Published: February 2003
In the course of a lively drinking party, a group of Athenian intellectuals exchange views on eros, or desire. From their conversation emerges a series of subtle reflections on gender roles, sex in society and the sublimation of basic human instincts. The discussion culminates in a radical challenge to conventional views by Plato's mentor, Socrates, who advocates transcendence through spiritual love. The Symposium is a deft interweaving of different viewpoints and ideas about the nature of love - as a response to beauty, a cosmic force, a motive for social action and as a means of ethical education. Christopher Gill's translation retains all the drama and humour of the Greek, bringing the historical figures to life. His introduction discusses aspects of classical Athenian life shown in The Symposium and provides thoughtful examinations of the individual speeches.
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