cronos when the gods were at war. This is speedily repressed by Phaedrus, who reminds the disputants of their tribute to the god. We must not suspect evil in the hearty kiss or embrace of a male friend ‘returning from the army at Potidaea’ any more than in a similar salutation when practised by members of the same family. And love is not of beauty only, but of birth in beauty; this is the principle of immortality in a mortal creature. 677d (Orpheus is mentioned in a list of inventors of old, along with Dædalus, Aristodemus, who is described as having been in past times a humble but inseparable attendant of Socrates, had reported them to him (compare Xen. presenting "books by Musæus and Orpheus, offspring of Selene and the The state of his affections towards Socrates, unintelligible to us and perverted as they appear, affords an illustration of the power ascribed to the loves of man in the speech of Pausanias. by the beauty of young men and boys, which was alone capable of inspiring the modern feeling of romance in the Greek mind. He is led in drunk, and welcomed by Agathon, whom he has come to crown with a garland. 782c (the Athenian refers to vegetarianism as an Orphic lifestyle)  ; It depicts a friendly contest of extemporaneous speeches given by a group of notable men attending a banquet. Socrates piques Alcibiades by a pretended affection for Agathon. Agathon’s speech follows:—. After Orpheus' death, his lyre became the constellation by that The Symposium is about love, eros more specifically. Some traditions ascribed to Musæus (or to his father Eumolpus) the institution Phædo , 82d, sq) ; 402b References to Orpheus and Orphism by name (and to Musæus, who is never mentioned alone, but always, when mentioned, associated with Orpheus) in the dialogues are at : for not having had the courage to die for his beloved, but to have tried to Plato's Symposium Commentary (Rev. When Alcibiades has done speaking, a dispute begins between him and Agathon and Socrates. Cimon, Alcibiades, Critias, Demosthenes, Epaminondas: several of the Roman emperors were assailed by similar weapons which have been used even in our own day against statesmen of the highest character. The dramatic interest of the character is heightened by the recollection of his after history. And the beautiful is the good, and therefore, in wanting and desiring the beautiful, love also wants and desires the good. And love is of the beautiful, and therefore has not the beautiful. A summary of Part X (Section3) in Plato's The Symposium. And, so the story goes, his head and lyre The legend of Orpheus gave birth, in the VIth century B. C., to mystery cults Ethics). The Symposium (Ancient Greek: Συμπόσιον, Sympósion [sympósi̯on]) is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–370 BC. The power of love is represented in the Symposium as running through all nature and all being: at one end descending to animals and plants, and attaining to the highest vision of truth at the other. 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. ), is given by Diotima. ), for my words refer to all mankind everywhere. For love is the desire of the whole, and the pursuit of the whole is called love. This is the reason why parents love their children—for the sake of immortality; and this is why men love the immortality of fame. There is a similar harmony or disagreement in the course of the seasons and in the relations of moist and dry, hot and cold, hoar frost and blight; and diseases of all sorts spring from the excesses or disorders of the element of love. It is at once a preparation for Socrates and a foil to him. Search all of SparkNotes Search. but not about any other poet) ; 536b The divine image of beauty which resides within Socrates has been revealed; the Silenus, or outward man, has now to be exhibited. in the Phaedrus, or Symposium, when compared with the Laws. Doubt reigned in the celestial councils; the gods were divided between the desire of quelling the pride of man and the fear of losing the sacrifices. Of course, he is ‘playing both sides of the game,’ as in the Gorgias and Phaedrus; but it is not necessary in order to understand him that we should discuss the fairness of his mode of proceeding. ; and once more Xenophon, Mem. 41a (also Musæus : in his final speech to the jurors, Socrates Written 2,400 years ago, Plato’s philosophical novella, Symposium, includes one of the weirdest – and most charming – explanations of why people fall in love ever invented. As it would be out of character for Socrates to make a lengthened harangue, the speech takes the form of a dialogue between Socrates and a mysterious woman of foreign extraction. This explains why the All of them agree to this proposal, and Phaedrus, who is the ‘father’ of the idea, which he has previously communicated to Eryximachus, begins as follows:—. Unfortunately, just before reaching the light of day, Orpheus, tortured by doudt, looked behind, and instantly, Eurydice died for the second time, this time forever and there was nothing Orpheus could do to help it. But Diotima, the prophetess of Mantineia, whose sacred and superhuman character raises her above the ordinary proprieties of women, has taught Socrates far more than this about the art and mystery of love. The men include the philosopher Socrates, the general and political figure Alcibiades, and the comic playwright Aristophanes. The greatest of these is the sense of honour and dishonour. But the suspicion which hangs over other writings of Xenophon, and the numerous minute references to the Phaedrus and Symposium, as well as to some of the other writings of Plato, throw a doubt on the genuineness of the work. The genius of Greek art seems to triumph over the traditions of Pythagorean, Eleatic, or Megarian systems, and ‘the old quarrel of poetry and philosophy’ has at least a superficial reconcilement. Under one aspect ‘the idea is love’; under another, ‘truth.’ In both the lover of wisdom is the ‘spectator of all time and of all existence.’ This is a ‘mystery’ in which Plato also obscurely intimates the union of the spiritual and fleshly, the interpenetration of the moral and intellectual faculties. He is informed of the nature of the entertainment; and is ready to join, if only in the character of a drunken and disappointed lover he may be allowed to sing the praises of Socrates:—. Such accusations were brought against several of the leading men of Hellas, e.g. In both of them philosophy is regarded as a sort of enthusiasm or madness; Socrates is himself ‘a prophet new inspired’ with Bacchanalian revelry, which, like his philosophy, he characteristically pretends to have derived not from himself but from others. When he wakes at cockcrow the revellers are nearly all asleep. For the creative soul creates not children, but conceptions of wisdom and virtue, such as poets and other creators have invented. ; and compare Sympos. Republic, II, 363c (Musæus : Adeimantus, in his introductory speech, refers to the fate that awaits the justs at death according to "Musæus and his son", without naming that son) and 364e-365a (he continues, mentioning now the rituals inspired by "a noisy throng of books by Musæus and Orpheus, offspring of Selene and the Muses" to help initiates win purification from their injustice) ; X, 620a (in his description of how souls choose their new life based on their earlier life, Er gives the example of Orpheus choosing the life of a swan because, in his hate of the female sex at whose hands he had died, he didn't want to be born from a woman) ; at Commentary on Plato Symposium. They are fanciful, partly facetious performances, ‘yet also having a certain measure of seriousness,’ which the successive speakers dedicate to the god. This took place in the year B.C. (Aesch. as "enchanting his followers with his voice like Orpheus") ; 316d And he is wise too; for he is a poet, and the author of poesy in others. Love became a mythic personage whom philosophy, borrowing from poetry, converted into an efficient cause of creation. For in philosophy as in prophecy glimpses of the future may often be conveyed in words which could hardly have been understood or interpreted at the time when they were uttered (compare Symp. He professes to open a new vein of discourse, in which he begins by treating of the origin of human nature. brought back from his descent into Hades. And Love desires not only the good, but the everlasting possession of the good. (Compare Hoeck’s Creta and the admirable and exhaustive article of Meier in Ersch and Grueber’s Cyclopedia on this subject; Plutarch, Amatores; Athenaeus; Lysias contra Simonem; Aesch. He narrates the failure of his design. the tomb, the song of a lyre could sometime be heard. Its legacy has been far reaching, inspiring religion and mysticism, to visions of art, the good, and the beautiful. (3) While we know that in this matter there is a great gulf fixed between Greek and Christian Ethics, yet, if we would do justice to the Greeks, we must also acknowledge that there was a greater outspokenness among them than among ourselves about the things which nature hides, and that the more frequent mention of such topics is not to be taken as the measure of the prevalence of offences, or as a proof of the general corruption of society. for the Blessed. Plato in print. The Symposium cannot therefore be regarded as a youthful work. He is the most wonderful of human beings, and absolutely unlike anyone but a satyr. He is willing to rest in the contemplation of the idea, which to him is the cause of all things (Rep.), and has no strength to go further. At first immortality means only the succession of existences; even knowledge comes and goes. We may note also the touch of Socratic irony. The things that were done then were done of necessity and not of love. (also Musæus : in his theory about the "chain of inspiration" from 829D: Nobody is to sing a song not approved by the Guardians, not even if it be sweeter than the hymns of Thamyrus and Orpheus). The result of his questions may be summed up as follows:—. But the morals of a nation are not to be judged of wholly by its literature. This is why Thracian women, angered at being so despised, 493a and at He then proceeds to mention some other particulars of the life of Socrates; how they were at Potidaea together, where Socrates showed his superior powers of enduring cold and fatigue; how on one occasion he had stood for an entire day and night absorbed in reflection amid the wonder of the spectators; how on another occasion he had saved Alcibiades’ life; how at the battle of Delium, after the defeat, he might be seen stalking about like a pelican, rolling his eyes as Aristophanes had described him in the Clouds. The fault of taste, which to us is so glaring and which was recognized by the Greeks of a later age (Athenaeus), was not perceived by Plato himself. Laws, The description of Socrates follows immediately after the speech of Socrates; one is the complement of the other. R. G. Bury, The Symposium of Plato, 214E Cross-references to this page (3): Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache , KG 1.4.2 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. II, 364e, where Adeimantus, in his introductory speech, refers to people We may observe, by the way. A Tale of Two Cities An Inspector Calls Crime and … (1) how the very appearance of Aristodemus by himself is a sufficient indication to Agathon that Socrates has been left behind; also. Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Symposium study guide. He is placed on a couch at his side, but suddenly, on recognizing Socrates, he starts up, and a sort of conflict is carried on between them, which Agathon is requested to appease. Some writings hardly admit of a more distinct interpretation than a musical composition; and every reader may form his own accompaniment of thought or feeling to the strain which he hears. A short summary of Plato's The Symposium This free synopsis covers all the crucial plot points of The Symposium. Of all the works of Plato the Symposium is the most perfect in form, and may be truly thought to contain more than any commentator has ever dreamed of; or, as Goethe said of one of his own writings, more than the author himself knew. When beauty approaches, then the conceiving power is benign and diffuse; when foulness, she is averted and morose. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. 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. All of them are rhetorical and poetical rather than dialectical, but glimpses of truth appear in them. The same want in the human soul which is satisfied in the vulgar by the procreation of children, may become the highest aspiration of intellectual desire. The artifice has the further advantage of maintaining his accustomed profession of ignorance (compare Menex.). Phaedrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Agathon, Socrates, Alcibiades, … Suggestions Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. Symposium: Birth in Goodness and Beauty / A nature of wondrous beauty: Concerning the things about which you ask to be informed I believe that I am not ill - prepared with an answer. (body), Socrates ascribes the institution of this name to "the followers The truth is that some of these loves are disgraceful and others honourable. There he is mistaken: but they are still fresh in the memory of his informant, who had just been repeating them to Glaucon, and is quite prepared to have another rehearsal of them in a walk from the Piraeus to Athens. But if Hephaestus were to come to them with his instruments and propose that they should be melted into one and remain one here and hereafter, they would acknowledge that this was the very expression of their want. war against Athens in the time of king Erechtheus. We may observe that Socrates himself is not represented as originally unimpassioned, but as one who has overcome his passions; the secret of his power over others partly lies in his passionate but self-controlled nature. The main characters of this philosophy, classics story are Socrates, . Plato and Orpheus - Volume 17 Issue 9 - F. M. Cornford. And as at a banquet good manners would not allow him to win a victory either over his host or any of the guests, the superiority which he gains over Agathon is ingeniously represented as having been already gained over himself by her. house invaded by sophists, Protagoras is described Musæus and Homer as poets making up the first Hence he is naturally the upholder of male loves, which, like all the other affections or actions of men, he regards as varying according to the manner of their performance. The Symposium cannot … get in Hades alive) ; It is the first major philosophical text on love in Western literature. In an age when man was seeking for an expression of the world around him, the conception of love greatly affected him. Like Hippocrates the Asclepiad, he is a disciple of Heracleitus, whose conception of the harmony of opposites he explains in a new way as the harmony after discord; to his common sense, as to that of many moderns as well as ancients, the identity of contradictories is an absurdity. 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. Lastly. Plato ’s Symposium is a series of speeches on Love given at a party in ancient Greece. When Aristophanes declares that love is the desire of the whole, he expresses a feeling not unlike that of the German philosopher, who says that ‘philosophy is home sickness.’ When Agathon says that no man ‘can be wronged of his own free will,’ he is alluding playfully to a serious problem of Greek philosophy (compare Arist. And the greater part of Greek literature, beginning with Homer and including the tragedians, philosophers, and, with the exception of the Comic poets (whose business was to raise a laugh by whatever means), all the greater writers of Hellas who have been preserved to us, are free from the taint of indecency. In the idea of the antiquity of love he cannot agree; love is not of the olden time, but present and youthful ever. Symposium is central in Plato’s philosophy, since it talks about Love and Ideas. ), that of Socrates as the philosophical. And by the steps of a ‘ladder reaching to heaven’ we pass from images of visible beauty (Greek), and from the hypotheses of the Mathematical sciences, which are not yet based upon the idea of good, through the concrete to the abstract, and, by different paths arriving, behold the vision of the eternal (compare Symp. ‘This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church’); as the mediaeval saint might speak of the ‘fruitio Dei;’ as Dante saw all things contained in his love of Beatrice, so Plato would have us absorb all other loves and desires in the love of knowledge. Socrates, like Agathon, had told her that Love is a mighty god and also fair, and she had shown him in return that Love was neither, but in a mean between fair and foul, good and evil, and not a god at all, but only a great demon or intermediate power (compare the speech of Eryximachus) who conveys to the gods the prayers of men, and to men the commands of the gods. 6a. He begs to be absolved from speaking falsely, but he is willing to speak the truth, and proposes to begin by questioning Agathon. Timarchum.). Phædo , 69c-d and reinterpreted in philosophical terms at Such is the discourse, half playful, half serious, which I dedicate to the god. But Orpheus the son of Oeagrus they sent uninitiated from Hades, having shown him a phantom of the wife in quest of whom he came, but not giving her, because he seemed to be effeminate, being a lyre player, and did not dare to die for the sake of love like Alcestis, but contrived to go to Hades alive (while investigating the names of the primeval gods, Cronus and Rhea, and Also he is courageous, for he is the conqueror of the lord of war. With his music, he managed to subdue the monsters at the gates and the gods within. In imaginative persons, especially, the God and beast in man seem to part asunder more than is natural in a well-regulated mind. 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). Because all men and women at a certain age are desirous of bringing to the birth. The speeches are attested to us by the very best authority. Music too is concerned with the principles of love in their application to harmony and rhythm. For Socrates produces the same effect with the voice which Marsyas did with the flute. With the leave of Phaedrus he asks a few questions, and then he throws his argument into the form of a speech (compare Gorg., Protag.). Symposium study guide contains a biography of Plato, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. Orpheus' wife was Eurydice, a Dryad. 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. 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