Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Symposium
The Symposium 

And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is.

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 including the notion 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.

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