GREGORY, Φιλοσοφία ἄφθονος (Plato, Symposium 210d)

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  • 7/28/2019 GREGORY, (Plato, Symposium 210d)


    (Plato, Symposium 210d)

    Author(s): Justina Gregory and Susan B. LevinReviewed work(s):Source: The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 48, No. 2 (1998), pp. 404-410Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 30/03/2012 23:41

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  • 7/28/2019 GREGORY, (Plato, Symposium 210d)


    ClassicalQuarterly8 (ii)404-410(1998)Printed n GreatBritain 404

    PIAOZOIA 100O NOZ (PLATO, SYMPOSIUM 210d)Near the climax of the ascent passage of the Symposium, Plato describes how thelover turns to gaze at the great sea of the beautiful and 7roAAo,,sKacLKaAov~sA'yovsKaL VEyaao7rpOETELsLKT?7KalL qLaVOj7a EVE~LAouol~la o0dvo. While the phraseEvv q~10ouoq0la &dOd'vp has been variously interpreted by commentators andtranslators, none has regarded it as particularly significant. In what follows weexamine the contribution that the immediate context makes to the meaning of thephrase and take note of the link between the adjective64Bovos and two subsequentuses of qBovEow,both with reference to Alcibiades. We conclude that in the two finalscenes of the dialogue the repetition of 6&0Oovosnd qBovE'whas the same effect asthe repetition of the well-studied adverb 4lat kv-ls. By virtue of these contextualassociations, we suggest, the prepositional phrase acquires a new significance.Furthermore, on the interpretation developed here the dialogue's two final scenesencapsulate the view of the incompatibility of jealousy and philosophy that Platosets forth more explicitly and at greater length in the Phaedrus and Republic.

    I. TERMINOLOGICAL BACKGROUND6dOovosis one of those compound adjectives that can be either active or passive insense.1As Bury explains ad loc., the adjective 'is used alike of fruits (Polit. 272a) andof soils (Soph. 222a), thus meaning both "abundant"and "bountiful"-"unstinted"and "unstinting" '.2 While Robin ('dans l'inepuisable aspiration vers le savoir') optsfor the passive,3the English versions we have consulted prefer the active sense. ThusGroden translates 'in a fruitful philosophy', Nehamas and Woodruff 'in unstintinglove of wisdom', and Cobb 'in a magnanimous philosophy'.4 In point of factthe dividing line between the active and passive senses of &dfOovoss not clear-cut.Dover illuminates the connection between them when he glosses the adjective as'"ungrudging", hence "unlimited" '.'The rendering of 6d`Oovosat Symp. 210d6 as 'unstinting' or 'unlimited' seems tocommend itself because Plato habituallyuses the adjectiveto emphasize the relative orcomplete absence of boundaries or limits with respect, for example, to water, and, andwealth.6 However, while these sorts of entities are material and observable, at Symp.210d6 &6ovos modifies the abstract noun q0tAouola-a fact that should give uspause.

    1 See LSJ s.v. For discussionof such adjectives ee W. S. Barrett,Euripides:Hippolytos(Oxford, 19662),ad 677-9.2 R. G.Bury,TheSymposium f Plato(Cambridge,932),p. 127.L. Robin, Platon: (EuvresComplktes,vol. 4 (Paris, 1929).4 S. Q. Groden,TheSymposium f Plato (Amherst,1970);A. Nehamasand P. Woodruff,

    Plato: Symposium (Indianapolis, 1989); and W. S. Cobb, The Symposium and the Phaedrus:Plato's Erotic Dialogues (Albany, 1993). d&lOovosigures in a description of the abundancespontaneouslyenerated ythe earthduring he GoldenAgeat Hes.Op.118; f.Aesch. r.196.5Radt.Perhapswiththese associationsn mind,M. Joyce Plato'sSymposium London,1935])translates: turninghis eyes towards the open sea of beauty,[the lover]will find in suchcontemplationhe seedof themost fruitfuldiscourse nd the oftiest hought,andreapa goldenharvestof philosophy'.5 K. Dover,Plato:SymposiumCambridge,980),adloc.6 See,e.g.,Pit.272bl,Phlb.40a10,Leg. 677e8,736d5,and 761c2.

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    PLATO, SYMPOSIUM 210d 405To do full justice to the sense of 6d40ovoswe must take its etymology into account.7After all, the verb 0OovE' and noun 0Odvogave most fundamentally to do withpossessiveness or jealousy.8 The adjective d0Oovos hus has as its primary meaning'free from possessiveness'; the other senses of the term are derivative and meta-phorical. Furthermore, it is worth recalling that privative terms have the function ofdrawing the audience'sattention to the absence of what they would typically assumeto be present.9 On the basis of these linguistic considerations, one might anticipatethat the reader'sinitial response to 6&10ovost 210d6-where its appearance is quite

    unexpected-would be to think of the term'spositive cognates. This association willimpose itself, however,only if it receivessupport from the context. As we shall see, thecontext does indeed confirm the implicit connection with 0ovd'wand 8Odvosysuggesting what kind of jealousy or possessiveness is so conspicuously absent fromphilosophy.

    II. THE SYMPOSIUMAs noted above, the prepositional phrase 'v q0LAouO,'a

    068Odvwollows immediatelyupon Plato's evocation of TrrroA rrEAayor... 70o KaAov t 210d4. More importantthan this brief image in establishing its context, however, is a contrast that isdeveloped at some length in the course of the ascent passage. As part of her mysticalrevelation to Socrates (cf. 210al), Diotima makes a distinction between the lover'searlier preoccupation with individuals (210b5-6, 211d3-8) and an elevated form ofattraction which is far more abstract and general in character (210e3-211b5,211c6-d3, d8-e4). In the immediate vicinity of the prepositional phrase, Diotima hasrecourse to the vocabulary of slavery to reinforce the adverse connotations ofattachment to particular individuals: she describes the lover whose attention is fixedon them as JaOr" WK777r .. . SovAEV'w(210dl-3). Alcibiades subsequentlyelaborates on the implications of this phrase when he describes his consciousness ofhis slavish situation (dv6parro6wc 3 tLaKELtELvov,215e6-7); recounts how he is wontto flee from Socrates like a runawayslave (parrErEv'w . . . arOV Kacl cEV)yW,216b5-6); and finally confesses his perplexity at being 'enslaved by [Socrates] as noman has ever been enslaved by another' (KaraGESovAwooE'vo3.... Orro o JvOpcwrrov(s OVSELSrr' olVEvOS&AAov,19e3-5).10 The suggestion that the ideal lover will befree of obsessive attachment to a particular individual receives additional negative

    7 Dover'sungrudging'oessomeway nthisdirection y implicitlyinking headjectiveo theverb q0ov'w. Moreover,his version,like those of Nehamas-Woodruff nd Robin,aims tocapture he force of the alpha-privativey means of a negativeprefix.J.D. Moore notes inpassing heetymologicalonnection etween6&kovosnd od'Ovos'Therelation etweenPlato'sSymposium and Phaedrus',in J. M. E. Moravcsik (ed.), Patterns in Plato's Thought [Dordrecht,1973],p. 59).8 See P Walcot, Envyand the Greeks:A Studyof Human Behaviour Warminster,1978),pp. 3-6and passim. We prefer the translation 'jealousy' to Walcot's 'envy' because our concern here is

    primarilywith attempts to retain what one has rather than to acquirewhat is not currentlyone'sown.9 On this point see J.Wackernagel, Vorlesungen ber Syntax, vol. 2 (Basel, 1924), p. 293: 'derprivativeAusdruck .. wirdda angewandt,wo man das Fehlenvon etwas NormalemoderUblichem festzustellen hat, oder wo eine Erwartunggetiuscht wird'.10M. C. Nussbaum (The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy andPhilosophy [Cambridge, 1986], p. 197) takes note of Alcibiades' use of the vocabularyof slavery,but does not connect it to the earlierpassage; indeed, she translatesoIKW'r-q t 210d1 not as 'slave'but as 'servant'p. 180).

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    406 J. GREGORY AND S. B. LEVINsupport even in passages where the vocabulary of slavery is not present: first at213dl-2, where Socrates humorously complains that Alcibiades will allow him o;VTErTpoUfAE'CoL 'TrE8LaAEXOaL KaAo 0o8' Jvl; again at 214d7-8 where Alcibiades,pretending that it is Socrates who is the jealous and exclusive lover, assures him thatdycO 06' av &va EAAovdarraLvEauLLuo0 7rapdvroV and lastly at 222d1-3, whereSocrates protests that in Alcibiades' view 6SEVEPE Ev o OEpcv KaLI 78EVOSlAAov,Atya6Ova 68 VITrrOo E'pa^auL aL6q' V,' J6~v &Aov.Having gained a sense of the general context in which the prepositional phrase issituated, we may consider the term most immediately relevant to its interpretation,namely the verb T-KT- (210d5). This verb serves to sustain the metaphor of sexualityand sexual reproduction that Diotima has promoted throughout her speech."Diotima's use of TLKTELv lends support to the view that 100Oovosrawsattention, notto the absence of limits on the scope of objects of the lover'sattention, but rathertothe utter lack of possessiveness, above all of a sexual nature,that characterizes a loverwho has reached this stage of the ascent.12 Diotima's phrase 3pOJs rraLEparTELV(211b5-6)-a shorthand expression for her proposal to place the Athenian institutionof pederasty on the correct footing-presumably makes the same point: to love boys

    'properly'means above all not to focus on their individuality.13A number of critics have pointed out that Diotima's speech and the Alcibiadesscene that follows immediately upon it (212c6-223b6) should be read together, withAlcibiades' performance functioning either as a complement of Diotima's speech14 oras a cautionary tale.15Wehavealreadyseen how Alcibiades echoes and expands on thecontrast between different types of attraction, and the attendant vocabulary ofslavery,that Diotima introduced in the course of her exposition.16It can scarcely beaccidental that in addition to using &q~0ovosin connection with philosophy, Platoemploys qBovEw wice with reference to Alcibiades. In the introduction to Alcibiades'speech, Socrates complains thatOVKETL EEEUTLV 1LOL OUTE 7TPOUf3AEbaLOWTE aLaAEXO77vaLKaAW o E' ivl oroTULqAoTvrrdvLE KaL OovdjvOavaaTard'pya`?ETaLaL,o LopE-iat TE KaLT) XELPEO7YSdTrXETraL. (213dl-4)The two participles combine in a virtual hendiadys, with rlqAorvrJWv-whicharriesstrong connotations of sexual possessiveness-serving to demarcate the sense ofOovWv. 7It seems reasonable to conclude that Plato wishes both to underscore the

    " Forothersuch uses of TLKTELVbyDiotima,see209b2,c3, 210cl, and212a3.Additionally,sheemploys heverb n anearlierdiscussion f reproduction206c3,4, andd5);roKOS,Withhemeaning givingbirth',appearsnthiscontextat206b7,c6,ande5.12 On Plato'sistof entities o whichone whohas made heSymposium'sscentwillno longerbe attached renotonlybeautiful oys,butalsogold(211 ).Thisstipulationsinterestingnlightof Rep.5'sprovisionorthe abolitionof privatepropertyn thecase,at anyrate,of rulersandauxiliaries. orthe relation etween heSymposiumndRepublic,eesection V.'~ For the notion of 'pederasty ombinedwithphilosophy', f. Phdr.249a2.Forpederastyas an Athenian nstitution, eeD. M. Halperin,Why s Diotima a woman?PlatonicEr6sandthe figuration of gender', in Halperin et al. (edd.), Before Sexuality: The Constructionof EroticExperiencein theAncient GreekWorld Princeton, 1990), pp. 258-9.14 H. H. Bacon, Socratesrowned',VirginiaQuarterlyReview 5(1959),415-30,atp.428.~5Nussbaumn. 10),pp.167and171.16 For Plato, structuraland dramatic onsiderationsake precedence ververisimilitude.Alcibiades akesupthemes romDiotima'speech ven houghhe wasnotpresentohear t;withequal mplausibility, iotimaalludes 205d10)o thespeechof Aristophanes.17 On oro07vTlasee E. Fantham,ZHAOTYHIA:a briefexcursionntosex,violence,andliterary history', Phoenix 40 (1986), 45-57.

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    PLATO, SYMPOSIUM 210d 407jealousy of Alcibiades and to emphasize the contrast between his state of mind andthat of the ideal lover described by Diotima.18Plato has not said his last word on the subject of Alcibiades and sexual jealousy.At the conclusion of Alcibiades' speech (222e13-223a2) Socrates tells him: &,AA'Eacov, WCL"LFLVLE,K)LL UV17Uov7U77s 7LELPcKLC VIT0F7OV- E7TaLVEUqtvcLL.Dramatically speaking, his plea caps a series of interchanges involving mock chargesof possessiveness. These include 213d1-6 (where Socrates pretends that Alcibiades isinordinately jealous) and 214dl-8 (where Alcibiades flings the same charge back atSocrates). With his final plea to Alcibiades, Socrates definitivelygets the better of hisyounger friend. His words simultaneously, however, recall the uses of qo0ovos andqBovEw at 210d6 and 213dl-4. That Plato has recourse to the verb BOovywone lasttime as the dialogue draws to a close seems to indicate thatjealousy, in his view, is ofspecial relevance to any investigation of the nature of 'pws9.Much of what Alcibiades says in his encomium of Socratesreveals the depth of hisemotional attachment to him. Alcibiades' emotional responses to Socrates alternatebetween, and even combine, positive and negative attitudes; as he himself puts it(222a7-8), his speech is a mixture of praise and blame. In each instance, however,thefeeling in question is extremely intense, as his auditors recognize (222cl-3).Alcibiades' own understanding of the nature and object of his attraction is markedlyunstable; he shifts back and forth from a clear recognition that his attraction is toSocrates' soul-combined with at least an intimation of all that this implies-to ademand for a sexual relationship.If we consider Alcibiades' encomium in the light ofthe speech that preceded it, it becomes evident that Plato wishes to contrast the 'pwsof Diotima's ideal lover-which never terminatesin individualsand in any case movesquickly beyond them-with forms of 'pwsthat give pride of place to our attachmentsto individuals as individuals.19

    III. AOONOL, #OONEDQ ND EEAIONHECommentators have regularly drawn attention to the significant repetition of theadverb Eiat'0vriSat the end of Diotima's speech and in the Alcibiades scene.20 At210e4 the lover 'all of a sudden' glimpses the Form of Beaut...


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