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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Thursday, 12 March 2015

"The Symposium" by Plato

This is a tale within a tale within a tale. Appolodorus tells his unnamed friend about a drinking party attended by Socrates; Applodorus wasn't at it but he has been told the tale by someone else.

It is a group of Athenian friends (including Aristophanes). After the banquet they send the flute girl away and entertain one another, at the insistence of Phaedrus, by talking about love. This being Athens they are mainly chatting about the love of an older man for a beautiful boy.

This being a drinking party, inevitably one of them gets hiccoughs and several offer remedies (sniffing snuff and sneezing was a new one to me!

Socrates weighs in last, pretending to be intimidated by the wonderful rhetoric that he has heard. He is an old fraud. He always pretends to be so humble and then demolishes the arguments of his friends. But he the sort of Cartesian philosopher who smashes down every assertion made by someone else until you are convinced that everything they have said is wrong. He then proposes his own solution and it is just as opinionated and just as ridiculous as the arguments he has destroyed but by this time everyone is reeling from his attack so no one is able to say: hang on a bit there Socrates. They call it Socratic dialogue but just like the dialogues of Galileo, the author tilts the scales.

Then Alcibiades gatecrashes the party, already drunk. He too talks of love. He says how much he loves Socrates, despite Socrates being so ugly. Alcibiades was famous as a beautiful youth and he recounts a situation in which he tried to tempt Socrates into having sex with him by manipulating things so that they slept together. But Socrates had more self control and this has rather piqued the formerly irresistible Alcibiades.

So the book ends as a hymn of praise to Socrates. Plato was besotted with this bloke, wasn't he!

Then another guest gatecrashes and everyone gets drunk.

Hiccoughs, drunkenness and gay love; not really what I expected from Plato.

March 2015; 114 pages

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