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Table of Contents:
§ i. Summary of the Argument.
§ ii. The Framework of the Dialogue.
§ iv. Socrates and Diotima.
2 It is interesting to observe how Emerson makes use of this Platonic “anabasis” when he writes:—“There is a climbing scale of culture...up to the ineffable mysteries of the intellect.”
3 Cp. Jowett (Plato I. p. 527): “As at a banquet good manners would not allow him (Socr.) to win a victory either over his host or any of the guests, the superiority which he gains over Agathon is ingeniously represented as having been already gained over himself by her. The artifice has the further advantage of maintaining his accustomed profession of ignorance (cp. Menex. 236 fol.).”
4 Gomperz's suggestion (G.T. II. p. 396) that “the chief object of this etherealized affection” which Plato had in mind when “in the teaching (of Diotima) he gave utterance to his own deepest feeling and most intimate experience” was Dion of Syracuse would supply, if admitted, a further significance to the name Diotima.
5 J. A. Stewart, The Myths of Plato, p. 428.
6 J. A. Stewart, loc. cit.
8 Cp. Plato's Πόρος)(Πενία with Ar.'s Πλοῦτος)(Πενία: also the description of πτωχεία as intermediate between πλοῦτος and πενία in Plut. 552 with the description of Eros as intermediate between πόρος and πενία in Symp. 203 E (οὔτε ἀπορεῖ Ἔρως οὔτε πλουτεῖ). Cp. also Plut. 80 ff. (Πλοῦτος...αὐχμῶν βαδίζεις) with Symp. 203 C (Ἔρως αὐχμηρός). The date of the Plutus is probably 388 B.C. Such pairs of opposites were common in earlier speculation. Cp. Spenser, “Hymn in Honour of Love”:— “When thy great mother Venus first thee bare, Begot of Plentie and of Penurie.”
9 Plato's mention of a single parent of Poros is in accordance with the Orphic notion of Phanes-Metis as bisexed.
10 See § vi. 3.
11 For an expansion in English of this thought see Spenser's “Two Cantos of Mutabilitie” (F. Q. VII.).
12 See F. Horn, Platonstud. pp. 276 ff. Horn also criticises the phrase ἀθάνατος γενέσθαι: “die Unsterblichkeit im eigentlichen Sinne des Wortes...kann nicht erworben werden. Der Mensch kann nur unsterblich sein oder es nicht sein, er kann aber nicht unsterblich werden.” But what Plato means by ἀθάν. γενέσθαι is to regain the life of the soul in its divine purity—the result of right education, as a κάθαρσις or μελέτη θανάτου. See J. Adam, R. T. G. pp. 383 ff. It seems quite certain that Plato—whether or not in earnest with his various attempts to prove it—did believe in personal immortality, and would assent to the dictum of Sir Thos. Browne, “There is surely a piece of divinity in us, something that was before the elements, and owes no homage unto the sun.”
13 See my note ad loc. It is to be noticed that similar expressions are used in a similar context in Phaedrus 253 A (ἐφαπτόμενοι (θεοῦ)...καθ᾽ ὅσον δυνατὸν θεοῦ ἀνθρώπῳ μετασχεῖν): Tim. 90 B, C. Cp. θεῖος ὤν 209 B, θεῖον καλόν 211 E, θεοφιλεῖ 212 A. That the Idea (τἀγαθόν) is οἰκεῖον to the Soul seems implied by 205 E.
14 For this notion of immortality by “communion” or “participation” in the divine life as Platonic, see the passages cited in the last note, also Theaet. 176 A. Cp. also the Orphic idea of the mystic as ἔνθεος, “God-possessed.” This idea of supersession of personality by divinity (“not I but Christ that dwelleth in me”) is a regular feature of all mystic religion.
15 In other words, ἀθανασία may be used not simply of quantity but of quality of existence. This is probably the case in 212 A: “immortality” is rather “eternal life” than “everlastingness,” as connoting “heavenliness” or the kind of life that is proper to divinities. So, as the “spark divine” in man is the νοῦς, ἀθανασία is practically equivalent to pure νόησις. On the other hand, in the earlier parts of the discourse the word denotes only duration (ἀθάνατον εἶναι=ἀεὶ εἶναι).
16 See also J. Adam, Religious Teachers of Greece, pp. 396 f.
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