Plato - Symposium [Benardete]

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Plato - Symposium


  • Sy mposium

    ST. "'

    Apollodonu. In my opi nion, I am not Imprcparcd 17U for what you ask about; for jusl the other day-

    when I was on my way up to town from my ]lOme in Phaleron- onc of my acquaintances sponcd me a long way off from behind and called, playing wi th his call: ~ Phalerian;' he said. "You there, Apollodorus, aren't YOII going to wai t:" And 1 stopped and leI him catch up. And he said, "Apol1ooorus., why, it was just recently thaI I was looking for yOIl ; I had wanted to I.jllcstion YOIl closely aboll t Agathon's party- the one at which Socrates, Alcibiadcs, and the others were then present at dinner B togethcr- IO question you abOut the erotic spL-cches. What were they? Someone else who had heard about the party from Phoenix the son of Philipplls was Idling me abom it, and he said Ihat YOll too knew. As a mailer of fact, there wasn't any-thing he (auld say wi th certainty. So you lell me, for it is most just tha t yOIl repon the spL'Cches of your comrade. BtH first," he said, "Iell me, were you yourself present at this pany or no tr" And J said, "I t really does seem as if there were nothing ( ertain in what your informant 101d you, if YOIl believe titatthis e party which YOIl are asking ab01l1 o

  • , Symposium

    I was doing ~omethjng of importance, I was more miserable than anyone in the world (no less than you are at this moment), for I believed that everything was preferable to philosophy." And he said, ~Don't mock me now, bUl tell me when this party did OCCI!T:' And I said, "When we were sull boY'S> al the Lime of Aga thon's vic tory wi th his first tragedy, on lhe day after he and his choral dancers celebrated Ihe vic tory sacrifice." "Oll," he said, "a very long time ago, it seems. But who wId you? Was it

    B Socrates himself?" ~No, by Zcus,~ I said, "but the same one who wId Phoenix. It was a certain ArisLOdemns, a Kyda thenean, li llie and always unshod. He had been present at the party and, in my opinion , was lhe one most in love wid] Socrates at that time. NUl, however, tha t I have not asked Socrates toO about some points that I had heard from Aristodemus; and Socrates agreed to just what Aris todemus narratcd .~ "Why, then,~ Glaucon said, "don't yOll tell me? T he way to town, in any case, is as suitable for speaking, while we walk, as for listening."

    So as we walked, we talked together about these things; and s~ jllst as c I said at UlC stan , I am nOI unprepared. If it must be told to you as well,

    tha t is wha t 1 must do. As for me, whenever 1 make any speeches on my own abom philosophy or lis ten to Others- apart from my belief tha t 1 am benefi ted - how I enjoy it! Bu t whenever the speeches arc of another SOrt, particularly the speeches of the rich and of moneymakers- your kind of talk- then just as I am dis tressed, so do I pity your comrades,

    IK~ause yOll believe you are doing ~omething of importance, but in fact D it's all pointless. And perhaps you, in 111m, believe uta t I am a wreH;h;

    and I believe you truly believe it. I, on the other hand, do not believe it about you, I know it.

    Comrade. You are always of a piece, Apollodorus, for you are always slandering yourself and others; and in my opinion you simply believe that- starring wi th yourself- everyone is miserable except Socrates. And how you ever got the nickname ~Softy; I do not know, for YOIl are always like this in your speeches, savage against yourself and o thers except Socrates.

    E Apo//odoru.f. My deares t friend, so it is plain as it can be, is it, tha t in thinking this abom myself as well as you I am a raving lunatic?

    Comradt . It is not worthwhile, Apollodorus, to argue about this now; just do what we were begging you to do; teU what the spL'Cches were.

    Apolfodonu. Well, they were somewhat as follows- but I shall JUSt try 174A to tell it to you from the beginning as Aristodemus told it.

  • Symposium l

    He said that Socrates met him freshly bathed and wearing fancy slip~ pen, which was not SOCratL>S' usual way, and he asked Socrates where he was going now that he had become so beallliful,'

    And he said, "To dinner at Agathon'$, for yes te rday I stayed away from his victory celebration, in fear of the crowd, bu t r did agree 10 come today, It is just for this tha t 1 have gOt myself up so beamiflllly- that beau tiful I may go 10 a bcalllY. But you," he said, "how do you feel about going uninvited to dinner:' Would you be willing 10 do so:''' B

    "And 1 said," he said , "' I shall do whatever you say.'" "Then follow," he said, ~so tha t we may change and min the proverb,

    ' the good go 10 Agathon's feasts on their own.' Homer, after all, nOi only ruined it, it seems, but even commi tted an ollirage fhyhris] on this prov~ erb; for though he made Agamemnon an exceptionally good man in mar~ tial matters, and Menelaus a 'soft spearman,' yet wl,en Agamemnon was c making a saaifice and a feast, he made Menelaus L'Ome to the dinner uninvited, an inferior 10 his beuer's."

    He said that when he heard th is he said, "Perhaps I 100 shall run a risk, Socrates- perhaps it is not as yOll say, bill as Homer says, a good~

    for~nothi ng going uninvited 10 a wise man's dinner, Consider the risk in bringing me, What wi1l YOli say in your defense? For J shall not agree that I have come uninvited but shall say that it was at your invi tation," D

    "With the twO of us going on the way IOgether," he said, "we shall deliberate on what we shall say. Well, let us go,"

    He said that once they had finished their conversation along these lines, they went on. And as they were making their way Socrates some-how turned his at tention 10 himself and was left behind, and when A rislO~ demus waited for him, he asked him 10 go on ahead , When ArislOdemus gOt 10 Agathon's house, he found the door open, and he said something E ridiculous happened 10 him there, SlTaight off, a domestic servant met him and brought him 10 where the others were reclining, and he found them on the point of starling dinner, So Agathon, of course, saw him at

    I. The word autiful ( ~alo,), which is distinct from goo

  • Symposium

    once, and ~aid, ~Aristodemus, you have come at a fine time 10 share a dinner. If you have (.Xlme for something else, put it off for another time, as I was looking for YOll yesterday 10 invite you but (.'Ould not find you. But how is it tha t you are not bringing our Socrates?~

    ~And I turn around," he said, "and do not see Socrates following any-where. So I said that I myself came wi th Socrates, on his invitation 10 dinner here."

    "It is a fine thing for you 10 do," Agathon said, "but where is he?" ' 7 \~ ~He was just coming in behind me. I am wondering myself where he

    might be." "Go look , boy," Agalhon sai d, "and bring Socrates in. And you, Aris-

    IOdcmus," he said, "lie down beside Eryximachus." And he said the boy washed him so he could lie down; and another of

    tile boys came back 10 report, "Your Socrates ha~ retreated into a neigh-bor's pordt and stands there, and when I called him, he was unwilling to

    . " come m.

    "T ha t is strange," Agathon said. "Call him and don't leI him go." HAnd ArislOdemllS said that he said, "No, no, leave him alone. T hat is

    something of a habit wi th him. Sometimes he moves off and stands stock still wherever he happens to be. He will come at once, I suspect. So do not try 10 budge him, but leave him alone."

    ~Well, that is what we must do, ifit is your opinion," he said Agathon ~aid. "V:;rell now, boys, feast the rest of us. T llough you always serve in any case whatever you want 10 whenever someone is nOI standing right over YOIl, sti ll now, in the belief that I, your master, as milch as Iheothers,

    c has been invited to dinner by you , serve in such a way tha t we may . " praise you. After this, he !>aid, they dined; but Socrates did not come in, and

    thollgh Agathon often ordered that Socrates be sent for, A ristodcmlls did not permit it. T hen Socrates did come in- he had lingered as long as was usual for him - when uley were just abom in the middle of dinner. Then he said that Agathon, who happened 10 be lying down at the far end alone, said, " Here, Socrates, lie down alongside me, so that by my touching you, I 100 may enjoy the piece of wisdom that just occurred 10

    [) you while you were in the porch. It is plain tha t you found it and have it, for otherwise YOll would not ilave come away beforehand."

    And Socrates !>at down and said, "It would be a good tiling, Agathon, if wisdom were the son of thing that flows from the fuller of us inlO the

  • Symposium ,

    emptier, just by our touching one another, as the water in wine (''lIPS flows through a wool thread from the fuller to the emptier. For if wisdom tOO is like that, then J set a high price on my being placed alongside YOll, for E J believe J shall be filled from you with much fair wisdom. My own may lllrn ou t to be a sorry son of wisdom, or disputable like a dream; bu t your own is brilliant and capable of milch development, since it has flashed ou t so intcnsely from you while you arc young; and yes terday it became conspicuous among more than thirty tltousand Greek witnesses."

    ~You are ou trageous, Socrates," Agathon said . "A li llie la ter you and I will go LO court about our wisdom, with Dionysus as judge, bill now firs t attend to dinncr."

    After this, he said, when Socrates had reclined and dined wi th the rest, 176A they made libations, sang a song to the god and did all the res t of the (''llstomary rites/ and then turned to drinking. T l,en Pausanias, he said, began to speak somewhat as follows. "All right, m(.'I1," he said. "What will be the easiest way for llS to drink? Now t tell you that J am really in a very bad way from yes terday 's drinking, and J need a rest. I sllspect many of yon do too, for you were also here yesterday. So consider wha t would be the easiest way for us to drink." B

    Aristophanes then said, "That is a good suggestion, Pausanias, tu ar-range our drinking in some easier way, for I toO am one of yesterday's soaks."

    Eryximadllls, he said, the son of Akoumenos, heard them Oll! and d ,en said , "W hat a fine thing you say. But I still have need to hear from one of YOll- from Agathon- how set he is on heavy drinking."

    "Not al all," Agathon said, "nor do I have the strength." "We seem to be in luck," Eryximachm sai d, "- myself, Aristodemus., c

    Phaedms, and those here- if you who have the greatest capaci ty for drink have now given liP, for we are always incapable. And I leave Socra-tes Oll t o f account- as he can go ei ther way, he will be content with whatever we do. Now, since in my opinion none of dIose present is eager to drink a lot of wine, perhaps I should be less disagreeable were I to speak the truth about what dmnkenness is. For I believe this has become

    ,. T l.e cus,omary ri,es ~, ,I.e end of ~ ban'l',e, are si~ in number: 1) a liha,ion of llnmi.ed winc to aK"t/un d"imon (d'e"good GCnillS- ); 1) ,he dearing of ,he 'ablcs; ,) ,he wa,hing of ,he hands; ~) ,he distrihudon of wrea,hs among ,he guests; \) ,hree lihation5, one each to Zcu, Olympu. ~"d the Olymp;'" god., '0 the hc r

  • 6 Symposium

    D quite plain to me from the art of medicine. DrunkcnnL"Ss is a bard thing for human ueings; and as far as iI is in my power, I should neither be willing to go on drinking nor to advise another to do s~ paniadarly if he still has a heada

  • Symposium ,

    enough of a pastime in speedK"S. For it is my opinion that each of us., starting on the left, should recite the fairest praise of Eros that he can, and Phaedrus should be the first 10 begin, inasmueh as he is lying on the head couch and is also the father of the argument."

    ~No one," Socrates said , "will cast a vote agains t you, Eryximaclms. For I would surely nOt beg off, as I claim 10 have expert knowledge of nothing bUl erotlcs; nor would Agathon and Paus.anias beg off, to say E nothing of ArislOphanes, whose wllole activity is devoted 10 Dionysus and Aphrodi te. And none of the others I see here would refuse either. And yet it is not (Illi te fair for those of us who lie on the las t couches; bUl if those who come firs t speak in a fine and adC

  • s Symposium

    Firs t of all gods, dcvisc.::l Eros.

    c Akollsilalls agrees wilh Hesiod as well. So there is an agreement in many sour

  • Symposium 9

    as well. Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, o ffers a sufiicient tes timony for Greeks on behalf of this argument. She alone was willing to die on ueilalf of her husband, though his fa ther and mother were alive; but Ihrough her love she so milch surpassed his parents in friendshi p thai she showed c them up as alien to their own son and only related to him in name. Her performance of this deed was though t 10 be so noble in the opinion nOt only of human beings bill of the gods as well that, although there have been many who have accomplished many noble deeds, the gods have given to only a select number of them the guerdon of sending up their souls again from Hades, and hers Ul(~y did send up in admiring delight at her deed. So gods, 100, hold in particular esteem the zeal and virtue that D pertain to love. Orpheus, the son of Oeagrns, uley sent back from Hades unfulfilled; and U10ilgh they showed him a phantom of his wife, for whom he II ad l:Ome, li ley did not give her very self to him, because il was thought he was soft, li ke the lyre player he was, and Ilad nOI dared to die for love like Alcestis, b1ll contrived to go into Hades alive. Consequently, tlley imposed a punishment on him, and made him die at the hands of women, and did not honor him as they had Achilles, the son of T hetis. F. For Achilles they sen t away to the Isles of the Blest, because, though he had learned fr om his mother that he wuuld be killed if he killed HeclOr, and that if he did not, he would relllrn home and die in old age, sti ll he dared to choose to l:Ome to the aid of his lover Pauoclus; and wi th his vengeance accomplished, he dared nOI only to die on his behalf bill to lSoA die after him who had died. On this ac(;ount, the gods were paniL'ularly impressed and gave him outs tanding honors, because he had made so much of his lover. Aeschylus talks nonsense in claiming that Achilles was in love with Palroclus (rather Ihan li le Oiller way around), fo r Achilles was more beallli ful than not only Pauod us UIlI all the other heroes as well; and besides, he was IInhearded , and thirdly, far younger than Pa-trodu s, as Homer says.' Wen, anyhow, though the gods really hold in very high eSleem that virtue which concerns love, they wonder, admire, R and confer benefi ts even more when the beloved has affection for Ihe lover than when the lover has it fur the beloved. A lover is a more divine thing than a beloved, for he has the god wi thin him. This is the reason why they honored Achilles more than Alcestis and sent him to the Isles of Ihe BlesI.

    7. Homer, Iliad, 2.67l, 11.786.

  • [ 0 Symposium

    ~So this is how I assert thai Eros is the oldest, mosl honorable, and mosl competent of Ihe gods wilh regard 10 t...


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