This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
§ i. Summary of the Argument.
§ ii. The Framework of the Dialogue.
§ iv. Socrates and Diotima.
1 Rettig and von Sybel make the First Act conclude with Arist.'s speech, and the Second Act begin with Agathon's: but that this is a perverse arrangement is well shown by F. Horn, Platonst. p. 254 (cp. Zeller, Symp.).
2 Cp. Susemihl, Genet. Entwick. d. plat. Phil. p. 407: “So bildet denn der Vortrag des Sokrates den eigentlichen theoretischen Mittelpunkt des Werkes, die übrigen aber mit dem Alkibiades eine aufsteigende Stufenreihe.”
4 Similarly Deinhardt, Über Inhalt von Pl. Symp.
5 Cp. Jowett (Plato I. p. 527): “The speeches have been said to follow each other in pairs....But these and similar distinctions are not found in Plato; they are the points of view of his critics, and seem to impede rather than to assist us in understanding him.” This is sensibly observed; still, Jowett is inclined to dismiss the matter too lightly. I may add that, while from the artistic point of view it is absurd to class together the speeches of Arist. and Eryx., there is a certain connexion of thought between the two, in their common relation to physiological theories, and so far we may allow that Steinhart points in the right direction (see § iii. 4, above).
6 Cp. Jowett (Plato I. p. 256): “The successive speeches...contribute in various degrees to the final result; they are all designed to prepare the way for Socrates, who gathers up the threads anew, and skims the highest points of each of them. But they are not to be regarded as the stages of an idea, rising above one another to a climax. They are fanciful, partly facetious, performances....All of them are rhetorical and poetical rather than dialectical, but glimpses of truth appear in them.” This is well said.
7 That he is so designated may be due, as Crain thinks, to the desire to connect this dialogue with the Phaedrus.
8 The comparative lengths of the speeches, counted by pages of the Oxford text, are roughly these: Phaedrus 3 pp.; Paus. 6 1/2; Eryx. 3 3/4; Arist. 6; Agathon 4; Socr. a 3, b 14 1/2; Alc. 9 1/2. Thus, in round numbers, the total of the first five speeches comes to 23 pp., which very nearly balances the 24 pp. occupied by Socr. b and Alcib.
9 Jowett explains (Plato I. p. 530) that the transposition of the speeches of Arist. and Eryx. is made “partly to avoid monotony, partly for the sake of making Aristophanes ‘the cause of wit in others,’ and also in order to bring the comic and tragic poet into juxtaposition, as if by accident.” No doubt these considerations count for something, but, as I have already tried to show, there is another and a deeper reason for the transposition (see § iii. 4).
10 Rückert makes the following identifications: Phaedrus=Tisias; Pausanias =Protagoras or Xenophon; Eryximachus=Hippias; Aristophanes=Prodicus; Agathon=Gorgias. Jowett (Plato I. p. 529) says of Pausanias: “his speech might have been composed by a pupil of Lysias or of Prodicus, although there is no hint given that Plato is specially referring to them.” Sydenham supposed that Phaedrus stands for Lysias.
11 So Resl, Verhältnis, etc., p. 31: “Alle diese fünf Reden eine breite Basis, fast auf demselben Niveau stehend, bilden sollen für die später folgenden Reden des Sokrates und Alkibiades.”
12 This is the point noticed by Jowett (Plato I. p. 531): “From Phaedrus he (Socr.) takes the thought that love is stronger than death.”
13 Cp. Jowett (Plato I. p. 531): “From Pausanias (Socr. takes the thought) that the true love is akin to intellect and political activity.”
14 Gomperz (G. T. II. p. 396), à propos of his view that Plato is thinking of his παιδικά Dion in Symp., writes: “they were busy with projects of political and social regeneration, which the philosopher hoped he might one day realise by the aid of the prince. On this view there is point and pertinence in that otherwise irrelevant mention of legislative achievement among the fruits of the love-bond.” The suggestion is interesting, but the relevance does not depend upon its being true: Plato, in any cause, taught politics.
15 It is hardly correct to say with Jowett (Plato I. p. 531) that “from Eryximachus Socrates takes the thought that love is a universal phenomenon and the great power of nature”: this statement requires limitation.
16 It may be observed, however, that while the Platonic Socrates is here simply in contradiction to Arist., the idea of a “fall” from a primeval state of perfection which underlies the myth of Arist. is very similar to the view put forth by Plato in the Phaedrus and elsewhere that the earthly life of the soul involves a “fall” from its pristine state of purity in a super-terrestrial sphere. And in both Eros is the impulse towards restoration: to achieve communion with the Idea is to regain τὸ οἰκεῖον, τὸ ὅλον, ἡ ἀρχαία φύσις (193 D).
17 Another “glimpse of truth” which appears in A.'s speech is thus indicated by Jowett (Plato I. p. 526): “When Agathon says that no man ‘can be wronged of his own free will,’ he is alluding playfully to a serious problem of Greek philosophy (cp. Arist. Nic. Ethics, v. 9)”: see Symp. 190 C ad init. But, so far as I see, no reference is made to this point by Socrates.
18 Hug, p. lxvii.
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