Socrates. symposium (english-german)

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The Banquet: Socrates in love

Abstract Socrates discusses the notion of Platonic love. Eros is considered to be a mysterious force that turns the actions of lovers abstract and intelligible. However, Alcibiades enters the scene and presents a new notion in which love can be shown to a particular individual, who is considered inimitable and unique.

1. Introduction 2. Agathon’s beauty. Erosis related to beauty. 3. Diotima from Mantinea. Love as something between good and bad. 4. Beauty and immortality. The desire of the everlasting good. 5. Alcibiades is coming. Socrates in love.

1. Introduction: "The Banquet is composed of a series of stories introduced carefully into each other. In the manner of Chinese boxes, Apollodorus recounts a conversation with a friend, in anotherconversation that talks about the first, in which he recalls some Aristodemo’s facts, which refer to Socrates’ speech (among others), a character that recalls to another speech, Diotima’s one, which tells us the secrets of the mysteries".1 This simile by M. Nussbaum is a very appropriate opening to this work because some narratives are introduced in other narratives and some speeches are introduced inother speeches, all of which Socrates articulates in his speech, integrating all that he finds interesting, discarding what is inadequate and anticipating what he still needs to say. When we study the Banquet carefully, it compels one to examine all the details, not only because of the beauty of the words, but also the thoroughness with which its author writes and the number of significant detailsthat may escape on a first reading. The Banquet has become a benchmark of Platonic philosophy, expressing thoughts like the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, the theme of pleasure, dialectics, and, of course, love. Plato carefully chose the Symposio's diners, to whom he presented different views on love that coexisted in ancient Greece. With the exception of Aristophanes, thecharacters are the same as those found in Callias' home in the Protagoras. It is also essential to pay attention to the order of the speeches and the references to one another in order to correctly interpret both the intentions of Plato and his reflections on love. So, as the Symposium can be likened to a Chinese box, understanding that the narratives and discourses are contained within each other, I willnot comment on his work following an orderly sequence because Socrates' speech covers and incorporates the others. Although the structure of the Banquet is often emphasized because of its narrative style, which is different from the typical dialogues from his youth, as well as from the Phaedo, their style being replaced by long monologues, the differences are not as great as we see at firstglance. The Socratic method remains unchanged: first,

M. Nussbaum; The fragility of Goodness, Cambridge University Press, 1991, 232.

PG.: 2

there will be a rebuttal of what Agathon said and, subsequently, he will also mention what he finds unacceptable in other speeches, but in a very subtle way. After ironies and rejections, he will expose the nature of Eros without deviating from thedialectical form. 2. Agathon’s beauty. "Denn an Gorgias hat mich die Rede erinnert, so daß es mir ganz so erging wie bei Homer: Ich fürchtete, Agathon würde am Ende in seiner Rede das Haupt des Gorgias, das gewaltig ist im Reden, gegen meine Rede schleudern und mich zum Stein erstarren und verstummen lassen "2 Knowing what Plato says about Gorgias in the dialogue of the same name, we can begin toperceive the assessment that Socrates will make about Agathon's words. In fact, the philosopher has made his speech, beginning precisely from this premise. According to Gorgias, the art he practices and teaches is the art of rhetoric, which enables men "to persuade, through the word, to the judges in court, to the counsellors in the Council, to the people in the Assembly and any meeting that is...
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