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[201a] “Then, granting this, recollect what things you named in our discussion as the objects of Love: if you like, I will remind you. What you said, I believe, was to the effect that the gods contrived the world from a love of beautiful things, for of ugly there was no love. Did you not say something of the sort?”

“Yes, I did,” said Agathon.

“And quite properly, my friend,” said Socrates; “then, such being the case, must not Love be only love of beauty, and not of ugliness?” He assented. [201b] “Well then, we have agreed that he loves what he lacks and has not?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“And what Love lacks and has not is beauty?”

“That needs must be,” he said.

“Well now, will you say that what lacks beauty, and in no wise possesses it, is beautiful?”

“Surely not.”

“So can you still allow Love to be beautiful, if this is the case?”

Whereupon Agathon said, “I greatly fear, Socrates, I knew nothing of what I was talking about.” [201c] “Ah, your words were beautiful enough, Agathon; but pray give me one or two more: you hold, do you not, that good things are beautiful?”

“I do.”

“Then if Love lacks beautiful things, and good things are beautiful, he must lack good things too.”

“I see no means, Socrates, of contradicting you, he replied; “let it be as you say.”

“No, it is Truth, my lovable Agathon, [201d] whom you cannot contradict: Socrates you easily may.”

1“And now I shall let you alone, and proceed with the discourse upon Love which I heard one day from a Mantinean woman named Diotima:2 in this subject she was skilled, and in many others too; for once, by bidding the Athenians offer sacrifices ten years before the plague, she procured them so much delay in the advent of the sickness. Well, I also had my lesson from her in love-matters; so now I will try and follow up the points on which Agathon and I have just agreed by narrating to you all on my own account, as well as I am able, the speech she delivered to me. So first, Agathon, I must unfold, [201e] in your manner of exposition, who and what sort of being is Love, and then I shall tell of his works. The readiest way, I think, will be to give my description that form of question and answer which the stranger woman used for hers that day. For I spoke to her in much the same terms as Agathon addressed just now to me, saying Love was a great god, and was of beautiful things; and she refuted me with the very arguments I have brought against our young friend, showing that by my account that god was neither beautiful nor good.

“‘How do you mean, Diotima?’ said I; ‘is Love then ugly and bad?’

“‘Peace, for shame!’ she replied: ‘or do you imagine that whatever is not beautiful must needs be ugly?’

1 The Speech of Socrates

2 These names suggest a connection respectively with prophecy and with the favor of Heaven.

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