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The Symposium investigates the nature of romantic Love. What is ...
The Symposium investigates the nature of romantic Love. What is it? From where does it arise? What is the aim of Love? What does it accomplish?
On the one hand, this dialogue asks questions that people today still cant really answer. Modern readers should be able to relate very well to these aspects of the dialogue. It should be noted that most of the viewpoints and opinions presented through several speeches in the dialogue make some sort of sense, but only when Love is thought of as a sentient being that can influence a persons thoughts and actions. Most of us today have been schooled in science and dont perceive Love as a separate entity but rather as a mental condition springing from somewhere in the brain. But overall, the speeches are easy to relate to in the sense of scrutinizing the fundamental nature of Love.
However, where The Symposium evinces stark differences with modern culture is with respect to homo-eroticism. So many references are made to homosexuality (including one embarassingly revealing anecdote by Alcibiades about his lover Socrates) that if we consider Platos work to be representative of the time, then we have to believe that many, if not most, highly educated men in ancient Athens were essentially homosexuals whose relations with their wives were limited to providing for them and fathering children by them. The most convincing support for this is in Aristophanes and Alcibiades speeches.
The finale to Agathons eulogy on Love immediately struck me as remarkable and incredibly well worded, so much so that I had to read it again to admire the use of language. And then imagine my astonishment when a couple paragraphs later Socrates says about Agathons speech: The rest was not quite so amazing, but who could fail to be struck by the beauty of language and phrasing at the end?
A must read for fans of classics! Its short too, so a fast read.
Posted March 10, 2014