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Plato's Didactic Exemplum: Eros, the Dialogue, and Philosophy in the Symposium


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PLATOS DIDACTIC EXEMPLUM: EROS, THE DIALOGUE, AND PHILOSOPHY IN THE SYMPOSIUM By RUBIN TODD BOHLANDER A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I first and foremost thank my parents, si ster, and step-sisters, who have given me unwavering support and love, especially du ring some difficult years. I can never sufficiently express my gratitude to my gran dmother, Gwen Faulkner, for teaching me to love reading, reasoning, and religion. I w ould like to thank Timothy Johnson, Jim Marks, David Young, and Robert Wagman for their patient guidance, encouragement, and invaluable conversations about this field. Finally, Marla DeVicente, Daniel Copeland, and Randall Childree have provided me w ith the friendship, grounding, correction, and role models that have made thes e past couple of years successful. ii

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ..................................................................................................ii ABSTRACT .......................................................................................................................iv CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 2 TRADITIONAL ASSUMPTI ONS AND NEWER METHODS.................................4 Dialogue Format and Dialogism ...................................................................................4 Is Plato Speaking? .......................................................................................................10 3 FRAMING THE DIALOGUE...................................................................................15 Who Tells This Story? ................................................................................................15 Platos Purpose in Framing.........................................................................................19 Other Effects of Framing ............................................................................................24 4 DESPERATELY SEEKING ER S...........................................................................29 Diotimas Ladder ........................................................................................................29 Ascending Speeches ...................................................................................................33 5 THE EXAMPLE OF ALCIBIADES .........................................................................40 6 CONCLUSION...........................................................................................................46 BIBLIOGRAPHY ..............................................................................................................47 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............................................................................................51 iii

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Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts PLATOS DIDACTIC EXEMPLUM: EROS, THE DIALOGUE, AND PHILOSOPHY IN THE SYMPOSIUM By Rubin Todd Bohlander August 2006 Chair: Robert Wagman Major Department: Classics In the following chapters I will examine th e way in which the plot development and narratological features of Platos Symposium provide the reader with an interactive exemplum of how to properly practice philosophy as ers (love) My purpose will be to show how Platos use of multiple narrative frames, a series of speakers who consecutively improve upon one anothers logoi (speeches), and Diotimas ascent of the ladder mirror each other and reflect what may be our best look into Platos definition of Socratic philosophy. This investigation proceeds from the more ge neral to the more specific attributes of the Symposium and elucidates how these portray Pl atos philosophical agenda. Following a brief introduction, Chapter 2 contains a di scussion of Platos c hoice of the dialogue format and how that choice produces the que stion of a Platonic mouthpiece. In Chapter 3, I discuss Platos employment of narrative frames in this dialogue, and their effect on it. Chapter 4 establishes the simi larities between the progress of the speeches iv

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given and Diotimas explanation of er s as a procession toward to kalon (The Beautiful). Chapter 5 examines Alcibiades relationship wi th Socrates and how Plato uses them as examples of successful and unsuccessful erot ic maturation. A short conclusion discusses how Plato combines all of these factors into a didactic experience for the reader that works to guide him to understand philosophy as er s v

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The Symposium is ostensibly an account of a banque t held in honor of the tragedian Agathon for his victory at the City Dionysia in 416 BC. The tale is told by Apollodorus, a flamboyant follower of Socrates who did not attend the even t, but heard about it from Aristodemus, one of Socrates intimate fri ends, who was present as the philosophers guest. The reason for this account is that some unnamed companions of Apollodorus have heard about the speeches which the famous guests of this celebration delivered. They want clarification of a nd more information on the ertikoi logoi (speeches about love) which the members of Agathons symposium presented. Occupying the central argument of the Symposium are the encomia for ers 1 offered by Phaedrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus Aristophanes, and Agathon. Within each of the logoi the speakers explore different understandings and theories concerning the origin, nature, attribut es, and functions of ers All of these lead up to Socrates own speech and his presentation of the convers ations which he had with a Mantinean prophetess named Diotima. It was from her that Socrates received his education on correct erotic livi ng. Diotima describes ers as a spiritual being which exists between mortal and immortal beings. According to her, er s leads the person who properly 1 The central topic of the Symposium is love ( er s ). However, in the Greek language and tradition er s designates love as an internal human passion, as well as the sexual drive, the act of sexual intercourse, and a deity who personifies these. As will be seen, the various characters in this dialogue use the word er s to mean all of these and more. I have, therefore, decided that throughout this paper the word er s will always appear in lower case letters. Unlike many commentators and editors, I will not capitalize it to Er s when it appears that the deity is intended by the speakers use. 1

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2 follows a lover initiated in the erotic mysteries on an ascent in beauty until he arrives at the very form of The Beautiful ( to kalon ). The Symposium ends after the Athenian general and aristocrat Alcibiades crashes the party in a drunken stupor. He comes fo r the purpose of crowning Agathon with a wreath for his victory. However, when he sees that Socrates is in attendance, Alcibiades places the wreath on Socrates head and regales the symposiasts with words of praise for him and the power of his speeches. While do ing so, Alcibiades describes the troubled relationship he had with Socrates. At the e nd of his speech, a ne w crowd of revelers bursts into Agathons house, and many of the guests depart. The Symposium comes to a close when Socrates leaves the next mo rning, having remained awake all night in discussion with Agathon and Aristophanes. The scope of the Symposium is wide-ranging and complex, resulting in an abundance of interpretations. Strauss read th is Platonic dialogue as a contest between poetry and philosophy, in which philosophy triu mphs. He also found it applicable to political and social theory. Many have c onsidered it one of Platos most clear explanations for his theory of forms, but Andersons interpretation directly rejects this notion. Bury argues that the connective thre ad which holds together the interwoven features of this work is a de sire to portray the ideal Socrates and Socrates as the ideal. Dover believes that Plato writes as an advocat e of the right way for one to live. He also finds the Symposium a great resource for discussions about Greek homosexuality. Rosen contends that Plato was both cr iticizing and praising Socrates for his particular form of hubris. 2 2 Strauss (2001) 6-11; Anderson (1993) 7; Bury (1964) lxiv-lxv; Dover (1980) viii, 3-5; Rosen (1987) lxiilxvi.

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3 Given the multitude of topics which Plato treats in the Symposium and the manifold ways in which this dialogue can be understood, I do not attempt to render a complete reading of the dialogue. However, in this pa per I offer the argument that Plato chose for the Symposium particular literary structures, pr imarily narrative fra mes and indirect discourse, in order to create a sense of progress which is refl ected in the plot development, namely the ascen ding order of speeches. This progression is mirrored in Diotimas description of the pr ocedure for corr ectly practicing ers known as Diotimas ladder. Plato wrote the Symposium in this way for the purpose of creating an interactive experience for the reader. The r eader is required to navigate through the dialogue in much the same way as a lover must climb Ditoima s ladder. Through this work, Plato aims to instruct his reader in the philosophical life and, if the reader is d iligent, bring him to a vision of The Beautiful itself. The following chapters contain my exa mination of the didactic process which Plato constructed in the Symposium In Chapter 2, I begin w ith a preliminary discussion of methodology. I explain that th e interpretive method employed in this paper is based upon the so-called Dialogical approach to Pl atonic interpretation. Ch apter 3 begins the analysis of the Symposium starting with the use of narrat ive framing and its effect on the reader. Chapter 4 turns to the speeches give n at Agathons banquet. I explicate the way in which various features of the individual speeches are respond ed to by other speakers, the way in which they are then reflected in Di otimas speeches, and how this scheme creates a sense of development for the reader. Chapte r 5 contains my examination of Alcibiades role as the negative example of erotic devel opment and how this contrasts with Socrates role as the perfectly erotic man. My conc lusions are presented briefly in Chapter 6.

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CHAPTER 2 TRADITIONAL ASSUMPTI ONS AND NEWER METHODS In Platonic studies, as is more necessary in philosophy than in many pursuits, it is crucial to argue for the presuppositions brought to each analysis. Coming to a conclusion about what the dialogue format is, how it func tions, and if Platos dialogues are dramatic or dogmatic in nature is prim ary. Whether or not one believ es that Plato was attempting to transmit doctrines, methodologies, or some combination of the two will affect the manner in which the dialogues will be interp reted. Throughout the centuries of Platonic scholarship, many popular interp retations have relied upon assumptions, some erroneous, that had never been established through logi cal argumentation. In this chapter, I will outline the assumptions which have guided my interpretation of the Symposium and provide arguments for each, in particular that the dialogues are dramatic literature, nondogmatic, and that Plato does not speak di rectly through any of his characters. Dialogue Format and Dialogism Every dialogue, if it is take n as a coherent whole, seems to be more than a vehicle for doctrine; and the perf ormative effect of the drama appears to be an inseparable part of what Plato does want to convey. 1 It has long been an a ssumption used in Plato interpretation that the great philosopher was attempting to transmit doctrines. For doctrines, I maintain the de finition used by Press: fixed, settled teachings which are taken to be transcendent, universal, and ra tional, and which could be expressed as 1 Scott and Welton (2000) 149. 4

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5 univocal propositions and stored in memory or books. 2 For example, Aristotle frequently opens his treatises with an assertion of one of his transcendent truths, as in the Nicomachean Ethics The Good is the thing at which all things aim, serves to announ ce Aristotles timele ss proposition about the nature of every techn and its telos 3 Platos dialogues, in contrast, cont ain no such statements from their author. The assumption that Plat os dialogues transmit doctrines seems reasonable. However, whether Platos dialogues teach, for example, methodology, doctrines, or deductive propositions, is not self-evident. Ther efore, one cannot simply ascribe to Plato a systematic set of dogmatic statements in his dialogues as his own belief structure. The greatest problem with this way of thinking about Plato s dialogues is that scholars begin to neglect the l iterary form from which they extract these doctrines. The dogmatic or doctrinal approach, as this method of Platonic interpretation is often called, has been dominant since ancient times. 4 This interpretive method hangs on the assumptions that Platos philosophy consisted of a series of doctrines, and that he wrote them into his works. The dialogues then beco me little more than ar tifice for a group of statements that the reader must hunt for, co llect, and then compil e into a system of philosophy. As Tejera states, One of the mainst ays of the doctrinal approach is . the unstated working assumption . that aesthetics has no bearing at all on the dialogues. 5 This interpretive method diminishes Plato s use of advanced dramatic and literary 2 Press (1993) 5. 3 Nicomachean Ethics 1094a1. Translation by H. Rackham (1933). 4 For a study of the history of Platonic interpretations, see Tigerstedt (1974). 5 Tejera (1997) 249, emphasis in original.

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6 structures; it denies that these structures contain meaning or should guide interpretation of philosophical content. A basic question that the doctr inal approach can never satisfactorily answer is why Plato wrote dialogues. Given that other forms of literature had long been the traditional mode of educational discourse, namely epic, drama, oratory, and lyric, Plato could have maintained Athenian peda gogical customs. He did no t; he wrote dialogues that throughout the course of history ha ve generally been considered sui generis. 6 They represent a basic shift from the transmission of philosophy vi a verse, as was the case with Xenophanes and Parmenides, to a prose tradit ion. This genre of literature (named Skratikoi logoi by Aristotle 7 ) had begun previous to Platos writing; 8 nonetheless, the Platonic dialogues diverge from the other extant Skratikoi logoi both in form and content. Nightingale summarizes this de parture in the following way: But it isreasonable to suppose that Plato took a si mple genre characterized by recorded or dramatized conversations and transformed it into a multi-generic hybrid. 9 Plato combined many literary and dramatic techni ques in order to produc e these philosophical works. If the doctrinal approach were th e best (dare I say intended) method of interpretation, there would be little or no need for scholars to recognize such innovations, let alone ask questions about them. 6 Press (1997) 7. 7 Poetics 1447b11. 8 Kahn (1996) situates Platos dialogues within the framework of writings completed by some of his contemporaries, such as Xenophon, Antisth enes, Aeschines, Phaedo, and Eucleides. 9 Nightingale (1995) 5.

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7 At this point, it is necessary to turn towards a positive solution to the problems of interpretation placed upon Plato scholarship by the dogmatic approach to his dialogues. Since the 19 th century a movement in Plato inte rpretation that espouses a holistic approach to the dialogues has grown in influence. 10 This dialogical approach, as it is commonly referred to by its proponents, views the dialogues inside of their literary, linguistical, and historical c ontexts in order to find thei r meanings. Scholars of the dialogical approach minimize the idea of extrac ting doctrines or findi ng Platos beliefs in the statements of characters within the dialogues. 11 Because scholars holding to dialogical reading of Plato ar e not searching for doctrinal statements and devaluing the literary nature of Platos dialogues, the di alogical interpretation is able to offer explanations for Platos use of histori cal features and dr amatic structures. It is important to place distance between th e dialogical approach to history and the traditional dogmatic attitude. As a primary ex ample of the latter, Vlastos holds that the Apology is a historical portrayal bo th of Socrates and his trial. 12 The evidence he provides for this position is twofold. Firs t, he states that the only alternative to Platos Socrates depicting the historical Socrates is Xenophons Socrat es. After dismissing other contemporaries of Plato as vi able sources for information about the hi storical Socrates, 10 For a brief history of the development and major contributors of the dialogical movement over the last two centuries, see Press (1997) 12-18. 11 Press (1997) 3. Although not a dialogical scholar but a unitarian, Kahn ex presses a major dialogical tendency in his approach to Plato with statements su ch as, His principal aim, above all in the earlier works, is not to assert true propositions but to alter the minds and hearts of his readers. Platos conception of philosophical education is not to replace false doctri nes with true ones but to change radically the moral and intellectual orientation of the learner, who, like th e prisoners in the cave, must be converted turned around in order to see the light. Kahn (1996) xv. 12 That this figure [Socrates] is a faithful and imaginative recreation of the historical Socratesis the conclusion I would be prepared to defend myself. Vlastos (1971) 1. Vlastos states that this view of Socrates is primarily from the early dialogues, but s till maintains that the Socrates written by Plato is intended to be read as the historical Socrates.

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8 Vlastos asks If Plato and Xenophon cannot both be right, why must Plato be right? 13 Why must either of them be right? A si gnificant unspoken assump tion lies at the bottom of Vlastos argument: someone intended to wr ite a biographically accu rate work about or containing Socrates and accomplished that intent ion. Even if this were true, and we will never know if it is, Vlastos decides that the philosopher Plato has done so, and not the historian Xenophon. Second, just because Plato a ccurately represente d some aspects of Socrates life and personality, it does not follow that all of the attr ibutes and actions of the Platonic Socrates depict the hi storical Socrates. Speaking of the Apology Vlastos answers, [Plato] knew that hundreds of those who might read the speech . had heard the historic original. 14 Once again, the seductive a nd powerful influence of the traditional interpretive method has led Vlasto s to assume that Plato was attempting to correct errors in facts. In this case, he st ates unequivocally, his purpose in writing it [the Apology ] was to clear his masters na me and indict his judges . . 15 However, Platos purpose in writing the Apology or any of the dialogues has not been securely determined and, therefore, re mains a point of contention. Not only this, but Vlastos has also assumed a wide readership of Plato in antiquity which more recent scholarship denies. Thesleff concludes that Plato must have thought of his friends around him, and their friends abroad, as his primary audience and that Plato, for all we know, never wrote for an impers onal, general public. 16 Vlastos adherence to the traditional approach 13 Vlastos (1971) 2. 14 Vlastos (1971) 3. 15 Vlastos (1971) 3. 16 Thesleff (1993) 38-9.

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9 to Plato has trapped his interpretations with in a framework of increasingly larger and less-substantiated claims. 17 The use of the historical elements in Pl atos dialogues, as understood by dialogical readers, is not for the purpose of biography nor does it simply make them more accessible to the reader. 18 Certainly, historical features assist in re lating Platos themes by constructing for them personalities or char acters that are grounded in something which appears to be reality. Still, to stop at that po int would be identical to the doctrinal view of Platos use of history because these personae could be interchanged with any other character. In contrast, the dialog ical approach contends that: As in any literary text, who and what the characters are is cruc ial for interpretation. But many of Platos characters, like Socrat es, pose a special pr oblem; for they are both fictional and historical, by which I mean that they are named after and in some identifiable ways modeled on real life figur es of the recent Athenian past, but they are also changed to suit Platos purposes and, of course, all of the words they speak are Platos. This complicates and deep ens the dialogues and needs to be fully explicated in each case. 19 In the next section, I will tr eat more thoroughly the questi on of the role of Platos Socrates in the dialogues, but the key issu e concerning historical characters from a dialogical standpoint is that they are Platos constructions The dialogical approach requires that we understand the dramatic and rh etorical effects that are created with the appearance of these characters named and modele d after historical persons, and scholars must consider how these shape the Platonic philosophical agenda. 17 Speaking of modern scholars such as Vlastos, Kahn writes . . since they treat Platos literary creations as if these were historical documents, the result is a pseudo-historical account of the philosophy of Socrates. Kahn (1996) 3. 18 Robb makes the clear, but generally overlooked point that biography is a Hellenistic invention, and was unknown in Platos day. Robb (1997) 34. 19 Press (1993) 119-20.

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10 Is Plato Speaking? Arguably, the most potent and entrenched concept that the doctrinal method of interpretation has produced is the notion that the characte r of Socrates faithfully represents Platos philosophical beliefs within the dialogues Because there is no Plato character in any of the dialogues, before the time of Aristophanes of Byzantium 20 the dialogues prompted the question, Which of Platos characters expresses his own position? In recent scholarly debate, this question has been answered by the so-called mouthpiece theory. This is so intertwined with the argum ents concerning the dialogue format and interpretive met hods that many of the dialogic al responses to mouthpiece theories will overlap alrea dy stated dialogical responses to doctrinal methodology. Nevertheless, since Socrates is os tensibly the central figure in Skratikoi logoi and the legacy of the historical So crates sparks such heated antagonism among scholars, it is important to outline the differe nces between traditional expectations placed upon Platos Socrates and those expect ations placed upon him by di alogical interpreters. In order to extricate from the dialogues a definitive Platonism, philosophers and philologists have attempted to assign to a character inside of his wr itings the privileged role of Platos spokesman. If, as the idea goes, any particular person stands in a work as a conduit of Platos authoritative perception, then the grea t philosophers doctrines and beliefs become accessible to the discerni ng reader capable of determining which character fills this role. Of course, this too relies on the assu mption about Plato and Platonic philosophy that, in order to find any Pl atonic doctrine in the dialogues, there first 20 Oxyrhyncus 3219; Tarrant (2000) 71. In fact, H. Cherniss shows in Aristotles Criticism of Plato and the Academy (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1944) that Aristotle had already asked and answered repeatedly whether Socrates and other main characters express Platos ideas.

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11 must have been Platonic doctr ines and then Plato must have written them into these dialogues. At no point in a ny of the dialogues, however, is it possible to isolate a statement and definitively claim that Plato belie ved it as true. The dialogues are dramatic prose and not treatises, and as such, the char acters statements may at any point fail to convey the authors doctrines, provided he had any, while still serving his purpose. That the character Socrates provides the best vantage from which to look out over the Platonic philosophical landscape has long been the consensus opinion. This traditional view holds the position that whenev er Socrates appears in a dialogue of Plato the reader must consider his speeches to be the articulation of Platos system of philosophy. However, since Socrates does not ap pear in some dialogues, in others does not occupy the protagonist role, and occasiona lly contradicts himself between dialogues, scholars have been forced to contrive intric ate explanations for how these reflect upon the continuity of Platonic philosophy. As a resu lt, two major schools of thought have come forth within the doctrinal scholars, th e unitarians and the developmentalists. The unitarian response to the mouthpi ece debate, although differences of degree exist among scholars of this view, maintains that Plato had a fully formed philosophical system from his initial authorsh ip of the earliest dialogues. 21 To be accurate, the unitarian position does not hold that at a ll points Socrates, or any speak er, directly speaks for Plato; nevertheless, unitarians affirm that Socrat es, quite frequently Platos representative, becomes the central figure in a series of li terary works through which Plato espouses his 21 The unitarian scholars attribute the genesis of this interpretation to Friedrich Schleiermacher, Introduction to the Dialogues of Plato tr. W. Dobson (New York: Graland, 1973), whom the dialogical movement equally maintains as in strumental for the inception of its methodology. Influential recent unitarian proponents include Paul Friedlnder, Charles Kahn, and the Tbingen School of Kurt Gaiser and Hans-Joachim Krmer.

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12 own philosophical theories. Early dialogue s provide only clues and proleptic introductions to theories that Plato makes explicit in later dialogues, although he had those theories already fully developed in his mind. The main concern of unitarian scholars, as opposed to developmentalists, is that Platos thought pr ocesses in the course of composition are inaccessible to us. What we have is his authorial design, inscribed in the text of the dialogues. 22 Thus, the unitarian approach to the mouthpiece issue requires a protagonist, usually Socrates, who offers the examples of Pl atos continuation of Socratic philosophy in a progressively reve latory manner, while maintaining Platos anonymity. The developmentalist school teaches that, as Plato wrote and matured, he altered his philosophical system and th is is reflected in his dialogue s. First expressed by K. F. Hermann in 1839, developmentalism has gained a large adherence si nce the advent of stylometric analysis in 1867. 23 Cornford used stylometric analysis to establish an outline of the order in which Plato wrote the dialogues and divide d them into three primary groupings. 24 From there, developmenat lists think that it is pos sible to track how Plato uses different characters over the course of hi s life to express his philosophical doctrines. The conclusion of the developmentalist perspe ctive is that Plato uses Socrates as his spokesman throughout the early dialogues. As time goes on and he establishes his own 22 Kahn (1996) 63. 23 Guthrie (1975) 49. By far, the most influential members of developmentalism of the twentieth century have been Gregory Vlastos and his students. 24 Guthrie (1975) 50. While there are variations of this arrangement and still debate over individual dialogues, Cornfords categories of early, middle, and late dialogues generally hold today. Early: Apology, Crito, Laches, Lysis, Charmides, Euthyprhro, Hippias Minor and Major, Protagoras, Gorgias, Ion Middle: Meno, Phaedo, Republic, Symposium, Phaedrus, Euthydemus, Menexemus, Cratylus Late: Parmenides, Theaetetus, Sophist, Politicus, Timaeus, Critias, Philebus, Laws

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13 mature philosophy, Plato allows other charact ers to express his thoughts and distances himself from Socrates, especially the historical Socrates. Vlastos describes this process in the following way: As Plato changes, the philosophical persona of his Socrates is made to change, absorbing the writers new c onvictions, arguing for them w ith the same zest with which the Socrates of the previous di alogues had argued for the views the writer had shared with the original of that figure earlier on. 25 Developmentalists use this idea of maturati on to explain the apparent contradictions between dialogues and the shift in themes from the early dialogues to the later dialogues. Both the unitarian and developmental a pproaches to the mouthpiece question are incompatible with the dialogical approach to Plato interpretation. Indeed, many so-called anti-mouthpiece or non-mouthpiece scholars are members of the dialogical school. 26 The reason for this is that di alogism does not presume the existence of Platonic doctrines within the dialogues, whereas the unitary and developmental approaches both attempt to cull propositional statements from the dialogu es. These collected doctrines must be forced to cohere in a logical, systematic way. Disregarding these presupposed teachings, the dialogical reader will not find the need for a spokesman. So then, the dialogical res ponse to the question of who sp eaks for Plato is that the dialogues do, irreducibly. 27 It is impossible to separate any portion of a dialogue from the larger context of that work and label it Pl atos theory or doctrine. The dialogues are dramatic examples of such [philosophical] speech and th inking that their audience can 25 Vlastos (1991) 53. 26 Scholars prominently known for their participatio n in both dialogical and anti-mouthpiece scholarship include Debra Nails, Holger Thesleff, Harold Tarrant, and Gerald Press. 27 Nails (2000) 16.

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14 take in and in which they can, at least vicariously, participate. 28 Without the dialogue form, the philosophical reasoning that takes place within the dialogues could not exist. The dialogues as independent w holes transmit Platos philosophy. The unique nature of the dialogues has led to great speculation and more than two millennia of interpretations based less upon what we know and more upon what has been unquestioningly accepted. Through dialogism, it is possible to strip away many unfounded presumptions that have governed Plat o scholarship and to take a new look at the features of the dialogues that have ma de them the unparalleled body of philosophical literature. These principles will guide this inve stigation of the Symposium and show how Plato masterfully constructed within this dialogue a reflexive relationship between literary form, dramatic structur e, and philosophic content wh ich work synergistically to educate the reader. 28 Waugh (2000) 49.

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CHAPTER 3 FRAMING THE DIALOGUE Plato devised an comple x narrative frame for the Symposium and the effects of its intricacies have not gone without great atte ntion. This frame is constructed with an opening scene in which the read er meets the narrator of the Symposium Apollodorus. Plato continues throughout th e work to use the frame as Apollodorus occasionally interjects with He said that he said. The purpose of creating such a dramatic structure to contain the speeches about ers remains one of the primar y questions concerning the Symposium Three other dialogues among the Platonic corpus, Theaetetus, Phaedo and Parmenides begin with similar frami ng structures, and their relevance to the practice of philosophy continues to deserve analysis. 1 As discussed in the previous chapter, an investigation of this sort is at the heart of the dialogical in terpretative met hod of Platonic dialogues. In order to understand what philosophy the Symposium expresses, particularly through its use of frames, one must take a car eful look at the emotio nal and psychological oscillations effected by Platos c onstruction of this narrative frame. Who Tells This Story? The Symposium opens on a scene between a Socrates enthusiast, Apollodorus, and a group of unnamed listeners. Apollodorus goes to great lengths in order to assure his audience that he can faithfully recount the speeches about er s which were given at 1 This chapter owes a great amount to the insightful works of Halperin (1992), Johnson (1998), and Strauss (2001). These three scholars produced some of the analyses most centered literary an d historical features of the Symposium s narrative frame and the general structure of the work in recent hi story. Although all arrive at different conclusions, their contributions in this topic have been central in my investigation. 15

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16 Agathons victory party. He immediately begins to narrate an encounter with Glaucon from a couple of days before, during which the two of them walked up to the city as Apollodorus told the whole story from the beginning. Whoever it was who had heard about the banquet from Phoenix had not accurately retold the logoi to Glaucon, and so Apollodorus had been caught and coerced in to narration. But during this embedded narrative, Apollodorus reveals a piece of in formation that could undercut his claim to reliability: he tells Glaucon that he was not present at the gathering at Agathons house, and, in fact, that the whole affair had taken place long a go during their childhood years. He states that he learned the truth of the matter from Aristodemus, a close follower of Socrates, who had attended that evening and that he verified some ( enia ) details with Socrates. 2 Concluding his explanation of his preparedness to share the logoi er tikoi Apollodorus is playfully chastised for his eccentric ways by one of his interlocutors. Following this, he concedes to share what he knows and begins narrating Aristodemus story of Agathons party. The introductory sentence dese rves special consideration. I think that I, concerning the things youre inquiring of, am not unpractised. Plat o introduces a theme of refl ection in two words and then begins to move the reader along his dial ogical path. The first two words of the Symposium , (I think that I . .) 3 draw the reader into the narrators dramatic present and perspective. When read, the phras e forces one to think reflexively, as though looking into a mirror and speaking to himself: I am telling myself that I think that I . . 2 Symposium 173b5. 3 Dover (1980) 77.

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17 In this way, Plato inaugurate s a series of refl ections that will c ontinue throughout the Symposium He sets out from the person who always responds to a text, the readers I, and causes him to behold himself as narrator fo r just one second. Bu t in that second, the effect is complete, and the speaker and the r eader become united at the dramatic level, while still conversing with one another. Nevertheless, it becomes apparent through the second person plural verb that this narrator is sp eaking to a group, and that the reader is among this group of listeners. This sets in place a new mirror effect: the reader, who is still feeling united with the voi ce of the first-person narrator is now being spoken to by that same narrator. Now the reflection is between the na rrator/reader in first person and the addressees/reader in second person. Platos text tempers this unusual position and does not permit the reader to linger by moving away to the first embedded narrative about Apollodorus meeting with Glaucon. Before leaving the dialogues initial sentence, it is n ecessary to point out that another major theme of the Symposium is presented here. The narr ator states that he is not unpracticed, introducing practice or care. As explained by Diotima, it is by melet that all knowledge maintains a presence within humans through the regeneration of what was known and the replacement of ol d memories with new replicas of that information. She calls this to practice. 4 For, when one begins to forget something, through melet that knowledge is reinserted in to the mind and appears to the individual as the same, although it is the re creation of a previous instance of knowledge. Ditotima tells Socrates that this is true of our bodies as well. The human physical nature is one of constant deteriorat ion and coming into being. Altho ugh a person is thought of as 4 Symposium 208a3-4.

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18 the same from birth until death, he continua lly loses and produces th ings like hair, skin, and blood. 5 To look at this on a larger scale, Diotim a explains that this constant need for regeneration is what makes all animals so erotically disposed. 6 This is because all mortals desire to become immo rtal. This drive for immortality that generates procreation, which in turn requires melet is the very nature of ers 7 Based on Diotimas principle of melet we see that Apollodorus r ecognizes that the story he is going to repeat for his listeners is the product of melet and an example of the nature of ers. He has rehearsed the story he will deliver, and ther eby turns his recitation of the logoi er tikoi into a manifestation of the work of ers brought about through melet With the conclusion of the first sentence, the reader has moved positions twice, and Platos text makes it clear that the unity w ith the narrator has dissolved. Now a member of the narrators dramatic audience, the r eader realizes that Plato has placed him in medias res ; he (addressees/reader) has asked this narrator to tell him about this famed occasion, at which Socrates and other notable Athenians presented speeches on the erotic ( 172b2). The text, however, does not re veal this fact directly, but through an embedded narrative. This is only noticed when the na rrator, soon to be identified as Apollodorus, info rms his listeners that just th e other day I happened to be headed up to town from my home in Phalerum. Because the reader neither traveled from Phalerum the other day nor owns a house there, the distinction from the original voice of 5 Symposium 207d6-e1. 6 Symposium 207b7-c1. 7 Symposium 207c8-d2.

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19 has been cemented. Plato has made th e reader a member of the group wanting to know more about what Socrates said during Agathons banquet. Next, a member of the group speaks to Apollodorus and engages him in some polite, humorous name-calling (173d4). The read er gains full autonom y from any of the characters within both the dramatic a nd narrative portions of the text, although he remains present for the dramatic moment. The impetus to know what Aristodemus shared with Apollodorus still drives the conversation forward. Plato has left his reader eager to hear more and has engendere d a desire to learn about ta er tika The deft way in which Plato has performed his literary legerdemain allows one to progress through this dramatic scene, with its tensions a nd introductions of important themes, without recognizing the individual steps. The reader does not consciously consider the technique used to place him in this dialogues world, a world of reflections and diligent care ( melet ). Nonetheless, as he moves into Apollodorus telling of Aristodemus narrative of the spe eches given at Agathons house, the Symposium s reader feels comfortable to interact with the characters and ideas expressed by those present. Plato has completed his artistry, and the reader is none the more aware of the artifice, although ma nipulated by it. Platos Purpose in Framing After considering the emoti onal and psychological effects of the initial dramatic sequence, it is necessary to provide possibl e reasons why Plato uses narrative frames in the Symposium Surely this skillful display of l iterary prowess was not solely for the purpose of creating suspension of disbelief. In order to achieve this Plato did not need to embed multiple narrations, some of which are second and third-hand to the narrator.

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20 When the structure of these embedded narrativ es is represented in a step-down outline it looks like the following: Apollodorus narrates to his companions. Aristodemus tells the story to Apollodorus. Socrates presents his narrative to those at the banquet. Diotima explains ers to Socrates. By the time the reader arrives at the climax of the Symposium with Diotima, any statement providing the order of transmission would re quire saying, Apollodorus said that Aristodemus said that Socrates said that Diotima said this. This level of complexity and convolution denotes purpose. This pur pose must find its e xpression through the structure itself. 8 My position on this issue, stated plainly, is that Plato achieves two very important results by framing the Symposium in this way. First, he fashions an ascending order of reflections that begins with the previously discussed move ment of perspectives. This concept of reflection is mirro red by embedding narratives within narratives, which then interact with one another. I will explicate this point in the next chapter. But for now, it has been shown that Apollodor us first statement introduces into the text, which Diotima will refer to near the end of Socr ates narration of thei r conversation, both of which are within Aristodemus account as to ld by Apollodorus. In this way, the most embedded narrative, Socrates telling of Diot imas conversations, is reflected at the original level of narration, that is, Apollodorus conversat ion with his interlocutors. Second, Plato acknowledges the difficult pos ition that he has made for himself by inscribing the practice of di alogical philosophy, that is the practice of philosophy through two or more persons in dialectic as por trayed by Socrates in the dialogues, into a 8 Johnson (1998) 588-9.

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21 literary, text-based format. Through his di alogue format and dr amatic frames for narratives in his dialogues, Plato aids his Athenian contem poraries to see philosophy as an interactive process that demands varying levels of ne gotiation from th ose who would participate in philosophizing. 9 Arguably, the circumstance which most differ entiates modern readers from the late5 th and early-4 th century Athenian culture is liter acy or, more precisely, our lesser dependence on oral transmission of knowledge versus the ancients heavy reliance upon it. 10 The conditions of transmission of inform ation have forever changed among Western societies, and it is impossible to recreat e a situation by which moderns might fully appreciate the ancient expect ations of orality and aural ity. Greek society had been passing down legends of their heroes, stories of their origins, and myths of their gods in spoken form for centuries before Plato. An At henian of this time could expect to know how to live a meaningful and virtuous life by follow ing the examples he committed to memory, having heard and seen them from public orators, epic bards, and dramatic presentations. 9 One must also bear in mind that Plato was not only negotiating between his societys trend of oral transmission and this newer movement towards written literature, but also between Socrates practice of dialectic and written philosophy. The textual and histor ical traditions agree that Socrates never committed any of his philosophy to writing. Plato portrays Socrat es disavowing the value of writing for philosophical purposes in the famous passage of his Phaedrus At 275d, Socrates tells Ph aedrus that writing is like a painting: whenever anyone asks it something, it contin ues to signify the same thing. He continues to say that writing has no power of its own to convince or argue, but always requires a father to help them along. Later, at 276e, Socrates uneq uivocally states that discourse about the just, good, and beautiful is far more noble when engaging another person in dialectic. Whether the historical Socrates actually made such statements can not be known. Nevertheless, we are su re that no writing of his remains and Plato wrote his Socrates as an oralist. The decision to use the philosophical dialogue and dramatic framing should, therefore, be considered as part of Platos own negotiation to maintain Socrates dialectical approach to philosophy while moving to the written medium. 10 For studies of orality in Plato, see Robb (1997) and Tarrant (1995).

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22 Plato explores how he bridges the gap betw een the oral traditi on, with its emphasis on dramatic representation and recitation, a nd the newer literary means of engaging philosophy in the Theaetetus. The dramatic scene which in troduces the narrative in this dialogue provides an example of how 4 th century Athenians could use written accounts of dialogues in order to pursue philosophical ends. The scene opens on Eucleides and Terpsion coming across each other as Eucleide s is returning home from Erineum and a visit with the ailing war hero Theaetetus. Eucleides informs Terpsion that during his return from seeing Theaetetus, he recalle d that Socrates had told him about a conversation between Theaetetus, Theodorus, and himself. Eucleides says that he is not able to narrate the event from memory, but he had written down the substance of that conversation as best as he c ould remember and subsequently verified the contents with Socrates on his visits to At hens. Terpsion wishes to hear this dialogue, so Theaetetus invites him to rest at his house while a slave reads the book of this c onversation to both of them. Before Eucleides commands his slave to begin, he informs Terpsion that he has written this dialogue as a dram a and not as a narrative; spec ifically, he has presented the dialogue between Socrates and hi s interlocutors as it took pla ce and not as Socrates told him. Therefore, the book does not contain transitional phras es, such as And then he said between each speakers turn. Eucleide s then orders the slave to read and the embedded dialogue begins. In the dialogue format, Plato merged the in stilled ancient sense of orality with the rapidly increasing appreciation for written li terature. One can see in the frame of the Theaetetus Platos cognizance of his societys transition from oral to literary transmission methods. The union of these tw o divergent sensibilities re quired Plato, just as his

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23 character Eucleides, to be aware of the di fferences in audience response when moving from a literature which is hear d to a literature which is read. Eucleides followed the instinct to dramatize, and through conscientious applicati on of dramatic technique he places his audience, in this case himself a nd Terpsion, directly into the action with Socrates. He removes the me diating language that might create difficulty of comprehension in someone who has spent a lifet ime listening to the pl ays of Euripides or the recitations of Homer. Like wise, Plato removes the distance betwen his readers and the erga of his dialogues through dramati zation and dramatic frames. Important conclusions about Pl atos purpose in framing the Symposium can be drawn from observations made about the frame of the Theaetetus. The frame of the Symposium was an intentional device that Plato em ployed to create a pa rticular response from his readers. That is, including such a structure was part of his well-considered manipulation of emotional interactions with the text, and it serves to establish the theme of Since we observe from the Theaetetus that Plato knew ways to express related speech without using Greeks accusative/infinitive indir ect speech construction, to employ this construction constitutes intent ion, not simple adherence to syntax. The reason is found in the Theaetetus when Eucleides explains his exclusion of I said and he said, the rationale he gives is 11 so that there will not be difficulties in understanding. If the absen ce of these narrative markers and the accusative/infinitive construction they require me ans fewer difficulties for the reader of a text, then the inclusion of these same elemen ts must indicate greater complexity for the same reader. From the fact that he utilized the more problem atic syntactical and narrative 11 Theaetetus 143c1.

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24 features, we understand that Plato intended that the Symposium require more of its readers. He determines that even basic li nguistic comprehension will be a struggle and that if one is to attain to a full understanding of this dial ogues import, that person must strive after it. Just as if in longing for an object of desire, the reader practices great care through the embedded narratives to arrive at Agathons banquet and to hear Diotimas description of ers 12 I wish to clarify at this point that I am not claiming that Plato wrote the Theaetetus and the Symposium with the notion of intertextua lity as understood by many analytic interpreters of Platos works. Familiarity with the Theaetetus and its discussion of the tension between orality and literacy would not have been a prerequisite for Platos contemporaries to sense the difficulty in the Symposium that I have discussed. The late5 th and early-4 th century Athenian instinct for oral/aur al literature caused a reader of that time to sense the struggle of the Symposium by nature. This is what makes the frame of the Theatetus so remarkable in its portrayal of At henians dealing with dramatic writing versus narrative writing. Plat o has committed to text an example of how the tendency towards orality, an experience which modern readers do not share, works out when someone of that culture shif ts to written communication. The modern reader benefits from correlating concepts discussed in the Theatetus to the Symposium but this was not at all a condition for comprehe nsion among Platos generation. Other Effects of Framing Two frequently discussed effects of Plato s use of a complex narrative frame in the Symposium include: 1) Plato creates a sense temp oral distance between his readers and 12 Cf. Halperin (1992) 97-106 and Rosen (1987) 10, with their initiation into the mysteries contained within the narrative.

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25 the events of the narrative; 2) Plato undermines the auth enticity of the accounts given and the narrators (or Platos own) reliability to relate the contents of the narrative accurately. Although both of these interpreta tions of Platonic framing have helped scholars to achieve great improvements in understanding the function of frames in the philosophical dialogue, the interpretive m odel that I have employed renders these unsatisfactory or inapplicable. For the remai nder of this chapter I will show how the notion of distance indicates an anachronistic perspectiv e and that any question of authenticity is a consequence of the a ssumption that Plato intended to present a historically accurate report in the Symposium When scholars such as Bacon and Rose n speak of distance within the Symposium they refer to a feeling of separation between the in itial dramatic time, when Apollodorus begins the text with and the time decades earlier when Diotima and Socrates held their conversation. 13 According to them, the reader is often reminded of the fact that he, like Apollodorus and his unnamed companions, did not attend the gathering at Agathons house, nor were they present for Diotimas explication on the nature and workings of ers Plato imposes upon the reader, as this interpretation goes, a feeling of distance through his use of the ex tended accusative/infinitive indirect speech construction during the logoi and whenever Apollodorus in terrupts with phrases like, He said that Agathon said that . . Quite to the contrary, in my reading, the frame of the Symposium and the use of indirect statement provide a dramatic entry that makes a legendary occasion come to life once again, while forcing the reader to strugg le with the structure and meaning of the 13 Bacon (1959) 419-21; Rosen (1987) 7-9.

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26 text. Although it is true that many years sepa rate the dramatic pres ent of the frame and the time of the embedded narratives, Plato tr averses this temporal gap and places his reader in the room with Agathons company. The events and speeches of the narrative appear realistic. They grant a glimpse into the world of the Athenian elite at the height of the classical period, as scholar s who use the distance inte rpretation agree. Halperin comes close with his concept of the eroti cs of narrativity where it focuses on the interaction between a readers desire to experi ence the past is fulfilled and the fact that narration itself means that the read er can never be in that past. 14 Still, the idea of separation is overstated in this If Plato was intending to make his reader feel detached, then he failed miserably. A better explanation, and one supported with evidence provided by Plato, is that difficulty was at the heart of the frame a nd its consequent synta x, not distance. As discussed, Plato displays his awareness of the di fficulties that indirect discourse creates in extended narrative. Eucleides stylistic choices in the Theaetetus provide a comparandum for the ancient Greek response to this issue. A narrative of this type requires greater effort to follow and to understand, even for native sp eakers of ancient Greek but this does not necessitate feeling that th e events narrated are farthe r away. According to my interpretation, the sensation of distance appears to be anachronistic response based upon the modern readers own distance from the culture of Platos day. These modern readers have projected distance on to Plato and his contemporaries. Comments about the reliability of the na rrator or the authenticity of the narrative in the Symposium abound so greatly within the sc holarship on the dialogue that 14 Halperin (1992) 98 and 106.

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27 it is hardly overstatement to call them ubiquitous. 15 The issue is based primarily on the relative chronology of events within the Symposium and the indirect manner in which Apollodorus learned the narrativ e. The brief summary of the argument goes as follows: If Agathon won his victory as a dramatist in 416 BC and Apollodorus is attempting to relate the events of the next days celebration banquet approximately fifteen years later, having heard the story himself secondhand, then the accuracy of his narration is questionable. 16 Because Plato authored the Symposium as many as twenty years later and makes use of an unreliable narrator, he appears to undermine his own authority to present this Skratikos logos as an authentic record. At a dramatic level, one ca nnot help but recognize the e ffort Apollodorus exerts to confirm his version of the story. He informs his listeners that Aristodemus slept through part of the affair and could not rememb er entire speeches given during the party. Admissions of this type help to lend greater credibility to the one confessing. Moreover, what portions Aristodemus reca lled, Apollodorus verified thei r veracity with Socrates. Far from thinking of him as unr eliable, the characters within the dialogues dramatic instance are moved to trust Apollodorus telling as authen tic and well-rehearsed. Beyond internal observations, the Symposium is a work of dramatic a nd narrative literature. The lifelike construction of the literary world wh ich Plato creates in his dialogues, however, does not constitute an attempt at biography or historiography. I argued in the last chapter that the assumption of factuality or transcrip tion of historical even ts and people continues to be untenable. It appears in this instan ce that the desire fo r historicity among many 15 E.g., Bury (1964) xv-xviii; Rosen (1987) 9; Ha lperin (1992) 107-11; Hunter (2004) 26-9. 16 For the dates of the Symposium s dramatic events and Platos authorship, see Bury (1964) lxvi-iii.

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28 scholars has led them to devalu e or forget the fundamental na ture of fictive writing in Platos dialogues. To summarize, an analysis of the frame of the Symposium demonstrates some of the ways in which Plato wrote the dialogue a nd its constituent parts with a conscientious eye toward expressing his philosophical ag enda through the union of both form and content. At the very beginning of the Symposium the themes of reflection and diligent care, find expression in Apoll odorus first sentence. The reader is made to participate in the pursuit of ers by struggling through the negotiation of varying perspectives and the diffic ulties which indirect discourse creates. The embedded narratives also serve to fashion a progre ssion of ascent into the dramatic past.

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CHAPTER 4 DESPERATELY SEEKING ER S In the last chapter I argu ed that the frame of the Symposium performs several important tasks: it engenders in the reader a sense of eager ness to find out more about the speeches given during Agathons celebration, it creates a dramatic fe eling of immediacy that allows a reader to believe he is partic ipating, and it establishes that interaction with the narrative will be difficult and require careful attention. In order to continue to explicate how Plato guides his reader to experience the didactic effect of the Symposium, in this chapter I will discuss the progressive nature of the speeches. More specifically, it is my intention to illustrate how each successive speech is an improvement in the way the symposiasts praise er s and its function. These improve ments serve to create the notion of progression toward an ultimate understanding of er s When, at last, Socrates speaks, he completes this upward trend by correcting the method of praise and sharing his conversations with Diotima which initiated him into the mysteries of er s This theme and sense of development within the plot mirr ors the steps of ascensi on to a vision of The Beautiful ( to kalon ) as described Diotima. Diotimas Ladder For purposes of comparison, it is nece ssary to outline the segment of the Symposium in which Diotima provides her stages of erotic progress. Symposium 209e5212a7 contains the entirety of Diotimas revelation of the procedure by which a young man ascends to a vision of The B eautiful. In fact, she lists the steps of this ascent twice in this passage of the text: at 210a4-210e5 and 211b7-211d1. 29

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30 This is the right procedure or way of being led by another in erotic matters, beginning from the earlier beauties for the sa ke of this one, he must always ascend, as on the steps of a stair, from one to tw o, and from two to all beautiful bodies; and from beautiful bodies to beau tiful customs, from beauti ful customs to beautiful knowledge, and from knowledge he will term inate in this knowledge, which is no other than knowledge of this beauty itself; and so initia ted, he knows what beauty is itself. 1 Moravcsik, reading both sections together, produces a fourteen step organization of Diotimas ascent of the erotic man. 2 He divides these fourteen stages into an upper and a lower ascent, which contai ns two subdivisions. The firs t subdivision of the lower ascent contains the first five stages. Thes e predominantly concern the appreciation of beauty evident in bodies, moving from the love of beauty in a particular body to the recognition that what is beautifu l in all bodies is the same beauty. At the last stage of this subdivision the erotic beginner ha s learned to hold in contem pt the notion of loving only one body, and he becomes a lover of all beauti ful bodies. In the sec ond subdivision of the lower ascent, which contains the next five stages, the lover makes the cognitive advancement to understand that so uls contain a beauty which is superior to the beauty of bodies. He learns the value of guiding a young man along the ascent and sees the beauty of intangibles, such as customs and laws. Having discovered that all beauty is related, whether in bodies or in intangible practices, he assigns little valu e to physical beauty since it is inferior. Moravscik calls the final four stages of Diotimas ladd er the upper ascent. At this point, the lover is turned to contemplate the beauty contained in sciences and other branches of knowledge. After behold ing the beauty that is manifested in so many ways, the lover finds liberation from a ny single form of beauty and gazes on the 1 Translation from Rosen (1987) 272-3. 2 Moravscik (1972) 286.

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31 vast ocean of beauty that exists. He pours forth beautiful speeches in boundless philosophy until, strengthened by these experien ces, he suddenly catches sight of the transcendent form of The Beautiful. This progression of the stages of ascent for erotic developmen t displays several important preliminary trends in Diotimas or ganization which relate to the speeches of Agathons guests. First, in order to scale the ladder, the one who toils for improvement must be guided by another. According to this model, the aspiring initiate is 3 the one being lead. At regular intervals along the way the ne w lover is guided by another and interacts with that guides example. The erotic life can not be achieved in solitude either in theory or in practice; it requires discourse and the improve ment of others as a source of beauty. The lover attempts to produce speeches that can make a young man better, 4 Likewise, the symposiasts also rely on one anothers speeches in order to produce better encomia for er s. The guests each adapt concepts from the preceding logos and improve upon some aspect of their discourse to beautify the praise. Another attribute of Diotimas ladder that corresponds to the various speeches given at Agathons banquet is that of responding to beauty with logoi At each of the major divisions detailed in Moravsciks schema, the lover responds to his new appreciation of beauty with speeches. Once he begins the ascent at the beauty of a particular body, according to Diotima he waxes vocal and produces 5 At 3 Symposium 210a7. 4 Symposium 210c2-3. 5 Symposium 210a10.

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32 the second subdivision of the lower ascent, the lover turns to the beau ty in souls, and he also responds to this new beauty by giv[ing] birth to and seek[ing] words that make the young better. 6 Once the lover has ascended to th e stage of contemplation of the sciences, his reaction to the sea of beauty which he is able to experi ence and appreciate is to bring forth logoi. In particular, just before he is able to glimpse The Beautiful itself, the erotic initiate gives birth to many beautiful and magnificent speeches. 7 As the erotic pilgrim progresses in his journey toward a vision of The Beautiful, at each ma jor shift in his appreci ation of beauty, he responds with speeches, until he finally moves to philosophically based logoi which strengthen and increase ( ) 8 him enough to catch sight of The Beautiful. The reader moves through a mirror of this process in the speeches presented at Agathons house. With each successi ve speaker and his encomium of er s the reader participates in a process of increasing refinement. The manner in which the symposiasts respond to the beauty they see in er s and in the previous spea kers speeches creates an sense of ascension up to Socrates account of his conversations with Diotima. The final point of intersection between the logoi presented in the Symposium and Diotimas ladder that I wish to identify is that both end with an epiphany which takes place in philosophical discourse. Diotim a had previously explained that er s is the love ( ers ) for something beautiful, and that, since wisdom is about the most beautiful things, ers must be a philosopher. 9 Therefore, it stands 6 Symposium 210c1-2; translation from Belfiore (1984) 145. 7 Symposium 210d4-5. 8 Symposium 210d6-7. 9 Symposium 204b2-4.

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33 to reason that the ultimate state to which er s impels a lover is th e pursuit of wisdom, philosophy. According to Diotima, this is what the lover experiences before he can see The Beautiful. Once freed from slavish devotion to one person or a single custom, the lover becomes inspired by the manifold beauty before him and produces beautiful speeches and thoughts in limitless philosophy. 10 Likewise, those who read the Symposium must ascend through the speeches within the narrative and engage Socrat es on philosophical terms as he expounds Diotimas revelation of ers The philosopher alone is erotic enough, so thoroughly directed by ers to receive the vision of The Beautiful, and the reader is required to hear it expressed by the philosopher Socrates. Ascending Speeches Having thus outlined Diotimas ladder, I wi ll now turn to the speeches given at Agathons house and discuss how they create for the reader a sense of improvement, development, and ascent with in the narrative. It is not my intention, as some have attempted, to align each of speeches given w ith a particular stage or rung of Diotimas ladder. 11 The focus of this analysis is to show how Plato engenders these feelings of ascension through the statements of his characters and that th e content within each speech interacts with statements in the logoi of the other guests. 10 Symposium 210d5-6. 11 Corrigan and Glazov-Corrigan (200 4) 148-58. This is the most r ecent attempt to find a one-to-one correlation between the logoi er tikoi given at the banquet and the rungs of Diotimas ladder. They developed a five-stage schema for the ascent of Di otima. Then they argue that these steps are each represented in the five speeches of Pheadrus, Pa usanius, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, and Agathon. However, the relationships they try to establish between the speeches and rungs are based as much on difference or distinction as they are on direct similarities. On the whole, this approach over-simplifies the great complexity with which Plato has interwoven both of these structures in the Symposium and at the same time puts forth elaborate and unclear systems of relationship.

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34 Plato begins developing the notion of progress with the decision to create logoi in honor of er s Since the symposiasts all agree that they should not pass the evening in excessive drinking, Eryximachus suggests that they should each in turn make speeches in praise of er s However, Eryximachus is not the author of the idea to render encomia to ers ; Phaedrus had complained to him on several occasions that ers is neglected in literature. Pheadrus recognizes that there is a lack of honor given to er s although all manner of praise has been written for things as mundane as salt. 12 He feels that it is necessary to correct this overs ight and desires that someone fill this void by praising such an old and great god. The first step in this narrative progression begins with Pheadrus, the father of the logos. He expands upon the assertion that er s is the oldest of all gods and, therefore, deserving of great honor. In or der to prove his claim that er s is the eldest, Phaedrus calls into evidence Hesiod and Homer, as well as the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, and the fact that none of them provides a parentage for ers This is ironic because, according to Erixymachus, Phaedrus finds the writers of all genres, eras, and places negligent in their praise of this god. Diotim a later refutes this claim of seniority with her own myth concerning the conception of ers from the union of Poros and Penia. Phaedrus then turns to proclaiming that er s is the best god for the benefit of mankind. He focuses on the relationship between a young man ( ) and his older lover ( ) and how this type of pederastic union improves both the individual and the society when correctly administered. The elder lover se eks the affection and respect of his younger beloved and, in so doing, performs feats of virtue for his affections. This speech reflects Diotimas 12 Symposium 177b4-6.

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35 affirmation of the partnershi p required for the progress of lovers. It also centers on concepts expressed at the lower levels of Diotimas ladder, name ly, that an erotic person must learn to appreciate the beauty of bodies which results in an increase in virtue. Narrative progression maintains its upward movement with Pausanias response to Phaedrus. Pausanias takes issue with the lack of refinement in th e previously proposed mandate to praise ers Working within the traditions that er s accompanies Aphrodite and that there are two Aphordite s, the heavenly and the vulga r, Pausanias concludes that there are two ertes a heavenly and a vulgar. Thus, he states, So I will try to correct this, first to point out the ers which one must praise, and then to make a praise worthy of the god. 13 He notices the lack of specificity and the need to rectif y the standards of praise, specifically, that one should attribute beautiful l ove only to the heavenly ers This concept is augmented when Pausania s explains that one can distinguish the heavenly, ouranios from the vulgar, pand mos by the way in which ers finds manifestation. But distinguishi ng between the two requires standards, customs, and laws by which both the lover and the belo ved can know that they practice er s nobly. Pausanias asserts that this is best exemplified in Athens laws governing the behavior of pederastic lovers. He praise s how detailed and difficult to understand Athenian law is because: Our law wants to put them to the test in a good and noble way, and wants to have them gratify some and shun others. On account of this it encourages them to pursue and the others to flee, setting up a cont est and testing to which group the lover belongs and to which the one who is loved. 14 13 Symposium 180d1-3; translation adapted from Strauss (2001) 63. 14 Symposium 183e6-184a5; translation from Strauss (2001) 80.

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36 Any lover or beloved pursuing er otic fulfillment must adhere to the strictures prescribed by law and custom in order to display the heavenly ers So, we see that Pausanias speech thus reflects the ascent to The Beautiful in its theme of improvement and sense of progression. Key erotic issues such as loving the beauty in laws and the need to guide another nobly along his ascent find voice in this speech. Arguably, Platos most pronounced declar ation of his program of narrative progression in the speeches comes in Eryxim achus opening statemen ts. While it appears to Eryximachus that Pausanias started his speech well, he does not think that it was brought to an appropriate end ( telos ). Eryximachus decides, th erefore, that he must provide an end for the logos 15 In the opening sentence of Eryximachus speech, Plato draws the connection between the speeches cl early. The guests at Agathons banquet are correcting and improving the deficiencies with in one anothers speeches in order to make the praise for ers as beautiful as possible. 16 Plato uses this process within the narrative to instruct his reader that, like Diotimas ladd er, there can not be an arrival to the perfect vision of the erotic withou t effort and development. Some of the same topics that Diotima lists as necessary for a proper initiation into the erotic mysteries are introduced in Er yximachus speech. Based upon the dual nature of ers as described by Pausanias, Eryx imachus explains that the two er tes are oppositional forces at work in all th ings. He expands the influence of er s from human affairs to the organization of the cosmos, th e changing of seasons, the harmony of music, the practice of divination, and the study of me dicine. According to Eryximachus, a person 15 Symposium 185e6-186a2. 16 Symposium 177d2-3.

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37 who would show reverence to ers does so by understanding the balance that must be maintained between the heavenly and the vulga r. Also, the truly ero tic man is able to remove the one and instill the other in order to preserve this harmony. Diotima addresses the concept of erotic dualism when sh e explains the daemonic nature of er s to Socrates. 17 According to her, ers is neither mortal nor immortal, god nor human, beautiful nor ugly, wise nor unwise. Diotima te lls Socrates that because of its twofold nature, ers is constantly perishing a nd then returning to life. We have noted that the lover must reach to the stage of Diotimas ladde r in which he is turned to see the beauty in sciences. Eryximachus has relied upon his ex periences as a physicia n to conclude that the twofold ers is at work and striving for harmony in all things. Medicine and other branches of knowledge, such as meteorol ogy and astronomy, serve as guides to Eryximachus in his pursu it of erotic understanding. The transitional passage that leads to Ar istophanes speech is nearly as direct a statement of Platos didactic agenda as th e one leading to Eryximachus. Aristophanes relates his response to his pred ecessors speeches as one of contradistinction. Addressing Eryximachus, he says, I intend to speak in a somewhat different way from how Pausanias and you spoke. 18 He honors this promise and employs his comic ability to contrive a new myth about the origin of men and the function of ers In this myth, Aristophanes manufactures a ps eudo-history of mankind in which humans were once a physical duality, two people in one spherical form. Because of their hubris and attempted assault on Olympus, Zeus split the hermaphrodite humans in half. Although he maintains 17 Symposium 202d11-204b7. 18 Symposium 189c2-3; translation from Strauss (2001) 122.

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38 the notion of duality, Aristophanes has sh ifted Pausanias and Eryximachus dual er s into a two-part human. Now having been sepa rated from the other ha lf, each person is driven by er s to reconnect with his severed partne r. Thus, according to Aristophanes, ers is not some cosmic force of harmony, but a natural impulse in humans which drives them to find their match. Once again, Plato has anticipated Diotima s speech and placed signs for his reader to follow. As one continues through the speeches, Platos characters interact in their logoi and the reader is made to grappl e with the various theories about ers while sensing the upward movement in the narrative. As we approach the pinnacle of Plato s narrative climb to Socrates, Agathon presents an innovative oration about the attributes of ers and its benefits to mankind. He indicts his guests for not having properly performed encomium, because they spoke only of the benefits which er s provides without first describing the laudandus 19 In order to begin his description, Agathon re futes Phaedrus claim that er s is the oldest of the gods, and argues the exact opposite, that he is the youngest. To establish his point Agathon cites two of the same literary sources, Hesi od and Parmenides, whom Phaedrus used as evidence to the contrary. This claim comple tes a youthward progession in the age of ers as assigned by the other speakers. 20 In Agathons estimation, ers is the softest of all the gods, as he lives in the soft souls of men and avoids hard-heartedness. Agathon places not only all people under the power of ers but all of the Olympian gods also. The obvious dominant trait of the attrib utes which Agathon ascribes to ers is that they apply to Agathon and ers equally. Eryximachus centered his understanding of ers around the 19 Symposium 194e4-195a5. 20 Strauss (2001) 158.

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39 medical arts, but Agathon goes further and turns ers into a poet so wise that he makes another poet. 21 Agathon portrays er s like himself, as a young, soft, delicate, poet who holds sway over both men and gods through his power to guide his audience to what is beautiful. Diotima w ill likewise portray ers in her own image. As a prophetess, she once informed the Athenian people of the correct sacrifice to propitiate the gods and delay a plague for ten years. 22 Diotima ascribes this same func tion of mediation between gods in men to er s. She states that ers since it is a daemon or a spiritual being, has the power of interpretation and governs the practice of fortune-telling, ritu al sacrifice, and divination. Having arrived at the end of Platos upward journey, the reader has been prepared to wrestle with and appreciate the erotic reve lation of Diotima which Socrates discloses. With each logos given at the banquet, Plat o anticipates another por tion of the content of Diotimas conversations with Socrates. He also provides examples of the alternative ways in which men of diverse vocations, such as a tragedian, a comedian, and a doctor, understand er s This arrangement of ascending speech es throws into stark relief the differences between the incons istent and incomplete way mo st reason and how the great Socrates practices philosophy. The intricat ely designed and carefully implemented narrative ascent within the logoi of the symposiasts makes Plato and the Symposium instructors in ta ertika just like the guide who leads an uninitiated love r up the rungs of Diotimas ladder. 21 Symposium 196d7-e2. 22 Symposium 210d3-5.

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CHAPTER 5 THE EXAMPLE OF ALCIBIADES Although Socrates account of Diotimas prophe tic revelation of the ascent to The Beautiful represents the dramatic climax of the Symposium Plato has not completed his didactic progression. Even after negotiating the difficulties of the narrative frame, progressing through the series of improving speeches, and being taught the nature and function of er s by Diotima, the reader still has more to learn about the practice of the erotic life. Before ending the Symposium Plato provides both a positive and a negative example of proper submission to the power of er s 1 Alcibiades describes Socrates adherence to love of only the highest beauty. At the same t ime, he illustrates that even Socrates closest lovers misinte rpret the erotic ph ilosophers actions because they fail to understand the works of ers Through Alcibiades speech, the reader is moved from the theoretical heights of a vision of The Beautiful to a prac tical discussion of living in accordance with the erotic principles Socrates learned from Diotima. In order to understand how both male characters function as ex emplars of erotic understanding and misunderstanding, we must outline their relationship. As a young member of the Athenian elit e, Alcibiades was well-known for his wealth, ambition, good looks, and vanity. Nearly twenty year s before the drama tic date of the Symposium he had been smitten by Socrates and his beautiful logoi Bitten in his heart more severely than 1 Cf. Dover (1980) 164. Platos chief purpose in this speech is to show us that Socrates put into practice the morality implicit in Diotimas theory. 40

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41 any snake could bite, 2 Alcibiades was bewitched by the philosophical discourses he heard from Socrates and took him as his erast s Just as Agathon pr oposed upon Socrates arrival to the banquet, Alcibiades thought that he would gain through physical contact some of the internal beauty and wisdom that Socrates possessed. 3 Consistent with Athenian customs regarding pe derasty, Alcibiades expected that his older lover would wish to exchange sexua l gratification for instruction in virtue. Supposing him to be seriously attracted by my youthful beauty, I thought it was a gift from Hermes and marvel ous good luck for me, that it was possible for me, by gratifying Socrates, to hear all that he knew. For I was extraordinarily proud of my beauty. 4 However, Socrates never exercised the priv ilege of being physically gratified by him. Alcibiades, confused that Socr ates does not pursue sexual fu lfillment, felt the need to take on the role of the lover in pursuit of his beloved. He attempted to seduce Socrates on several occasions. Alcibiades arranged unsupe rvised visits, private exercise sessions consisting primarily of nude wrestling, and late-night dinners. All of these efforts resulted in the same unwavering asexual response fro m Socrates. Alcibiades felt scorned and mocked by Socrates. He was amazed at the endurance and resolve with which Socrates maintained his aloof and hubristic celibacy in the face of such advances. 5 Despite this, Alcibiades remained enthralled with Socrat es and his philosophical speeches. He decided that he would continue a rela tionship with Socrates, although he was at a loss as to how he might win the philosophers undivided atte ntion. It is the aggr essive nature of 2 Symposium 218a2-7. 3 Symposium 175c7-d1; 219d1-3. 4 Symposium 217a2-6; Translation from Rosen (1987) 301. 5 Symposium 219d2-6.

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42 Alcibiades attempts that l eads Socrates to ask Agathon for protection and mediation between the two men. No longer can Socrates show interest in another person in Alcibiades presence without becoming th e object of the young mans jealousy and forceful sexual advances. 6 When we read about the affair between th ese two characters, it becomes clear that, despite his intimate and long-te rm relationship with Socrat es, Alcibiades never fully comprehends Socratic er s He knows Socrates well, by his own claim, better than any other guest attending Agathons banquet. 7 Nevertheless, he thinks of wisdom, virtue, and beauty as commodities for which he can trade. Alcibiades suggestion to exchange sexual gratification for all that Socrates knows is a grotesque di stortion of the process of erotic development as taught by Di otima and lived by Socrates. 8 All the familiarity with Socrates behavior and dialogues has not brought Alcibiades to upper rungs of Diotimas ladder. As Belfiore explains, Alcibiades does not pass Moravcsiks so-called eighth stage: 9 he loves the beauty in a soul, as well as the beauty of customs and practices. However, he has not begun to love the beauty in all souls, as he is still entranced with Socrates. Because he does not ascend to the higher levels of erotic progress, Alcibiades does not understand that Socrates is behaving in an erotic way when he rebuffs all of the formers sexual favors. In his speech, Alcibiades also presents an ominous explanation for Athenian outrage at Socrates. While marveling at Socr ates moderation and endur ance, he relates to 6 Symposium 213c6-d6. 7 Symposium 216c7-d1. 8 Cf. Hunter (2004) 100-1. 9 Belfiore (1984) 146.

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43 his fellow symposiasts a tale of Socrates on military campaign in Potidaea. During a harsh winter frost, the soldiers had all taken to moving as litt le as possible and, if any had to, they wrapped up their feet in several laye rs of hides. Socrates, however, walked about as usual; he wore his same cloak and remain ed shoeless. Despite the many other feats of amazing bravery and endurance which the men had seen Socrates perform, Alcibiades states that his comrades had viewed this with suspicion and anger ( ). 10 This is, in fact, the same way in which Alcibiades had interprets Socr ates refusal of sex. Like the Athenian soldiers and, later, the city of Athens, Alcibiades loves Socrates for his beautiful speeches and bravery. However, he does not recognize that the same force of ers drives Socrates to give bi rth to these beautiful speeches and to hold in contempt the love of only one body, soul custom, or city. This ers compels him to seek the visions of The Beautiful regardless of circumstance, which pursuit most people confuse with an atypical hubris. It is this mis interpretation of erotic pursu it for hubristic s uperiority and the resulting shame and anger in those who see Socrates that play key roles in Alcibiades near prophetic statement, Often would I sweetly behold him no longer among men. 11 Alcibiades ultimate failure to ascend pr operly to a vision of The Beautiful and become a fully erotic man is found in his readiness to le ave philosophy in the hands of Socrates. As the younger lover in the relationshi p, Alcibiades is to be guided by Socrates, carefully following his instruc tions and example. However, he allows two emotions to interrupt his progress. First, vanity drove Alci biades to prevent his growth in the correct order as taught by Diotima. As already mentioned, the young and blooming Alcibiades 10 Symposium 220b7-c1. 11 Symposium 216c1. For a introductory discussion of the wa y in which Plato casts the shadow of Socrates trial and execution over all of hi s works, see Clay (2000) 33-40.

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44 was quite sure of his good looks. When Socrat es did not take advant age of his right to gratification in his paidika Alcibiades forestalled his c ontinued proper relationship and inverted their roles in orde r to satisfy his vanity. Sec ond, political ambition overthrew Socratic instruction. Alcibiades states that he cannot disagree w ith Socrates reasoning and, he becomes enslaved to it whenever he hears a Socratic logos Socrates forces Alcibiades to agree that he tends too much to the affairs of the Athenian people and not enough to his own excellence. Nevertheless, away from Socrates and his power to possess the mind, Alcibiades once again valu es the honor he gains from political recognition and behaves contrary to his agreements with Socrates. 12 Both of these disruptions in Alcibiades erotic devel opment result in a man unwilling to practice philosophy. With the first disrup tion, Alcibiades affirms that Socrates soul is beautiful because it is pregnant with beautiful thoughts and speeches in boundless philosophy. However, he sees Socrates and his internal beauty as objects he can possess. Turning his energies to winning Socrates, Alcibiades does not sense his own need to give birth to beautiful speeches, since he will gain such speeches by acquiring Socrates. With the second disruption, for as long as Alcibiades remains ensnar ed by public opinion and the desire for political power, he will never move past his current stage of erotic development. His love for this one polis and its d mos constrains him fr om ever realizing that all beauties of body, soul, la w, and custom are related. The d mos could never understand that what makes Athens beautiful is the same beauty which makes Sparta beautiful, and this is precisely what Socrates needed Alcibiades to grasp. Therefore, Alcibiades is content to leave the pursuit of wisdom and the fully erotic life to Socrates. 12 Symposium 216b3-5.

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45 By ending the Symposium with Alcibiades, Plato throws into stark contrast the differences between the lives of those who receive a vision of The Beautiful and those who remain immature in regards to er s The reader witnesses how Socrates, the successful initiate into the mysteries of ers interacts with and is perceived by the surrounding uninitiated. Plato warn s that the truly erotic man must be trained rightly and must not succumb to distr actions. He also demonstrat es that, however unusual and seemingly contradictory Socrates actions are, there was no dissimulation in his claim to know nothing other than ta ertika In fact, Plato has guide d his reader through this explication of ers so that the reader too may make the same claim.

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CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION Considered by many Platos most masterful work, the Symposium does not easily yield answers to the qu estions its complexity inspires. To unlock all of Platos meaning from within this dialogue, we re it possible, would require an analysis well beyond the scope of this paper. Therefor e, I have narrowed my examinat ion to the more literary and dramatic elements of the dialogue. Chapters 3-5 attempted to demonstrate how one need not hu nt for specific theories or doctrines in order to ascribe them to Plato as his own teaching. The claims of the dialogical method of Platonic interpretation that an entire dialogue speaks for Plato and no particular character can be assigned the title Platos mouthpiece has gained further support. We have seen that the Symposium requires its reader to undergo Platos didactic experience by completely and carefully reading and interacting with the entire text of the dialogue. Each of the Platonic dialogues fulfills pa rt of their author s philosophical and educational agenda. The Symposium stresses the need for people to transform the way they think through careful pursuit of the highest beau ty. Learning to love only what is the most beautiful inevitably leads a person to perform the kind of philosophy which Plato lived out and wrote that Socrates practice d. Through his unparalleled union of literary and dramatic techniques into philosophical di alogue, Plato creates a world in which the reader participates with Socr ates and his friends as Platos archetypal philosopher guides others to understand philosophy as a work of er s 46

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson, D. E. 1993. The Masks of Dionysos: A Co mmentary on Platos Symposium. Albany. Anton, J. P. and Kustas, J. L., eds. 1972. Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy Albany. Arieti, J. 1991. Interpreting Plato: The Dialogues as Drama. Savage. Bacon, H. H. 1959. Socrates Crowned. The Virginia Quarterly Review, 35: 415-430. Belfiore, E. 1984. Dialectic wi th the Reader in Platos Symposium . Maia 36: 137-149. Benson, H., ed. 1992. Essays on the Philosophy of Socrates. New York. ___. 2000. Socratic Wisdom: The Model of Know ledge in Platos Early Dialogues. New York. Blanckenhagen, P. H. 1992 Stage and Actors in Platos Symposium . GRBS 33: 51-68. Bury, R.G., ed. 1964. The Symposium of Plato Cambridge. Clay, D. 1975. The Tragic and Comic Poet in the Symposium. Arion 2: 238-261. ___. 2000. Platonic Questions: Dialogues with the Silent Philosopher. University Park. Cleary, J. J., ed. 1999. Traditions of Platonism: Essays in Honour of John Dillon Aldershot. Corrigan, K. and Glazon-Corrigan, E. 2004. Platos Dialectic at Play: Argument, Structure, and Myth in the Symposium. University Park. Dover, K. J. 1966. Aristophanes Speech in Platos Symposium. JHS 86: 41-50. ___. 1980. Symposium Cambridge. Erickson, K. V. 1979. Plato: True and Sophistic Rhetoric Amsterdam. 47

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48 Halperin, D. M. 1992. Plato and the Erotics of Narrativity. Innovations of Antiquity 95-126. Hart, R. and Tejera, V., eds. 1997. Platos Dialogues: the Dialogical Approach. Lewiston. Hunter, R. 2004. Platos Symposium Oxford. Gerson, L. P. 2003. Knowing Persons: A Study in Plato. Oxford. Guthrie, W. K. C. 1975. History of Greek Philosophy. Vol. 4. Cambridge. Irwin, T. and Nussbaum, M. C., eds. 1994. Virtue, Love and Form: Essays in Memory of Gregory Vlastos Edmonton. Johnson, W. A. 1998. Dramatic Frame and Philosophic Idea in Plato. AJPh 119: 577598. Lowenstam, S. 1984. Paradoxes in Platos Symposium. Ramus 13: 85104. Mitchell, R. L. 1993. The Hymn to Eros: A Reading of Platos Symposium New York. Moravscik, J. M. E. 1972. Reason and Eros in the Ascent-Passage of the Symposium . In Anton and Kustas (1972), 285-302. Morrison, J. S. 1964. Four Notes on Platos Symposium . CQ 14: 42-55. Nails, D. 1995. Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy. Philosophical Studies Series, Vol. 63. Dordrecht. ___. 2000. Mouthpiece Schmouthpiece. In Press (2000), 15-26. Neumann, H. 1965. On the Comedy of Platos Aristophanes. TAPA 96: 283-289. Nola, R. 1990. On Some Neglected Minor Speakers in Platos Symposium : Phaedrus and Pausanias. Prudentia 22:54-73. Press, G. A., ed. 1993. Platos Dialogues: New St udies and Interpretations. Lanham. ___. 1997. Introduction. The Dial ogical Mode in Modern Pl ato Studies. In Hart and Tejera (1997), 1-28. ___., ed. 2000. Who Speaks for Plato? Studies in Platonic Anonymity. Lanham.

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49 Robb, K. 1997. Orality, Literacy, and the Dial ogue Form. In Hart and Tejera (1997), 29-64. Rosen, S. 1987. Platos Symposium. New Haven. Scott, G. A. and Welton, W. A. 2000. Ero s as Messenger in Diotimas Teaching. In Press (2000), 147-59. Strauss, L. 2001. On Platos Symposium. Chicago. Tarrant, H. 1995. Orality and Platos Narra tive Dialogues. In Worthington (1995), 12947. ___. 2000. Where Plato Speaks: Reflections on an Ancient Debate. In Press (2000), 6780. Tejera, V. 1997. How Compatib le are the Dialogical and th e Doctrinal Approaches to Platos Dialogues? In Hart and Tejera (1997), 247-73. Thesleff, H. 1982. Studies in Platonic Chronology. Helsinki. ___. 1993. Looking for Clues: An Interpretation of Some Literary Aspects of Platos Two-Level Model. In Press (1993), 17-45. ___. 1999. Studies in Plato's Two-Level Model Helsinki. Tigerstedt, E. N. 1974. The Decline and Fall of the Neoplat onic Interpretation of Plato. An Outline and Some Observations Helsinki. Vander Waerdt, P. A., ed. 1994. The Socratic Movement. Ithaca. Vlastos, G. 1975. Platos Universe. Seattle. ___. 1971. The Philosophy of Socrates : a collection of critical essays. Garden City. ___. 1991. Socrates, Ironist and Moral Philosopher Ithaca. Waugh, J. 2000. Socrates and the Character of Platonic Dialogue. In Press (2000), 3952. Wolz, H. G. 1970 Philosophy as Drama: An Approach to Platos Symposium . Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 30: 323-353.

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50 Worthington, I., ed. 1995. Voice into Text: Orality and Literacy in Ancient Greece. Leiden.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Todd Bohlander was born in Perry, Florid a, on September 11, 1976. He graduated from Clearwater High School in Clearwater Florida, in 1994. After serving an enlistment in the United States Army from 1996 to 1999, he attended the University of Florida, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in classical philology. He will receive his Master of Arts in classica l philology from the University of Florida in 2006. 51


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Title: Plato's Didactic Exemplum: Eros, the Dialogue, and Philosophy in the Symposium
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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Source Institution: University of Florida
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PLATO'S DIDACTIC EXEMPLUM:
EROS, THE DIALOGUE, AND PHILOSOPHY INT THE SYM~POSIUM
















By

RUBIN TODD BOHLANDER


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006
















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I first and foremost thank my parents, sister, and step-sisters, who have given me

unwavering support and love, especially during some difficult years. I can never

sufficiently express my gratitude to my grandmother, Gwen Faulkner, for teaching me to

love reading, reasoning, and religion. I would like to thank Timothy Johnson, Jim Marks,

David Young, and Robert Wagman for their patient guidance, encouragement, and

invaluable conversations about this field. Finally, Marla DeVicente, Daniel Copeland,

and Randall Childree have provided me with the friendship, grounding, correction, and

role models that have made these past couple of years successful.




















TABLE OF CONTENTS


IM Le

ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .........__.. ..... .__. .............._ ii...


AB STRAC T ................ .............. iv


CHAPTER


1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............1.......... ......


2 TRADITIONAL ASSUMPTIONS AND NEWER METHODS ................ ...............4


Dialogue Format and Dialogism............... ...............4
Is Plato Speaking? ................ ...............10........... ....

3 FRAMING THE DIALOGUE .............. ...............15....


W ho Tells This Story? ................ ...............15.......... .....
Plato' s Purpose in Framing ................. ...............19........... ...
Other Effects of Framing ................. ...............24.......... .....

4 DESPERATELY SEEKING EROS .............. ...............29....


Diotima' sLadder ................. ...............29........... ....
Ascending Speeches .............. ...............33....

5 THE EXAMPLE OF ALCIBIADES ....._......__. ..........._ ...........4


6 CONCLU SION................ ..............4


BIBLIO GRAPHY ................. ...............47..._..._......


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ..............._ ...............51......._ ......
















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

PLATO'S DIDACTIC EXEMPLUM:
EROS, THE DIALOGUE, AND PHILOSOPHY INT THE SYM~POSIUM

By

Rubin Todd Bohlander

August 2006

Chair: Robert Wagman
Major Department: Classics

In the following chapters I will examine the way in which the plot development and

narratological features of Plato' s Symposium provide the reader with an interactive

exemplum of how to properly practice philosophy as eros (love). My purpose will be to

show how Plato's use of multiple narrative frames, a series of speakers who

consecutively improve upon one another' s logoi (speeches), and Diotima' s ascent of the

ladder mirror each other and reflect what may be our best look into Plato's definition of

Socratic philosophy.

This investigation proceeds from the more general to the more specific attributes of

the Symposium and elucidates how these portray Plato's philosophical agenda. Following

a brief introduction, Chapter 2 contains a discussion of Plato' s choice of the dialogue

format and how that choice produces the question of a Platonic "mouthpiece." In

Chapter 3, I discuss Plato' s employment of narrative frames in this dialogue, and their

effect on it. Chapter 4 establishes the similarities between the progress of the speeches










given and Diotima' s explanation of eros as a procession toward to kalon (The Beautiful).

Chapter 5 examines Alcibiades' relationship with Socrates and how Plato uses them as

examples of successful and unsuccessful erotic maturation. A short conclusion discusses

how Plato combines all of these factors into a didactic experience for the reader that

works to guide him to understand philosophy as eri~s.















CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

The Synaposium is ostensibly an account of a banquet held in honor of the tragedian

Agathon for his victory at the City Dionysia in 416 BC. The tale is told by Apollodorus, a

flamboyant follower of Socrates, who did not attend the event, but heard about it from

Aristodemus, one of Socrates' intimate friends, who was present as the philosopher's

guest. The reason for this account is that some unnamed companions of Apollodorus have

heard about the speeches which the famous guests of this celebration delivered. They

want clarification of and more information on the erotikoi logoi (speeches about love)

which the members of Agathon' s symposium presented.

Occupying the central argument of the Synaposium are the encomia for eros

offered by Phaedrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, and Agathon. Within each

of the logoi, the speakers explore different understandings and theories concerning the

origin, nature, attributes, and functions of eros. All of these lead up to Socrates' own

speech and his presentation of the conversations which he had with a Mantinean

prophetess named Diotima. It was from her that Socrates received his education on

correct erotic living. Diotima describes eros as a spiritual being which exists between

mortal and immortal beings. According to her, eri~s leads the person who properly



SThe central topic of the Symposium is love (eros). However, in the Greek language and tradition eras
designates love as an internal human passion, as well as, the sexual drive, the act of sexual intercourse, and
a deity who personifies these. As will be seen, the various characters in this dialogue use the word eras to
mean all of these and more. I have, therefore, decided that throughout this paper the word eros will always
appear in lower case letters. Unlike many commentators and editors, I will not capitalize it to Eros when it
appears that the deity is intended by the speaker's use.










follows a lover initiated in the erotic mysteries on an ascent in beauty until he arrives at

the very form of The Beautiful (to kalon).

The Synaposium ends after the Athenian general and aristocrat Alcibiades crashes

the party in a drunken stupor. He comes for the purpose of crowning Agathon with a

wreath for his victory. However, when he sees that Socrates is in attendance, Alcibiades

places the wreath on Socrates' head and regales the symposiasts with words of praise for

him and the power of his speeches. While doing so, Alcibiades describes the troubled

relationship he had with Socrates. At the end of his speech, a new crowd of revelers

bursts into Agathon' s house, and many of the guests depart. The Synaposium comes to a

close when Socrates leaves the next morning, having remained awake all night in

discussion with Agathon and Aristophanes.

The scope of the Synaposium is wide-ranging and complex, resulting in an

abundance of interpretations. Strauss read this Platonic dialogue as a contest between

poetry and philosophy, in which philosophy triumphs. He also found it applicable to

political and social theory. Many have considered it one of Plato' s most clear

explanations for his theory of forms, but Anderson' s interpretation directly rej ects this

notion. Bury argues that the connective thread which holds together the interwoven

features of this work is a desire to portray the ideal Socrates and Socrates as the ideal.

Dover believes that Plato writes as an advocate of the right way for one to live. He also

finds the Synaposium a great resource for discussions about Greek homosexuality. Rosen

contends that Plato was both criticizing and praising Socrates for his particular form of

hubris.2


SStrauss (2001) 6-11; Anderson (1993) 7: Bury (1964) lxir-lxy: Dover (1980) viii, 3-5: Rosen (1987) lxii-
lxvi.









Given the multitude of topics which Plato treats in the Synaposium and the manifold

ways in which this dialogue can be understood, I do not attempt to render a complete

reading of the dialogue. However, in this paper I offer the argument that Plato chose for

the Synaposium particular literary structures, primarily narrative frames and indirect

discourse, in order to create a sense of progress which is reflected in the plot

development, namely the ascending order of speeches. This progression is mirrored in

Diotima' s description of the procedure for correctly practicing eros, known as 'Diotima' s

ladder.' Plato wrote the Synaposium in this way for the purpose of creating an interactive

experience for the reader. The reader is required to navigate through the dialogue in much

the same way as a lover must climb Ditoima's ladder. Through this work, Plato aims to

instruct his reader in the philosophical life and, if the reader is diligent, bring him to a

vision of The Beautiful itself.

The following chapters contain my examination of the didactic process which

Plato constructed in the Synaposiunt. In Chapter 2, I begin with a preliminary discussion

of methodology. I explain that the interpretive method employed in this paper is based

upon the so-called "Dialogical" approach to Platonic interpretation. Chapter 3 begins the

analysis of the Synaposium, starting with the use of narrative framing and its effect on the

reader. Chapter 4 turns to the speeches given at Agathon's banquet. I explicate the way in

which various features of the individual speeches are responded to by other speakers, the

way in which they are then reflected in Diotima' s speeches, and how this scheme creates

a sense of development for the reader. Chapter 5 contains my examination of Alcibiades'

role as the negative example of erotic development and how this contrasts with Socrates'

role as the perfectly erotic man. My conclusions are presented briefly in Chapter 6.















CHAPTER 2
TRADITIONAL ASSUMPTIONS AND NEWER METHODS

In Platonic studies, as is more necessary in philosophy than in many pursuits, it is

crucial to argue for the presuppositions brought to each analysis. Coming to a conclusion

about what the dialogue format is, how it functions, and if Plato' s dialogues are dramatic

or dogmatic in nature is primary. Whether or not one believes that Plato was attempting

to transmit doctrines, methodologies, or some combination of the two will affect the

manner in which the dialogues will be interpreted. Throughout the centuries of Platonic

scholarship, many popular interpretations have relied upon assumptions, some erroneous,

that had never been established through logical argumentation. In this chapter, I will

outline the assumptions which have guided my interpretation of the Symposium and

provide arguments for each, in particular that the dialogues are dramatic literature, non-

dogmatic, and that Plato does not speak directly through any of his characters.

Dialogue Format and Dialogism

"Every dialogue, if it is taken as a coherent whole, seems to be more than a vehicle

for doctrine; and the performative effect of the drama appears to be an inseparable part of

what Plato does want to convey."' It has long been an assumption used in Plato

interpretation that the great philosopher was attempting to transmit doctrines. For

"doctrines," I maintain the definition used by Press: "fixed, settled teachings which are

taken to be transcendent, universal, and rational, and which could be expressed as


SScott and Welton (2000) 149.









univocal propositions and stored in memory or books."2 For example, Aristotle

frequently opens his treatises with an assertion of one of his transcendent "truths," as in

the Nicomachean Ethics. zd~ya66v oS ad~vz' hpierat, "The Good is the thing at which all

things aim," serves to announce Aristotle's timeless proposition about the nature of every

techno and its telos.3 Plato's dialogues, in contrast, contain no such statements from their

author. The assumption that Plato's dialogues transmit "doctrines" seems reasonable.

However, whether Plato's dialogues "teach," for example, methodology, doctrines, or

deductive propositions, is not self-evident. Therefore, one cannot simply ascribe to Plato

a systematic set of dogmatic statements in his dialogues as his own belief structure.

The greatest problem with this way of thinking about Plato' s dialogues is that

scholars begin to neglect the literary form from which they extract these "doctrines." The

dogmatic or doctrinal approach, as this method of Platonic interpretation is often called,

has been dominant since ancient times.4 This interpretive method hangs on the

assumptions that Plato' s philosophy consisted of a series of doctrines, and that he wrote

them into his works. The dialogues then become little more than artifice for a group of

statements that the reader must hunt for, collect, and then compile into a system of

philosophy. As Tejera states, "One of the mainstays of the doctrinal approach is .. the

unstated working assumption .. that aesthetics has no bearing at all on the dialogues."5

This interpretive method diminishes Plato's use of advanced dramatic and literary



SPress (1993) 5.

SNicomachean Ethics 1094al. Translation by H. Rackham (1933).

SFor a study of the history of Platonic interpretations, see Tigerstedt (1974).

STejera (1997) 249, emphasis in original.









structures; it denies that these str-uctures contain meaning or should guide interpretation

of philosophical content.

A basic question that the doctrinal approach can never satisfactorily answer is why

Plato wrote dialogues. Given that other forms of literature had long been the traditional

mode of educational discourse, namely epic, drama, oratory, and lyric, Plato could have

maintained Athenian pedagogical customs. He did not; he wrote dialogues that

throughout the course of history have generally been considered "sui generis."6 They

represent a basic shift from the transmission of philosophy via verse, as was the case with

Xenophanes and Parmenides, to a prose tradition. This genre of literature (named

Sokratikoi logoi by Aristotle ) had begun previous to Plato' s writing; s nonetheless, the

Platonic dialogues diverge from the other extant Sokratikoi logoi both in form and

content. Nightingale summarizes this departure in the following way: "But it

is...reasonable to suppose that Plato took a simple genre characterized by recorded or

dramatized conversations and transformed it into a multi-generic hybrid."9 Plato

combined many literary and dramatic techniques in order to produce these philosophical

works. If the doctrinal approach were the best (dare I say intended) method of

interpretation, there would be little or no need for scholars to recognize such innovations,

let alone ask questions about them.





6 Press (1997) 7.

SPoetics 1447b11.

SKahn (1996) situates Plato's dialogues within the framework of writings completed by some of his
contemporaries, such as Xenophon, Antisthenes, Aeschines, Phaedo, and Eucleides.

9 Nightingale (1995) 5.










At this point, it is necessary to turn towards a positive solution to the problems of

interpretation placed upon Plato scholarship by the dogmatic approach to his dialogues.

Since the 19th century a movement in Plato interpretation that espouses a holistic

approach to the dialogues has grown in influence. 10 This dialogical approach, as it is

commonly referred to by its proponents, views the dialogues inside of their literary,

linguistical, and historical contexts in order to find their meanings. Scholars of the

dialogical approach minimize the idea of extracting doctrines or finding Plato's beliefs in

the statements of characters within the dialogues. 1 Because scholars holding to

dialogical reading of Plato are not searching for doctrinal statements and devaluing the

literary nature of Plato' s dialogues, the dialogical interpretation is able to offer

explanations for Plato' s use of historical features and dramatic structures.

It is important to place distance between the dialogical approach to history and the

traditional dogmatic attitude. As a primary example of the latter, Vlastos holds that the

Apology is a historical portrayal both of Socrates and his trial.12 The evidence he provides

for this position is twofold. First, he states that the only alternative to Plato's Socrates

depicting the historical Socrates is Xenophon's Socrates. After dismissing other

contemporaries of Plato as viable sources for information about the historical Socrates,

'o For a brief history of the development and major contributors of the dialogical movement over the last
two centuries, see Press (1997) 12-18.

11 Press (1997) 3. Although not a dialogical scholar, but a unitarian, Kahn expresses a major dialogical
tendency in his approach to Plato with statements such as, "His principal aim, above all in the earlier
works, is not to assert true propositions but to alter the minds and hearts of his readers. Plato's conception
of philosophical education is not to replace false doctrines with true ones but to change radically the moral
and intellectual orientation of the learner, who, like the prisoners in the cave, must be converted turned
around in order to see the light." Kahn (1996) xv.

12 "That this figure [Socrates] is a faithful and imaginative recreation of the historical Socrates...is the
conclusion I would be prepared to defend myself." Vlastos (1971) 1. Vlastos states that this view of
Socrates is primarily from the early dialogues, but still maintains that the Socrates written by Plato is
intended to be read as the historical Socrates.









Vlastos asks "If Plato and Xenophon cannot both be right, why must Plato be right?" 13

Why must either of them be right? A significant unspoken assumption lies at the bottom

of Vlastos' argument: someone intended to write a biographically accurate work about or

containing Socrates and accomplished that intention. Even if this were true, and we will

never know if it is, Vlastos decides that the philosopher Plato has done so, and not the

historian Xenophon. Second, just because Plato accurately represented some aspects of

Socrates' life and personality, it does not follow that all of the attributes and actions of

the Platonic Socrates depict the historical Socrates. Speaking of the Apology, Vlastos

answers, "[Plato] knew that hundreds of those who might read the speech .. had heard

the historic original."14 Once again, the seductive and powerful influence of the

traditional interpretive method has led Vlastos to assume that Plato was attempting to

correct errors in facts. In this case, he states unequivocally, "his purpose in writing it [the

Apology] was to clear his master' s name and indict his judges ."15 However, Plato' s

"purpose" in writing the Apology or any of the dialogues has not been securely

determined and, therefore, remains a point of contention. Not only this, but Vlastos has

also assumed a wide readership of Plato in antiquity which more recent scholarship

denies. Thesleff concludes that "Plato must have thought of his friends around him, and

their friends abroad, as his primary audience" and "that Plato, for all we know, never

wrote for an impersonal, general public."16 Vlastos' adherence to the traditional approach



13 Vlastos (1971) 2.

14 Vlastos (1971) 3.

1s Vlastos (1971) 3.

16 Thesleff (1993) 38-9.










to Plato has trapped his interpretations within a framework of increasingly larger and

less-substantiated claims. 1

The use of the historical elements in Plato' s dialogues, as understood by dialogical

readers, is not for the purpose of biography nor does it simply make them more accessible

to the reader. x Certainly, historical features assist in relating Plato's themes by

constructing for them personalities or characters that are grounded in something which

appears to be reality. Still, to stop at that point would be identical to the doctrinal view of

Plato' s use of history because these personae could be interchanged with any other

character. In contrast, the dialogical approach contends that:

As in any literary text, who and what the characters are is crucial for interpretation.
But many of Plato' s characters, like Socrates, pose a special problem; for they are
both fictional and historical, by which I mean that they are named after and in some
identifiable ways modeled on real life figures of the recent Athenian past, but they
are also changed to suit Plato' s purposes and, of course, all of the words they speak
are Plato's. This complicates and deepens the dialogues and needs to be fully
explicated in each case. 19

In the next section, I will treat more thoroughly the question of the role of Plato' s

Socrates in the dialogues, but the key issue concerning historical characters from a

dialogical standpoint is that they are Plato's constructions. The dialogical approach

requires that we understand the dramatic and rhetorical effects that are created with the

appearance of these characters named and modeled after historical persons, and scholars

must consider how these shape the Platonic philosophical agenda.



17 Speaking of modern scholars such as Vlastos, Kahn writes ". since they treat Plato's literary creations
as if these were historical documents, the result is a pseudo-historical account of the philosophy of
Socrates." Kahn (1996) 3.

1s Robb makes the clear, but generally overlooked point that "biography is a Hellenistic invention, and was
unknown in Plato's day." Robb (1997) 34.

19 Press (1993) 119-20.









Is Plato Speaking?

Arguably, the most potent and entrenched concept that the doctrinal method of

interpretation has produced is the notion that the character of Socrates faithfully

represents Plato's philosophical beliefs within the dialogues. Because there is no Plato

character in any of the dialogues, before the time of Aristophanes of Byzantium20 the

dialogues prompted the question, "Which of Plato' s characters expresses his own

position?" In recent scholarly debate, this question has been answered by the so-called

"mouthpiece theory." This is so intertwined with the arguments concerning the dialogue

format and interpretive methods that many of the dialogical responses to mouthpiece

theories will overlap already stated dialogical responses to doctrinal methodology.

Nevertheless, since Socrates is ostensibly the central figure in Sokratikoi logoi and the

legacy of the historical Socrates sparks such heated antagonism among scholars, it is

important to outline the differences between traditional expectations placed upon Plato's

Socrates and those expectations placed upon him by dialogical interpreters.

In order to extricate from the dialogues a definitive "Platonism," philosophers and

philologists have attempted to assign to a character inside of his writings the privileged

role of Plato's spokesman. If, as the idea goes, any particular person stands in a work as

a conduit of Plato' s authoritative perception, then the great philosopher' s doctrines and

beliefs become accessible to the discerning reader capable of determining which

character fills this role. Of course, this too relies on the assumption about Plato and

Platonic philosophy that, in order to find any Platonic doctrine in the dialogues, there first



20 Oxyrhyncus 3219; Tarrant (2000) 71. In fact, H. Cherniss shows in Aristotle 's Criticism ofPlato and the
Academy (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1944) that Aristotle had already asked and answered
repeatedly whether Socrates and other main characters express Plato's ideas.










must have been Platonic doctrines and then Plato must have written them into these

dialogues. At no point in any of the dialogues, however, is it possible to isolate a

statement and definitively claim that Plato believed it as true. The dialogues are dramatic

prose and not treatises, and as such, the characters' statements may at any point fail to

convey the author's doctrines, provided he had any, while still serving his purpose.

That the character Socrates provides the best vantage from which to look out over

the Platonic philosophical landscape has long been the consensus opinion. This

traditional view holds the position that whenever Socrates appears in a dialogue of Plato

the reader must consider his speeches to be the articulation of Plato's system of

philosophy. However, since Socrates does not appear in some dialogues, in others does

not occupy the protagonist role, and occasionally contradicts himself between dialogues,

scholars have been forced to contrive intricate explanations for how these reflect upon the

"continuity" of Platonic philosophy. As a result, two maj or schools of thought have come

forth within the doctrinal scholars, the unitarians and the developmentalists.

The unitarian response to the mouthpiece debate, although differences of degree

exist among scholars of this view, maintains that Plato had a fully formed philosophical

system from his initial authorship of the earliest dialogues. 21 To be accurate, the unitarian

position does not hold that at all points Socrates, or any speaker, directly speaks for Plato;

nevertheless, unitarians affirm that Socrates, quite frequently Plato's representative,

becomes the central figure in a series of literary works through which Plato espouses his



21 The unitarian scholars attribute the genesis of this interpretation to Friedrich Schleiermacher,
Introduction to the Dialogues ofPlato, tr. W. Dobson (New York: Graland, 1973), whom the dialogical
movement equally maintains as instrumental for the inception of its methodology. Influential recent
unitarian proponents include Paul Friedliinder, Charles Kahn, and the "Tilbingen School" of Kurt Gaiser
and Hans-Joachim Kriimer.










own philosophical theories. Early dialogues provide only clues and "proleptic"

introductions to theories that Plato makes explicit in later dialogues, although he had

those theories already fully developed in his mind. The main concern of unitarian

scholars, as opposed to developmentalists, is that "Plato's thought processes in the course

of composition are inaccessible to us. What we have is his authorial design, inscribed in

the text of the dialogues."22 Thus, the unitarian approach to the mouthpiece issue requires

a protagonist, usually Socrates, who offers the examples of Plato' s continuation of

Socratic philosophy in a progressively revelatory manner, while maintaining Plato's

anonymity .

The developmentalist school teaches that, as Plato wrote and matured, he altered

his philosophical system and this is reflected in his dialogues. First expressed by K. F.

Hermann in 1839, developmentalism has gained a large adherence since the advent of

stylometric analysis in 1867.23 COrnford used stylometric analysis to establish an outline

of the order in which Plato wrote the dialogues and divided them into three primary

groupings.24 From there, developmenatlists think that it is possible to track how Plato

uses different characters over the course of his life to express his philosophical doctrines.

The conclusion of the developmentalist perspective is that Plato uses Socrates as his

spokesman throughout the early dialogues. As time goes on and he establishes his own



22Kahn (1996) 63.

23 Guthrie (1975) 49. By far, the most influential members of developmentalism of the twentieth century
have been Gregory Vlastos and his students.

24 Guthrie (1975) 50. While there are variations of this arrangement and still debate over individual
dialogues, Cornford's categories of early, middle, and late dialogues generally hold today. Early: Apology,
Crito, Laches, Lysis, Charmidees, Euthyprhro, Hippias Minor and Major, Protagoras, Gorgias, lon. Middle:
Meno, Phaed'o, Republic, Symposium, Phaedrus, Euthydemus, Menexemus, Cratylus. Late: Parmenidees,
Theaetetus, Sophist, Politicus, Timaeus, Critias, Philebus, Laws.









mature philosophy, Plato allows other characters to express his thoughts and distances

himself from Socrates, especially the historical Socrates. Vlastos describes this process in

the following way:

As Plato changes, the philosophical persona of his Socrates is made to change,
absorbing the writer' s new convictions, arguing for them with the same zest with
which the Socrates of the previous dialogues had argued for the views the writer
had shared with the original of that figure earlier on.2

Developmentalists use this idea of maturation to explain the apparent contradictions

between dialogues and the shift in themes from the early dialogues to the later dialogues.

Both the unitarian and developmental approaches to the mouthpiece question are

incompatible with the dialogical approach to Plato interpretation. Indeed, many so-called

"anti-mouthpiece" or "non-mouthpiece" scholars are members of the dialogical school.26

The reason for this is that dialogism does not presume the existence of Platonic doctrines

within the dialogues, whereas the unitary and developmental approaches both attempt to

cull propositional statements from the dialogues. These collected doctrines must be

forced to cohere in a logical, systematic way. Disregarding these presupposed teachings,

the dialogical reader will not find the need for a spokesman.

So then, the dialogical response to the question of who speaks for Plato is that "the

dialogues do, irreducibly."27 It is impossible to separate any portion of a dialogue from

the larger context of that work and label it Plato' s theory or doctrine. "The dialogues are

dramatic examples of such [philosophical] speech and thinking that their audience can



25 Vlastos (1991) 53.

26 Scholars prominently known for their participation in both dialogical and anti-mouthpiece scholarship
include Debra Nails, Holger Thesleff, Harold Tarrant, and Gerald Press.

27Nails (2000) 16.









take in and in which they can, at least vicariously, participate."28 Without the dialogue

form, the philosophical reasoning that takes place within the dialogues could not exist.

The dialogues as independent wholes transmit Plato's philosophy.

The unique nature of the dialogues has led to great speculation and more than two

millennia of interpretations based less upon what we know and more upon what has been

unquestioningly accepted. Through dialogism, it is possible to strip away many

unfounded presumptions that have governed Plato scholarship and to take a new look at

the features of the dialogues that have made them the unparalleled body of philosophical

literature. These principles will guide this investigation of the Symposium and show how

Plato masterfully constructed within this dialogue a reflexive relationship between

literary form, dramatic structure, and philosophic content which work synergistically to

educate the reader.


28Waugh (2000) 49.















CHAPTER 3
FRAMING THE DIALOGUE

Plato devised an complex narrative frame for the Synaposium, and the effects of its

intricacies have not gone without great attention. This frame is constructed with an

opening scene in which the reader meets the narrator of the Synaposium, Apollodorus.

Plato continues throughout the work to use the frame as Apollodorus occasionally

interj ects with "He said that he said." The purpose of creating such a dramatic structure to

contain the speeches about eros remains one of the primary questions concerning the

Synaposiunt. Three other dialogues among the Platonic corpus, Theaetetus, Phaedo, and

Parmenides, begin with similar framing structures, and their relevance to the practice of

philosophy continues to deserve analysis.l As discussed in the previous chapter, an

investigation of this sort is at the heart of the dialogical interpretative method of Platonic

dialogues. In order to understand what philosophy the Synaposium expresses, particularly

through its use of frames, one must take a careful look at the emotional and psychological

oscillations effected by Plato' s construction of this narrative frame.

Who Tells This Story?

The Synaposiunt opens on a scene between a Socrates enthusiast, Apollodorus, and

a group of unnamed listeners. Apollodorus goes to great lengths in order to assure his

audience that he can faithfully recount the speeches about eros which were given at


SThis chapter owes a great amount to the insightful works of Halperin (1992), Johnson (1998), and Strauss
(2001). These three scholars produced some of the analyses most centered literary and historical features of
the Symposium's narrative frame and the general structure of the work in recent history. Although all
arrive at different conclusions, their contributions in this topic have been central in my investigation.









Agathon's victory party. He immediately begins to narrate an encounter with Glaucon

from a couple of days before, during which the two of them walked up to the city as

Apollodorus told the whole story from the beginning. Whoever it was who had heard

about the banquet from Phoenix had not accurately retold the logoi to Glaucon, and so

Apollodorus had been caught and coerced into narration. But during this embedded

narrative, Apollodorus reveals a piece of information that could undercut his claim to

reliability: he tells Glaucon that he was not present at the gathering at Agathon's house,

and, in fact, that the whole affair had taken place long ago during their childhood years.

He states that he learned the "truth" of the matter from Aristodemus, a close follower of

Socrates, who had attended that evening and that he verified some (enia) details with

Socrates.2 COncluding his explanation of his preparedness to share the logot erotikoi,

Apollodorus is playfully chastised for his eccentric ways by one of his interlocutors.

Following this, he concedes to share what he knows and begins narrating Aristodemus'

story of Agathon' s party.

The introductory sentence deserves special consideration. SoxAj Cot ~napi Av

~nuv6&voeo6 oix dlCEM~T1ZoS simi, "(I think that I, concerning the things you're inquiring

of, am not unpractised." Plato introduces a theme of reflection in two words and then

begins to move the reader along his dialogical path. The first two words of the

Symposium, SoxAj CoI, ("(I think that I ..")3 draw the reader into the narrator' s dramatic

present and perspective. When read, the phrase forces one to think reflexively, as though

looking into a mirror and speaking to himself: "I am telling myself that I think that I ."


SSymposium 173b5.

SDover (1980) 77.









In this way, Plato inaugurates a series of reflections that will continue throughout the

Synaposiunt. He sets out from the person who always responds to a text, the reader' s "I",

and causes him to behold himself as narrator for just one second. But in that second, the

effect is complete, and the speaker and the reader become united at the dramatic level,

while still conversing with one another. Nevertheless, it becomes apparent through the

second person plural verb ~novedveo~e that this narrator is speaking to a group, and that

the reader is among this group of listeners. This sets in place a new mirror effect: the

reader, who is still feeling united with the voice of the first-person narrator is now being

spoken to by that same narrator. Now the reflection is between the narrator/reader in first

person and the addressees/reader in second person. Plato's text tempers this unusual

position and does not permit the reader to linger by moving away to the first embedded

narrative about Apollodorus' meeting with Glaucon.

Before leaving the dialogue's initial sentence, it is necessary to point out that

another maj or theme of the Synaposium is presented here. The narrator states that he is

"not unpracticed," introducing CLEhlit, practice or care. As explained by Diotima, it is by

nzelete! that all knowledge maintains a presence within humans through the regeneration

of what was known and the replacement of old memories with new replicas of that

information. She calls this yeLEhEZy, to practice.4 For, when one begins to forget

something, through nzelete! that knowledge is reinserted into the mind and appears to the

individual as the same, although it is the recreation of a previous instance of knowledge.

Ditotima tells Socrates that this is true of our bodies as well. The human physical nature

is one of constant deterioration and coming into being. Although a person is thought of as


SSymposium 208a3-4.










the same from birth until death, he continually loses and produces things like hair, skin,

and blood.' To look at this on a larger scale, Diotima explains that this constant need for

regeneration is what makes all animals so "erotically disposed."6 This is because all

mortals desire to become immortal. This drive for immortality that generates procreation,

which in turn requires melete#, is the very nature of eros.BaeonDti'spnclef

meleted, we see that Apollodorus recognizes that the story he is going to repeat for his

listeners is the product of melete! and an example of the nature of eros. He has rehearsed

the story he will deliver, and thereby turns his recitation of the logot erotikoi into a

manifestation of the work of eros brought about through meleted.

With the conclusion of the first sentence, the reader has moved positions twice, and

Plato's text makes it clear that the unity with the narrator has dissolved. Now a member

of the narrator' s dramatic audience, the reader realizes that Plato has placed him in

medians res; he (addressees/reader) has asked this narrator to tell him about this famed

occasion, at which Socrates and other notable Athenians presented speeches on the erotic

(zTjv eparixK~v h6ymyv, 172b2). The text, however, does not reveal this fact directly, but

through an embedded narrative. This is only noticed when the narrator, soon to be

identified as Apollodorus, informs his listeners that "just the other day I happened to be

headed up to town from my home in Phalerum." Because the reader neither traveled from

Phalerum the other day nor owns a house there, the distinction from the original voice of





SSymposium 207d6-el.

6 Symposium 207b7-cl.

SSymposium 207c8-d2.









80xfo Cpot has been cemented. Plato has made the reader a member of the group wanting

to know more about what Socrates said during Agathon's banquet.

Next, a member of the group speaks to Apollodorus and engages him in some

polite, humorous name-calling (173d4). The reader gains full autonomy from any of the

characters within both the dramatic and narrative portions of the text, although he

remains present for the dramatic moment. The impetus to know what Aristodemus shared

with Apollodorus still drives the conversation forward. Plato has left his reader eager to

hear more and has engendered a desire to learn about ta erotika.

The deft way in which Plato has performed his literary legerdentain allows one to

progress through this dramatic scene, with its tensions and introductions of important

themes, without recognizing the individual steps. The reader does not consciously

consider the technique used to place him in this dialogue's world, a world of reflections

and diligent care (nzeletd). Nonetheless, as he moves into Apollodorus' telling of

Aristodemus' narrative of the speeches given at Agathon' s house, the Synaposium's

reader feels comfortable to interact with the characters and ideas expressed by those

present. Plato has completed his artistry, and the reader is none the more aware of the

artifice, although manipulated by it.

Plato's Purpose in Framing

After considering the emotional and psychological effects of the initial dramatic

sequence, it is necessary to provide possible reasons why Plato uses narrative frames in

the Synaposiunt. Surely this skillful display of literary prowess was not solely for the

purpose of creating "suspension of disbelief." In order to achieve this, Plato did not need

to embed multiple narrations, some of which are second and third-hand to the narrator.









When the structure of these embedded narratives is represented in a "step-down" outline

it looks like the following:

* Apollodorus narrates to his companions.
* Aristodemus tells the story to Apollodorus.
* Socrates presents his narrative to those at the banquet.
* Diotima explains eros to Socrates.

By the time the reader arrives at the climax of the Synaposium with Diotima, any

statement providing the order of transmission would require saying, "Apollodorus said

that Aristodemus said that Socrates said that Diotima said this." This level of complexity

and convolutionn" denotes purpose. This purpose must find its expression through the

structure itself.

My position on this issue, stated plainly, is that Plato achieves two very important

results by framing the Synaposium in this way. First, he fashions an ascending order of

reflections that begins with the previously discussed movement of perspectives. This

concept of reflection is mirrored by embedding narratives within narratives, which then

interact with one another. I will explicate this point in the next chapter. But for now, it

has been shown that Apollodorus' first statement introduces CLEhMTI into the text, which

Diotima will refer to near the end of Socrates' narration of their conversation, both of

which are within Aristodemus' account as told by Apollodorus. In this way, the most

embedded narrative, Socrates' telling of Diotima's conversations, is reflected at the

original level of narration, that is, Apollodorus conversation with his interlocutors.

Second, Plato acknowledges the difficult position that he has made for himself by

inscribing the practice of dialogical philosophy, that is, the practice of philosophy

through two or more persons in dialectic as portrayed by Socrates in the dialogues, into a

SJohnson (1998) 588-9.










literary, text-based format. Through his dialogue format and dramatic frames for

narratives in his dialogues, Plato aids his Athenian contemporaries to see philosophy as

an interactive process that demands varying levels of negotiation from those who would

participate in philosophizing.9

Arguably, the circumstance which most differentiates modern readers from the late-

5th and early-4th century Athenian culture is literacy or, more precisely, our lesser

dependence on oral transmission of knowledge versus the ancients' heavy reliance upon

it. 10 The conditions of transmission of information have forever changed among Western

societies, and it is impossible to recreate a situation by which moderns might fully

appreciate the ancient expectations of orality and aurality. Greek society had been

passing down legends of their heroes, stories of their origins, and myths of their gods in

spoken form for centuries before Plato. An Athenian of this time could expect to know

how to live a meaningful and virtuous life by following the examples he committed to

memory, having heard and seen them from public orators, epic bards, and dramatic

presentations.





9 One must also bear in mind that Plato was not only negotiating between his society's trend of oral
transmission and this newer movement towards written literature, but also between Socrates' practice of
dialectic and written philosoplw. The textual and historical traditions agree that Socrates never committed
any of his philosoplw to writing. Plato portrays Socrates disavowing the value of writing for philosophical
purposes in the famous passage of his Phaedrus. At 275d, Socrates tells Phaedrus that writing is like a
painting: whenever anyone asks it something, it continues to signify the same thing. He continues to say
that writing has no power of its own to convince or argue, but always requires a "father" to help them
along. Later, at 276e, Socrates unequivocally states that discourse about the just, good, and beautiful is far
more noble when engaging another person in dialectic. Whether the historical Socrates actually made such
statements can not be known. Nevertheless, we are sure that no writing of his remains and Plato wrote his
Socrates as an oralistt." The decision to use the philosophical dialogue and dramatic framing should,
therefore, be considered as part of Plato's own negotiation to maintain Socrates' dialectical approach to
philosophy while moving to the written medium.

"' For studies of orality in Plato, see Robb (1997) and Tarrant (1995).









Plato explores how he bridges the gap between the oral tradition, with its emphasis

on dramatic representation and recitation, and the newer literary means of engaging

philosophy in the Theaetetus. The dramatic scene which introduces the narrative in this

dialogue provides an example of how 4th century Athenians could use written accounts of

dialogues in order to pursue philosophical ends. The scene opens on Eucleides and

Terpsion coming across each other as Eucleides is returning home from Erineum and a

visit with the ailing war hero Theaetetus. Eucleides informs Terpsion that during his

return from seeing Theaetetus, he recalled that Socrates had told him about a

conversation between Theaetetus, Theodorus, and himself. Eucleides says that he is not

able to narrate the event from memory, but he had written down the substance of that

conversation as best as he could remember and subsequently verified the contents with

Socrates on his visits to Athens. Terpsion wishes to hear this dialogue, so Theaetetus

invites him to rest at his house while a slave reads the book of this conversation to both of

them. Before Eucleides commands his slave to begin, he informs Terpsion that he has

written this dialogue as a drama and not as a narrative; specifically, he has presented the

dialogue between Socrates and his interlocutors as it took place and not as Socrates told

him. Therefore, the book does not contain transitional phrases, such as "And then he

said..." between each speaker' s turn. Eucleides then orders the slave to read and the

embedded dialogue begins.

In the dialogue format, Plato merged the instilled ancient sense of orality with the

rapidly increasing appreciation for written literature. One can see in the frame of the

Theaetetus Plato' s cognizance of his society's transition from oral to literary transmission

methods. The union of these two divergent sensibilities required Plato, just as his










character Eucleides, to be aware of the differences in audience response when moving

from a literature which is heard to a literature which is read. Eucleides followed the

instinct to dramatize, and through conscientious application of dramatic technique he

places his audience, in this case himself and Terpsion, directly into the action with

Socrates. He removes the mediating language that might create difficulty of

comprehension in someone who has spent a lifetime listening to the plays of Euripides or

the recitations of Homer. Likewise, Plato removes the distance between his readers and the

erga of his dialogues through dramatization and dramatic frames.

Important conclusions about Plato's purpose in framing the Synaposium can be

drawn from observations made about the frame of the Theaetetus. The frame of the

Synaposium was an intentional device that Plato employed to create a particular response

from his readers. That is, including such a structure was part of his well-considered

manipulation of emotional interactions with the text, and it serves to establish the theme

of CLEhlit. Since we observe from the Theaetetus that Plato knew ways to express related

speech without using Greek' s accusative/idfnitive indirect speech construction, to

employ this construction constitutes intention, not simple adherence to syntax. The

reason is found in the Theaetetus when Eucleides explains his exclusion of "I said" and

"he said," the rationale he gives is Clil napiXotev unpc'yCpam,l so that there will not be

difficulties in understanding. If the absence of these narrative markers and the

accusative/idfnitive construction they require means fewer difficulties for the reader of a

text, then the inclusion of these same elements must indicate greater complexity for the

same reader. From the fact that he utilized the more problematic syntactical and narrative


11 Theaetetus 143cl.










features, we understand that Plato intended that the Synaposium require more of its

readers. He determines that even basic linguistic comprehension will be a struggle and

that if one is to attain to a full understanding of this dialogue' s import, that person must

strive after it. Just as if in longing for an obj ect of desire, the reader practices great care

through the embedded narratives to arrive at Agathon's banquet and to hear Diotima' s

description of eros.

I wish to clarify at this point that I am not claiming that Plato wrote the Hzeaetetus

and the Synaposium with the notion of intertextuality as understood by many analytic

interpreters of Plato' s works. Familiarity with the Theaetetus and its discussion of the

tension between orality and literacy would not have been a prerequisite for Plato' s

contemporaries to sense the "difficulty" in the Synaposiunt that I have discussed. The late-

5th and early-4th century Athenian instinct for oral/aural literature caused a reader of that

time to sense the struggle of the Synaposium by nature. This is what makes the frame of

the Theatetus so remarkable in its portrayal of Athenians dealing with dramatic writing

versus narrative writing. Plato has committed to text an example of how the tendency

towards orality, an experience which modern readers do not share, works out when

someone of that culture shifts to written communication. The modern reader benefits

from correlating concepts discussed in the Hzeatetus to the Synaposium, but this was not

at all a condition for comprehension among Plato's generation.

Other Effects of Framing

Two frequently discussed effects of Plato' s use of a complex narrative frame in the

Synaposium include: 1) Plato creates a sense temporal "distance" between his readers and

12 Cf. Halperin (1992) 97-106 and Rosen (1987) 10, with their "initiation" into the mysteries contained
within the narrative.









the events of the narrative; 2) Plato undermines the "authenticity" of the accounts given

and the narrator' s (or Plato' s own) "reliability" to relate the contents of the narrative

accurately. Although both of these interpretations of Platonic framing have helped

scholars to achieve great improvements in understanding the function of frames in the

philosophical dialogue, the interpretive model that I have employed renders these

unsatisfactory or inapplicable. For the remainder of this chapter I will show how the

notion of "distance" indicates an anachronistic perspective and that any question of

"authenticity" is a consequence of the assumption that Plato intended to present a

historically accurate report in the Synaposiunt.

When scholars such as Bacon and Rosen speak of "distance" within the

Synaposium, they refer to a feeling of separation between the initial dramatic time, when

Apollodorus begins the text with 80xf'o CoI, and the time decades earlier when Diotima

and Socrates held their conversation. 13 According to them, the reader is often reminded

of the fact that he, like Apollodorus and his unnamed companions, did not attend the

gathering at Agathon's house, nor were they present for Diotima's explication on the

nature and workings of eri~s. Plato imposes upon the reader, as this interpretation goes, a

feeling of "distance" through his use of the extended accusative/infinitive indirect speech

construction during the logoi, and whenever Apollodorus interrupts with phrases like,

"He said that Agathon said that ."

Quite to the contrary, in my reading, the frame of the Synaposium and the use of

indirect statement provide a dramatic entry that makes a legendary occasion come to life

once again, while forcing the reader to struggle with the structure and meaning of the


'3 Bacon (1959) 419-21: Rosen (1987) 7-9.









text. Although it is true that many years separate the dramatic present of the frame and

the time of the embedded narratives, Plato traverses this temporal gap and places his

reader in the room with Agathon' s company. The events and speeches of the narrative

appear realistic. They grant a glimpse into the world of the Athenian elite at the height of

the classical period, as scholars who use the "distance" interpretation agree. Halperin

comes close with his concept of the "erotics of narrativity" where it focuses on the

interaction between a reader's desire to experience the past is fulfilled and the fact that

narration itself means that the reader can never be in that past. 14 Still, the idea of

separation is overstated in this. If Plato was intending to make his reader feel detached,

then he failed miserably.

A better explanation, and one supported with evidence provided by Plato, is that

"difficulty" was at the heart of the frame and its consequent syntax, not "distance." As

discussed, Plato displays his awareness of the difficulties that indirect discourse creates in

extended narrative. Eucleides' stylistic choices in the Theaetetus provide a consparandunt

for the ancient Greek response to this issue. A narrative of this type requires greater effort

to follow and to understand, even for native speakers of ancient Greek but this does not

necessitate feeling that the events narrated are farther away. According to my

interpretation, the sensation of "distance" appears to be anachronistic response based

upon the modern reader' s own "distance" from the culture of Plato' s day. These modern

readers have proj ected "distance" onto Plato and his contemporaries.

Comments about the "reliability" of the narrator or the "authenticity" of the

narrative in the Synaposiunt abound so greatly within the scholarship on the dialogue that


'4 Halperin (1992) 98 and 106.









it is hardly overstatement to call them ubiquitous. 15 The issue is based primarily on the

relative chronology of events within the Synaposium and the indirect manner in which

Apollodorus learned the narrative. The brief summary of the argument goes as follows: If

Agathon won his victory as a dramatist in 416 BC and Apollodorus is attempting to relate

the events of the next day's celebration banquet approximately fifteen years later, having

heard the story himself second-hand, then the accuracy of his narration is questionable. 16

Because Plato authored the Synaposium as many as twenty years later and makes use of

an "unreliable" narrator, he appears to undermine his own authority to present this

Sokratikos logos as an "authentic" record.

At a dramatic level, one cannot help but recognize the effort Apollodorus exerts to

confirm his version of the story. He informs his listeners that Aristodemus slept through

part of the affair and could not remember entire speeches given during the party.

Admissions of this type help to lend greater credibility to the one confessing. Moreover,

what portions Aristodemus recalled, Apollodorus verified their veracity with Socrates.

Far from thinking of him as unreliable, the characters within the dialogue's dramatic

instance are moved to trust Apollodorus' telling as authentic and well-rehearsed. Beyond

internal observations, the Synaposium is a work of dramatic and narrative literature. The

lifelike construction of the literary world which Plato creates in his dialogues, however,

does not constitute an attempt at biography or historiography. I argued in the last chapter

that the assumption of factuality or transcription of historical events and people continues

to be untenable. It appears in this instance that the desire for historicity among many



15 E.g., Bury (1964) xv-xviii; Rosen (1987) 9: Halperin (1992) 107-11; Hunter (I r 14) 26-9.

16 For the dates of the Symposium's dramatic events and Plato's authorship, see Bury (1964) lxvi-iii.









scholars has led them to devalue or forget the fundamental nature of fictive writing in

Plato's dialogues.

To summarize, an analysis of the frame of the Synaposium demonstrates some of

the ways in which Plato wrote the dialogue and its constituent parts with a conscientious

eye toward expressing his philosophical agenda through the union of both form and

content. At the very beginning of the Synaposiunt the themes of reflection and diligent

care, CLEM~TI, find expression in Apollodorus' first sentence. The reader is made to

participate in the pursuit of eros by struggling through the negotiation of varying

perspectives and the difficulties which indirect discourse creates. The embedded

narratives also serve to fashion a progression of ascent into the dramatic past.















CHAPTER 4
DESPERATELY SEEKING EROS

In the last chapter I argued that the frame of the Synaposium performs several

important tasks: it engenders in the reader a sense of eagerness to find out more about the

speeches given during Agathon's celebration, it creates a dramatic feeling of immediacy

that allows a reader to believe he is participating, and it establishes that interaction with

the narrative will be difficult and require careful attention. In order to continue to

explicate how Plato guides his reader to experience the didactic effect of the Synaposium,

in this chapter I will discuss the progressive nature of the speeches. More specifically, it

is my intention to illustrate how each successive speech is an "improvement" in the way

the symposiasts praise eros and its function. These improvements serve to create the

notion of progression toward an ultimate understanding of eros. When, at last, Socrates

speaks, he completes this "upward" trend by correcting the method of praise and sharing

his conversations with Diotima which initiated him into the mysteries of eros. This theme

and sense of development within the plot mirrors the steps of ascension to a vision of The

Beautiful (to kalon) as described Diotima.

Diotima's Ladder

For purposes of comparison, it is necessary to outline the segment of the

Synaposium in which Diotima provides her stages of erotic progress. Synaposium 209e5-

212a7 contains the entirety of Diotima' s revelation of the procedure by which a young

man ascends to a vision of The Beautiful. In fact, she lists the steps of this ascent twice in

this passage of the text: at 210a4-210e5 and 211lb7-211Id1.









This is the right procedure or way of being led by another in erotic matters,
beginning from the earlier beauties for the sake of this one, he must always ascend,
as on the steps of a stair, from one to two, and from two to all beautiful bodies; and
from beautiful bodies to beautiful customs, from beautiful customs to beautiful
knowledge, and from knowledge he will terminate in this knowledge, which is no
other than knowledge of this beauty itself; and so initiated, he knows what beauty is
itself.

Moravcsik, reading both sections together, produces a fourteen step organization of

Diotima' s ascent of the erotic man. 2 He divides these fourteen stages into an "upper" and

a "lower" ascent, which contains two subdivisions. The first subdivision of the "lower"

ascent contains the first five stages. These predominantly concern the appreciation of

beauty evident in bodies, moving from the love of beauty in a particular body to the

recognition that what is beautiful in all bodies is the same beauty. At the last stage of this

subdivision the erotic beginner has learned to hold in contempt the notion of loving only

one body, and he becomes a lover of all beautiful bodies. In the second subdivision of the

"lower" ascent, which contains the next five stages, the lover makes the cognitive

advancement to understand that souls contain a beauty which is superior to the beauty of

bodies. He learns the value of guiding a young man along the ascent and sees the beauty

of intangibles, such as customs and laws. Having discovered that all beauty is related,

whether in bodies or in intangible practices, he assigns little value to physical beauty

since it is inferior. Moravscik calls the final four stages of Diotima' s ladder the "upper"

ascent. At this point, the lover is turned to contemplate the beauty contained in sciences

and other branches of knowledge. After beholding the beauty that is manifested in so

many ways, the lover finds liberation from any single form of beauty and gazes on the



Translation from Rosen (1987) 272-3.

SMoravscik (1972) 286.










vast ocean of beauty that exists. He pours forth beautiful speeches in boundless

philosophy until, strengthened by these experiences, he suddenly catches sight of the

transcendent form of The Beautiful.

This progression of the stages of ascent for erotic development displays several

important preliminary trends in Diotima' s organization which relate to the speeches of

Agathon's guests. First, in order to scale the "ladder," the one who toils for improvement

must be guided by another. According to this model, the aspiring initiate is 6 -ilyo6CLEvoS,3

the one being lead. At regular intervals along the way the new lover is guided by another

and interacts with that guide's example. The erotic life can not be achieved in solitude

either in theory or in practice; it requires discourse and the improvement of others as a

source of beauty. The lover attempts to produce speeches that can make a young man

better, snouf oovot PshziouS zot;~ viouS.4 Likewise, the symposiasts also rely on one

another' s speeches in order to produce better encomia for eros. The guests each adapt

concepts from the preceding logos and improve upon some aspect of their discourse to

beautify the praise.

Another attribute of Diotima' s ladder that corresponds to the various speeches

given at Agathon's banquet is that of responding to beauty with logoi. At each of the

maj or divisions detailed in Moravscik' s schema, the lover responds to his new

appreciation of beauty with speeches. Once he begins the ascent at the beauty of a

particular body, according to Diotima he waxes vocal and produces h6youS iclo65.5 At



3 Symposium 210a7.

4 Symposium 210c2-3.

SSymposium 210al0.









the second subdivision of the "lower" ascent, the lover turns to the beauty in souls, and he

also responds to this new beauty by "giv[ing] birth to and seeking] words that make the

young better."6 Once the lover has ascended to the stage of contemplation of the

sciences, his reaction to the sea of beauty which he is able to experience and appreciate is

to bring forth logoi. In particular, just before he is able to glimpse The Beautiful itself,

the erotic initiate gives birth to znohhoit; mi Kahoik h6youS mai CLsyaoxnpexeig, many

beautiful and magnificent speeches. As the erotic pilgrim progresses in his j ourney

toward a vision of The Beautiful, at each maj or shift in his appreciation of beauty, he

responds with speeches, until he Einally moves to philosophically based logoi, which

strengthen and increase ( moos~iS mi aibhrsi)s him enough to catch sight of The

Beautiful. The reader moves through a mirror of this process in the speeches presented at

Agathon' s house. With each successive speaker and his encomium of eras, the reader

participates in a process of increasing refinement. The manner in which the symposiasts

respond to the beauty they see in eros and in the previous speakers' speeches creates an

sense of ascension up to Socrates' account of his conversations with Diotima.

The Einal point of intersection between the logoi presented in the Symposium and

Diotima' s ladder that I wish to identify is that both end with an epiphany which takes

place in philosophical discourse. Diotima had previously explained that eras is the love

(eros) for something beautiful, and that, since wisdom is about the most beautiful things,

ijoze dvaylalov Eparza cpthoocpov Elvat, eros must be a philosopher.9 Therefore, it stands


6Symposium 210c1-2; translation from Belfiore (1984) 145.

SSymposium 210d4-5.

SSymposium 210d6-7.

9Symposium 204b2-4.










to reason that the ultimate state to which eros impels a lover is the pursuit of wisdom,

philosophy. According to Diotima, this is what the lover experiences before he can see

The Beautiful. Once freed from slavish devotion to one person or a single custom, the

lover becomes inspired by the manifold beauty before him and produces beautiful

speeches and Stavo-Lf gam Av cpth000qig d696~voo>, thoughts in limitless philosophy. 10

Likewise, those who read the Symposium must ascend through the speeches within the

narrative and engage Socrates on philosophical terms as he expounds Diotima' s

revelation of eros. The philosopher alone is erotic enough, so thoroughly directed by

eros, to receive the vision of The Beautiful, and the reader is required to hear it expressed

by the philosopher Socrates.

Ascending Speeches

Having thus outlined Diotima' s ladder, I will now turn to the speeches given at

Agathon' s house and discuss how they create for the reader a sense of improvement,

development, and ascent within the narrative. It is not my intention, as some have

attempted, to align each of speeches given with a particular stage or rung of Diotima' s

ladder. 1 The focus of this analysis is to show how Plato engenders these feelings of

ascension through the statements of his characters and that the content within each speech

interacts with statements in the logoi of the other guests.



' Svinposiuin 210d5-6.

11 Corrigan and Glazov-Corrigan (Cl r 1s 148-58. This is the most recent attempt to find a one-to-one
correlation between the logo erotikoi given at the banquet and the rungs of Diotima's ladder. They
developed a five-stage schema for the ascent of Diotima. Then they argue that these steps are each
represented in the five speeches of Pheadrus, Pausanius, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, and Agathon.
However, the relationships they try to establish between the speeches and rungs are based as much on
difference or distinction as they are on direct similarities. On the whole, this approach over-simplifies the
great complexity with which Plato has interwoven both of these structures in the Swinposiuin, and at the
same time puts forth elaborate and unclear systems of relationship.









Plato begins developing the notion of progress with the decision to create logoi in

honor of eros. Since the symposiasts all agree that they should not pass the evening in

excessive drinking, Eryximachus suggests that they should each in tumn make speeches in

praise of eros. However, Eryximachus is not the author of the idea to render encomia to

eros; Phaedrus had complained to him on several occasions that eros is neglected in

literature. Pheadrus recognizes that there is a lack of honor given to eras although all

manner of praise has been written for things as mundane as salt. 12 He feels that it is

necessary to correct this oversight and desires that someone fill this void by praising such

an old and great god.

The first step in this narrative progression begins with Pheadrus, the "father of the

logos." He expands upon the assertion that eras is the oldest of all gods and, therefore,

deserving of great honor. In order to prove his claim that eras is the eldest, Phaedrus calls

into evidence Hesiod and Homer, as well as the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, and

the fact that none of them provides a parentage for eras. This is ironic because, according

to Erixymachus, Phaedrus finds the writers of all genres, eras, and places negligent in

their praise of this god. Diotima later refutes this claim of seniority with her own myth

concerning the conception of eros from the union of Poros and Penia. Phaedrus then tumns

to proclaiming that eras is the best god for the benefit of mankind. He focuses on the

relationship between a young man (naitxdc) and his older lover (Apaozk) and how this

type of pederastic union improves both the individual and the society when correctly

administered. The elder lover seeks the affection and respect of his younger beloved and,

in so doing, performs feats of virtue for his affections. This speech reflects Diotima' s


'2Symposium 177b4-6.










affirmation of the partnership required for the progress of lovers. It also centers on

concepts expressed at the "lower" levels of Diotima' s ladder, namely, that an erotic

person must learn to appreciate the beauty of bodies which results in an increase in virtue.

Narrative progression maintains its upward movement with Pausanias' response to

Phaedrus. Pausanias takes issue with the lack of refinement in the previously proposed

mandate to praise eros. Working within the traditions that eros accompanies Aphrodite

and that there are two Aphordites, the heavenly and the vulgar, Pausanias concludes that

there are two erotes, a heavenly and a vulgar. Thus, he states, "So I will try to correct

this, first to point out the er~s which one must praise, and then to make a praise worthy of

the god."13 He notices the lack of specificity and the need to rectify the standards of

praise, specifically, that one should attribute beautiful love only to the heavenly eros.

This concept is augmented when Pausanias explains that one can distinguish the

heavenly, ouranios, from the vulgar, pand~mos, by the way in which eras finds

manifestation. But distinguishing between the two requires standards, customs, and laws

by which both the lover and the beloved can know that they practice eros nobly.

Pausanias asserts that this is best exemplified in Athens' laws governing the behavior of

pederastic lovers. He praises how detailed and difficult to understand Athenian law is

because:

Our law wants to put them to the test in a good and noble way, and wants to have
them gratify some and shun others. On account of this it encourages them to pursue
and the others to flee, setting up a contest and testing to which group the lover
belongs and to which the one who is loved. 14




13 Symposium 180d1-3; translation adapted from Strauss (2001) 63.

14 Symposium 183e6-184a5: translation from Strauss (2001) 80.










Any lover or beloved pursuing erotic fulfillment must adhere to the strictures prescribed

by law and custom in order to display the heavenly eras. So, we see that Pausanias'

speech thus reflects the ascent to The Beautiful in its theme of improvement and sense of

progression. Key erotic issues such as loving the beauty in laws and the need to guide

another nobly along his ascent find voice in this speech.

Arguably, Plato's most pronounced declaration of his program of narrative

progression in the speeches comes in Eryximachus' opening statements. While it appears

to Eryximachus that Pausanias started his speech well, he does not think that it was

brought to an appropriate end (telos). Eryximachus decides, therefore, that he must

provide an end for the logos. 1 In the opening sentence of Eryximachus' speech, Plato

draws the connection between the speeches clearly. The guests at Agathon's banquet are

correcting and improving the deficiencies within one another' s speeches in order to make

the "praise for eras as beautiful as possible."16 Plato uses this process within the narrative

to instruct his reader that, like Diotima's ladder, there can not be an arrival to the perfect

vision of the erotic without effort and development.

Some of the same topics that Diotima lists as necessary for a proper initiation into

the erotic mysteries are introduced in Eryximachus' speech. Based upon the dual nature

of eras as described by Pausanias, Eryximachus explains that the two erotes are

oppositional forces at work in all things. He expands the influence of eros from human

affairs to the organization of the cosmos, the changing of seasons, the harmony of music,

the practice of divination, and the study of medicine. According to Eryximachus, a person


1s Symposium 185e6-186a2.

16 Symposium 177d2-3.









who would show reverence to eras does so by understanding the balance that must be

maintained between the heavenly and the vulgar. Also, the truly erotic man is able to

remove the one and instill the other in order to preserve this harmony. Diotima addresses

the concept of erotic dualism when she explains the daemonic nature of eras to

Socrates. 1 According to her, eros is neither mortal nor immortal, god nor human,

beautiful nor ugly, wise nor unwise. Diotima tells Socrates that because of its twofold

nature, eras is constantly perishing and then returning to life. We have noted that the

lover must reach to the stage of Diotima' s ladder in which he is turned to see the beauty

in sciences. Eryximachus has relied upon his experiences as a physician to conclude that

the twofold eras is at work and striving for harmony in all things. Medicine and other

branches of knowledge, such as meteorology and astronomy, serve as guides to

Eryximachus in his pursuit of erotic understanding.

The transitional passage that leads to Aristophanes' speech is nearly as direct a

statement of Plato' s didactic agenda as the one leading to Eryximachus. Aristophanes'

relates his response to his predecessors' speeches as one of contradistinction. Addressing

Eryximachus, he says, "I intend to speak in a somewhat different way from how

Pausanias and you spoke." x He honors this promise and employs his comic ability to

contrive a new myth about the origin of men and the function of eras. In this myth,

Aristophanes manufactures a pseudo-history of mankind in which humans were once a

physical duality, two people in one spherical form. Because of their hubris and attempted

assault on Olympus, Zeus split the hermaphrodite humans in half. Although he maintains



"7 Symposium 202d11-204b7.

's Symposium 189c2-3; translation from Strauss (2001) 122.









the notion of duality, Aristophanes has shifted Pausanias' and Eryximachus' dual eros

into a two-part human. Now having been separated from the other half, each person is

driven by eros to reconnect with his severed partner. Thus, according to Aristophanes,

eras is not some cosmic force of harmony, but a natural impulse in humans which drives

them to Eind their match. Once again, Plato has anticipated Diotima' s speech and placed

signs for his reader to follow. As one continues through the speeches, Plato's characters

interact in their logoi and the reader is made to grapple with the various theories about

eras while sensing the upward movement in the narrative.

As we approach the pinnacle of Plato' s narrative climb to Socrates, Agathon

presents an innovative oration about the attributes of erbs and its benefits to mankind. He

indicts his guests for not having properly performed encomium, because they spoke only

of the benefits which eros provides without first describing the laudan~dus.dd~~~~~ddddd~~~ 19 In Order to

begin his description, Agathon refutes Phaedrus' claim that eras is the oldest of the gods,

and argues the exact opposite, that he is the youngest. To establish his point Agathon

cites two of the same literary sources, Hesiod and Parmenides, whom Phaedrus used as

evidence to the contrary. This claim completes a "youthward" progession in the age of

eros as assigned by the other speakers.20 In Agathon's estimation, eras is the softest of all

the gods, as he lives in the soft souls of men and avoids hard-heartedness. Agathon places

not only all people under the power of eras, but all of the Olympian gods also. The

obvious dominant trait of the attributes which Agathon ascribes to eras is that they apply

to Agathon and eros equally. Eryximachus centered his understanding of eras around the


19 Svinposittiz 194e4-195a5.

20 Strauss (2001) 158.










medical arts, but Agathon goes further and turns eras into a "poet so wise that he makes

another poet."21 Agathon portrays eros like himself, as a young, soft, delicate, poet who

holds sway over both men and gods through his power to guide his audience to what is

beautiful. Diotima will likewise portray eras in her own image. As a prophetess, she once

informed the Athenian people of the correct sacrifice to propitiate the gods and delay a

plague for ten years.22 Diotima ascribes this same function of mediation between gods in

men to eras. She states that eros, since it is a daemon or a spiritual being, has the power

of interpretation and governs the practice of fortune-telling, ritual sacrifice, and

divination.

Having arrived at the end of Plato' s upward j ourney, the reader has been prepared

to wrestle with and appreciate the erotic revelation of Diotima which Socrates discloses.

With each logos given at the banquet, Plato anticipates another portion of the content of

Diotima' s conversations with Socrates. He also provides examples of the alternative ways

in which men of diverse vocations, such as a tragedian, a comedian, and a doctor,

understand eras. This arrangement of ascending speeches throws into stark relief the

differences between the inconsistent and incomplete way most reason and how the great

Socrates practices philosophy. The intricately designed and carefully implemented

narrative ascent within the logoi of the symposiasts makes Plato and the Symposium

instructors in ta erotika, just like the guide who leads an uninitiated lover up the rungs of

Diotima' s ladder.


21Symposium 196d7-e2.

22Symposium 210d3-5.















CHAPTER 5
THE EXAMPLE OF ALCIBIADES

Although Socrates' account of Diotima' s prophetic revelation of the ascent to The

Beautiful represents the dramatic climax of the Symposium, Plato has not completed his

didactic progression. Even after negotiating the difficulties of the narrative frame,

progressing through the series of improving speeches, and being taught the nature and

function of eros by Diotima, the reader still has more to learn about the practice of the

erotic life. Before ending the Symposium, Plato provides both a positive and a negative

example of proper submission to the power of eros. Alcibiades describes Socrates'

adherence to love of only the highest beauty. At the same time, he illustrates that even

Socrates' closest lovers misinterpret the erotic philosopher' s actions because they fail to

understand the works of eros. Through Alcibiades' speech, the reader is moved from the

theoretical heights of a vision of The Beautiful to a practical discussion of living in

accordance with the erotic principles Socrates learned from Diotima.

In order to understand how both male characters function as exemplars of erotic

understanding and misunderstanding, we must outline their relationship. As a young

member of the Athenian elite, Alcibiades was well-known for his wealth, ambition, good

looks, and vanity. Nearly twenty years before the dramatic date of the Symposium, he had

been smitten by Socrates and his beautiful logoi. Bitten in his heart more severely than


SCf. Dover (1980) 164. "Plato's chief purpose in this speech is to show us that Socrates put into practice
the morality implicit in Diotima' s theory."










any snake could bite,2 Alcibiades was bewitched by the philosophical discourses he heard

from Socrates and took him as his era~st~s. Just as Agathon proposed upon Socrates'

arrival to the banquet, Alcibiades thought that he would gain through physical contact

some of the internal beauty and wisdom that Socrates possessed.3 COnsistent with

Athenian customs regarding pederasty, Alcibiades expected that his older lover would

wish to exchange sexual gratification for instruction in virtue.

Supposing him to be seriously attracted by my youthful beauty, I thought it was a
gift from Hermes and marvelous good luck for me, that it was possible for me, by
gratifying Socrates, to hear all that he knew. For I was extraordinarily proud of my
beauty.4

However, Socrates never exercised the privilege of being physically gratified by him.

Alcibiades, confused that Socrates does not pursue sexual fulfillment, felt the need to

take on the role of the lover in pursuit of his beloved. He attempted to seduce Socrates on

several occasions. Alcibiades arranged unsupervised visits, private exercise sessions

consisting primarily of nude wrestling, and late-night dinners. All of these efforts resulted

in the same unwavering asexual response from Socrates. Alcibiades felt scorned and

mocked by Socrates. He was amazed at the endurance and resolve with which Socrates

maintained his aloof and hubristic celibacy in the face of such advances.' Despite this,

Alcibiades remained enthralled with Socrates and his philosophical speeches. He decided

that he would continue a relationship with Socrates, although he was at a loss as to how

he might win the philosopher' s undivided attention. It is the aggressive nature of


2 Symposium 218a2-7.

3 Symposium 175c7-dl; 219d1-3.

4 Symposium 217a2-6; Translation from Rosen (1987) 301.

SSymposium 219d2-6.










Alcibiades' attempts that leads Socrates to ask Agathon for protection and mediation

between the two men. No longer can Socrates show interest in another person in

Alcibiades' presence without becoming the obj ect of the young man' s j ealousy and

forceful sexual advances.6

When we read about the affair between these two characters, it becomes clear that,

despite his intimate and long-term relationship with Socrates, Alcibiades never fully

comprehends Socratic eros. He knows Socrates well, by his own claim, better than any

other guest attending Agathon' s banquet.' Nevertheless, he thinks of wisdom, virtue, and

beauty as commodities for which he can trade. Alcibiades' suggestion to exchange sexual

gratification for "all that Socrates knows" is a grotesque distortion of the process of erotic

development as taught by Diotima and lived by Socrates.8 All the familiarity with

Socrates' behavior and dialogues has not brought Alcibiades to "upper" rungs of

Diotima' s ladder. As Belflore explains, Alcibiades does not pass Moravcsik's so-called

eighth stage:9 he loves the beauty in a soul, as well as the beauty of customs and

practices. However, he has not begun to love the beauty in all souls, as he is still

entranced with Socrates. Because he does not ascend to the higher levels of erotic

progress, Alcibiades does not understand that Socrates is behaving in an erotic way when

he rebuffs all of the former' s sexual favors.

In his speech, Alcibiades also presents an ominous explanation for Athenian

outrage at Socrates. While marveling at Socrates' moderation and endurance, he relates to

6 Symposium 213c6-d6.

SSymposium 216c7-d1.

"Cf. Hunter 011 14,1 100-1.

9 Belfiore (1984) 146.









his fellow symposiasts a tale of Socrates on military campaign in Potidaea. During a

harsh winter frost, the soldiers had all taken to moving as little as possible and, if any had

to, they wrapped up their feet in several layers of hides. Socrates, however, walked about

as usual; he wore his same cloak and remained shoeless. Despite the many other feats of

amazing bravery and endurance which the men had seen Socrates perform, Alcibiades

states that his comrades had viewed this with suspicion and anger (ibn@Xe~nov). 1o This is,

in fact, the same way in which Alcibiades had interprets Socrates' refusal of sex. Like the

Athenian soldiers and, later, the city of Athens, Alcibiades loves Socrates for his

beautiful speeches and bravery. However, he does not recognize that the same force of

eros drives Socrates to give birth to these beautiful speeches and to hold in contempt the

love of only one body, soul, custom, or city. This eros compels him to seek the visions of

The Beautiful regardless of circumstance, which pursuit most people confuse with an

atypical hubris. It is this misinterpretation of erotic pursuit for hubristic superiority and

the resulting shame and anger in those who see Socrates that play key roles in Alcibiades'

near prophetic statement, "Often would I sweetly behold him no longer among men."ll

Alcibiades' ultimate failure to ascend properly to a vision of The Beautiful and

become a fully erotic man is found in his readiness to leave philosophy in the hands of

Socrates. As the younger lover in the relationship, Alcibiades is to be guided by Socrates,

carefully following his instructions and example. However, he allows two emotions to

interrupt his progress. First, vanity drove Alcibiades to prevent his growth in the correct

order as taught by Diotima. As already mentioned, the young and blooming Alcibiades


'o Symposium 220b7-cl.

'' Symposium 216c l. For a introductory discussion of the way in which Plato casts the shadow of Socrates
trial and execution over all of his works, see Clay (2000) 33-40.










was quite sure of his good looks. When Socrates did not take advantage of his right to

gratification in his paidika, Alcibiades forestalled his continued proper relationship and

inverted their roles in order to satisfy his vanity. Second, political ambition overthrew

Socratic instruction. Alcibiades states that he cannot disagree with Socrates' reasoning

and, he becomes enslaved to it whenever he hears a Socratic logos. Socrates forces

Alcibiades to agree that he tends too much to the affairs of the Athenian people and not

enough to his own excellence. Nevertheless, away from Socrates and his power to

possess the mind, Alcibiades once again values the honor he gains from political

recognition and behaves contrary to his agreements with Socrates. 12 Both of these

disruptions in Alcibiades' erotic development result in a man unwilling to practice

philosophy. With the first disruption, Alcibiades affirms that Socrates' soul is beautiful

because it is pregnant with beautiful thoughts and speeches in "boundless philosophy."

However, he sees Socrates and his internal beauty as objects he can possess. Turning his

energies to winning Socrates, Alcibiades does not sense his own need to give birth to

beautiful speeches, since he will gain such speeches by acquiring Socrates. With the

second disruption, for as long as Alcibiades remains ensnared by public opinion and the

desire for political power, he will never move past his current stage of erotic

development. His love for this one polis and its damos constrains him from ever realizing

that all beauties of body, soul, law, and custom are related. The dAmos could never

understand that what makes Athens beautiful is the same beauty which makes Sparta

beautiful, and this is precisely what Socrates needed Alcibiades to grasp. Therefore,

Alcibiades is content to leave the pursuit of wisdom and the fully erotic life to Socrates.


12 Symposium 216b3-5.










By ending the Symposium with Alcibiades, Plato throws into stark contrast the

differences between the lives of those who receive a vision of The Beautiful and those

who remain immature in regards to eras. The reader witnesses how Socrates, the

successful initiate into the mysteries of eras, interacts with and is perceived by the

surrounding uninitiated. Plato warns that the truly erotic man must be trained rightly and

must not succumb to distractions. He also demonstrates that, however unusual and

seemingly contradictory Socrates' actions are, there was no dissimulation in his claim to

know nothing other than ta erotika. In fact, Plato has guided his reader through this

explication of eras so that the reader too may make the same claim.















CHAPTER 6
CONCLUSION

Considered by many Plato's most masterful work, the Synaposium does not easily

yield answers to the questions its complexity inspires. To unlock all of Plato' s meaning

from within this dialogue, were it possible, would require an analysis well beyond the

scope of this paper. Therefore, I have narrowed my examination to the more literary and

dramatic elements of the dialogue.

Chapters 3-5 attempted to demonstrate how one need not hunt for specific theories

or doctrines in order to ascribe them to Plato as his own teaching. The claims of the

dialogical method of Platonic interpretation that an entire dialogue speaks for Plato and

no particular character can be assigned the title "Plato's mouthpiece" has gained further

support. We have seen that the Synaposium requires its reader to undergo Plato's didactic

experience by completely and carefully reading and interacting with the entire text of the

dialogue.

Each of the Platonic dialogues fulfills part of their author' s philosophical and

educational agenda. The Synaposium stresses the need for people to transform the way

they think through careful pursuit of the highest beauty. Learning to love only what is the

most beautiful inevitably leads a person to perform the kind of philosophy which Plato

lived out and wrote that Socrates practiced. Through his unparalleled union of literary

and dramatic techniques into philosophical dialogue, Plato creates a world in which the

reader participates with Socrates and his friends as Plato's archetypal philosopher guides

others to understand philosophy as a work of eri~s.




















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Todd Bohlander was born in Perry, Florida, on September 11, 1976. He graduated

from Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Florida, in 1994. After serving an

enlistment in the United States Army from 1996 to 1999, he attended the University of

Florida, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in classical philology.

He will receive his Master of Arts in classical philology from the University of Florida in

2006.