The Symposium
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The Symposium

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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  17,938 ratings  ·  492 reviews
In the course of a lively drinking party, a group of Athenian intellectuals exchange views on eros, or desire. From their conversation emerges a series of subtle reflections on gender roles, sex in society, and the sublimation of basic human instincts. The discussion culminates in a radical challenge to conventional views by Plato's mentor, Socrates, who advocates transcen...more
Paperback, 90 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published -385)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 2* of five, all for Aristophanes's way trippy remix of the Book of Genesis

While perusing a review of Death in Venice (dreadful tale, yet another fag-must-die-rather-than-love piece of normative propaganda) written by my good friend Stephen, he expressed a desire to read The Symposium before he eventually re-reads this crapulous homophobic maundering deathless work of art. As I have read The Symposium with less than stellar results, I warned him off. Well, see below for what happened next...more
Riku Sayuj

“It’s been less than three years that I’ve been Socrates’ companion and made it my job to know exactly what he says and does each day. Before that, I simply drifted aimlessly. Of course, I used to think that what I was doing was important, but in fact I was the most worthless man on earth—as bad as you are this very moment: I used to think philosophy was the last thing a man should do.”

In Praise of Love: An Encore

This is a dialogue about the human aspiration towards happiness, and how that d...more
Ian Paganus
I Never Met a Physician Who Wasn’t Descended from a Greek

This might just be the work that put the "meta-" (at least the "metafiction") in "metaphysics".

Plato’s name is attached to it, but its principal focus is Socrates. And guess what? Socrates doesn’t so much elaborate on his own views as (1) recount the views of others (especially those of the female philosopher Diotima) and (2) indirectly reveal his views by his conduct and his responses to the views of others (especially the taunts of Alcib...more
Cheryl
After a night at a drinking party (a symposium), the participants challenge each other to focus on one subject for sober discussion...love. It is agreed that love may begin with feelings for only one other person. Cuddled with the beloved, one learns to define the associated feelings, benefits, and additions to one's self-esteem.

Progression may continue to include love of one's city, state and country. As the circle enlarges from the core relationship to other loyalties and preferences, the ape...more
Jonfaith
And Agathon said, It is probable, Socrates, that I knew nothing of what I had said.
And yet spoke you beautifully, Agathon, he said.


Back in the late 1990s a cowpunk band named The Meat Purveyors had a song, Why Does There Have To Be A Morning After? It detailed stumbling around in the cruel light of day, sipping on backwash beer from the night before and attempting to reconstruct what at best remains a blur.

The event depicted here is a hungover quest for certainty. The old hands in Athens have b...more
Steve
HEADLINE: This is priceless!

When I was a young man, I and my friends certainly had some strange conversations, possibly aided by some substances of questionable legality in certain countries, but we never quite managed to attain the heights of strangeness reached at this banquet/drinking party(*) held in 416 BCE when Socrates was approximately 53 years old, once again the principal figure in this "dialogue" written by Plato between 12 and 15 years after Socrates' death by poisoning in 399 BCE. P...more
James
The nature of eros is discussed in this famous dialogue by Plato. Symposium literally means "drinking party" in ancient Greek and this was one well-attended party with the likes of Alcibiades, Aristophanes, Agathon, Pausanias, Eryximachus and Socrates. A variety of views are put forward by the participants during the witty dialog that befits a drinking party. Some believe that eros is a somewhat shadowy thing, neither beautiful nor ugly, good nor bad. The most famous view is Aristophanes myth of...more
Manny
Jul 27, 2014 Manny rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People confused by Love
OPRAH: Good evening and welcome to What's the Most Spiritual Book of All Time? For people who missed last week's exciting semi-final round, The Sermon on the Mount beat The Bhagavad Gita 4-1 while Jonathan Livingston Seagull unexpectedly lost 3-2 to outsider The Symposium. Let's all welcome our finalists!

[Applause. Enter JESUS CHRIST and SOCRATES, both wearing tuxedos. They shake hands. More applause.]

OPRAH: And now let me introduce our jury. I'm thrilled to have with us living legend Paul McCar...more
Sam Quixote
I'm not a philosophy or ancient history student, I picked up Plato's "Symposium" to challenge myself and see if I could understand it. The "Symposium" is a gathering of Greek thinkers who sit around and give speeches about love.

Phaedrus talks about the greatness of love and how those who have it achieve great things. Pausanias talks of the merits of boy/man love where the boy pleasures the man while the man passes on his wisdom to the boy and that this is the best kind of love, not the lesser l...more
Angel Vanstark
I am outraged after reading this. First, the approach that was taken (multiple layers of theory of mind) opposed the main topic, love. How the fuck do you expect to talk about love if you don't even have the balls to honor it enough at a close degree. Why the hell am I, as the reader, supposed to believe what comes from the grapevine; Plato and his crew were sketchy mother fuckers. The second and third issue I had with this piece of literature are more pertinent to culture and how the academic w...more
Clif Hostetler
I suppose one should read some Plato to be considered an educated person. I really want to be an educated person, but this is an example of a book I would never get around to reading if I weren't pushed by some situation outside of myself. In this case the push came from a book group of which I am co-organizer. I am fortunate that the group has attracted participants with knowledge of the classics that exceeds my own. Therefore, my rough impressions from reading the material have a chance to be...more
Trevor
Jul 07, 2007 Trevor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: philosophy
In this book Socrates argues that it is not always a good idea to have sex with boys and Aristophanes explains we were once co-joined creatures of three sexes - either male/female, male/male or female/female and were shaped like balls. How could anyone not find this a book worth reading?
Azar Hoseininejad

ما وجود یک موجود زنده ای را از کودکی تا پیری همیشه به یک نام می خوانیم و آن ها را همانند یکدیگر می شماریم.
در حالی که او هرگز همان نیست که پیش از آن بوده است. بلکه مدام در حال تغییر و دگرسانی است. یعنی مو گوشت و استخوان و خون و خلاصه همه ی اعضای بدنش دائماً در حال تغییر و دگرگونی است و این تغییر و دگرسانی، نه تنها در بدن، بلکه در روان ما نیز جاری و ساری است.
یعنی در بدن ما مدام کار فرسودگی و رویش دوباره ادامه دارد و همچنین در جان و روان ما.
در همه ی وجود ما حتی اخلاق و آرزوها و پندارها و شادی ها و
...more
Dusty
Jan 25, 2010 Dusty rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dusty by: Elizabeth Richmond-Garza
A curious coincidence: It's 2010, and the debate over Proposition 8, which disallows state recognition of same-sex unions, has invited court testimony on the "nature" of homosexuals -- as politically unimportant, as sexually deviant, as likely sexual predators. That's in California. Here in Texas, for my graduate course on critical theory, we've just read Plato's "Symposium", which Edith Hamilton (the translator of my edition) says is one of the man's two best dialogues. Its chief topic is love...more
Naile Berna
It's quite an experience to read the myths of thousands of years, (such as one's other half by Aristophanes) from the person who told them. I've learned that the setting and sequence of the dialogue also carries utmost importance. We haven't changed much I see.. The thoughts about spritiual love we've come to conclude among friends were recited by Socrates thousands of years ago, a revelation
Matthew Gallaway
The Symposium itself is a short series of after-dinner speeches (as written by Plato) on the topic of Eros, given by a group of ancient Greeks, including (most memorably) Socrates and Aristophanes. You probably knew that already! I recommend this edition for Allan Bloom's long, thought-provoking essay, which offers much insight into the complexities and flaws of the speeches; Aristophanes is the most romantic -- he describes the myth in which humans are filled with longing because we are always...more
Jody Mena
The Symposium was like a very filling snack - small, but potent. The Socratic method is always a treat when put into play, and I was fascinated by the way stories went into fourth- and fifth-hand accounts, rather a direct presentation - it added another dimension to the tale. I think anyone looking to read, and more, to understand the Symposium would need to know a little something about the history and society it's set in, as the topics the party-goers discuss, such as pederasty or the baseness...more
Erik Graff
Jul 21, 2009 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: philosophy
Although I read the Symposium for the first time long ago, I reread the thing a couple of years ago in the Jowett translation with a friend who was finishing up a Ph.D. in Classics at Loyola University Chicago. He had come over for dinner and we read the thing aloud to one another afterwards with both the translation and the Greek text at hand.

The Symposium is often the first of Plato's texts read by students and it is a good choice because readily accessible to the beginner. Further, for a stud...more
David S. T.
With this I read the Hackett edition and I was pleased with it. Unlike many of their other Plato editions, this one had a decent amount of footnotes and a great introduction, with an easy to read translation.

I knew beforehand that this book contained dialogues about Euros, but I didn't realize that with many of the dialogues the love is referring to pederasty, I should have guessed from some of the interactions with other Plato dialogues. To someone like myself from a different time and culture...more
Daphne Reed
Jan 30, 2013 Daphne Reed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who have interest in the intersectionality of lit and philosophy
Recommended to Daphne by: Literature and Philosophy Class
Obviously thought-provoking -- coming from a feminist perspective, I especially enjoy the speeches of Socrates and Diotima. Especially worthwhile read -- this translation is quite lucid, and reading the notes I gained respect for the translators which seem to have conquered the task of Plato's dialogues with finesse and intuition. It is a particularly striking read for the speeches presented by the individuals irony and humor artfully and somewhat subtextually, mingles with the more serious or e...more
NoLabels
Non avendo avuto la fortuna di studiare filosofia alle superiori, nè di essermi interessata ad essa dopo, ignara totalmente del greco, mi son trovata davanti la sfida a leggere questo testo. Possedevo già 2 volumi con l'opera completa di Platone. Ovviamente mai letto nulla perchè, come al solito, compro per il piacere di comprare libri e spero un giorno di avere tempo di leggerli tutti.
Il testo che ho letto, però, mi è stato donato da una persona che riteneva avessi bisogno di lezioni d'amore. I...more
David
I am just beginning to read Plato so I believe my current thoughts will sound novice to those more familiar with him. The beginning pieces I've read are his accounts of the dialogues of Socrates, so one is becoming familiar more with Socrates - or the idea of Socrates - through works like these, and perhaps less with Plato. The rhetoric takes some getting used to, but there is a noticeable difference in style between Socrates and others who speak in The Symposium. Unlike others of the Socratic d...more
Claudia
It is well known how ancient Greeks captured the inner dynamics and struggles of spirit with ever known poetry and analytical depth, anticipating what some thousands of years later would have become the pillars of psychoanalytic theories. Among the many dialogues I’ve read, I think Plato’s Symposium represents the peak of this poetic and, at the same time, deeply investigative thinking. Its reading is an inexhaustible source of reflection. You can read it wearing the lenses of (his) philosophy,...more
إياد أبوزيد
هذا الكتاب مُغايرٌ لما قد قرأته من قبل في الفلسفة - لأفلاطون تحديداً -
فهو قد بلغ من السهولة مبلغ كتابٌ ضحلٌ لا يمت للفلسفة بصلة ، وغلب عليه ذكر الأساطير الإغريقية - والتي لا أخفي ولعي بها إذ أري فيها عمق كبير -

يقول أفلاطون علي لسان هلبوزنياس أن الحب الدنيء هو الحب من أجل غرض كالمال أو الولد أو أي من الأغراض الحسية ، وهذا مما لا اعتراض عليه ، أما الاعتراض هو أن الحب السماوي - المنسوب الي أفروديت السماوية بنت أورانوس - هو الحب الذي يهدف الي تثقيف الذات أو تحصيل الفضيلة والحكمة ، وقد أتجاوز وأقول...more
Sophia
I was required to read this for ENG150Y1Y, The Literary Tradition. That's right: a philosophical text in an English setting. I don't know why, either, since lectures haven't started yet.

So, the Symposium, the apparent start of the concept of 'Platonic love', even though it's never referred to, though I guess it's implied. The story's framed by a guy answering a question (again, apparently) and so telling the story of the time Socrates went to a party, didn't drink at all, and got everyone to mak...more
Karky
There are many things that are admirable about this work that Plato may not have meant to touch upon, but then again maybe he did. Like the fact that it contains the ONLY passage from Classical Athens that recognizes the existence of homosexuality amongst females. There's more than one view in here that defies convention, and I can appreciate such diversity.

Anyway, most of the first half is just Plato setting things up for Socrates' turn in which he dissects his fellows' eulogies, so there's a g...more
blake
Starts out slow, with mostly irrelevant speeches on the nature of Love. The first half or so is remarkable just for the interesting description it gives of Ancient Greek homosexual practices. It gets much more interesting once Socrates takes the floor, immediately ripping the false rhetoric of the hypocritical sophists in favor of Truth. His theory of love is interesting but is not at all what we think of as romantic love. . . it is more like love of truth/beauty/god and culminates in a mystical...more
Helena
My Dad always used to make jokes about the pretentious idiots who lug books like this around for show. So, understandably, i was a little put off reading anything of Plato's, i thought it would be far too difficult and quite frankly, perfect ammunition for bullies.Yet i've finally finished Symposium!

As it turns out, i thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was fascinating to start with, but also easy to read. I've already bought Republic and are trying to get my hands on Phaedrus.

The one downside, is...more
Steve Carroll
This is the first Greek classic I've read since High School. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy of a read it was. A symposium is a drinking party and this short text is presented as a transcription of a party where the attendees have a contest of sorts to give the best speech about Love. It is interesting to read in 2013 as gay marriage is having its moment as many of the speeches argue for the superiority of homosexual love over what several attendees consider the baser less noble heterosex...more
Lisa
Dec 29, 2011 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hipsters
This is the first time I've made it through the whole dialogue. I've always found it hard to get past the part where Socrates has wandered off and is standing on some random dude's doorstep, "lost in thought". As if that shit isn't a deliberate attempt to curate his quirky, eccentric genius persona. Socrates is totally indier than thou. He's a manic pixie dream girl.

Alcibiades is pretty cool though, I guess. I'd party with him.

And buckle up when you get to the hiccup subplot. This dialogue is a...more
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  • The Nicomachean Ethics
  • Fragments
  • Early Greek Philosophy
  • The Enneads
  • Conversations of Socrates
  • Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  • Pensées
  • The Nature of the Gods
  • The Consolation of Philosophy
  • Philoctetes
  • Discourse on Metaphysics & Other Essays
  • The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness
  • Discourse on Method
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Plato is a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science.

Plato is one of the most important Western philosophers,...more
More about Plato...
The Republic The Trial and Death of Socrates Apology Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo Complete Works

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“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” 468 likes
“...and when one of them meets the other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a moment...” 253 likes
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