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The Symposium

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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  41,027 ratings  ·  1,533 reviews
A fascinating discussion on sex, gender, and human instincts, as relevant today as ever.

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 radi
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Paperback, Penguin Classics, 131 pages
Published February 27th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published -380)
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Catherine Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage and Eric Salem's new translation of the Symposium is the best I have ever read. It has the informality of a drinking party …moreEva Brann, Peter Kalkavage and Eric Salem's new translation of the Symposium is the best I have ever read. It has the informality of a drinking party while still conveying the nuances of the Greek.(less)

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Glenn Russell
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing



Plato’s Symposium is one of the most loved classics from the ancient world, a work of consummate beauty as both philosophy and as literature, most appropriate since the topic of this dialogue is the nature of love and includes much philosophizing on beauty. In the spirit of freshness, I will focus on one very important section, where Socrates relates the words of his teacher Diotima on the birth of Love explained in the context of myth:

“Following the birth of Aphrodite, the other gods were havin
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Συμπόσιον = Symposium, Plato
The Symposium (Ancient Greek: Συμπόσιον) is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–370 BC. It depicts a friendly contest of extemporaneous speeches given by a group of notable men attending a banquet. The men include the philosopher Socrates, the general and political figure Alcibiades, and the comic playwright Aristophanes.
عنوانها: ضیافت؛ سخن در خصوص عشق؛ اثر: افلاطون؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه سپتامبر سال 1984 میلادی
عنوان: ضیافت، یا، سخن در خصوص عشق؛ اثر: افلاطون
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Richard Derus
May 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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Manny
Jul 27, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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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, an
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Trevor
Jul 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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?
Roy Lotz
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It has been a long time since I first read The Symposium. That was back in university, in my freshman year course Sexuality in Literature. I admit I found it all a bit shocking: the open tolerance of sexual relationships between men and boys—wasn’t it pederasty? Even now, it is surprising to find that one of the most influential and foundational works on love in Western history is largely focused on relationships that have often been deemed illegal. Imagine what the medieval Europeans would have ...more
Elenabot
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Symposium holds the key to ancient psychology. One has but to compare post-Freudian psychology's understanding of the drives with Plato's discourse on human longing here in order to measure the distance between the ancient and modern orientations to reality. It is strange for us to conceive this in the post-Darwinian, post-Freudian era, but Plato genuinely held that the longing to know is the fundamental human drive, with sexuality (the modern candidate foundational drive) being derived ther ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
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7jane
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I chose this translation (by Robin Waterfield), and this publisher (Oxford World's Classic) - the introduction is of great help, and the text flows easily and is very understandable, and doesn't feel stiff and such.

This book's subject is a series of speeches praising Love (both of sexual and of mind-kind; the former producing sometimes children, the latter creative works and learning - the latter is more immortal and superior in author's opinion). The book ends with useful notes and a n
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David Sarkies
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to David by: My Classics Lecturer
Shelves: philosophy
The life of the party
26 August 2015

You've really got to love the way Plato writes philosophy. Whereas everybody else simply writes what is in effect a work of non-fiction explaining some ideas, Plato seems to have the habit of inserting them into a story. Okay, he may not be the only philosopher that uses a story to convey his philosophical ideas, but he certainly stands out from his contemporaries, who simply wrote treatises. I've read a few of his works, and he always seems to structure it in
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Steve
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: greek, philosophy
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
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✨Sumi's Books✨
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book...
A symposium, I have come to learn, is actually a gathering of guests with the intent on dining and drinking together. This book takes place during that symposium where a few members of higher society gather together and each take turns giving speeches on the subject of love.
I am reading the Oxford World's Classics edition of this book and like the introduction to this book proposes I suggest that you sit and read this book in its entirety in one sitting. It's not very long. It
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Manuel Antão
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2003
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.



Non-Linguistic Constructs: "The Symposium" by Plato, Christopher Gill (trans.)




(Original Review, 2003-03-02)




The problem for me is that philosophy is surely about ideas which are themselves constructed out of language. Dinosaurs, or evidence for them in the fossil record, are not linguistic constructs - but philosophical ideas would seem to be.
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Jonfaith
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: theory
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
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M.L. Rio
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, books-i-own
This is the gayest thing I've ever read in my life and it's absolutely marvelous. A tragic poet throws a party and the attendant guests take turns waxing poetic about Love until Socrates ruins the mood with too much philosophy. Fortunately Alcibiades arrives just in time, already wasted and wearing a flower crown, to demand that everyone get on his level while he regales them with a long story about getting friendzoned by Socrates.
Jim
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
Paul Haspel
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A symposium, in ancient Greece, was a social ritual that was inherently a part of any banquet. After the feasting was over, participants in the banquet would gather together for social drinking and conversation that might also be accompanied by music or dancing. Plato adopts the ritual of the symposium for one of his most famous philosophical dialogues, and in The Symposium he shows Socrates and various interlocutors seeking to understand the nature of Love itself.

Plato’s Symposium takes place a
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Brian
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
In one of those strange literary coincidences this short treatise on Love by Plato has been referenced this past week in my reading of Barth’s The Friday Book and Hilton Als’s White Girls. And for completely different reasons. I haven’t plunged head-first into White Girls just yet, so this is a great opportunity to pause and catch up on a work of antiquity.

My copy of The Symposium is translated from the Greek by Percy Bysshe Shelley - he titles the work The Banquet of Plato rather than the more
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Laura Noggle
Not a big fan of romance or even love stories ... however, this book presented discourses on love in a *relatively* interesting fashion.

Basically reads as a scripted party with plenty of booze.

BONUS FACT:

The Symposium is the first explicit discussion of love in western literature and philosophy, and it begins as a discussion of homosexual love.

SIDE NOTE:

Confused as to why so many people shelve this as nonfiction, when it is fiction.
Sam Quixote
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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T
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Evil is the vulgar lover, who loves the body rather than the soul..." (183)

On second reading I realised I'd not spent nearly enough time deconstructing and thinking about the contents of this book. Definitely going to be rereading this a number of times.
Michael Finocchiaro
It has been about 30 years since I attempted to read Plato, but this experience was a positive one for me. The Banquet is a relatively funny series of drunken dialogues on Love with Socrates present in his most sarcastic form. I enjoyed the interplay of the various speakers and the various concepts they batted around. One must, however, understand that the "love" that they are talking about is that between older and younger men and that the Greek society of the time was misogynistic in extremes ...more
Sofie Sieling
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Like many others before me, I dived right into this fully expecting only to understand the superficial parts of this ancient philosophy. This was one of the most interesting things I have ever read. I already knew that male homosexuality was accepted in Ancient Greece but it still blew my mind.
Quiver
This is Plato's book on love in general.

Upper-class Athenian men sprawl on couches arranged in a horseshoe, drink wine, and look for ways to entertain themselves with music, dancers, and sexual partners. This is what happens at a symposium. The symposium that Plato describes has seven men—Phaedrus, Pausanias, Aristophanes, Eryximachus, Agathon, Socrates, and Alcibiades—find entertainment in giving speeches that praise Love (encomiums).

The company is illustrious. The first five speeches, all in
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Angel Vanstark
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Darwin8u
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Sex and Socrates? Awesome. Plato's work is a many layered exploration on the nature, purpose and design of love.
Anna
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I'm just not into ancient Greek sausage fests. And in 2015, there are better texts about love without the pedophilia and women hating.
Clif Hostetler
Mar 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
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
Gilly-Bean
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, favourites
The Symposium, in Greek "to drink together", was a convivial banquet, a sort of collective ritual with ethical, political, social, but also sacred and religious implications.

In Plato's Symposium, the diners present at the second part of the banquet, partly already suffering from the symptoms of the previous hangover, decide to put the wine aside to discuss lucidly among themselves. The themes focus on love, Eros, the God who inspires men to good behavior, who, in their opinion, wasn't praised e
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(Greek: Πλάτων) (Arabic: أفلاطون) (Alternate Spelling: Platon, Platón, Platone)
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 p
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