‘Symposium’ by Plato

You may have anticipated this one with the Aristotle, or the stuff at the beginning about the Iliad, because honestly half my life these days is never forgetting that somehow everything maps back to either the strange legacies of the Iliad or my large, floofy, and extremely shy, cat, who is so un-Iliadic as to be unmappable. Consider not Aristotle, but Plato this time. I have taught a lot of Plato this year, and the Symposium just gets me every time. I mean, theoretically it’s a short story about a dinner a party in Athens the night that the Herms were desecrated. Yes, there are very long interjections. Yes, okay, they are arguments. But it’s still a work of short fiction.

You can read the Greek with an uncopyrighted, and old, English translation in parallel on Perseus. If you’re feeling lazy and yet somehow still want both languages, like me, sitting partially under my duvet right now, you’ll want the Loeb edition. If you’re extra good, like some of the people who taught me Plato was important in the first place, you’ll want or probably already have, the light blue Oxford edition with the notes and Greek text only.

I, personally, have never been able to move on from beautiful bodies to beautiful laws and the Forms. Perhaps I’m simply not trying hard enough. Or have mixed my wine with too little water?

Originally written c. 385–370 BCE. The Loeb edition (L166: Lysis Symposium Gorgias) first published by William Heinemann, 1925.

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