[206a] since what men love is simply and solely the good. Or is your view otherwise?’“‘Faith, no,’ I said.“‘Then we may state unreservedly that men love the good?’“‘Yes,’ I said.“‘Well now, must we not extend it to this, that they love the good to be theirs?’“‘We must.’“‘And do they love it to be not merely theirs but theirs always?’“‘Include that also.’“‘Briefly then,’ said she, ‘love loves the good to be one's own for ever.’“‘That is the very truth,’ I said. [206b] “‘Now if love is always for this,’ she proceeded, ‘what is the method of those who pursue it, and what is the behavior whose eagerness and straining are to be termed love? What actually is this effort? Can you tell me?’“‘Ah, Diotima,’ I said; ‘in that case I should hardly be admiring you and your wisdom, and sitting at your feet to be enlightened on just these questions.’“‘Well, I will tell you,’ said she; ‘it is begetting on a beautiful thing by means of both the body and the soul.’“‘It wants some divination to make out what you mean,’ I said; ‘I do not understand.’ [206c] “‘Let me put it more clearly,’ she said. ‘All men are pregnant, Socrates, both in body and in soul: on reaching a certain age our nature yearns to beget. This it cannot do upon an ugly person, but only on the beautiful: the conjunction of man and woman is a begetting for both.1 It is a divine affair, this engendering and bringing to birth, an immortal element in the creature that is mortal; and it cannot occur in the discordant. [206d] The ugly is discordant with whatever is divine, whereas the beautiful is accordant. Thus Beauty presides over birth as Fate and Lady of Travail; and hence it is that when the pregnant approaches the beautiful it becomes not only gracious but so exhilarate, that it flows over with begetting and bringing forth; though when it meets the ugly it coils itself close in a sullen dismay: rebuffed and repressed, it brings not forth, but goes in labor with the burden of its young. Therefore when a person is big and teeming-ripe [206e] he feels himself in a sore flutter for the beautiful, because its possessor can relieve him of his heavy pangs. For you are wrong, Socrates, in supposing that love is of the beautiful.’“‘What then is it?’“‘It is of engendering and begetting upon the beautiful.’“‘Be it so,’ I said.“‘To be sure it is,’ she went on; ‘and how of engendering? Because this is something ever-existent and immortal in our mortal life.
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1 The argument requires the application of “begetting” and other such terms indifferently to either sex.
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