I.     Lecture/Commentary on the Symposium

Lecture on the Symposium an imposing task--done by Aristotle 320 BC, Plotinus (250 AD), Bonaventura, Journey of the Soul to God (1220) , Pico, Ficino (Fifteenth century)

1.    Castiglione Book of the Courtier (1528)--debate over old vs. young lover

a)   When Bembo had hetherto spoken with such vehemencie, that a man woulde have  thought him (as it were) ravished and beside himselfe, hee stood still without once moving holding his eyes  towarde heaven as astonied: when the Ladie Emilia, which together with the rest gave most diligent eare to this talke, tooke him by the plaite of his garment, and plucking him a little said. Take heede (maister   Peter) that these thoughts make not your soule also to forsake the bodie.

B.  Platonism and Neoplatonism

1.    Realism vs. Nominalism=Idealism vs. Materialism

C.  Literary vs. Philosophical approach

II.   Following Paradigm for Literary analysis

A.  http://cla.calpoly.edu/~smarx/courses/Paradigm.html

B.  Plot or Structure—[“plot”graph]—beginning, middle and end

1.    layers of the silenes box[SYMBOL]—mentioned twice, but relevant in three ways

a)   Socrates is like statue of silenes—holding flutes and pipes, ugly, lecherous old man, when opened hold images of gods within, 161

(1) Image of Silenus: http://cla.calpoly.edu/~smarx/courses/251/images/Silenus-Rubens.jpg

b)   his Arguments are like Silenes Box—quote 168—“they appear quite ridiculous at first; theyre wrapped round on the outside with words and phrases like the hide of an outrageous satyr…but if the arguments are opened, and one sees them from the inside, he will find…they contain within themselves utterly divine and multitudinous images of virtue, and that they are relevant to…all things worth considering for one who intends to be noble and good

c)    plot structure of the dialogue as embedding like Silenes= initiation, secrets within secrets; levels

(1) Discourses alternating with dialog and  actions—eternity and time. 
(2) Past event and present narrator; embedding
(3) Story passed down  through narrative layers; Interlocutor, Apollodorus, Aristodemus, speakers, socrates, Diotima; initiatory levels—ladder of love

2.    Chiastic structure—ring design

a)   Aristodemus precedes Socrates to banquet and follows him from it

b)   Socrates’ reveries described at start and finish by Aristodemus and Alcibiade

c)    Excessive drinking and revelry night before at start and descent into chaos at end

d)   Love and the warrior—Phaedrus at start; Alcibiades-Socrates at end

e)    Concern with order of seating—Socrates next to agathon at start, and then Alcibiades arguing over it.

f)    At the center, the  ladder of love—led up to by lyrical speech of Agathon and down from by Alcibiades—Socrates sitting between them holding vision of eternity in the center, where perspective becomes that of gods; Socrates being interrogated and lectured to by Diotima

3.    Cumulative, dialectical structure

a)   Socrates’ speech includes and transcends each of the dialectical speeches that precede

(1) Thesis-antithesis-synthesis
(2) This is the dialectical order of thought that leads to progress and to the discovery of the ideal world of immortals that contains and encloses the world of appearances of the banquet

b)   Alcibiades’ speech incorporates the divine world within the everyday, showing how its more profound and yet absorbed within illusion—closing the image of divinity back into the silenus

c)    The framework of party—collapse into further chaos—as will Athens through the influence of Alcibiades—as Plato know when he was writing—shows philosophy and truth further eclipsed by chaotic events

d)   Also shows persistence in Socrates wakefulness and Aristodemus’ return

(1) Alcibiades 161:when someone hears you or even someone repeating your words, even if speaker is quite worthless we are amazed and possessed.

e)    The voice of Apollodorus, a generation later, a disciple of Socrates, recreating this event outside of time, and us recreating it 2400 years later, here and now

(1) THEME of Discipleship; sleeping and partly savvy disciples and sacrificed god-man
(2) Cf. Disciples of Christ— Luke 14
(a) That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
(b)         [14 ] and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
(c) [15 ] While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
(d)         [16 ] But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
(e) but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them….
(f)  [30 ] When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.
(g)         [31 ] And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.
(h)         [32 ] They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?"
(3) Christian Humanism: Saint Socrates, Pray for Us

C.  Character

1.    Relation of character to content of speech

a)   Aristodemus—reporter and disciple; says nothing; is shy and outsider

b)   Phaedrus—heroic and leadership—oldest and first—primary Greek values: military; the life of action

c)    Pausanias—wants to make distinctions between good and bad, but its fallacious and self-serving—lawyerlike p. 123-4

d)   Eryximachus—the doctor—attunement of opposites—hold breath to cure hiccough—extended to the cosmos  128

e)    Aristophanes—comedian: dionysus and aphrodite (134c)

(1) Gemuetlichkeit of the body: happy couples worldliness
(2) scepticism and mocking
(a) Eryximachus with sneeze
(b) Pausanias and Agathon with being gay
(c)  The Clouds, where Socrates is presented in the clouds among the Forms or Ideas-- and laughter
(d) Politics and politicians: make love not war

f)    Agathon

(1) tragic and lyric poet—he will make something “beautiful”
(2) Eros is youngest not oldest of the gods
(3) Concern is beautiful language about love—lyrical images and mellifluous sounds 137
(4) Praise becomes hyperbole: Love’s powers—Amor vincit omnia
(5) Love inspires poets and makes others poets
(6) He writes a poem; gets totally turned on – everybody applauds
(7) Socrates deflates him: “Very likely I didn’t know what I was talking about”143
(8) His passivity, even with the servants and the intruders and Aristodemus –no selection; the winner

D.  Theme

1.    Love

2.    Youth and age—education; paideia, discipleship, initiation

3.    Rhetoric and philosophy

a)   technique of persuasion

b)   speech and communications

c)    rhetoric and politics; rhetoric and the arts—encomia, epeidictic orations of praise; the speaking or singing contest

d)   greeks as long-winded talkers; love of speech; talk as performance and contest

e)    Aristotle: logos, pathos, ethos

f)    the sophists—relativity of truth to situation and context; man is the measure of all things

g)   sophists and philosophers

h)   rhetoric and science; persuasion and truth; practical wisdom vs. absolute knowledge—mathematics and logic; a priori

(1) Socrates response to Agathon’s speech and Agathon’s admission, I don’t know what I’m talking about

E.  Language

1.    Humor, irony, parable, symboliosm, indirection

2.    All speakers use genteel erotic-poetic language that stimulates and arouses, and most of it is bisexually oriented

3.    Socrates’ erotic language

a)   When what is pregnant draws near to the beautiful it becomes tender and full of gladness and pours itself forth and begets and procreates, but when it draws near to the ugly it shrivels in sullen grief and turns away and goes slack and does not beget… One who is pregnant and already swollen is vehemently excited over the beautiful because it releases its possessor from great pangs. (150-151)

(1) [another parable of desire—cf. Aristophanes]
(2) strange mixture of male and female

b)   Poetry of climax (155-157) Breathless waves of repeated ebb and flow—centering in the word “ that”

4.            Alcibiades seductive and slippery language (162-3)

a)   Usually he’s “sly and dishonest,” but occasionally shows his true splendor.  “I  don’t know whether anyone else has seen the images within when he is in earnest and opened up, but I saw them once, and I thought they were so divine and golden, so marvelously beautiful, that whatever Socrates might bid must, in short, be done.”—opposite of intiation

b)   Is Alcibiades a lover?  A philosopher?

III. Socrates’ discourse—back to Alcibiades characterization of arguments—more true than they may seem

A.  Diotima

1.    She delayed the plague for ten years and instructed Socrates

2.    She quizzed Socrates as he did Agathon

a)    more indirect discourse --TRANSMISSION of teaching

B.  Rather than a god, love is intermediate between the ideal and the material

1.     belongs to realm of divinities which are intermediate between gods and men

2.     realm of all arts of prophecy and priesthood and mediation between gods and men

C.  Love’s parentage:

1.    child of resourcefulness and poverty conceived deceitfully by poverty at the banquet celebrating the birth of beautiful Aphrodite  [another Symposium?]

2.    Love is servant and follower of beauty

3.    Eros follows his mother by being rough and needy and dwelling with want and his father’s nature by being courageous and a lover of wisdom, and he alternates natures [ups and downs of love, compared to the longing in Aristophanes’

4.    Love is a philosopher because the philosopher is not wise but wants wisdom. The philosopher is also child of unwise and resourceless mother and wise and resourceful father

5.    Eros is the lover and not the beloved, which is ideal

D.  Love likes beautiful things to possess for himself forever, which means happiness

1.    Eros covers any desire for happiness, not just for happiness in possession another person

a)   Critique of Aristophanes—if the other half is not good, will the lover love it?

b)   There is nothing that can be truly loved but the good

E.  The activity or work of pursuing the good is begetting in beauty in respect to body and soul

1.    All men are pregnant in respect to body and soul; when they reach a certain age, they desire to beget—[another parable of desire]

2.    Intercourse of man and woman is begetting, a divine thing, procreation is an immortal element in the mortal living creature [Exposure of mortality and change]

a)   …Eros is love of immortality

b)   All beasts desire to reproduce…are erotically disposed for intercourse and for nurture of offspring…to die in battle on their behalf  151

c)    In the animal world, mortal nature seeks so far as it can to be immortal

(1) Mortal creatures are perishing all their lives, changing from youth to age—in body as well as soul
(2) In the soul, character, habits, opinions, desires and pleasures, pains, and even knowledge are coming to be and perishing—study replenishes forgetful memory

d)   In this way what is mortal is preserved, not being forever the same, but leaving behind a different new thing of the same sort—for this reason everything in nature values its own offshoot. 152

3.    All honor and therefore fame is sought by the love of immortality [back to Phaedrus]

4.    Pregnancy in regard to soul rather than body looks for immortality by begetting works of art or of civic accomplishment together with a beloved male. 154 

F.   The Ladder of Love

1.    Initiation—this is special revelation only to those capable, but Socrates will share it—guide needed

2.    Begin in youth with beautiful bodies, one body with guide beget beautiful discourses; recognize that beauty on any body—

3.    Recognizes that the beauty on any body is akin to that on any other body…beauty on all bodies is one and the same…relaxes the vehemence for one 155

4.    Beauty in souls more valued than in the body…what is beautiful in practises and laws more than in bodies

5.    After practises then knowledge, rather having been turned to the multitudinous ocean of the beautiful and contemplating it, he begets many beautiful and imposing discourses…beholds a certain kind of knowledge…pay the closest attention

6.    Ascent to beauty—man become god 157

IV.         Alcibiades’ entry

A.  Socrates’ speech over; others praise but don’t applaud—not as engaging to them as Agathon. Aristophanes tries to say something but is interrupted by loud knocking [staged moment; knocking at the gate]—how do you come back?

B.  Love as intoxication, chaos and petty jealousy—ambiguity instead of clarity

1.    Alcibiades very drunk, leaning on flute-girl, with followers, crowned with ivy (Dionysus) and violets (Aphrodite and spring)—both profane and sacred, as Socrates is both sacred and profane

a)   Comes to crown Agathon; asks if they will drink with him; they applaud; sits near and embraces and crowns Agathon, who welcomes him;

b)   takes over the party and insists that everybody join him in drinking strong wine, acknowledging that Socrates wont get drunk

2.    Alcibiades first doesn’t see Socrates next to Agathon, then does and amiably complains that he insists on lying next to the prettiest boy. 158

a)   Socrates asks Agathon for protection from Alcibiades’ jealousy

b)   Alcibiades asks Agathon for some fillets back to crown Socrates whom he refers to as the best speaker of mankind

c)    Eryximachus suggest that Alcibiades join the game

d)   Alcibiades contradicts Socrates saying Socrates is fiercely jealous if Alcibiades praises anyone but him

e)    Eryximachus says then praise Socrates;  Alcibiades threatens Socrates with “inflicting a penalty” on Socrates [his meanings of praise—encomium—and punishment create confusion

f)    Socrates expresses concern that Alcibiades will mock him and not tell truth; Alcibiades says interrupt me if I do and acknowledges the diminished capacity of his condition

V.  Speech of Alcibiades

A.  He starts saying this praise will be for truth not laughter [issue of truth and laughter]

B.  You do it with words [rhetoric] Even now drunk, Alcibiades’ heart leaps up when he hears him [he hasn’t heard the speech that Socrates just gave]

1.    Soul disturbed and angered at being in the position of a slave [161]

2.    His life not worth living

3.    Before him alone I am shamed, but when I leave I am worsted by the honors of the multitude

C.  How wondrous is his power [encomium]

D.  Alcibiades story—a seduction narrative

1.    Alcibiades expected that Socrates wanted sex in return for wisdom

2.    He starts a seduction strategy—being alone, exercizing, inviting him to dinner—like a lover laying a plan for his beloved

3.    Keeps him late talking and asks him to stay over –typical seduction plan

4.    Deliberately creating suspense and sensation: “wine…is truthful…let the servants…put great gates over their ears”

5.    His seduction speech to Socrates: “I want to become as good as possible…you can help me…I’d be very foolish not to gratify you” 164

6.    Alcibiades reports that Socrates doesn’t fall for this and exposes the false trade A. proposes—physical beauty for true goodness

7.    Then Alcibiades lay down under Socrates’ cloak with him, but  Socrates still didn’t do anything

8.    This both insulted Alcibiades and intensified his love—he was enslaved

E.  War stories  [Back to Phaedrus]

1.    Socrates surpassed everyone else in bearing hardship and in good cheer; no one has seen Socrates drunk; fortitude in winter—got around in the ice and the snow barefoot

2.    He stood on the same spot for 24 hours thinking about something

3.    He rescued Alcibiades when wounded but urged that A. be the one rewarded for valor

4.    Wouldn’t make disorderly retreat, but carried himself with dignity in retreat.

F.   Summation

1.    He has seduced many others: as a lover and ends up himself as beloved.

2.    Take warning Agathon

VI.         Socrates reply—[another twist]

A.  You were just feigning drunkenness; your whole speech was made to “cause Agathon and me to quarrel, because you think I should love you and nobody else, and that Agathon hsould be loved by you and not one single other person.”

B.  The three jockey over position of Agathon.  Socrates prevails, with Agathon moving “below him” so that Socrates can praise him

VII.       Conclusion

A.  A mob of revellers come to the door; everything was in an uproar, everyone was compelled to drink a great deal of wine—the order of orations is broken 170

B.  Others go to sleep—a little like Peter and the disciples who sleep through Jesus’ ordeal in the garden of Gethsemane

C.  Agathon, Aristophanes and Socrates remained awake till dawn drinking from a large bowl; they argue and Socrates convinces them  that comedy and tragedy [Aristophanes and Agathon] are the same in essence.  They drowsed and fell asleep, while Socrates went on his way bathed and started his day like any other, followed by Aristodemus who had fallen asleep and then awakened again.