Symposium HTML version

Platos Symposium
wards overspread the Alexandrian world. He was
not an enthusiast or a sentimentalist, but one
who aspired only to see reasoned truth, and
whose thoughts are clearly explained in his lan-
guage. There is no foreign element either of
Egypt or of Asia to be found in his writings. And
more than any other Platonic work the Sympo-
sium is Greek both in style and subject, having a
beauty ‘as of a statue,’ while the companion
Dialogue of the Phaedrus is marked by a sort of
Gothic irregularity. More too than in any other
of his Dialogues, Plato is emancipated from
former philosophies. The genius of Greek art
seems to triumph over the traditions of
Pythagorean, Eleatic, or Megarian systems, and
‘the old quarrel of poetry and philosophy’has at
least a superficial reconcilement. (Rep.)
An unknown person who had heard of the dis-
courses in praise of love spoken by Socrates and
others at the banquet of Agathon is desirous of
having an authentic account of them, which he
by Plato
Translated by Benjamin Jowett
OF ALL THE WORKS OF PLATO the Symposium is the
most perfect in form, and may be truly thought
to contain more than any commentator has ever
dreamed of; or, as Goethe said of one of his own
writings, more than the author himself knew. For
in philosophy as in prophecy glimpses of the fu-
ture may often be conveyed in words which could
hardly have been understood or interpreted at
the time when they were uttered (compare
Symp.)—which were wiser than the writer of
them meant, and could not have been expressed
by him if he had been interrogated about them.
Yet Plato was not a mystic, nor in any degree
affected by the Eastern influences which after-