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The Symposium [Translation] by Plato

The Symposium [Translation]

by Plato

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Some guys get together over a few drinks and discuss the nature of love. ( )
  Lord_Boris | Feb 21, 2017 |

Plato’s Symposium is one of the best 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=d1cbhhloYU4&list=PLC427DEF36A4A46F9 ).

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!

( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
I don't read ancient Greek, so I can't comment on the translation, but it seemed fine. The Symposium is philosophy as narrative, telling of a dinner party at which the participants, including Socrates, all give discourses on the nature of Love. Socrates of course emerges as the wisest with his discourse on Love as the middle ground between Poverty and Resource, as the force of our desire for immortality. His speech also touches on the unity of all Beauty, or the classic Platonic ideal of form. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
The introduction in this one goes completely off the rails when it starts getting into homoromantic relationships, which is simultaneously hilarious and offputting. Fully a third of the introduction is dedicated to explaining that Plato didn't *really* mean that men loved each other like that, and if he did that doesn't mean it really happened like that, and if it did that doesn't mean that the Greeks were not good, manly men. (Never mind that Plato makes a point of arguing with Aeschylus over whether Achilles was a top or a bottom.)

A treatise on the nature and purposes of love; not my favorite subject, to be sure, but still interesting enough. I like the structure of several people talking around the point and one tying it all together; this seems like the most useful way to address such a massive and amorphous subject. I do quite like the conceit of Love as the messenger and mediator between gods and mortals. If you believe the prudish introduction, the rest of it is mostly leading toward the Platonic ideal of beauty, with a perverted comic bit tacked on the end, but I'm inclined not to believe the introduction, and to consider the comic bit something of an illustration of Socrates's earlier points, which is rather neatly done. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Dec 17, 2016 |
Yet another book that my wife and I read together in the early days of our courtship and while falling in love. We came to the Symposium after seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Hedwig is the androgynous patron saint of our marital union. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
PlatoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen, Reginald E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, Albert A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Auberger, JanickTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Azcárate, Patricio deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baskin, LeonardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beltrán, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benardete, SethTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benedetto, Vincenzo diIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bloom, AllanCommentatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brès, YvonCommentatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brentlinger, John A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brisson, LucTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burnet, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Calogero, GuidoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Centrone, BrunoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cerinotti, AngelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Çetinkaya, CüneytTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colli, GiorgioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cousin, VictorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diano, CarloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diego, Estrella deIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dienst, WolfgangEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farinetti, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrari, FrancoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Forster, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galimberti, UmbertoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gerbrandy, PietIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gil, LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, ChristopherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffith, TomTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groden, Suzy Q.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gual, Carlos GarcíaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guiomar, Marie-GermaineCommentatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hamilton, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henningsen, NielsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hernández, Marcos MartínezTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hildebrandt, KurtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horváth, JuditTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howatson, M. C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huesca, Antonio RodríguezForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hübscher, ArthurTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jaccottet, PhilippeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jowett, BenjaminTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koch, RenéeCommentatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koolschijn, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kubo, MasaruTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
L'Yvonnet, FrançoisCommentatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laborderie, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, DesmondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leroux, GeorgesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loenen, D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lonsdale, MichaëlNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luca, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luise, Fulvia deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mori, ShinichiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nehamas, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Novotný, FrantišekTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nucci, MatteoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, David K.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ojeda, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paulsen, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelliccia, HaydenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peroli. EnricoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piettre, BernardCommentatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Presas, EulàliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Racine, Jean BaptisteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reale, GiovanniEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rehn, RudolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robin, LéonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Romero, Fernando GarcíaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Romilly, Jacqueline dePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sacristán, ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schüler, DonaldoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmidt, JochenCommentatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmidt-Berger, UteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Segre, BrunoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serafina, AndrzejaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sharon, AviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaw-Parker, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sheffield, Frisbee C. C.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shelley, Percy ByssheTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Songe-Møller, VigdisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steiner, GeorgesPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Susanetti, DavideIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taglia, AngelicaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Totti, ElmoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trede, MoniqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vérain, JérômeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vicaire, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waterfield, RobinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Witwicki, WładysławTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodruff, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyller, Egil A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zanatta, FabioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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APOLLODORO - Credo di non essere impreparato a rispondere sulle cose che volete sapere.
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Den ed er jo ingen ed hvor Afrodite hører med, heter det jo.
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This is Plato's Symposium in modern translation. Please do not combine with the edition of the dialogue in the Classical Greek text.
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Book description
The Symposium, Plato’s meditation on passionate love, or the Greek erōs, is both pivotal to our understanding of his wider philosophy and one of Ancient Greece’s greatest and most beautiful literary triumphs. In a lively dialectic, Plato considers love’s complex nature, distill- ing the desire for physical love from the love of virtue and goodness, and guiding us to a recognition and appreciation of true Beauty, in its essential and unchanging Platonic Form. As A. C. Grayling explains in his new foreword, we discover that ‘love is in essence the desire for all kinds of good there can be – happiness, nobility, moral goodness, beauty itself ’
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140449272, Paperback)

In the course of a lively drinking party, a group of Athenian intellectuals exchange views on eros, or desire. From their conversation emerges a series of subtle reflections on gender roles, sex in society and the sublimation of basic human instincts. The discussion culminates in a radical challenge to conventional views by Plato's mentor, Socrates, who advocates transcendence through spiritual love. The Symposium is a deft interweaving of different viewpoints and ideas about the nature of love—as a response to beauty, a cosmic force, a motive for social action and as a means of ethical education.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:48 -0400)

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"Counter Plato, Allan Bloom wrote, is "the most erotic of philosophers," and his Symposium is one of the greatest works on the nature of love ever written. This new edition brings together the English translation of the renowned Plato scholar and translator, Seth Benardete, with two illuminating commentaries on it: Benardete's "On Plato's Symposium" and Allan Bloom's provocative essay, "The Ladder of Love." In the Symposium, Plato recounts a drinking party following an evening meal, where the guests include the poet Aristophanes, the drunken Alcibiades, and, of course, the wise Socrates. The revelers give their views on the timeless topics of love and desire, all the while addressing many of the major themes of Platonic philosophy: the relationship of philosophy and poetry, the good, and the beautiful." http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/description/uchi051/00032593.html.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140449272, 0141023848

Yale University Press

An edition of this book was published by Yale University Press.

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