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Forms of Love in Plato's Symposium Essays

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Love, in classical Greek literature, is commonly considered as a prominent theme. Love, in present days, always appears in the categories of books, movies or music, etc. Interpreted differently by different people, Love turns into a multi-faceted being.

In Plato’s work Symposium, Phaedrus, Pausania, Eryximachus, Aristophane and Agathon, each of them presents a speech to either praise or definite Love. Phaedrus first points out that Love is the primordial god; Pausanias brings the theme of “virtue” into the discussion and categorizes Love into “good” one or “bad” one; Eryximachus introduces the thought of “moderation’ and thinks that Love governs such fields as medicine and music; Aristophanes draws attention to the origin and purposes of Love; Agathon enunciates that the correct way to present an eulogy is first to praise its nature and gifts. As the last speaker, and the most important one, Socrates connects his ideas with Diotima of Mantinea’s story of Love’s origin, nature and purpose. Different from the earlier five speakers who regard Love as an object and praise different sides of it, Socrates, referring to Diotima’s idea, considers Love as a pursuit of beauty gradually from “physical beauty of people in general” (Symposium, Plato, 55) to the “true beauty” (55).

The first five speeches bond with each other. Each of them mentions the opinions of the former one in order to either support or against them. However, just like the elements of a beautiful picture, they fail to show us the integration of love. Socrates’ speech does that. It contains the sides mentioned before, and uniquely views Love from a dynamic aspect.

Phaedrus
Phaedrus is the first one to give a speech to praise love. He begins his speech with the ...


... middle of paper ...


...e journey of the true beauty.

Diotima’s statements about Love contain some corrections of ideas mentioned in the previous speeches. The first five speeches demonstrate different spheres of Love. It can be taken into consideration that not only Diotimas’ speech shows the process of gaining knowledge, but also the five speeches as a whole present this process.


By writing Symposium, Plato uses six characters to convey his idea of Love, the process of learning and thinking in a philosophical way. Each of these characters has a particular mission to elaborate different spheres of Love. However, these speeches given by six characters are not totally independent. They, to some extent, are connected; some of them agree or disagree with the previous one; some of them improve the idea of the former speakers. In conclusion, according to Symposium, Love is multi-faced.


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