Written sometime during the 4th century BC, “Symposium” is one the most poetic and sublime works by the Greek philosopher Plato. The action of the dialogue is set during a party hosted by the poet Agathon to celebrate his first victory in a dramatic competition. The title ‘Symposium’, or ‘Banquet’ refers to the setting of the work, however the more literal translation from the Greek is a ‘drinking party.’ At this party several notable figures from classical antiquity, including Phaedrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Agathon, Alcibiades, and Socrates in turn give speeches in praise of Eros, the god of love. The work at its core is an examination of the genesis, purpose, and nature of love. While it is possible that the circumstances of the work may be based on actual events known to Plato, scholars believe it most likely to be the sole invention of its author. An intriguing dialogue on the subject of love, “Symposium” is a preeminent example of Plato’s philosophical genius and a must read for any student of classical antiquity. This edition is translated with an introduction by Benjamin Jowett, includes a preface by Friedrich Schleiermacher, and a biographical afterword.
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