The Symposium is organized around a central theme or motif which appears and reappears on many levels and in many contexts: in the religious occasion during which the banquet occurs; in the lives of particular characters; in the political and historical situation of Athens during the period which separates the actual banquet from the narration of the story by Apollodorus; in the series of speeches itself; and in the speech of Socrates. This is the theme of a cyclic process of birth, struggle, death and rebirth.
The action of the “Symposium” takes place at the house of Agathon when his friends decided to express their opinions about Love. The speech of Agathon is marvelous and it is full of exact and poetic comparisons. He praises Love and talks of his perfection in everything. Agathon mentions that Love is wonderful, tender, kind, strong, clever and courageous. In other words, Love has all the virtues in himself. “He bestows gentleness, banishing brutality, loves to give joy while withholding grief, and has a graceful cheerfulness. Wise men may look at him, and the gods find him wonderful.
By those who are unhappy he is coveted, by those who have a happy lot, treasured. He is the begetter of delicacy and elegance, wantonness and beneficence, of human desire and yearning. He is, concerned with good men, mindless of bad. In misery, in fear, in drunkenness and the affairs of state, shipmate, comrade, and dearest savior, ornament of all gods and men together, most beautiful and highest leader, whom all men must follow, singing sweetly and partaking of the music he sings as he enchants the mind of every god and man. ” (Groden S. Q. , Brentlinger J. A. , 1970, p. 73)
Socrates begins to speak about Love after Agathon and that’s why he set off his thoughts about it against Agathon’s ones. The philosopher agrees that his friend is very skillful in speeches, but he says that Agathon chose the most comfort way to succeed in talking. This way is just fawning Love, without taking into consideration his features and qualities. So, Socrates emphasizes on the detailed analyzing of Love. He finds the truth because of it. He relies on logic, that’s why each of his arguments seems to be clear and persuasive.
First of all he denies Love as a god and says that he is only an intermediary between gods and people. Then Socrates let Agathon understand that he has described Love as a feeling towards somebody or something, but as a feeling that is superficial. This idea comes from the reflection that love and desire are the same things and as far as a person feels desire to everything that is necessary in his or her opinion. But such desires are not really necessary. “In its generic aspect love is the entire desire for good things, and for the happiness they give, most powerful and all ensnaring Love.
But those who turn to him in his many other aspects, either in trade, or love of gymnastic exercise, or philosophy, these aren’t said to be aspects of love, nor are the people called ‘lovers. ‘ However, those who go after the one specific aspect, and court it, they get the name of the whole–they are said to be lovers and to love. ” (Groden S. Q. , Brentlinger J. A. , 1970, p. 84) Socrates continues to prove his case by contrasting a great sense of true Love with the carelessness of Love that was described by Agathon. His thoughts differ in a fundamental way. The philosopher says that love is a part of eternity and it can bring immortality.
In his opinion love has a reproductive function and it may be physical or spiritual reproduction. Socrates stresses upon that the spiritual reproduction is much higher than a physical one, because a person who is anxious about such creation obtains true immortality. He gives examples of such persons as Homer and Hesiod who are immortal because of their outstanding lives and offspring. He also says that a person succeeds in love when he transforms it. From the affection to somebody comes realizing of general beauty and the last step is understanding sciences’ beauty and constant spiritual development of the individuality.
The most important part of Socrates’ speech is about the result of being in permanent perfection. Conclusion Deep analyzing of love can’t but influence on reader because of the logic thinking and a great spiritual experience of the main character. In this work of Plato Socrates is crowned as “the champion speaker of all – not only just the day before yesterday, but always” Socrates’ persuasions are absolutely correct and they remain relevant even nowadays. The things people actually love and, Plato notwithstanding, what people think worthy of love, are as various – indeed more various – than one can imagine.
Clearly many valuations do not involve love. Many kinds of love cannot conceivably involve emotional attachment. The basic distinction in love is according to whether its object is individual or general. I agree with the author that there is a process in love and that everybody should be anxious about developing the sense of true beauty. At the beginning of this process we should make one of the first steps described by Plato – to learn how to value the beauty of human soul.
1. Groden S. Q. , Brentlinger J. A. (1970) The Symposium of Plato. University of Massachusetts Press: Amherst, MA.