Plato's Symposium (Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature)
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Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature (Series Editors: Kathleen Coleman and Richard Rutherford) introduces individual works of Greek and Latin literature to readers who are approaching them for the first time. Each volume sets the work in its literary and historical context, and aims to offer a balanced and engaging assessment of its content, artistry, and purpose. A brief survey of the influence of the work upon subsequent generations is included to demonstrate its enduring relevance and power. All quotations from the original are translated into English.
Plato's Symposium tells of a dinner party at a crucial point in Athenian history at which the guests decide that they will each in turn deliver a speech in praise of love. The humorous and brilliant work that follows points the way towards all Western thinking about love. The Symposium is also one of Plato's most sophisticated meditations on the practice of philosophy. This book introduces the literary and historical context of Plato's work, surveys and explains the arguments, and considers why Plato has cast this work in a highly unusual narrative form. A final chapter traces the influence of the Symposium from antiquity to the modern day.
details with Socrates in the idea that “[the historical] Socrates would not have demurred from what he is supposed to have believed on the authority of ‘Diotima.’ . . . the ideas in question are to be taken seriously.” For another important approach to this passage, see Halperin () . | Plato’s Symposium unrehearsed” (ameletêtos, the opening line of the work) — it is in fact a repetition, perhaps indeed a verbatim repetition, of what was in any case originally a repetition of
who begins the series of encomia, came from a wealthy Athenian family and is characterized in Plato by an interest in clever argument: in the Protagoras we ﬁnd him, together with his friend Eryximachus, putting questions on natural science to the sophist Hippias (Protagoras c –), and in the dialogue named after him he has been captivated by an epideictic speech of Lysias, in which a man seeks to persuade an erômenos that he should give his sexual favors to someone who does not love him
usual presentation of that emotion (above, pp. –); that she surpassed her parents-inlaw “in philia because of her erôs” (c – ) merely calls attention 1 Note Pausanias’s pointed conclusion to his speech: “This, Phaedrus, is my contribution on Eros. It’s the best I can do on the spur of the moment” (c– ). Erôs before Socrates | to the manipulation.2 Philia and erôs may, of course, coexist, even in a marriage, and Pausanias will introduce us (in a pederastic context) to “strong
three tragedies and a ﬁnal satyr play in the great Dionysiac contests, and the satyr play often reﬂects upon the tragedies which have preceded from an oblique, and very Dionysiac, angle. Alcibiades, stories of whose “satyric” fondness for wine and komastic adventure ﬁll the anecdotal tradition,29 the very antithesis — one might have thought — of a female seer who can control and even laugh at Socrates, turns the sober world of Agathon’s symposium upside down: now it is erômenoi, not their lovers,
Venus ﬁrst embraces the Glory of God in herself, and then translates it to the second Venus. This latter Venus translates sparks of that divine glory into earthly matter. It is because of sparks of this kind that an individual body seems beautiful to us, in proportion to its merits. The human soul perceives the beauty of these bodies through the eyes. The soul also has two powers. It certainly has the power of comprehension, and it has the power of generation. These two powers in us are the two