Symposium by Plato

Diotima Symposium

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[3]        Apollodorus, who repeats to his companion the dialogue which he had heard
[4]        from Aristodemus, and had already once narrated to Glaucon.
[5]        Phaedrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Agathon, Socrates,
[6]        Alcibiades, A Troop of Revellers.
[8]        SCENE: The House of Agathon.
[11]       Concerning the things about which you ask to be informed I believe that I
[12]       am not ill-prepared with an answer. For the day before yesterday I was
[13]       coming from my own home at Phalerum to the city, and one of my
[14]       acquaintance, who had caught a sight of me from behind, calling out
[15]       playfully in the distance, said: Apollodorus, O thou Phalerian (Probably a
[16]       play of words on (Greek), 'bald-headed.') man, halt! So I did as I was
[17]       bid; and then he said, I was looking for you, Apollodorus, only just now,
[18]       that I might ask you about the speeches in praise of love, which were
[19]       delivered by Socrates, Alcibiades, and others, at Agathon's supper.
[20]       Phoenix, the son of Philip, told another person who told me of them; his
[21]       narrative was very indistinct, but he said that you knew, and I wish that
[22]       you would give me an account of them. Who, if not you, should be the
[23]       reporter of the words of your friend? And first tell me, he said, were you
[24]       present at this meeting?
[26]       Your informant, Glaucon, I said, must have been very indistinct indeed, if
[27]       you imagine that the occasion was recent; or that I could have been of the
[28]       party.
[30]       Why, yes, he replied, I thought so.
[32]       Impossible: I said. Are you ignorant that for many years Agathon has not
[33]       resided at Athens; and not three have elapsed since I became acquainted
[34]       with Socrates, and have made it my daily business to know all that he says
[35]       and does. There was a time when I was running about the world, fancying
[36]       myself to be well employed, but I was really a most wretched being, no
[37]       better than you are now. I thought that I ought to do anything rather than
[38]       be a philosopher.
[40]       Well, he said, jesting apart, tell me when the meeting occurred.
[42]       In our boyhood, I replied, when Agathon won the prize with his first
[43]       tragedy, on the day after that on which he and his chorus offered the
[44]       sacrifice of victory.
[46]       Then it must have been a long while ago, he said; and who told you--did
[47]       Socrates?
[49]       No indeed, I replied, but the same person who told Phoenix;--he was a
[50]       little fellow, who never wore any shoes, Aristodemus, of the deme of
[51]       Cydathenaeum. He had been at Agathon's feast; and I think that in those
[52]       days there was no one who was a more devoted admirer of Socrates.
[53]       Moreover, I have asked Socrates about the truth of some parts of his
[54]       narrative, and he confirmed them. Then, said Glaucon, let us have the tale
[55]       over again; is not the road to Athens just made for conversation? And so
[56]       we walked, and talked of the discourses on love; and therefore, as I said
[57]       at first, I am not ill-prepared to comply with your request, and will have
[58]       another rehearsal of them if you like. For to speak or to hear others
[59]       speak of philosophy always gives me the greatest pleasure, to say nothing
[60]       of the profit. But when I hear another strain, especially that of you rich
[61]       men and traders, such conversation displeases me; and I pity you who are my
[62]       companions, because you think that you are doing something when in reality
[63]       you are doing nothing. And I dare say that you pity me in return, whom you
[64]       regard as an unhappy creature, and very probably you are right. But I
[65]       certainly know of you what you only think of me--there is the difference.
[67]       COMPANION: I see, Apollodorus, that you are just the same--always speaking
[68]       evil of yourself, and of others; and I do believe that you pity all
[69]       mankind, with the exception of Socrates, yourself first of all, true in
[70]       this to your old name, which, however deserved, I know not how you
[71]       acquired, of Apollodorus the madman; for you are always raging against
[72]       yourself and everybody but Socrates.
[74]       APOLLODORUS: Yes, friend, and the reason why I am said to be mad, and out
[75]       of my wits, is just because I have these notions of myself and you; no
[76]       other evidence is required.
[78]       COMPANION: No more of that, Apollodorus; but let me renew my request that
[79]       you would repeat the conversation.
[81]       APOLLODORUS: Well, the tale of love was on this wise:--But perhaps I had
[82]       better begin at the beginning, and endeavour to give you the exact words of
[83]       Aristodemus:
[85]       He said that he met Socrates fresh from the bath and sandalled; and as the
[86]       sight of the sandals was unusual, he asked him whither he was going that he
[87]       had been converted into such a beau:--
[89]       To a banquet at Agathon's, he replied, whose invitation to his sacrifice of
[90]       victory I refused yesterday, fearing a crowd, but promising that I would
[91]       come to-day instead; and so I have put on my finery, because he is such a
[92]       fine man. What say you to going with me unasked?
[94]       I will do as you bid me, I replied.
[96]       Follow then, he said, and let us demolish the proverb:--
[98]       'To the feasts of inferior men the good unbidden go;'
[100]      instead of which our proverb will run:--
[102]      'To the feasts of the good the good unbidden go;'
[104]      and this alteration may be supported by the authority of Homer himself, who
[105]      not only demolishes but literally outrages the proverb. For, after
[106]      picturing Agamemnon as the most valiant of men, he makes Menelaus, who is
[107]      but a fainthearted warrior, come unbidden (Iliad) to the banquet of
[108]      Agamemnon, who is feasting and offering sacrifices, not the better to the
[109]      worse, but the worse to the better.
[111]      I rather fear, Socrates, said Aristodemus, lest this may still be my case;
[112]      and that, like Menelaus in Homer, I shall be the inferior person, who
[114]      'To the feasts of the wise unbidden goes.'
[116]      But I shall say that I was bidden of you, and then you will have to make an
[117]      excuse.
[119]      'Two going together,'
[121]      he replied, in Homeric fashion, one or other of them may invent an excuse
[122]      by the way (Iliad).
[124]      This was the style of their conversation as they went along. Socrates
[125]      dropped behind in a fit of abstraction, and desired Aristodemus, who was
[126]      waiting, to go on before him. When he reached the house of Agathon he
[127]      found the doors wide open, and a comical thing happened. A servant coming
[128]      out met him, and led him at once into the banqueting-hall in which the
[129]      guests were reclining, for the banquet was about to begin. Welcome,
[130]      Aristodemus, said Agathon, as soon as he appeared--you are just in time to
[131]      sup with us; if you come on any other matter put it off, and make one of
[132]      us, as I was looking for you yesterday and meant to have asked you, if I
[133]      could have found you. But what have you done with Socrates?
[135]      I turned round, but Socrates was nowhere to be seen; and I had to explain
[136]      that he had been with me a moment before, and that I came by his invitation
[137]      to the supper.
[139]      You were quite right in coming, said Agathon; but where is he himself?
[141]      He was behind me just now, as I entered, he said, and I cannot think what
[142]      has become of him.
[144]      Go and look for him, boy, said Agathon, and bring him in; and do you,
[145]      Aristodemus, meanwhile take the place by Eryximachus.
[147]      The servant then assisted him to wash, and he lay down, and presently
[148]      another servant came in and reported that our friend Socrates had retired
[149]      into the portico of the neighbouring house. 'There he is fixed,' said he,
[150]      'and when I call to him he will not stir.'
[152]      How strange, said Agathon; then you must call him again, and keep calling
[153]      him.
[155]      Let him alone, said my informant; he has a way of stopping anywhere and
[156]      losing himself without any reason. I believe that he will soon appear; do
[157]      not therefore disturb him.
[159]      Well, if you think so, I will leave him, said Agathon. And then, turning
[160]      to the servants, he added, 'Let us have supper without waiting for him.
[161]      Serve up whatever you please, for there is no one to give you orders;
[162]      hitherto I have never left you to yourselves. But on this occasion imagine
[163]      that you are our hosts, and that I and the company are your guests; treat
[164]      us well, and then we shall commend you.' After this, supper was served,
[165]      but still no Socrates; and during the meal Agathon several times expressed
[166]      a wish to send for him, but Aristodemus objected; and at last when the
[167]      feast was about half over--for the fit, as usual, was not of long duration
[168]      --Socrates entered. Agathon, who was reclining alone at the end of the
[169]      table, begged that he would take the place next to him; that 'I may touch
[170]      you,' he said, 'and have the benefit of that wise thought which came into
[171]      your mind in the portico, and is now in your possession; for I am certain
[172]      that you would not have come away until you had found what you sought.'
[174]      How I wish, said Socrates, taking his place as he was desired, that wisdom
[175]      could be infused by touch, out of the fuller into the emptier man, as water
[176]      runs through wool out of a fuller cup into an emptier one; if that were so,
[177]      how greatly should I value the privilege of reclining at your side! For
[178]      you would have filled me full with a stream of wisdom plenteous and fair;
[179]      whereas my own is of a very mean and questionable sort, no better than a
[180]      dream. But yours is bright and full of promise, and was manifested forth
[181]      in all the splendour of youth the day before yesterday, in the presence of
[182]      more than thirty thousand Hellenes.
[184]      You are mocking, Socrates, said Agathon, and ere long you and I will have
[185]      to determine who bears off the palm of wisdom--of this Dionysus shall be
[186]      the judge; but at present you are better occupied with supper.
[188]      Socrates took his place on the couch, and supped with the rest; and then
[189]      libations were offered, and after a hymn had been sung to the god, and
[190]      there had been the usual ceremonies, they were about to commence drinking,
[191]      when Pausanias said, And now, my friends, how can we drink with least
[192]      injury to ourselves? I can assure you that I feel severely the effect of
[193]      yesterday's potations, and must have time to recover; and I suspect that
[194]      most of you are in the same predicament, for you were of the party
[195]      yesterday. Consider then: How can the drinking be made easiest?
[197]      I entirely agree, said Aristophanes, that we should, by all means, avoid
[198]      hard drinking, for I was myself one of those who were yesterday drowned in
[199]      drink.
[201]      I think that you are right, said Eryximachus, the son of Acumenus; but I
[202]      should still like to hear one other person speak: Is Agathon able to drink
[203]      hard?
[205]      I am not equal to it, said Agathon.
[207]      Then, said Eryximachus, the weak heads like myself, Aristodemus, Phaedrus,
[208]      and others who never can drink, are fortunate in finding that the stronger
[209]      ones are not in a drinking mood. (I do not include Socrates, who is able
[210]      either to drink or to abstain, and will not mind, whichever we do.) Well,
[211]      as of none of the company seem disposed to drink much, I may be forgiven
[212]      for saying, as a physician, that drinking deep is a bad practice, which I
[213]      never follow, if I can help, and certainly do not recommend to another,
[214]      least of all to any one who still feels the effects of yesterday's carouse.
[216]      I always do what you advise, and especially what you prescribe as a
[217]      physician, rejoined Phaedrus the Myrrhinusian, and the rest of the company,
[218]      if they are wise, will do the same.
[220]      It was agreed that drinking was not to be the order of the day, but that
[221]      they were all to drink only so much as they pleased.
[223]      Then, said Eryximachus, as you are all agreed that drinking is to be
[224]      voluntary, and that there is to be no compulsion, I move, in the next
[225]      place, that the flute-girl, who has just made her appearance, be told to go
[226]      away and play to herself, or, if she likes, to the women who are within
[227]      (compare Prot.). To-day let us have conversation instead; and, if you will
[228]      allow me, I will tell you what sort of conversation. This proposal having
[229]      been accepted, Eryximachus proceeded as follows:--
[231]      I will begin, he said, after the manner of Melanippe in Euripides,
[233]      'Not mine the word'
[235]      which I am about to speak, but that of Phaedrus. For often he says to me
[236]      in an indignant tone:--'What a strange thing it is, Eryximachus, that,
[237]      whereas other gods have poems and hymns made in their honour, the great and
[238]      glorious god, Love, has no encomiast among all the poets who are so many.
[239]      There are the worthy sophists too--the excellent Prodicus for example, who
[240]      have descanted in prose on the virtues of Heracles and other heroes; and,
[241]      what is still more extraordinary, I have met with a philosophical work in
[242]      which the utility of salt has been made the theme of an eloquent discourse;
[243]      and many other like things have had a like honour bestowed upon them. And
[244]      only to think that there should have been an eager interest created about
[245]      them, and yet that to this day no one has ever dared worthily to hymn
[246]      Love's praises! So entirely has this great deity been neglected.' Now in
[247]      this Phaedrus seems to me to be quite right, and therefore I want to offer
[248]      him a contribution; also I think that at the present moment we who are here
[249]      assembled cannot do better than honour the god Love. If you agree with me,
[250]      there will be no lack of conversation; for I mean to propose that each of
[251]      us in turn, going from left to right, shall make a speech in honour of
[252]      Love. Let him give us the best which he can; and Phaedrus, because he is
[253]      sitting first on the left hand, and because he is the father of the
[254]      thought, shall begin.
[256]      No one will vote against you, Eryximachus, said Socrates. How can I oppose
[257]      your motion, who profess to understand nothing but matters of love; nor, I
[258]      presume, will Agathon and Pausanias; and there can be no doubt of
[259]      Aristophanes, whose whole concern is with Dionysus and Aphrodite; nor will
[260]      any one disagree of those whom I see around me. The proposal, as I am
[261]      aware, may seem rather hard upon us whose place is last; but we shall be
[262]      contented if we hear some good speeches first. Let Phaedrus begin the
[263]      praise of Love, and good luck to him. All the company expressed their
[264]      assent, and desired him to do as Socrates bade him.
[266]      Aristodemus did not recollect all that was said, nor do I recollect all
[267]      that he related to me; but I will tell you what I thought most worthy of
[268]      remembrance, and what the chief speakers said.
[270]      Phaedrus began by affirming that Love is a mighty god, and wonderful among
[271]      gods and men, but especially wonderful in his birth. For he is the eldest
[272]      of the gods, which is an honour to him; and a proof of his claim to this
[273]      honour is, that of his parents there is no memorial; neither poet nor
[274]      prose-writer has ever affirmed that he had any. As Hesiod says:--
[276]      'First Chaos came, and then broad-bosomed Earth,
[277]      The everlasting seat of all that is,
[278]      And Love.'
[280]      In other words, after Chaos, the Earth and Love, these two, came into
[281]      being. Also Parmenides sings of Generation:
[283]      'First in the train of gods, he fashioned Love.'
[285]      And Acusilaus agrees with Hesiod. Thus numerous are the witnesses who
[286]      acknowledge Love to be the eldest of the gods. And not only is he the
[287]      eldest, he is also the source of the greatest benefits to us. For I know
[288]      not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning life than a
[289]      virtuous lover, or to the lover than a beloved youth. For the principle
[290]      which ought to be the guide of men who would nobly live--that principle, I
[291]      say, neither kindred, nor honour, nor wealth, nor any other motive is able
[292]      to implant so well as love. Of what am I speaking? Of the sense of honour
[293]      and dishonour, without which neither states nor individuals ever do any
[294]      good or great work. And I say that a lover who is detected in doing any
[295]      dishonourable act, or submitting through cowardice when any dishonour is
[296]      done to him by another, will be more pained at being detected by his
[297]      beloved than at being seen by his father, or by his companions, or by any
[298]      one else. The beloved too, when he is found in any disgraceful situation,
[299]      has the same feeling about his lover. And if there were only some way of
[300]      contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their
[301]      loves (compare Rep.), they would be the very best governors of their own
[302]      city, abstaining from all dishonour, and emulating one another in honour;
[303]      and when fighting at each other's side, although a mere handful, they would
[304]      overcome the world. For what lover would not choose rather to be seen by
[305]      all mankind than by his beloved, either when abandoning his post or
[306]      throwing away his arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather
[307]      than endure this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour
[308]      of danger? The veriest coward would become an inspired hero, equal to the
[309]      bravest, at such a time; Love would inspire him. That courage which, as
[310]      Homer says, the god breathes into the souls of some heroes, Love of his own
[311]      nature infuses into the lover.
[313]      Love will make men dare to die for their beloved--love alone; and women as
[314]      well as men. Of this, Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, is a monument to
[315]      all Hellas; for she was willing to lay down her life on behalf of her
[316]      husband, when no one else would, although he had a father and mother; but
[317]      the tenderness of her love so far exceeded theirs, that she made them seem
[318]      to be strangers in blood to their own son, and in name only related to him;
[319]      and so noble did this action of hers appear to the gods, as well as to men,
[320]      that among the many who have done virtuously she is one of the very few to
[321]      whom, in admiration of her noble action, they have granted the privilege of
[322]      returning alive to earth; such exceeding honour is paid by the gods to the
[323]      devotion and virtue of love. But Orpheus, the son of Oeagrus, the harper,
[324]      they sent empty away, and presented to him an apparition only of her whom
[325]      he sought, but herself they would not give up, because he showed no spirit;
[326]      he was only a harp-player, and did not dare like Alcestis to die for love,
[327]      but was contriving how he might enter Hades alive; moreover, they
[328]      afterwards caused him to suffer death at the hands of women, as the
[329]      punishment of his cowardliness. Very different was the reward of the true
[330]      love of Achilles towards his lover Patroclus--his lover and not his love
[331]      (the notion that Patroclus was the beloved one is a foolish error into
[332]      which Aeschylus has fallen, for Achilles was surely the fairer of the two,
[333]      fairer also than all the other heroes; and, as Homer informs us, he was
[334]      still beardless, and younger far). And greatly as the gods honour the
[335]      virtue of love, still the return of love on the part of the beloved to the
[336]      lover is more admired and valued and rewarded by them, for the lover is
[337]      more divine; because he is inspired by God. Now Achilles was quite aware,
[338]      for he had been told by his mother, that he might avoid death and return
[339]      home, and live to a good old age, if he abstained from slaying Hector.
[340]      Nevertheless he gave his life to revenge his friend, and dared to die, not
[341]      only in his defence, but after he was dead. Wherefore the gods honoured
[342]      him even above Alcestis, and sent him to the Islands of the Blest. These
[343]      are my reasons for affirming that Love is the eldest and noblest and
[344]      mightiest of the gods; and the chiefest author and giver of virtue in life,
[345]      and of happiness after death.
[347]      This, or something like this, was the speech of Phaedrus; and some other
[348]      speeches followed which Aristodemus did not remember; the next which he
[349]      repeated was that of Pausanias. Phaedrus, he said, the argument has not
[350]      been set before us, I think, quite in the right form;--we should not be
[351]      called upon to praise Love in such an indiscriminate manner. If there were
[352]      only one Love, then what you said would be well enough; but since there are
[353]      more Loves than one,--should have begun by determining which of them was to
[354]      be the theme of our praises. I will amend this defect; and first of all I
[355]      will tell you which Love is deserving of praise, and then try to hymn the
[356]      praiseworthy one in a manner worthy of him. For we all know that Love is
[357]      inseparable from Aphrodite, and if there were only one Aphrodite there
[358]      would be only one Love; but as there are two goddesses there must be two
[359]      Loves. And am I not right in asserting that there are two goddesses? The
[360]      elder one, having no mother, who is called the heavenly Aphrodite--she is
[361]      the daughter of Uranus; the younger, who is the daughter of Zeus and Dione
[362]      --her we call common; and the Love who is her fellow-worker is rightly
[363]      named common, as the other love is called heavenly. All the gods ought to
[364]      have praise given to them, but not without distinction of their natures;
[365]      and therefore I must try to distinguish the characters of the two Loves.
[366]      Now actions vary according to the manner of their performance. Take, for
[367]      example, that which we are now doing, drinking, singing and talking--these
[368]      actions are not in themselves either good or evil, but they turn out in
[369]      this or that way according to the mode of performing them; and when well
[370]      done they are good, and when wrongly done they are evil; and in like manner
[371]      not every love, but only that which has a noble purpose, is noble and
[372]      worthy of praise. The Love who is the offspring of the common Aphrodite is
[373]      essentially common, and has no discrimination, being such as the meaner
[374]      sort of men feel, and is apt to be of women as well as of youths, and is of
[375]      the body rather than of the soul--the most foolish beings are the objects
[376]      of this love which desires only to gain an end, but never thinks of
[377]      accomplishing the end nobly, and therefore does good and evil quite
[378]      indiscriminately. The goddess who is his mother is far younger than the
[379]      other, and she was born of the union of the male and female, and partakes
[380]      of both. But the offspring of the heavenly Aphrodite is derived from a
[381]      mother in whose birth the female has no part,--she is from the male only;
[382]      this is that love which is of youths, and the goddess being older, there is
[383]      nothing of wantonness in her. Those who are inspired by this love turn to
[384]      the male, and delight in him who is the more valiant and intelligent
[385]      nature; any one may recognise the pure enthusiasts in the very character of
[386]      their attachments. For they love not boys, but intelligent beings whose
[387]      reason is beginning to be developed, much about the time at which their
[388]      beards begin to grow. And in choosing young men to be their companions,
[389]      they mean to be faithful to them, and pass their whole life in company with
[390]      them, not to take them in their inexperience, and deceive them, and play
[391]      the fool with them, or run away from one to another of them. But the love
[392]      of young boys should be forbidden by law, because their future is
[393]      uncertain; they may turn out good or bad, either in body or soul, and much
[394]      noble enthusiasm may be thrown away upon them; in this matter the good are
[395]      a law to themselves, and the coarser sort of lovers ought to be restrained
[396]      by force; as we restrain or attempt to restrain them from fixing their
[397]      affections on women of free birth. These are the persons who bring a
[398]      reproach on love; and some have been led to deny the lawfulness of such
[399]      attachments because they see the impropriety and evil of them; for surely
[400]      nothing that is decorously and lawfully done can justly be censured. Now
[401]      here and in Lacedaemon the rules about love are perplexing, but in most
[402]      cities they are simple and easily intelligible; in Elis and Boeotia, and in
[403]      countries having no gifts of eloquence, they are very straightforward; the
[404]      law is simply in favour of these connexions, and no one, whether young or
[405]      old, has anything to say to their discredit; the reason being, as I
[406]      suppose, that they are men of few words in those parts, and therefore the
[407]      lovers do not like the trouble of pleading their suit. In Ionia and other
[408]      places, and generally in countries which are subject to the barbarians, the
[409]      custom is held to be dishonourable; loves of youths share the evil repute
[410]      in which philosophy and gymnastics are held, because they are inimical to
[411]      tyranny; for the interests of rulers require that their subjects should be
[412]      poor in spirit (compare Arist. Politics), and that there should be no
[413]      strong bond of friendship or society among them, which love, above all
[414]      other motives, is likely to inspire, as our Athenian tyrants learned by
[415]      experience; for the love of Aristogeiton and the constancy of Harmodius had
[416]      a strength which undid their power. And, therefore, the ill-repute into
[417]      which these attachments have fallen is to be ascribed to the evil condition
[418]      of those who make them to be ill-reputed; that is to say, to the self-
[419]      seeking of the governors and the cowardice of the governed; on the other
[420]      hand, the indiscriminate honour which is given to them in some countries is
[421]      attributable to the laziness of those who hold this opinion of them. In
[422]      our own country a far better principle prevails, but, as I was saying, the
[423]      explanation of it is rather perplexing. For, observe that open loves are
[424]      held to be more honourable than secret ones, and that the love of the
[425]      noblest and highest, even if their persons are less beautiful than others,
[426]      is especially honourable. Consider, too, how great is the encouragement
[427]      which all the world gives to the lover; neither is he supposed to be doing
[428]      anything dishonourable; but if he succeeds he is praised, and if he fail he
[429]      is blamed. And in the pursuit of his love the custom of mankind allows him
[430]      to do many strange things, which philosophy would bitterly censure if they
[431]      were done from any motive of interest, or wish for office or power. He may
[432]      pray, and entreat, and supplicate, and swear, and lie on a mat at the door,
[433]      and endure a slavery worse than that of any slave--in any other case
[434]      friends and enemies would be equally ready to prevent him, but now there is
[435]      no friend who will be ashamed of him and admonish him, and no enemy will
[436]      charge him with meanness or flattery; the actions of a lover have a grace
[437]      which ennobles them; and custom has decided that they are highly
[438]      commendable and that there no loss of character in them; and, what is
[439]      strangest of all, he only may swear and forswear himself (so men say), and
[440]      the gods will forgive his transgression, for there is no such thing as a
[441]      lover's oath. Such is the entire liberty which gods and men have allowed
[442]      the lover, according to the custom which prevails in our part of the world.
[443]      From this point of view a man fairly argues that in Athens to love and to
[444]      be loved is held to be a very honourable thing. But when parents forbid
[445]      their sons to talk with their lovers, and place them under a tutor's care,
[446]      who is appointed to see to these things, and their companions and equals
[447]      cast in their teeth anything of the sort which they may observe, and their
[448]      elders refuse to silence the reprovers and do not rebuke them--any one who
[449]      reflects on all this will, on the contrary, think that we hold these
[450]      practices to be most disgraceful. But, as I was saying at first, the truth
[451]      as I imagine is, that whether such practices are honourable or whether they
[452]      are dishonourable is not a simple question; they are honourable to him who
[453]      follows them honourably, dishonourable to him who follows them
[454]      dishonourably. There is dishonour in yielding to the evil, or in an evil
[455]      manner; but there is honour in yielding to the good, or in an honourable
[456]      manner. Evil is the vulgar lover who loves the body rather than the soul,
[457]      inasmuch as he is not even stable, because he loves a thing which is in
[458]      itself unstable, and therefore when the bloom of youth which he was
[459]      desiring is over, he takes wing and flies away, in spite of all his words
[460]      and promises; whereas the love of the noble disposition is life-long, for
[461]      it becomes one with the everlasting. The custom of our country would have
[462]      both of them proven well and truly, and would have us yield to the one sort
[463]      of lover and avoid the other, and therefore encourages some to pursue, and
[464]      others to fly; testing both the lover and beloved in contests and trials,
[465]      until they show to which of the two classes they respectively belong. And
[466]      this is the reason why, in the first place, a hasty attachment is held to
[467]      be dishonourable, because time is the true test of this as of most other
[468]      things; and secondly there is a dishonour in being overcome by the love of
[469]      money, or of wealth, or of political power, whether a man is frightened
[470]      into surrender by the loss of them, or, having experienced the benefits of
[471]      money and political corruption, is unable to rise above the seductions of
[472]      them. For none of these things are of a permanent or lasting nature; not
[473]      to mention that no generous friendship ever sprang from them. There
[474]      remains, then, only one way of honourable attachment which custom allows in
[475]      the beloved, and this is the way of virtue; for as we admitted that any
[476]      service which the lover does to him is not to be accounted flattery or a
[477]      dishonour to himself, so the beloved has one way only of voluntary service
[478]      which is not dishonourable, and this is virtuous service.
[480]      For we have a custom, and according to our custom any one who does service
[481]      to another under the idea that he will be improved by him either in wisdom,
[482]      or in some other particular of virtue--such a voluntary service, I say, is
[483]      not to be regarded as a dishonour, and is not open to the charge of
[484]      flattery. And these two customs, one the love of youth, and the other the
[485]      practice of philosophy and virtue in general, ought to meet in one, and
[486]      then the beloved may honourably indulge the lover. For when the lover and
[487]      beloved come together, having each of them a law, and the lover thinks that
[488]      he is right in doing any service which he can to his gracious loving one;
[489]      and the other that he is right in showing any kindness which he can to him
[490]      who is making him wise and good; the one capable of communicating wisdom
[491]      and virtue, the other seeking to acquire them with a view to education and
[492]      wisdom, when the two laws of love are fulfilled and meet in one--then, and
[493]      then only, may the beloved yield with honour to the lover. Nor when love
[494]      is of this disinterested sort is there any disgrace in being deceived, but
[495]      in every other case there is equal disgrace in being or not being deceived.
[496]      For he who is gracious to his lover under the impression that he is rich,
[497]      and is disappointed of his gains because he turns out to be poor, is
[498]      disgraced all the same: for he has done his best to show that he would
[499]      give himself up to any one's 'uses base' for the sake of money; but this is
[500]      not honourable. And on the same principle he who gives himself to a lover
[501]      because he is a good man, and in the hope that he will be improved by his
[502]      company, shows himself to be virtuous, even though the object of his
[503]      affection turn out to be a villain, and to have no virtue; and if he is
[504]      deceived he has committed a noble error. For he has proved that for his
[505]      part he will do anything for anybody with a view to virtue and improvement,
[506]      than which there can be nothing nobler. Thus noble in every case is the
[507]      acceptance of another for the sake of virtue. This is that love which is
[508]      the love of the heavenly godess, and is heavenly, and of great price to
[509]      individuals and cities, making the lover and the beloved alike eager in the
[510]      work of their own improvement. But all other loves are the offspring of
[511]      the other, who is the common goddess. To you, Phaedrus, I offer this my
[512]      contribution in praise of love, which is as good as I could make extempore.
[514]      Pausanias came to a pause--this is the balanced way in which I have been
[515]      taught by the wise to speak; and Aristodemus said that the turn of
[516]      Aristophanes was next, but either he had eaten too much, or from some other
[517]      cause he had the hiccough, and was obliged to change turns with Eryximachus
[518]      the physician, who was reclining on the couch below him. Eryximachus, he
[519]      said, you ought either to stop my hiccough, or to speak in my turn until I
[520]      have left off.
[522]      I will do both, said Eryximachus: I will speak in your turn, and do you
[523]      speak in mine; and while I am speaking let me recommend you to hold your
[524]      breath, and if after you have done so for some time the hiccough is no
[525]      better, then gargle with a little water; and if it still continues, tickle
[526]      your nose with something and sneeze; and if you sneeze once or twice, even
[527]      the most violent hiccough is sure to go. I will do as you prescribe, said
[528]      Aristophanes, and now get on.
[530]      Eryximachus spoke as follows: Seeing that Pausanias made a fair beginning,
[531]      and but a lame ending, I must endeavour to supply his deficiency. I think
[532]      that he has rightly distinguished two kinds of love. But my art further
[533]      informs me that the double love is not merely an affection of the soul of
[534]      man towards the fair, or towards anything, but is to be found in the bodies
[535]      of all animals and in productions of the earth, and I may say in all that
[536]      is; such is the conclusion which I seem to have gathered from my own art of
[537]      medicine, whence I learn how great and wonderful and universal is the deity
[538]      of love, whose empire extends over all things, divine as well as human.
[539]      And from medicine I will begin that I may do honour to my art. There are
[540]      in the human body these two kinds of love, which are confessedly different
[541]      and unlike, and being unlike, they have loves and desires which are unlike;
[542]      and the desire of the healthy is one, and the desire of the diseased is
[543]      another; and as Pausanias was just now saying that to indulge good men is
[544]      honourable, and bad men dishonourable:--so too in the body the good and
[545]      healthy elements are to be indulged, and the bad elements and the elements
[546]      of disease are not to be indulged, but discouraged. And this is what the
[547]      physician has to do, and in this the art of medicine consists: for
[548]      medicine may be regarded generally as the knowledge of the loves and
[549]      desires of the body, and how to satisfy them or not; and the best physician
[550]      is he who is able to separate fair love from foul, or to convert one into
[551]      the other; and he who knows how to eradicate and how to implant love,
[552]      whichever is required, and can reconcile the most hostile elements in the
[553]      constitution and make them loving friends, is a skilful practitioner. Now
[554]      the most hostile are the most opposite, such as hot and cold, bitter and
[555]      sweet, moist and dry, and the like. And my ancestor, Asclepius, knowing
[556]      how to implant friendship and accord in these elements, was the creator of
[557]      our art, as our friends the poets here tell us, and I believe them; and not
[558]      only medicine in every branch but the arts of gymnastic and husbandry are
[559]      under his dominion. Any one who pays the least attention to the subject
[560]      will also perceive that in music there is the same reconciliation of
[561]      opposites; and I suppose that this must have been the meaning of
[562]      Heracleitus, although his words are not accurate; for he says that The One
[563]      is united by disunion, like the harmony of the bow and the lyre. Now there
[564]      is an absurdity saying that harmony is discord or is composed of elements
[565]      which are still in a state of discord. But what he probably meant was,
[566]      that harmony is composed of differing notes of higher or lower pitch which
[567]      disagreed once, but are now reconciled by the art of music; for if the
[568]      higher and lower notes still disagreed, there could be no harmony,--clearly
[569]      not. For harmony is a symphony, and symphony is an agreement; but an
[570]      agreement of disagreements while they disagree there cannot be; you cannot
[571]      harmonize that which disagrees. In like manner rhythm is compounded of
[572]      elements short and long, once differing and now in accord; which
[573]      accordance, as in the former instance, medicine, so in all these other
[574]      cases, music implants, making love and unison to grow up among them; and
[575]      thus music, too, is concerned with the principles of love in their
[576]      application to harmony and rhythm. Again, in the essential nature of
[577]      harmony and rhythm there is no difficulty in discerning love which has not
[578]      yet become double. But when you want to use them in actual life, either in
[579]      the composition of songs or in the correct performance of airs or metres
[580]      composed already, which latter is called education, then the difficulty
[581]      begins, and the good artist is needed. Then the old tale has to be
[582]      repeated of fair and heavenly love--the love of Urania the fair and
[583]      heavenly muse, and of the duty of accepting the temperate, and those who
[584]      are as yet intemperate only that they may become temperate, and of
[585]      preserving their love; and again, of the vulgar Polyhymnia, who must be
[586]      used with circumspection that the pleasure be enjoyed, but may not generate
[587]      licentiousness; just as in my own art it is a great matter so to regulate
[588]      the desires of the epicure that he may gratify his tastes without the
[589]      attendant evil of disease. Whence I infer that in music, in medicine, in
[590]      all other things human as well as divine, both loves ought to be noted as
[591]      far as may be, for they are both present.
[593]      The course of the seasons is also full of both these principles; and when,
[594]      as I was saying, the elements of hot and cold, moist and dry, attain the
[595]      harmonious love of one another and blend in temperance and harmony, they
[596]      bring to men, animals, and plants health and plenty, and do them no harm;
[597]      whereas the wanton love, getting the upper hand and affecting the seasons
[598]      of the year, is very destructive and injurious, being the source of
[599]      pestilence, and bringing many other kinds of diseases on animals and
[600]      plants; for hoar-frost and hail and blight spring from the excesses and
[601]      disorders of these elements of love, which to know in relation to the
[602]      revolutions of the heavenly bodies and the seasons of the year is termed
[603]      astronomy. Furthermore all sacrifices and the whole province of
[604]      divination, which is the art of communion between gods and men--these, I
[605]      say, are concerned only with the preservation of the good and the cure of
[606]      the evil love. For all manner of impiety is likely to ensue if, instead of
[607]      accepting and honouring and reverencing the harmonious love in all his
[608]      actions, a man honours the other love, whether in his feelings towards gods
[609]      or parents, towards the living or the dead. Wherefore the business of
[610]      divination is to see to these loves and to heal them, and divination is the
[611]      peacemaker of gods and men, working by a knowledge of the religious or
[612]      irreligious tendencies which exist in human loves. Such is the great and
[613]      mighty, or rather omnipotent force of love in general. And the love, more
[614]      especially, which is concerned with the good, and which is perfected in
[615]      company with temperance and justice, whether among gods or men, has the
[616]      greatest power, and is the source of all our happiness and harmony, and
[617]      makes us friends with the gods who are above us, and with one another. I
[618]      dare say that I too have omitted several things which might be said in
[619]      praise of Love, but this was not intentional, and you, Aristophanes, may
[620]      now supply the omission or take some other line of commendation; for I
[621]      perceive that you are rid of the hiccough.
[623]      Yes, said Aristophanes, who followed, the hiccough is gone; not, however,
[624]      until I applied the sneezing; and I wonder whether the harmony of the body
[625]      has a love of such noises and ticklings, for I no sooner applied the
[626]      sneezing than I was cured.
[628]      Eryximachus said: Beware, friend Aristophanes, although you are going to
[629]      speak, you are making fun of me; and I shall have to watch and see whether
[630]      I cannot have a laugh at your expense, when you might speak in peace.
[632]      You are right, said Aristophanes, laughing. I will unsay my words; but do
[633]      you please not to watch me, as I fear that in the speech which I am about
[634]      to make, instead of others laughing with me, which is to the manner born of
[635]      our muse and would be all the better, I shall only be laughed at by them.
[637]      Do you expect to shoot your bolt and escape, Aristophanes? Well, perhaps
[638]      if you are very careful and bear in mind that you will be called to
[639]      account, I may be induced to let you off.
[641]      Aristophanes professed to open another vein of discourse; he had a mind to
[642]      praise Love in another way, unlike that either of Pausanias or Eryximachus.
[643]      Mankind, he said, judging by their neglect of him, have never, as I think,
[644]      at all understood the power of Love. For if they had understood him they
[645]      would surely have built noble temples and altars, and offered solemn
[646]      sacrifices in his honour; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to
[647]      be done: since of all the gods he is the best friend of men, the helper
[648]      and the healer of the ills which are the great impediment to the happiness
[649]      of the race. I will try to describe his power to you, and you shall teach
[650]      the rest of the world what I am teaching you. In the first place, let me
[651]      treat of the nature of man and what has happened to it; for the original
[652]      human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not
[653]      two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman,
[654]      and the union of the two, having a name corresponding to this double
[655]      nature, which had once a real existence, but is now lost, and the word
[656]      'Androgynous' is only preserved as a term of reproach. In the second
[657]      place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a circle; and
[658]      he had four hands and four feet, one head with two faces, looking opposite
[659]      ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy
[660]      members, and the remainder to correspond. He could walk upright as men now
[661]      do, backwards or forwards as he pleased, and he could also roll over and
[662]      over at a great pace, turning on his four hands and four feet, eight in
[663]      all, like tumblers going over and over with their legs in the air; this was
[664]      when he wanted to run fast. Now the sexes were three, and such as I have
[665]      described them; because the sun, moon, and earth are three; and the man was
[666]      originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman
[667]      of the moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and
[668]      moved round and round like their parents. Terrible was their might and
[669]      strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an
[670]      attack upon the gods; of them is told the tale of Otys and Ephialtes who,
[671]      as Homer says, dared to scale heaven, and would have laid hands upon the
[672]      gods. Doubt reigned in the celestial councils. Should they kill them and
[673]      annihilate the race with thunderbolts, as they had done the giants, then
[674]      there would be an end of the sacrifices and worship which men offered to
[675]      them; but, on the other hand, the gods could not suffer their insolence to
[676]      be unrestrained. At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered
[677]      a way. He said: 'Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and
[678]      improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in
[679]      two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in numbers;
[680]      this will have the advantage of making them more profitable to us. They
[681]      shall walk upright on two legs, and if they continue insolent and will not
[682]      be quiet, I will split them again and they shall hop about on a single
[683]      leg.' He spoke and cut men in two, like a sorb-apple which is halved for
[684]      pickling, or as you might divide an egg with a hair; and as he cut them one
[685]      after another, he bade Apollo give the face and the half of the neck a turn
[686]      in order that the man might contemplate the section of himself: he would
[687]      thus learn a lesson of humility. Apollo was also bidden to heal their
[688]      wounds and compose their forms. So he gave a turn to the face and pulled
[689]      the skin from the sides all over that which in our language is called the
[690]      belly, like the purses which draw in, and he made one mouth at the centre,
[691]      which he fastened in a knot (the same which is called the navel); he also
[692]      moulded the breast and took out most of the wrinkles, much as a shoemaker
[693]      might smooth leather upon a last; he left a few, however, in the region of
[694]      the belly and navel, as a memorial of the primeval state. After the
[695]      division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together,
[696]      and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces,
[697]      longing to grow into one, they were on the point of dying from hunger and
[698]      self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart; and when one
[699]      of the halves died and the other survived, the survivor sought another
[700]      mate, man or woman as we call them,--being the sections of entire men or
[701]      women,--and clung to that. They were being destroyed, when Zeus in pity of
[702]      them invented a new plan: he turned the parts of generation round to the
[703]      front, for this had not been always their position, and they sowed the seed
[704]      no longer as hitherto like grasshoppers in the ground, but in one another;
[705]      and after the transposition the male generated in the female in order that
[706]      by the mutual embraces of man and woman they might breed, and the race
[707]      might continue; or if man came to man they might be satisfied, and rest,
[708]      and go their ways to the business of life: so ancient is the desire of one
[709]      another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one
[710]      of two, and healing the state of man. Each of us when separated, having
[711]      one side only, like a flat fish, is but the indenture of a man, and he is
[712]      always looking for his other half. Men who are a section of that double
[713]      nature which was once called Androgynous are lovers of women; adulterers
[714]      are generally of this breed, and also adulterous women who lust after men:
[715]      the women who are a section of the woman do not care for men, but have
[716]      female attachments; the female companions are of this sort. But they who
[717]      are a section of the male follow the male, and while they are young, being
[718]      slices of the original man, they hang about men and embrace them, and they
[719]      are themselves the best of boys and youths, because they have the most
[720]      manly nature. Some indeed assert that they are shameless, but this is not
[721]      true; for they do not act thus from any want of shame, but because they are
[722]      valiant and manly, and have a manly countenance, and they embrace that
[723]      which is like them. And these when they grow up become our statesmen, and
[724]      these only, which is a great proof of the truth of what I am saving. When
[725]      they reach manhood they are lovers of youth, and are not naturally inclined
[726]      to marry or beget children,--if at all, they do so only in obedience to the
[727]      law; but they are satisfied if they may be allowed to live with one another
[728]      unwedded; and such a nature is prone to love and ready to return love,
[729]      always embracing that which is akin to him. And when one of them meets
[730]      with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of
[731]      youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love
[732]      and friendship and intimacy, and one will not be out of the other's sight,
[733]      as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole
[734]      lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another.
[735]      For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not
[736]      appear to be the desire of lover's intercourse, but of something else which
[737]      the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she has
[738]      only a dark and doubtful presentiment. Suppose Hephaestus, with his
[739]      instruments, to come to the pair who are lying side by side and to say to
[740]      them, 'What do you people want of one another?' they would be unable to
[741]      explain. And suppose further, that when he saw their perplexity he said:
[742]      'Do you desire to be wholly one; always day and night to be in one
[743]      another's company? for if this is what you desire, I am ready to melt you
[744]      into one and let you grow together, so that being two you shall become one,
[745]      and while you live live a common life as if you were a single man, and
[746]      after your death in the world below still be one departed soul instead of
[747]      two--I ask whether this is what you lovingly desire, and whether you are
[748]      satisfied to attain this?'--there is not a man of them who when he heard
[749]      the proposal would deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and
[750]      melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the very
[751]      expression of his ancient need (compare Arist. Pol.). And the reason is
[752]      that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire
[753]      and pursuit of the whole is called love. There was a time, I say, when we
[754]      were one, but now because of the wickedness of mankind God has dispersed
[755]      us, as the Arcadians were dispersed into villages by the Lacedaemonians
[756]      (compare Arist. Pol.). And if we are not obedient to the gods, there is a
[757]      danger that we shall be split up again and go about in basso-relievo, like
[758]      the profile figures having only half a nose which are sculptured on
[759]      monuments, and that we shall be like tallies. Wherefore let us exhort all
[760]      men to piety, that we may avoid evil, and obtain the good, of which Love is
[761]      to us the lord and minister; and let no one oppose him--he is the enemy of
[762]      the gods who opposes him. For if we are friends of the God and at peace
[763]      with him we shall find our own true loves, which rarely happens in this
[764]      world at present. I am serious, and therefore I must beg Eryximachus not
[765]      to make fun or to find any allusion in what I am saying to Pausanias and
[766]      Agathon, who, as I suspect, are both of the manly nature, and belong to the
[767]      class which I have been describing. But my words have a wider application
[768]      --they include men and women everywhere; and I believe that if our loves
[769]      were perfectly accomplished, and each one returning to his primeval nature
[770]      had his original true love, then our race would be happy. And if this
[771]      would be best of all, the best in the next degree and under present
[772]      circumstances must be the nearest approach to such an union; and that will
[773]      be the attainment of a congenial love. Wherefore, if we would praise him
[774]      who has given to us the benefit, we must praise the god Love, who is our
[775]      greatest benefactor, both leading us in this life back to our own nature,
[776]      and giving us high hopes for the future, for he promises that if we are
[777]      pious, he will restore us to our original state, and heal us and make us
[778]      happy and blessed. This, Eryximachus, is my discourse of love, which,
[779]      although different to yours, I must beg you to leave unassailed by the
[780]      shafts of your ridicule, in order that each may have his turn; each, or
[781]      rather either, for Agathon and Socrates are the only ones left.
[783]      Indeed, I am not going to attack you, said Eryximachus, for I thought your
[784]      speech charming, and did I not know that Agathon and Socrates are masters
[785]      in the art of love, I should be really afraid that they would have nothing
[786]      to say, after the world of things which have been said already. But, for
[787]      all that, I am not without hopes.
[789]      Socrates said: You played your part well, Eryximachus; but if you were as
[790]      I am now, or rather as I shall be when Agathon has spoken, you would,
[791]      indeed, be in a great strait.
[793]      You want to cast a spell over me, Socrates, said Agathon, in the hope that
[794]      I may be disconcerted at the expectation raised among the audience that I
[795]      shall speak well.
[797]      I should be strangely forgetful, Agathon replied Socrates, of the courage
[798]      and magnanimity which you showed when your own compositions were about to
[799]      be exhibited, and you came upon the stage with the actors and faced the
[800]      vast theatre altogether undismayed, if I thought that your nerves could be
[801]      fluttered at a small party of friends.
[803]      Do you think, Socrates, said Agathon, that my head is so full of the
[804]      theatre as not to know how much more formidable to a man of sense a few
[805]      good judges are than many fools?
[807]      Nay, replied Socrates, I should be very wrong in attributing to you,
[808]      Agathon, that or any other want of refinement. And I am quite aware that
[809]      if you happened to meet with any whom you thought wise, you would care for
[810]      their opinion much more than for that of the many. But then we, having
[811]      been a part of the foolish many in the theatre, cannot be regarded as the
[812]      select wise; though I know that if you chanced to be in the presence, not
[813]      of one of ourselves, but of some really wise man, you would be ashamed of
[814]      disgracing yourself before him--would you not?
[816]      Yes, said Agathon.
[818]      But before the many you would not be ashamed, if you thought that you were
[819]      doing something disgraceful in their presence?
[821]      Here Phaedrus interrupted them, saying: not answer him, my dear Agathon;
[822]      for if he can only get a partner with whom he can talk, especially a good-
[823]      looking one, he will no longer care about the completion of our plan. Now
[824]      I love to hear him talk; but just at present I must not forget the encomium
[825]      on Love which I