Persons of the Dialogue : APOLLODORUS, who repeats to his Companion the dialogue which he had heard from ARISTODEMUS, and had already once narrated to GLAUCON ; PHAEDRUS ; PAUSANIAS ; ERYXIMACHUS ; ARISTOPHANES ; AGATHON ; SOCRATES ; ALCIBIADES ; A troop of revellers. Scene : The House of Agathon

Of all the works of Plato the Symposium is the most perfect in form, and may be truly thought to contain more than any commentator has ever dreamed of; or, as Goethe said of one of his own writings, more than the author himself knew. For in philosophy as in prophecy glimpses of the future may often be conveyed in words which could hardly have been understood or interpreted at the time when they were uttered (cp. Symp. 210 foll., 223 D)—which were wiser than the writer of them meant, and could not have been explained by him if he had been interrogated about them. Yet Plato was not a mystic, nor in any degree affected by the Eastern influences which afterwards overspread the Alexandrian world. He was not an enthusiast or a sentimentalist, but one who aspired only to see reasoned truth, and whose thoughts are clearly expressed in his language. There is no foreign element either of Egypt or of Asia to be found in his writings. And more than any other Platonic work the Symposium is Greek both in style and subject, having a beauty ‘as of a statue,’ while the companion Dialogue of the Phaedrus is marked by a sort of Gothic irregularity. More too than in any other of his Dialogues, Plato is emancipated from former philosophies. The genius of Greek art seems to triumph over the traditions of Pythagorean, Eleatic, or Megarian systems, and ‘the old quarrel of poetry and philosophy’ has at least a superficial reconcilement. (Rep. X. 607 B.)

TEXTO: Symposium