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    Chapter 2
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    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.


    Concerning the things about which you ask to be informed I believe that I
    am not ill-prepared with an answer. For the day before yesterday I was
    coming from my own home at Phalerum to the city, and one of my
    acquaintance, who had caught a sight of me from behind, calling out
    playfully in the distance, said: Apollodorus, O thou Phalerian (Probably a
    play of words on (Greek), 'bald-headed.') man, halt! So I did as I was
    bid; and then he said, I was looking for you, Apollodorus, only just now,
    that I might ask you about the speeches in praise of love, which were
    delivered by Socrates, Alcibiades, and others, at Agathon's supper.
    Phoenix, the son of Philip, told another person who told me of them; his
    narrative was very indistinct, but he said that you knew, and I wish that
    you would give me an account of them. Who, if not you, should be the
    reporter of the words of your friend? And first tell me, he said, were you
    present at this meeting?

    Your informant, Glaucon, I said, must have been very indistinct indeed, if
    you imagine that the occasion was recent; or that I could have been of the

    Why, yes, he replied, I thought so.

    Impossible: I said. Are you ignorant that for many years Agathon has not
    resided at Athens; and not three have elapsed since I became acquainted
    with Socrates, and have made it my daily business to know all that he says
    and does. There was a time when I was running about the world, fancying
    myself to be well employed, but I was really a most wretched being, no
    better than you are now. I thought that I ought to do anything rather than
    be a philosopher.

    Well, he said, jesting apart, tell me when the meeting occurred.

    In our boyhood, I replied, when Agathon won the prize with his first
    tragedy, on the day after that on which he and his chorus offered the
    sacrifice of victory.

    Then it must have been a long while ago, he said; and who told you--did

    No indeed, I replied, but the same person who told Phoenix;--he was a
    little fellow, who never wore any shoes, Aristodemus, of the deme of
    Cydathenaeum. He had been at Agathon's feast; and I think that in those
    days there was no one who was a more devoted admirer of Socrates.
    Moreover, I have asked Socrates about the truth of some parts of his
    narrative, and he confirmed them. Then, said Glaucon, let us have the tale
    over again; is not the road to Athens just made for conversation? And so
    we walked, and talked of the discourses on love; and therefore, as I said
    at first, I am not ill-prepared to comply with your request, and will have
    another rehearsal of them if you like. For to speak or to hear others
    speak of philosophy always gives me the greatest pleasure, to say nothing
    of the profit. But when I hear another strain, especially that of you rich
    men and traders, such conversation displeases me; and I pity you who are my
    companions, because you think that you are doing something when in reality
    you are doing nothing. And I dare say that you pity me in return, whom you
    regard as an unhappy creature, and very probably you are right. But I
    certainly know of you what you only think of me--there is the difference.

    COMPANION: I see, Apollodorus, that you are just the same--always speaking
    evil of yourself, and of others; and I do believe that you pity all
    mankind, with the exception of Socrates, yourself first of all, true in
    this to your old name, which, however deserved, I know not how you
    acquired, of Apollodorus the madman; for you are always raging against
    yourself and everybody but Socrates.

    APOLLODORUS: Yes, friend, and the reason why I am said to be mad, and out
    of my wits, is just because I have these notions of myself and you; no
    other evidence is required.

    COMPANION: No more of that, Apollodorus; but let me renew my request that
    you would repeat the conversation.

    APOLLODORUS: Well, the tale of love was on this wise:--But perhaps I had
    better begin at the beginning, and endeavour to give you the exact words of

    He said that he met Socrates fresh from the bath and sandalled; and as the
    sight of the sandals was unusual, he asked him whither he was going that he
    had been converted into such a beau:--

    To a banquet at Agathon's, he replied, whose invitation to his sacrifice of
    victory I refused yesterday, fearing a crowd, but promising that I would
    come to-day instead; and so I have put on my finery, because he is such a
    fine man. What say you to going with me unasked?

    I will do as you bid me, I replied.

    Follow then, he said, and let us demolish the proverb:--

    'To the feasts of inferior men the good unbidden go;'

    instead of which our proverb will run:--

    'To the feasts of the good the good unbidden go;'

    and this alteration may be supported by the authority of Homer himself, who
    not only demolishes but literally outrages the proverb. For, after
    picturing Agamemnon as the most valiant of men, he makes Menelaus, who is
    but a fainthearted warrior, come unbidden (Iliad) to the banquet of
    Agamemnon, who is feasting and offering sacrifices, not the better to the
    worse, but the worse to the better.

    I rather fear, Socrates, said Aristodemus, lest this may still be my case;
    and that, like Menelaus in Homer, I shall be the inferior person, who

    'To the feasts of the wise unbidden goes.'

    But I shall say that I was bidden of you, and then you will have to make an

    'Two going together,'

    he replied, in Homeric fashion, one or other of them may invent an excuse
    by the way (Iliad).

    This was the style of their conversation as they went along. Socrates
    dropped behind in a fit of abstraction, and desired Aristodemus, who was
    waiting, to go on before him. When he reached the house of Agathon he
    found the doors wide open, and a comical thing happened. A servant coming
    out met him, and led him at once into the banqueting-hall in which the
    guests were reclining, for the banquet was about to begin. Welcome,
    Aristodemus, said Agathon, as soon as he appeared--you are just in time to
    sup with us; if you come on any other matter put it off, and make one of
    us, as I was looking for you yesterday and meant to have asked you, if I
    could have found you. But what have you done with Socrates?

    I turned round, but Socrates was nowhere to be seen; and I had to explain
    that he had been with me a moment before, and that I came by his invitation
    to the supper.

    You were quite right in coming, said Agathon; but where is he himself?

    He was behind me just now, as I entered, he said, and I cannot think what
    has become of him.

    Go and look for him, boy, said Agathon, and bring him in; and do you,
    Aristodemus, meanwhile take the place by Eryximachus.

    The servant then assisted him to wash, and he lay down, and presently
    another servant came in and reported that our friend Socrates had retired
    into the portico of the neighbouring house. 'There he is fixed,' said he,
    'and when I call to him he will not stir.'

    How strange, said Agathon; then you must call him again, and keep calling

    Let him alone, said my informant; he has a way of stopping anywhere and
    losing himself without any reason. I believe that he will soon appear; do
    not therefore disturb him.

    Well, if you think so, I will leave him, said Agathon. And then, turning
    to the servants, he added, 'Let us have supper without waiting for him.
    Serve up whatever you please, for there is no one to give you orders;
    hitherto I have never left you to yourselves. But on this occasion imagine
    that you are our hosts, and that I and the company are your guests; treat
    us well, and then we shall commend you.' After this, supper was served,
    but still no Socrates; and during the meal Agathon several times expressed
    a wish to send for him, but Aristodemus objected; and at last when the
    feast was about half over--for the fit, as usual, was not of long duration
    --Socrates entered. Agathon, who was reclining alone at the end of the
    table, begged that he would take the place next to him; that 'I may touch
    you,' he said, 'and have the benefit of that wise thought which came into
    your mind in the portico, and is now in your possession; for I am certain
    that you would not have come away until you had found what you sought.'

    How I wish, said Socrates, taking his place as he was desired, that wisdom
    could be infused by touch, out of the fuller into the emptier man, as water
    runs through wool out of a fuller cup into an emptier one; if that were so,
    how greatly should I value the privilege of reclining at your side! For
    you would have filled me full with a stream of wisdom plenteous and fair;
    whereas my own is of a very mean and questionable sort, no better than a
    dream. But yours is bright and full of promise, and was manifested forth
    in all the splendour of youth the day before yesterday, in the presence of
    more than thirty thousand Hellenes.

    You are mocking, Socrates, said Agathon, and ere long you and I will have
    to determine who bears off the palm of wisdom--of this Dionysus shall be
    the judge; but at present you are better occupied with supper.

    Socrates took his place on the couch, and supped with the rest; and then
    libations were offered, and after a hymn had been sung to the god, and
    there had been the usual ceremonies, they were about to commence drinking,
    when Pausanias said, And now, my friends, how can we drink with least
    injury to ourselves? I can assure you that I feel severely the effect of
    yesterday's potations, and must have time to recover; and I suspect that
    most of you are in the same predicament, for you were of the party
    yesterday. Consider then: How can the drinking be made easiest?

    I entirely agree, said Aristophanes, that we should, by all means, avoid
    hard drinking, for I was myself one of those who were yesterday drowned in

    I think that you are right, said Eryximachus, the son of Acumenus; but I
    should still like to hear one other person speak: Is Agathon able to drink

    I am not equal to it, said Agathon.

    Then, said Eryximachus, the weak heads like myself, Aristodemus, Phaedrus,
    and others who never can drink, are fortunate in finding that the stronger
    ones are not in a drinking mood. (I do not include Socrates, who is able
    either to drink or to abstain, and will not mind, whichever we do.) Well,
    as of none of the company seem disposed to drink much, I may be forgiven
    for saying, as a physician, that drinking deep is a bad practice, which I
    never follow, if I can help, and certainly do not recommend to another,
    least of all to any one who still feels the effects of yesterday's carouse.

    I always do what you advise, and especially what you prescribe as a
    physician, rejoined Phaedrus the Myrrhinusian, and the rest of the company,
    if they are wise, will do the same.

    It was agreed that drinking was not to be the order of the day, but that
    they were all to drink only so much as they pleased.

    Then, said Eryximachus, as you are all agreed that drinking is to be
    voluntary, and that there is to be no compulsion, I move, in the next
    place, that the flute-girl, who has just made her appearance, be told to go
    away and play to herself, or, if she likes, to the women who are within
    (compare Prot.). To-day let us have conversation instead; and, if you will
    allow me, I will tell you what sort of conversation. This proposal having
    been accepted, Eryximachus proceeded as follows:--

    I will begin, he said, after the manner of Melanippe in Euripides,

    'Not mine the word'

    which I am about to speak, but that of Phaedrus. For often he says to me
    in an indignant tone:--'What a strange thing it is, Eryximachus, that,
    whereas other gods have poems and hymns made in their honour, the great and
    glorious god, Love, has no encomiast among all the poets who are so many.
    There are the worthy sophists too--the excellent Prodicus for example, who
    have descanted in prose on the virtues of Heracles and other heroes; and,
    what is still more extraordinary, I have met with a philosophical work in
    which the utility of salt has been made the theme of an eloquent discourse;
    and many other like things have had a like honour bestowed upon them. And
    only to think that there should have been an eager interest created about
    them, and yet that to this day no one has ever dared worthily to hymn
    Love's praises! So entirely has this great deity been neglected.' Now in
    this Phaedrus seems to me to be quite right, and therefore I want to offer
    him a contribution; also I think that at the present moment we who are here
    assembled cannot do better than honour the god Love. If you agree with me,
    there will be no lack of conversation; for I mean to propose that each of
    us in turn, going from left to right, shall make a speech in honour of
    Love. Let him give us the best which he can; and Phaedrus, because he is
    sitting first on the left hand, and because he is the father of the
    thought, shall begin.

    No one will vote against you, Eryximachus, said Socrates. How can I oppose
    your motion, who profess to understand nothing but matters of love; nor, I
    presume, will Agathon and Pausanias; and there can be no doubt of
    Aristophanes, whose whole concern is with Dionysus and Aphrodite; nor will
    any one disagree of those whom I see around me. The proposal, as I am
    aware, may seem rather hard upon us whose place is last; but we shall be
    contented if we hear some good speeches first. Let Phaedrus begin the
    praise of Love, and good luck to him. All the company expressed their
    assent, and desired him to do as Socrates bade him.

    Aristodemus did not recollect all that was said, nor do I recollect all
    that he related to me; but I will tell you what I thought most worthy of
    remembrance, and what the chief speakers said.

    Phaedrus began by affirming that Love is a mighty god, and wonderful among
    gods and men, but especially wonderful in his birth. For he is the eldest
    of the gods, which is an honour to him; and a proof of his claim to this
    honour is, that of his parents there is no memorial; neither poet nor
    prose-writer has ever affirmed that he had any. As Hesiod says:--

    'First Chaos came, and then broad-bosomed Earth,
    The everlasting seat of all that is,
    And Love.'

    In other words, after Chaos, the Earth and Love, these two, came into
    being. Also Parmenides sings of Generation:

    'First in the train of gods, he fashioned Love.'

    And Acusilaus agrees with Hesiod. Thus numerous are the witnesses who
    acknowledge Love to be the eldest of the gods. And not only is he the
    eldest, he is also the source of the greatest benefits to us. For I know
    not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning life than a
    virtuous lover, or to the lover than a beloved youth. For the principle
    which ought to be the guide of men who would nobly live--that principle, I
    say, neither kindred, nor honour, nor wealth, nor any other motive is able
    to implant so well as love. Of what am I speaking? Of the sense of honour
    and dishonour, without which neither states nor individuals ever do any
    good or great work. And I say that a lover who is detected in doing any
    dishonourable act, or submitting through cowardice when any dishonour is
    done to him by another, will be more pained at being detected by his
    beloved than at being seen by his father, or by his companions, or by any
    one else. The beloved too, when he is found in any disgraceful situation,
    has the same feeling about his lover. And if there were only some way of
    contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their
    loves (compare Rep.), they would be the very best governors of their own
    city, abstaining from all dishonour, and emulating one another in honour;
    and when fighting at each other's side, although a mere handful, they would
    overcome the world. For what lover would not choose rather to be seen by
    all mankind than by his beloved, either when abandoning his post or
    throwing away his arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather
    than endure this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour
    of danger? The veriest coward would become an inspired hero, equal to the
    bravest, at such a time; Love would inspire him. That courage which, as
    Homer says, the god breathes into the souls of some heroes, Love of his own
    nature infuses into the lover.

    Love will make men dare to die for their beloved--love alone; and women as
    well as men. Of this, Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, is a monument to
    all Hellas; for she was willing to lay down her life on behalf of her
    husband, when no one else would, although he had a father and mother; but
    the tenderness of her love so far exceeded theirs, that she made them seem
    to be strangers in blood to their own son, and in name only related to him;
    and so noble did this action of hers appear to the gods, as well as to men,
    that among the many who have done virtuously she is one of the very few to
    whom, in admiration of her noble action, they have granted the privilege of
    returning alive to earth; such exceeding honour is paid by the gods to the
    devotion and virtue of love. But Orpheus, the son of Oeagrus, the harper,
    they sent empty away, and presented to him an apparition only of her whom
    he sought, but herself they would not give up, because he showed no spirit;
    he was only a harp-player, and did not dare like Alcestis to die for love,
    but was contriving how he might enter Hades alive; moreover, they
    afterwards caused him to suffer death at the hands of women, as the
    punishment of his cowardliness. Very different was the reward of the true
    love of Achilles towards his lover Patroclus--his lover and not his love
    (the notion that Patroclus was the beloved one is a foolish error into
    which Aeschylus has fallen, for Achilles was surely the fairer of the two,
    fairer also than all the other heroes; and, as Homer informs us, he was
    still beardless, and younger far). And greatly as the gods honour the
    virtue of love, still the return of love on the part of the beloved to the
    lover is more admired and valued and rewarded by them, for the lover is
    more divine; because he is inspired by God. Now Achilles was quite aware,
    for he had been told by his mother, that he might avoid death and return
    home, and live to a good old age, if he abstained from slaying Hector.
    Nevertheless he gave his life to revenge his friend, and dared to die, not
    only in his defence, but after he was dead. Wherefore the gods honoured
    him even above Alcestis, and sent him to the Islands of the Blest. These
    are my reasons for affirming that Love is the eldest and noblest and
    mightiest of the gods; and the chiefest author and giver of virtue in life,
    and of happiness after death.

    This, or something like this, was the speech of Phaedrus; and some other
    speeches followed which Aristodemus did not remember; the next which he
    repeated was that of Pausanias. Phaedrus, he said, the argument has not
    been set before us, I think, quite in the right form;--we should not be
    called upon to praise Love in such an indiscriminate manner. If there were
    only one Love, then what you said would be well enough; but since there are
    more Loves than one,--should have begun by determining which of them was to
    be the theme of our praises. I will amend this defect; and first of all I
    will tell you which Love is deserving of praise, and then try to hymn the
    praiseworthy one in a manner worthy of him. For we all know that Love is
    inseparable from Aphrodite, and if there were only one Aphrodite there
    would be only one Love; but as there are two goddesses there must be two
    Loves. And am I not right in asserting that there are two goddesses? The
    elder one, having no mother, who is called the heavenly Aphrodite--she is
    the daughter of Uranus; the younger, who is the daughter of Zeus and Dione
    --her we call common; and the Love who is her fellow-worker is rightly
    named common, as the other love is called heavenly. All the gods ought to
    have praise given to them, but not without distinction of their natures;
    and therefore I must try to distinguish the characters of the two Loves.
    Now actions vary according to the manner of their performance. Take, for
    example, that which we are now doing, drinking, singing and talking--these
    actions are not in themselves either good or evil, but they turn out in
    this or that way according to the mode of performing them; and when well
    done they are good, and when wrongly done they are evil; and in like manner
    not every love, but only that which has a noble purpose, is noble and
    worthy of praise. The Love who is the offspring of the common Aphrodite is
    essentially common, and has no discrimination, being such as the meaner
    sort of men feel, and is apt to be of women as well as of youths, and is of
    the body rather than of the soul--the most foolish beings are the objects
    of this love which desires only to gain an end, but never thinks of
    accomplishing the end nobly, and therefore does good and evil quite
    indiscriminately. The goddess who is his mother is far younger than the
    other, and she was born of the union of the male and female, and partakes
    of both. But the offspring of the heavenly Aphrodite is derived from a
    mother in whose birth the female has no part,--she is from the male only;
    this is that love which is of youths, and the goddess being older, there is
    nothing of wantonness in her. Those who are inspired by this love turn to
    the male, and delight in him who is the more valiant and intelligent
    nature; any one may recognise the pure enthusiasts in the very character of
    their attachments. For they love not boys, but intelligent beings whose
    reason is beginning to be developed, much about the time at which their
    beards begin to grow. And in choosing young men to be their companions,
    they mean to be faithful to them, and pass their whole life in company with
    them, not to take them in their inexperience, and deceive them, and play
    the fool with them, or run away from one to another of them. But the love
    of young boys should be forbidden by law, because their future is
    uncertain; they may turn out good or bad, either in body or soul, and much
    noble enthusiasm may be thrown away upon them; in this matter the good are
    a law to themselves, and the coarser sort of lovers ought to be restrained
    by force; as we restrain or attempt to restrain them from fixing their
    affections on women of free birth. These are the persons who bring a
    reproach on love; and some have been led to deny the lawfulness of such
    attachments because they see the impropriety and evil of them; for surely
    nothing that is decorously and lawfully done can justly be censured. Now
    here and in Lacedaemon the rules about love are perplexing, but in most
    cities they are simple and easily intelligible; in Elis and Boeotia, and in
    countries having no gifts of eloquence, they are very straightforward; the
    law is simply in favour of these connexions, and no one, whether young or
    old, has anything to say to their discredit; the reason being, as I
    suppose, that they are men of few words in those parts, and therefore the
    lovers do not like the trouble of pleading their suit. In Ionia and other
    places, and generally in countries which are subject to the barbarians, the
    custom is held to be dishonourable; loves of youths share the evil repute
    in which philosophy and gymnastics are held, because they are inimical to
    tyranny; for the interests of rulers require that their subjects should be
    poor in spirit (compare Arist. Politics), and that there should be no
    strong bond of friendship or society among them, which love, above all
    other motives, is likely to inspire, as our Athenian tyrants learned by
    experience; for the love of Aristogeiton and the constancy of Harmodius had
    a strength which undid their power. And, therefore, the ill-repute into
    which these attachments have fallen is to be ascribed to the evil condition
    of those who make them to be ill-reputed; that is to say, to the self-
    seeking of the governors and the cowardice of the governed; on the other
    hand, the indiscriminate honour which is given to them in some countries is
    attributable to the laziness of those who hold this opinion of them. In
    our own country a far better principle prevails, but, as I was saying, the
    explanation of it is rather perplexing. For, observe that open loves are
    held to be more honourable than secret ones, and that the love of the
    noblest and highest, even if their persons are less beautiful than others,
    is especially honourable. Consider, too, how great is the encouragement
    which all the world gives to the lover; neither is he supposed to be doing
    anything dishonourable; but if he succeeds he is praised, and if he fail he
    is blamed. And in the pursuit of his love the custom of mankind allows him
    to do many strange things, which philosophy would bitterly censure if they
    were done from any motive of interest, or wish for office or power. He may
    pray, and entreat, and supplicate, and swear, and lie on a mat at the door,
    and endure a slavery worse than that of any slave--in any other case
    friends and enemies would be equally ready to prevent him, but now there is
    no friend who will be ashamed of him and admonish him, and no enemy will
    charge him with meanness or flattery; the actions of a lover have a grace
    which ennobles them; and custom has decided that they are highly
    commendable and that there no loss of character in them; and, what is
    strangest of all, he only may swear and forswear himself (so men say), and
    the gods will forgive his transgression, for there is no such thing as a
    lover's oath. Such is the entire liberty which gods and men have allowed
    the lover, according to the custom which prevails in our part of the world.
    From this point of view a man fairly argues that in Athens to love and to
    be loved is held to be a very honourable thing. But when parents forbid
    their sons to talk with their lovers, and place them under a tutor's care,
    who is appointed to see to these things, and their companions and equals
    cast in their teeth anything of the sort which they may observe, and their
    elders refuse to silence the reprovers and do not rebuke them--any one who
    reflects on all this will, on the contrary, think that we hold these
    practices to be most disgraceful. But, as I was saying at first, the truth
    as I imagine is, that whether such practices are honourable or whether they
    are dishonourable is not a simple question; they are honourable to him who
    follows them honourably, dishonourable to him who follows them
    dishonourably. There is dishonour in yielding to the evil, or in an evil
    manner; but there is honour in yielding to the good, or in an honourable
    manner. Evil is the vulgar lover who loves the body rather than the soul,
    inasmuch as he is not even stable, because he loves a thing which is in
    itself unstable, and therefore when the bloom of youth which he was
    desiring is over, he takes wing and flies away, in spite of all his words
    and promises; whereas the love of the noble disposition is life-long, for
    it becomes one with the everlasting. The custom of our country would have
    both of them proven well and truly, and would have us yield to the one sort
    of lover and avoid the other, and therefore encourages some to pursue, and
    others to fly; testing both the lover and beloved in contests and trials,
    until they show to which of the two classes they respectively belong. And
    this is the reason why, in the first place, a hasty attachment is held to
    be dishonourable, because time is the true test of this as of most other
    things; and secondly there is a dishonour in being overcome by the love of
    money, or of wealth, or of political power, whether a man is frightened
    into surrender by the loss of them, or, having experienced the benefits of
    money and political corruption, is unable to rise above the seductions of
    them. For none of these things are of a permanent or lasting nature; not
    to mention that no generous friendship ever sprang from them. There
    remains, then, only one way of honourable attachment which custom allows in
    the beloved, and this is the way of virtue; for as we admitted that any
    service which the lover does to him is not to be accounted flattery or a
    dishonour to himself, so the beloved has one way only of voluntary service
    which is not dishonourable, and this is virtuous service.

    For we have a custom, and according to our custom any one who does service
    to another under the idea that he will be improved by him either in wisdom,
    or in some other particular of virtue--such a voluntary service, I say, is
    not to be regarded as a dishonour, and is not open to the charge of
    flattery. And these two customs, one the love of youth, and the other the
    practice of philosophy and virtue in general, ought to meet in one, and
    then the beloved may honourably indulge the lover. For when the lover and
    beloved come together, having each of them a law, and the lover thinks that
    he is right in doing any service which he can to his gracious loving one;
    and the other that he is right in showing any kindness which he can to him
    who is making him wise and good; the one capable of communicating wisdom
    and virtue, the other seeking to acquire them with a view to education and
    wisdom, when the two laws of love are fulfilled and meet in one--then, and
    then only, may the beloved yield with honour to the lover. Nor when love
    is of this disinterested sort is there any disgrace in being deceived, but
    in every other case there is equal disgrace in being or not being deceived.
    For he who is gracious to his lover under the impression that he is rich,
    and is disappointed of his gains because he turns out to be poor, is
    disgraced all the same: for he has done his best to show that he would
    give himself up to any one's 'uses base' for the sake of money; but this is
    not honourable. And on the same principle he who gives himself to a lover
    because he is a good man, and in the hope that he will be improved by his
    company, shows himself to be virtuous, even though the object of his
    affection turn out to be a villain, and to have no virtue; and if he is
    deceived he has committed a noble error. For he has proved that for his
    part he will do anything for anybody with a view to virtue and improvement,
    than which there can be nothing nobler. Thus noble in every case is the
    acceptance of another for the sake of virtue. This is that love which is
    the love of the heavenly godess, and is heavenly, and of great price to
    individuals and cities, making the lover and the beloved alike eager in the
    work of their own improvement. But all other loves are the offspring of
    the other, who is the common goddess. To you, Phaedrus, I offer this my
    contribution in praise of love, which is as good as I could make extempore.

    Pausanias came to a pause--this is the balanced way in which I have been
    taught by the wise to speak; and Aristodemus said that the turn of
    Aristophanes was next, but either he had eaten too much, or from some other
    cause he had the hiccough, and was obliged to change turns with Eryximachus
    the physician, who was reclining on the couch below him. Eryximachus, he
    said, you ought either to stop my hiccough, or to speak in my turn until I
    have left off.

    I will do both, said Eryximachus: I will speak in your turn, and do you
    speak in mine; and while I am speaking let me recommend you to hold your
    breath, and if after you have done so for some time the hiccough is no
    better, then gargle with a little water; and if it still continues, tickle
    your nose with something and sneeze; and if you sneeze once or twice, even
    the most violent hiccough is sure to go. I will do as you prescribe, said
    Aristophanes, and now get on.

    Eryximachus spoke as follows: Seeing that Pausanias made a fair beginning,
    and but a lame ending, I must endeavour to supply his deficiency. I think
    that he has rightly distinguished two kinds of love. But my art further
    informs me that the double love is not merely an affection of the soul of
    man towards the fair, or towards anything, but is to be found in the bodies
    of all animals and in productions of the earth, and I may say in all that
    is; such is the conclusion which I seem to have gathered from my own art of
    medicine, whence I learn how great and wonderful and universal is the deity
    of love, whose empire extends over all things, divine as well as human.
    And from medicine I will begin that I may do honour to my art. There are
    in the human body these two kinds of love, which are confessedly different
    and unlike, and being unlike, they have loves and desires which are unlike;
    and the desire of the healthy is one, and the desire of the diseased is
    another; and as Pausanias was just now saying that to indulge good men is
    honourable, and bad men dishonourable:--so too in the body the good and
    healthy elements are to be indulged, and the bad elements and the elements
    of disease are not to be indulged, but discouraged. And this is what the
    physician has to do, and in this the art of medicine consists: for
    medicine may be regarded generally as the knowledge of the loves and
    desires of the body, and how to satisfy them or not; and the best physician
    is he who is able to separate fair love from foul, or to convert one into
    the other; and he who knows how to eradicate and how to implant love,
    whichever is required, and can reconcile the most hostile elements in the
    constitution and make them loving friends, is a skilful practitioner. Now
    the most hostile are the most opposite, such as hot and cold, bitter and
    sweet, moist and dry, and the like. And my ancestor, Asclepius, knowing
    how to implant friendship and accord in these elements, was the creator of
    our art, as our friends the poets here tell us, and I believe them; and not
    only medicine in every branch but the arts of gymnastic and husbandry are
    under his dominion. Any one who pays the least attention to the subject
    will also perceive that in music there is the same reconciliation of
    opposites; and I suppose that this must have been the meaning of
    Heracleitus, although his words are not accurate; for he says that The One
    is united by disunion, like the harmony of the bow and the lyre. Now there
    is an absurdity saying that harmony is discord or is composed of elements
    which are still in a state of discord. But what he probably meant was,
    that harmony is composed of differing notes of higher or lower pitch which
    disagreed once, but are now reconciled by the art of music; for if the
    higher and lower notes still disagreed, there could be no harmony,--clearly
    not. For harmony is a symphony, and symphony is an agreement; but an
    agreement of disagreements while they disagree there cannot be; you cannot
    harmonize that which disagrees. In like manner rhythm is compounded of
    elements short and long, once differing and now in accord; which
    accordance, as in the former instance, medicine, so in all these other
    cases, music implants, making love and unison to grow up among them; and
    thus music, too, is concerned with the principles of love in their
    application to harmony and rhythm. Again, in the essential nature of
    harmony and rhythm there is no difficulty in discerning love which has not
    yet become double. But when you want to use them in actual life, either in
    the composition of songs or in the correct performance of airs or metres
    composed already, which latter is called education, then the difficulty
    begins, and the good artist is needed. Then the old tale has to be
    repeated of fair and heavenly love--the love of Urania the fair and
    heavenly muse, and of the duty of accepting the temperate, and those who
    are as yet intemperate only that they may become temperate, and of
    preserving their love; and again, of the vulgar Polyhymnia, who must be
    used with circumspection that the pleasure be enjoyed, but may not generate
    licentiousness; just as in my own art it is a great matter so to regulate
    the desires of the epicure that he may gratify his tastes without the
    attendant evil of disease. Whence I infer that in music, in medicine, in
    all other things human as well as divine, both loves ought to be noted as
    far as may be, for they are both present.

    The course of the seasons is also full of both these principles; and when,
    as I was saying, the elements of hot and cold, moist and dry, attain the
    harmonious love of one another and blend in temperance and harmony, they
    bring to men, animals, and plants health and plenty, and do them no harm;
    whereas the wanton love, getting the upper hand and affecting the seasons
    of the year, is very destructive and injurious, being the source of
    pestilence, and bringing many other kinds of diseases on animals and
    plants; for hoar-frost and hail and blight spring from the excesses and
    disorders of these elements of love, which to know in relation to the
    revolutions of the heavenly bodies and the seasons of the year is termed
    astronomy. Furthermore all sacrifices and the whole province of
    divination, which is the art of communion between gods and men--these, I
    say, are concerned only with the preservation of the good and the cure of
    the evil love. For all manner of impiety is likely to ensue if, instead of
    accepting and honouring and reverencing the harmonious love in all his
    actions, a man honours the other love, whether in his feelings towards gods
    or parents, towards the living or the dead. Wherefore the business of
    divination is to see to these loves and to heal them, and divination is the
    peacemaker of gods and men, working by a knowledge of the religious or
    irreligious tendencies which exist in human loves. Such is the great and
    mighty, or rather omnipotent force of love in general. And the love, more
    especially, which is concerned with the good, and which is perfected in
    company with temperance and justice, whether among gods or men, has the
    greatest power, and is the source of all our happiness and harmony, and
    makes us friends with the gods who are above us, and with one another. I
    dare say that I too have omitted several things which might be said in
    praise of Love, but this was not intentional, and you, Aristophanes, may
    now supply the omission or take some other line of commendation; for I
    perceive that you are rid of the hiccough.

    Yes, said Aristophanes, who followed, the hiccough is gone; not, however,
    until I applied the sneezing; and I wonder whether the harmony of the body
    has a love of such noises and ticklings, for I no sooner applied the
    sneezing than I was cured.

    Eryximachus said: Beware, friend Aristophanes, although you are going to
    speak, you are making fun of me; and I shall have to watch and see whether
    I cannot have a laugh at your expense, when you might speak in peace.

    You are right, said Aristophanes, laughing. I will unsay my words; but do
    you please not to watch me, as I fear that in the speech which I am about
    to make, instead of others laughing with me, which is to the manner born of
    our muse and would be all the better, I shall only be laughed at by them.

    Do you expect to shoot your bolt and escape, Aristophanes? Well, perhaps
    if you are very careful and bear in mind that you will be called to
    account, I may be induced to let you off.

    Aristophanes professed to open another vein of discourse; he had a mind to
    praise Love in another way, unlike that either of Pausanias or Eryximachus.
    Mankind, he said, judging by their neglect of him, have never, as I think,
    at all understood the power of Love. For if they had understood him they
    would surely have built noble temples and altars, and offered solemn
    sacrifices in his honour; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to
    be done: since of all the gods he is the best friend of men, the helper
    and the healer of the ills which are the great impediment to the happiness
    of the race. I will try to describe his power to you, and you shall teach
    the rest of the world what I am teaching you. In the first place, let me
    treat of the nature of man and what has happened to it; for the original
    human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not
    two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman,
    and the union of the two, having a name corresponding to this double
    nature, which had once a real existence, but is now lost, and the word
    'Androgynous' is only preserved as a term of reproach. In the second
    place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a circle; and
    he had four hands and four feet, one head with two faces, looking opposite
    ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy
    members, and the remainder to correspond. He could walk upright as men now
    do, backwards or forwards as he pleased, and he could also roll over and
    over at a great pace, turning on his four hands and four feet, eight in
    all, like tumblers going over and over with their legs in the air; this was
    when he wanted to run fast. Now the sexes were three, and such as I have
    described them; because the sun, moon, and earth are three; and the man was
    originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman
    of the moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and
    moved round and round like their parents. Terrible was their might and
    strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an
    attack upon the gods; of them is told the tale of Otys and Ephialtes who,
    as Homer says, dared to scale heaven, and would have laid hands upon the
    gods. Doubt reigned in the celestial councils. Should they kill them and
    annihilate the race with thunderbolts, as they had done the giants, then
    there would be an end of the sacrifices and worship which men offered to
    them; but, on the other hand, the gods could not suffer their insolence to
    be unrestrained. At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered
    a way. He said: 'Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and
    improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in
    two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in numbers;
    this will have the advantage of making them more profitable to us. They
    shall walk upright on two legs, and if they continue insolent and will not
    be quiet, I will split them again and they shall hop about on a single
    leg.' He spoke and cut men in two, like a sorb-apple which is halved for
    pickling, or as you might divide an egg with a hair; and as he cut them one
    after another, he bade Apollo give the face and the half of the neck a turn
    in order that the man might contemplate the section of himself: he would
    thus learn a lesson of humility. Apollo was also bidden to heal their
    wounds and compose their forms. So he gave a turn to the face and pulled
    the skin from the sides all over that which in our language is called the
    belly, like the purses which draw in, and he made one mouth at the centre,
    which he fastened in a knot (the same which is called the navel); he also
    moulded the breast and took out most of the wrinkles, much as a shoemaker
    might smooth leather upon a last; he left a few, however, in the region of
    the belly and navel, as a memorial of the primeval state. After the
    division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together,
    and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces,
    longing to grow into one, they were on the point of dying from hunger and
    self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart; and when one
    of the halves died and the other survived, the survivor sought another
    mate, man or woman as we call them,--being the sections of entire men or
    women,--and clung to that. They were being destroyed, when Zeus in pity of
    them invented a new plan: he turned the parts of generation round to the
    front, for this had not been always their position, and they sowed the seed
    no longer as hitherto like grasshoppers in the ground, but in one another;
    and after the transposition the male generated in the female in order that
    by the mutual embraces of man and woman they might breed, and the race
    might continue; or if man came to man they might be satisfied, and rest,
    and go their ways to the business of life: so ancient is the desire of one
    another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one
    of two, and healing the state of man. Each of us when separated, having
    one side only, like a flat fish, is but the indenture of a man, and he is
    always looking for his other half. Men who are a section of that double
    nature which was once called Androgynous are lovers of women; adulterers
    are generally of this breed, and also adulterous women who lust after men:
    the women who are a section of the woman do not care for men, but have
    female attachments; the female companions are of this sort. But they who
    are a section of the male follow the male, and while they are young, being
    slices of the original man, they hang about men and embrace them, and they
    are themselves the best of boys and youths, because they have the most
    manly nature. Some indeed assert that they are shameless, but this is not
    true; for they do not act thus from any want of shame, but because they are
    valiant and manly, and have a manly countenance, and they embrace that
    which is like them. And these when they grow up become our statesmen, and
    these only, which is a great proof of the truth of what I am saving. When
    they reach manhood they are lovers of youth, and are not naturally inclined
    to marry or beget children,--if at all, they do so only in obedience to the
    law; but they are satisfied if they may be allowed to live with one another
    unwedded; and such a nature is prone to love and ready to return love,
    always embracing that which is akin to him. And when one of them meets
    with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of
    youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love
    and friendship and intimacy, and one will not be out of the other's sight,
    as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole
    lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another.
    For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not
    appear to be the desire of lover's intercourse, but of something else which
    the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she has
    only a dark and doubtful presentiment. Suppose Hephaestus, with his
    instruments, to come to the pair who are lying side by side and to say to
    them, 'What do you people want of one another?' they would be unable to
    explain. And suppose further, that when he saw their perplexity he said:
    'Do you desire to be wholly one; always day and night to be in one
    another's company? for if this is what you desire, I am ready to melt you
    into one and let you grow together, so that being two you shall become one,
    and while you live live a common life as if you were a single man, and
    after your death in the world below still be one departed soul instead of
    two--I ask whether this is what you lovingly desire, and whether you are
    satisfied to attain this?'--there is not a man of them who when he heard
    the proposal would deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and
    melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the very
    expression of his ancient need (compare Arist. Pol.). And the reason is
    that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire
    and pursuit of the whole is called love. There was a time, I say, when we
    were one, but now because of the wickedness of mankind God has dispersed
    us, as the Arcadians were dispersed into villages by the Lacedaemonians
    (compare Arist. Pol.). And if we are not obedient to the gods, there is a
    danger that we shall be split up again and go about in basso-relievo, like
    the profile figures having only half a nose which are sculptured on
    monuments, and that we shall be like tallies. Wherefore let us exhort all
    men to piety, that we may avoid evil, and obtain the good, of which Love is
    to us the lord and minister; and let no one oppose him--he is the enemy of
    the gods who opposes him. For if we are friends of the God and at peace
    with him we shall find our own true loves, which rarely happens in this
    world at present. I am serious, and therefore I must beg Eryximachus not
    to make fun or to find any allusion in what I am saying to Pausanias and
    Agathon, who, as I suspect, are both of the manly nature, and belong to the
    class which I have been describing. But my words have a wider application
    --they include men and women everywhere; and I believe that if our loves
    were perfectly accomplished, and each one returning to his primeval nature
    had his original true love, then our race would be happy. And if this
    would be best of all, the best in the next degree and under present
    circumstances must be the nearest approach to such an union; and that will
    be the attainment of a congenial love. Wherefore, if we would praise him
    who has given to us the benefit, we must praise the god Love, who is our
    greatest benefactor, both leading us in this life back to our own nature,
    and giving us high hopes for the future, for he promises that if we are
    pious, he will restore us to our original state, and heal us and make us
    happy and blessed. This, Eryximachus, is my discourse of love, which,
    although different to yours, I must beg you to leave unassailed by the
    shafts of your ridicule, in order that each may have his turn; each, or
    rather either, for Agathon and Socrates are the only ones left.

    Indeed, I am not going to attack you, said Eryximachus, for I thought your
    speech charming, and did I not know that Agathon and Socrates are masters
    in the art of love, I should be really afraid that they would have nothing
    to say, after the world of things which have been said already. But, for
    all that, I am not without hopes.

    Socrates said: You played your part well, Eryximachus; but if you were as
    I am now, or rather as I shall be when Agathon has spoken, you would,
    indeed, be in a great strait.

    You want to cast a spell over me, Socrates, said Agathon, in the hope that
    I may be disconcerted at the expectation raised among the audience that I
    shall speak well.

    I should be strangely forgetful, Agathon replied Socrates, of the courage
    and magnanimity which you showed when your own compositions were about to
    be exhibited, and you came upon the stage with the actors and faced the
    vast theatre altogether undismayed, if I thought that your nerves could be
    fluttered at a small party of friends.

    Do you think, Socrates, said Agathon, that my head is so full of the
    theatre as not to know how much more formidable to a man of sense a few
    good judges are than many fools?

    Nay, replied Socrates, I should be very wrong in attributing to you,
    Agathon, that or any other want of refinement. And I am quite aware that
    if you happened to meet with any whom you thought wise, you would care for
    their opinion much more than for that of the many. But then we, having
    been a part of the foolish many in the theatre, cannot be regarded as the
    select wise; though I know that if you chanced to be in the presence, not
    of one of ourselves, but of some really wise man, you would be ashamed of
    disgracing yourself before him--would you not?

    Yes, said Agathon.

    But before the many you would not be ashamed, if you thought that you were
    doing something disgraceful in their presence?

    Here Phaedrus interrupted them, saying: not answer him, my dear Agathon;
    for if he can only get a partner with whom he can talk, especially a good-
    looking one, he will no longer care about the completion of our plan. Now
    I love to hear him talk; but just at present I must not forget the encomium
    on Love which I ought to receive from him and from every one. When you and
    he have paid your tribute to the god, then you may talk.

    Very good, Phaedrus, said Agathon; I see no reason why I should not proceed
    with my speech, as I shall have many other opportunities of conversing with
    Socrates. Let me say first how I ought to speak, and then speak:--

    The previous speakers, instead of praising the god Love, or unfolding his
    nature, appear to have congratulated mankind on the benefits which he
    confers upon them. But I would rather praise the god first, and then speak
    of his gifts; this is always the right way of praising everything. May I
    say without impiety or offence, that of all the blessed gods he is the most
    blessed because he is the fairest and best? And he is the fairest: for,
    in the first place, he is the youngest, and of his youth he is himself the
    witness, fleeing out of the way of age, who is swift enough, swifter truly
    than most of us like:--Love hates him and will not come near him; but youth
    and love live and move together--like to like, as the proverb says. Many
    things were said by Phaedrus about Love in which I agree with him; but I
    cannot agree that he is older than Iapetus and Kronos:--not so; I maintain
    him to be the youngest of the gods, and youthful ever. The ancient doings
    among the gods of which Hesiod and Parmenides spoke, if the tradition of
    them be true, were done of Necessity and not of Love; had Love been in
    those days, there would have been no chaining or mutilation of the gods, or
    other violence, but peace and sweetness, as there is now in heaven, since
    the rule of Love began. Love is young and also tender; he ought to have a
    poet like Homer to describe his tenderness, as Homer says of Ate, that she
    is a goddess and tender:--

    'Her feet are tender, for she sets her steps,
    Not on the ground but on the heads of men:'

    herein is an excellent proof of her tenderness,--that she walks not upon
    the hard but upon the soft. Let us adduce a similar proof of the
    tenderness of Love; for he walks not upon the earth, nor yet upon the
    skulls of men, which are not so very soft, but in the hearts and souls of
    both gods and men, which are of all things the softest: in them he walks
    and dwells and makes his home. Not in every soul without exception, for
    where there is hardness he departs, where there is softness there he
    dwells; and nestling always with his feet and in all manner of ways in the
    softest of soft places, how can he be other than the softest of all things?
    Of a truth he is the tenderest as well as the youngest, and also he is of
    flexile form; for if he were hard and without flexure he could not enfold
    all things, or wind his way into and out of every soul of man undiscovered.
    And a proof of his flexibility and symmetry of form is his grace, which is
    universally admitted to be in an especial manner the attribute of Love;
    ungrace and love are always at war with one another. The fairness of his
    complexion is revealed by his habitation among the flowers; for he dwells
    not amid bloomless or fading beauties, whether of body or soul or aught
    else, but in the place of flowers and scents, there he sits and abides.
    Concerning the beauty of the god I have said enough; and yet there remains
    much more which I might say. Of his virtue I have now to speak: his
    greatest glory is that he can neither do nor suffer wrong to or from any
    god or any man; for he suffers not by force if he suffers; force comes not
    near him, neither when he acts does he act by force. For all men in all
    things serve him of their own free will, and where there is voluntary
    agreement, there, as the laws which are the lords of the city say, is
    justice. And not only is he just but exceedingly temperate, for Temperance
    is the acknowledged ruler of the pleasures and desires, and no pleasure
    ever masters Love; he is their master and they are his servants; and if he
    conquers them he must be temperate indeed. As to courage, even the God of
    War is no match for him; he is the captive and Love is the lord, for love,
    the love of Aphrodite, masters him, as the tale runs; and the master is
    stronger than the servant. And if he conquers the bravest of all others,
    he must be himself the bravest. Of his courage and justice and temperance
    I have spoken, but I have yet to speak of his wisdom; and according to the
    measure of my ability I must try to do my best. In the first place he is a
    poet (and here, like Eryximachus, I magnify my art), and he is also the
    source of poesy in others, which he could not be if he were not himself a
    poet. And at the touch of him every one becomes a poet, even though he had
    no music in him before (A fragment of the Sthenoaoea of Euripides.); this
    also is a proof that Love is a good poet and accomplished in all the fine
    arts; for no one can give to another that which he has not himself, or
    teach that of which he has no knowledge. Who will deny that the creation
    of the animals is his doing? Are they not all the works of his wisdom,
    born and begotten of him? And as to the artists, do we not know that he
    only of them whom love inspires has the light of fame?--he whom Love
    touches not walks in darkness. The arts of medicine and archery and
    divination were discovered by Apollo, under the guidance of love and
    desire; so that he too is a disciple of Love. Also the melody of the
    Muses, the metallurgy of Hephaestus, the weaving of Athene, the empire of
    Zeus over gods and men, are all due to Love, who was the inventor of them.
    And so Love set in order the empire of the gods--the love of beauty, as is
    evident, for with deformity Love has no concern. In the days of old, as I
    began by saying, dreadful deeds were done among the gods, for they were
    ruled by Necessity; but now since the birth of Love, and from the Love of
    the beautiful, has sprung every good in heaven and earth. Therefore,
    Phaedrus, I say of Love that he is the fairest and best in himself, and the
    cause of what is fairest and best in all other things. And there comes
    into my mind a line of poetry in which he is said to be the god who

    'Gives peace on earth and calms the stormy deep,
    Who stills the winds and bids the sufferer sleep.'

    This is he who empties men of disaffection and fills them with affection,
    who makes them to meet together at banquets such as these: in sacrifices,
    feasts, dances, he is our lord--who sends courtesy and sends away
    discourtesy, who gives kindness ever and never gives unkindness; the friend
    of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the gods; desired by
    those who have no part in him, and precious to those who have the better
    part in him; parent of delicacy, luxury, desire, fondness, softness, grace;
    regardful of the good, regardless of the evil: in every word, work, wish,
    fear--saviour, pilot, comrade, helper; glory of gods and men, leader best
    and brightest: in whose footsteps let every man follow, sweetly singing in
    his honour and joining in that sweet strain with which love charms the
    souls of gods and men. Such is the speech, Phaedrus, half-playful, yet
    having a certain measure of seriousness, which, according to my ability, I
    dedicate to the god.

    When Agathon had done speaking, Aristodemus said that there was a general
    cheer; the young man was thought to have spoken in a manner worthy of
    himself, and of the god. And Socrates, looking at Eryximachus, said: Tell
    me, son of Acumenus, was there not reason in my fears? and was I not a true
    prophet when I said that Agathon would make a wonderful oration, and that I
    should be in a strait?

    The part of the prophecy which concerns Agathon, replied Eryximachus,
    appears to me to be true; but not the other part--that you will be in a

    Why, my dear friend, said Socrates, must not I or any one be in a strait
    who has to speak after he has heard such a rich and varied discourse? I am
    especially struck with the beauty of the concluding words--who could listen
    to them without amazement? When I reflected on the immeasurable
    inferiority of my own powers, I was ready to run away for shame, if there
    had been a possibility of escape. For I was reminded of Gorgias, and at
    the end of his speech I fancied that Agathon was shaking at me the
    Gorginian or Gorgonian head of the great master of rhetoric, which was
    simply to turn me and my speech into stone, as Homer says (Odyssey), and
    strike me dumb. And then I perceived how foolish I had been in consenting
    to take my turn with you in praising love, and saying that I too was a
    master of the art, when I really had no conception how anything ought to be
    praised. For in my simplicity I imagined that the topics of praise should
    be true, and that this being presupposed, out of the true the speaker was
    to choose the best and set them forth in the best manner. And I felt quite
    proud, thinking that I knew the nature of true praise, and should speak
    well. Whereas I now see that the intention was to attribute to Love every
    species of greatness and glory, whether really belonging to him or not,
    without regard to truth or falsehood--that was no matter; for the original
    proposal seems to have been not that each of you should really praise Love,
    but only that you should appear to praise him. And so you attribute to
    Love every imaginable form of praise which can be gathered anywhere; and
    you say that 'he is all this,' and 'the cause of all that,' making him
    appear the fairest and best of all to those who know him not, for you
    cannot impose upon those who know him. And a noble and solemn hymn of
    praise have you rehearsed. But as I misunderstood the nature of the praise
    when I said that I would take my turn, I must beg to be absolved from the
    promise which I made in ignorance, and which (as Euripides would say
    (Eurip. Hyppolytus)) was a promise of the lips and not of the mind.
    Farewell then to such a strain: for I do not praise in that way; no,
    indeed, I cannot. But if you like to hear the truth about love, I am ready
    to speak in my own manner, though I will not make myself ridiculous by
    entering into any rivalry with you. Say then, Phaedrus, whether you would
    like to have the truth about love, spoken in any words and in any order
    which may happen to come into my mind at the time. Will that be agreeable
    to you?

    Aristodemus said that Phaedrus and the company bid him speak in any manner
    which he thought best. Then, he added, let me have your permission first
    to ask Agathon a few more questions, in order that I may take his
    admissions as the premisses of my discourse.

    I grant the permission, said Phaedrus: put your questions. Socrates then
    proceeded as follows:--

    In the magnificent oration which you have just uttered, I think that you
    were right, my dear Agathon, in proposing to speak of the nature of Love
    first and afterwards of his works--that is a way of beginning which I very
    much approve. And as you have spoken so eloquently of his nature, may I
    ask you further, Whether love is the love of something or of nothing? And
    here I must explain myself: I do not want you to say that love is the love
    of a father or the love of a mother--that would be ridiculous; but to
    answer as you would, if I asked is a father a father of something? to which
    you would find no difficulty in replying, of a son or daughter: and the
    answer would be right.

    Very true, said Agathon.

    And you would say the same of a mother?

    He assented.

    Yet let me ask you one more question in order to illustrate my meaning: Is
    not a brother to be regarded essentially as a brother of something?

    Certainly, he replied.

    That is, of a brother or sister?

    Yes, he said.

    And now, said Socrates, I will ask about Love:--Is Love of something or of

    Of something, surely, he replied.

    Keep in mind what this is, and tell me what I want to know--whether Love
    desires that of which love is.

    Yes, surely.

    And does he possess, or does he not possess, that which he loves and

    Probably not, I should say.

    Nay, replied Socrates, I would have you consider whether 'necessarily' is
    not rather the word. The inference that he who desires something is in
    want of something, and that he who desires nothing is in want of nothing,
    is in my judgment, Agathon, absolutely and necessarily true. What do you

    I agree with you, said Agathon.

    Very good. Would he who is great, desire to be great, or he who is strong,
    desire to be strong?

    That would be inconsistent with our previous admissions.

    True. For he who is anything cannot want to be that which he is?

    Very true.

    And yet, added Socrates, if a man being strong desired to be strong, or
    being swift desired to be swift, or being healthy desired to be healthy, in
    that case he might be thought to desire something which he already has or
    is. I give the example in order that we may avoid misconception. For the
    possessors of these qualities, Agathon, must be supposed to have their
    respective advantages at the time, whether they choose or not; and who can
    desire that which he has? Therefore, when a person says, I am well and
    wish to be well, or I am rich and wish to be rich, and I desire simply to
    have what I have--to him we shall reply: 'You, my friend, having wealth
    and health and strength, want to have the continuance of them; for at this
    moment, whether you choose or no, you have them. And when you say, I
    desire that which I have and nothing else, is not your meaning that you
    want to have what you now have in the future?' He must agree with us--must
    he not?

    He must, replied Agathon.

    Then, said Socrates, he desires that what he has at present may be
    preserved to him in the future, which is equivalent to saying that he
    desires something which is non-existent to him, and which as yet he has not

    Very true, he said.

    Then he and every one who desires, desires that which he has not already,
    and which is future and not present, and which he has not, and is not, and
    of which he is in want;--these are the sort of things which love and desire

    Very true, he said.

    Then now, said Socrates, let us recapitulate the argument. First, is not
    love of something, and of something too which is wanting to a man?

    Yes, he replied.

    Remember further what you said in your speech, or if you do not remember I
    will remind you: you said that the love of the beautiful set in order the
    empire of the gods, for that of deformed things there is no love--did you
    not say something of that kind?

    Yes, said Agathon.

    Yes, my friend, and the remark was a just one. And if this is true, Love
    is the love of beauty and not of deformity?

    He assented.

    And the admission has been already made that Love is of something which a
    man wants and has not?

    True, he said.

    Then Love wants and has not beauty?

    Certainly, he replied.

    And would you call that beautiful which wants and does not possess beauty?

    Certainly not.

    Then would you still say that love is beautiful?

    Agathon replied: I fear that I did not understand what I was saying.

    You made a very good speech, Agathon, replied Socrates; but there is yet
    one small question which I would fain ask:--Is not the good also the


    Then in wanting the beautiful, love wants also the good?

    I cannot refute you, Socrates, said Agathon:--Let us assume that what you
    say is true.

    Say rather, beloved Agathon, that you cannot refute the truth; for Socrates
    is easily refuted.

    And now, taking my leave of you, I would rehearse a tale of love which I
    heard from Diotima of Mantineia (compare 1 Alcibiades), a woman wise in
    this and in many other kinds of knowledge, who in the days of old, when the
    Athenians offered sacrifice before the coming of the plague, delayed the
    disease ten years. She was my instructress in the art of love, and I shall
    repeat to you what she said to me, beginning with the admissions made by
    Agathon, which are nearly if not quite the same which I made to the wise
    woman when she questioned me: I think that this will be the easiest way,
    and I shall take both parts myself as well as I can (compare Gorgias). As
    you, Agathon, suggested (supra), I must speak first of the being and nature
    of Love, and then of his works. First I said to her in nearly the same
    words which he used to me, that Love was a mighty god, and likewise fair;
    and she proved to me as I proved to him that, by my own showing, Love was
    neither fair nor good. 'What do you mean, Diotima,' I said, 'is love then
    evil and foul?' 'Hush,' she cried; 'must that be foul which is not fair?'
    'Certainly,' I said. 'And is that which is not wise, ignorant? do you not
    see that there is a mean between wisdom and ignorance?' 'And what may that
    be?' I said. 'Right opinion,' she replied; 'which, as you know, being
    incapable of giving a reason, is not knowledge (for how can knowledge be
    devoid of reason? nor again, ignorance, for neither can ignorance attain
    the truth), but is clearly something which is a mean between ignorance and
    wisdom.' 'Quite true,' I replied. 'Do not then insist,' she said, 'that
    what is not fair is of necessity foul, or what is not good evil; or infer
    that because love is not fair and good he is therefore foul and evil; for
    he is in a mean between them.' 'Well,' I said, 'Love is surely admitted by
    all to be a great god.' 'By those who know or by those who do not know?'
    'By all.' 'And how, Socrates,' she said with a smile, 'can Love be
    acknowledged to be a great god by those who say that he is not a god at
    all?' 'And who are they?' I said. 'You and I are two of them,' she
    replied. 'How can that be?' I said. 'It is quite intelligible,' she
    replied; 'for you yourself would acknowledge that the gods are happy and
    fair--of course you would--would you dare to say that any god was not?'
    'Certainly not,' I replied. 'And you mean by the happy, those who are the
    possessors of things good or fair?' 'Yes.' 'And you admitted that Love,
    because he was in want, desires those good and fair things of which he is
    in want?' 'Yes, I did.' 'But how can he be a god who has no portion in
    what is either good or fair?' 'Impossible.' 'Then you see that you also
    deny the divinity of Love.'

    'What then is Love?' I asked; 'Is he mortal?' 'No.' 'What then?' 'As in
    the former instance, he is neither mortal nor immortal, but in a mean
    between the two.' 'What is he, Diotima?' 'He is a great spirit (daimon),
    and like all spirits he is intermediate between the divine and the mortal.'
    'And what,' I said, 'is his power?' 'He interprets,' she replied, 'between
    gods and men, conveying and taking across to the gods the prayers and
    sacrifices of men, and to men the commands and replies of the gods; he is
    the mediator who spans the chasm which divides them, and therefore in him
    all is bound together, and through him the arts of the prophet and the
    priest, their sacrifices and mysteries and charms, and all prophecy and
    incantation, find their way. For God mingles not with man; but through
    Love all the intercourse and converse of God with man, whether awake or
    asleep, is carried on. The wisdom which understands this is spiritual; all
    other wisdom, such as that of arts and handicrafts, is mean and vulgar.
    Now these spirits or intermediate powers are many and diverse, and one of
    them is Love.' 'And who,' I said, 'was his father, and who his mother?'
    'The tale,' she said, 'will take time; nevertheless I will tell you. On
    the birthday of Aphrodite there was a feast of the gods, at which the god
    Poros or Plenty, who is the son of Metis or Discretion, was one of the
    guests. When the feast was over, Penia or Poverty, as the manner is on
    such occasions, came about the doors to beg. Now Plenty who was the worse
    for nectar (there was no wine in those days), went into the garden of Zeus
    and fell into a heavy sleep, and Poverty considering her own straitened
    circumstances, plotted to have a child by him, and accordingly she lay down
    at his side and conceived Love, who partly because he is naturally a lover
    of the beautiful, and because Aphrodite is herself beautiful, and also
    because he was born on her birthday, is her follower and attendant. And as
    his parentage is, so also are his fortunes. In the first place he is
    always poor, and anything but tender and fair, as the many imagine him; and
    he is rough and squalid, and has no shoes, nor a house to dwell in; on the
    bare earth exposed he lies under the open heaven, in the streets, or at the
    doors of houses, taking his rest; and like his mother he is always in
    distress. Like his father too, whom he also partly resembles, he is always
    plotting against the fair and good; he is bold, enterprising, strong, a
    mighty hunter, always weaving some intrigue or other, keen in the pursuit
    of wisdom, fertile in resources; a philosopher at all times, terrible as an
    enchanter, sorcerer, sophist. He is by nature neither mortal nor immortal,
    but alive and flourishing at one moment when he is in plenty, and dead at
    another moment, and again alive by reason of his father's nature. But that
    which is always flowing in is always flowing out, and so he is never in
    want and never in wealth; and, further, he is in a mean between ignorance
    and knowledge. The truth of the matter is this: No god is a philosopher
    or seeker after wisdom, for he is wise already; nor does any man who is
    wise seek after wisdom. Neither do the ignorant seek after wisdom. For
    herein is the evil of ignorance, that he who is neither good nor wise is
    nevertheless satisfied with himself: he has no desire for that of which he
    feels no want.' 'But who then, Diotima,' I said, 'are the lovers of
    wisdom, if they are neither the wise nor the foolish?' 'A child may answer
    that question,' she replied; 'they are those who are in a mean between the
    two; Love is one of them. For wisdom is a most beautiful thing, and Love
    is of the beautiful; and therefore Love is also a philosopher or lover of
    wisdom, and being a lover of wisdom is in a mean between the wise and the
    ignorant. And of this too his birth is the cause; for his father is
    wealthy and wise, and his mother poor and foolish. Such, my dear Socrates,
    is the nature of the spirit Love. The error in your conception of him was
    very natural, and as I imagine from what you say, has arisen out of a
    confusion of love and the beloved, which made you think that love was all
    beautiful. For the beloved is the truly beautiful, and delicate, and
    perfect, and blessed; but the principle of love is of another nature, and
    is such as I have described.'

    I said, 'O thou stranger woman, thou sayest well; but, assuming Love to be
    such as you say, what is the use of him to men?' 'That, Socrates,' she
    replied, 'I will attempt to unfold: of his nature and birth I have already
    spoken; and you acknowledge that love is of the beautiful. But some one
    will say: Of the beautiful in what, Socrates and Diotima?--or rather let
    me put the question more clearly, and ask: When a man loves the beautiful,
    what does he desire?' I answered her 'That the beautiful may be his.'
    'Still,' she said, 'the answer suggests a further question: What is given
    by the possession of beauty?' 'To what you have asked,' I replied, 'I have
    no answer ready.' 'Then,' she said, 'let me put the word "good" in the
    place of the beautiful, and repeat the question once more: If he who loves
    loves the good, what is it then that he loves?' 'The possession of the
    good,' I said. 'And what does he gain who possesses the good?'
    'Happiness,' I replied; 'there is less difficulty in answering that
    question.' 'Yes,' she said, 'the happy are made happy by the acquisition
    of good things. Nor is there any need to ask why a man desires happiness;
    the answer is already final.' 'You are right.' I said. 'And is this wish
    and this desire common to all? and do all men always desire their own good,
    or only some men?--what say you?' 'All men,' I replied; 'the desire is
    common to all.' 'Why, then,' she rejoined, 'are not all men, Socrates,
    said to love, but only some of them? whereas you say that all men are
    always loving the same things.' 'I myself wonder,' I said, 'why this is.'
    'There is nothing to wonder at,' she replied; 'the reason is that one part
    of love is separated off and receives the name of the whole, but the other
    parts have other names.' 'Give an illustration,' I said. She answered me
    as follows: 'There is poetry, which, as you know, is complex and manifold.
    All creation or passage of non-being into being is poetry or making, and
    the processes of all art are creative; and the masters of arts are all
    poets or makers.' 'Very true.' 'Still,' she said, 'you know that they are
    not called poets, but have other names; only that portion of the art which
    is separated off from the rest, and is concerned with music and metre, is
    termed poetry, and they who possess poetry in this sense of the word are
    called poets.' 'Very true,' I said. 'And the same holds of love. For you
    may say generally that all desire of good and happiness is only the great
    and subtle power of love; but they who are drawn towards him by any other
    path, whether the path of money-making or gymnastics or philosophy, are not
    called lovers--the name of the whole is appropriated to those whose
    affection takes one form only--they alone are said to love, or to be
    lovers.' 'I dare say,' I replied, 'that you are right.' 'Yes,' she added,
    'and you hear people say that lovers are seeking for their other half; but
    I say that they are seeking neither for the half of themselves, nor for the
    whole, unless the half or the whole be also a good. And they will cut off
    their own hands and feet and cast them away, if they are evil; for they
    love not what is their own, unless perchance there be some one who calls
    what belongs to him the good, and what belongs to another the evil. For
    there is nothing which men love but the good. Is there anything?'
    'Certainly, I should say, that there is nothing.' 'Then,' she said, 'the
    simple truth is, that men love the good.' 'Yes,' I said. 'To which must
    be added that they love the possession of the good?' 'Yes, that must be
    added.' 'And not only the possession, but the everlasting possession of
    the good?' 'That must be added too.' 'Then love,' she said, 'may be
    described generally as the love of the everlasting possession of the good?'
    'That is most true.'

    'Then if this be the nature of love, can you tell me further,' she said,
    'what is the manner of the pursuit? what are they doing who show all this
    eagerness and heat which is called love? and what is the object which they
    have in view? Answer me.' 'Nay, Diotima,' I replied, 'if I had known, I
    should not have wondered at your wisdom, neither should I have come to
    learn from you about this very matter.' 'Well,' she said, 'I will teach
    you:--The object which they have in view is birth in beauty, whether of
    body or soul.' 'I do not understand you,' I said; 'the oracle requires an
    explanation.' 'I will make my meaning clearer,' she replied. 'I mean to
    say, that all men are bringing to the birth in their bodies and in their
    souls. There is a certain age at which human nature is desirous of
    procreation--procreation which must be in beauty and not in deformity; and
    this procreation is the union of man and woman, and is a divine thing; for
    conception and generation are an immortal principle in the mortal creature,
    and in the inharmonious they can never be. But the deformed is always
    inharmonious with the divine, and the beautiful harmonious. Beauty, then,
    is the destiny or goddess of parturition who presides at birth, and
    therefore, when approaching beauty, the conceiving power is propitious, and
    diffusive, and benign, and begets and bears fruit: at the sight of
    ugliness she frowns and contracts and has a sense of pain, and turns away,
    and shrivels up, and not without a pang refrains from conception. And this
    is the reason why, when the hour of conception arrives, and the teeming
    nature is full, there is such a flutter and ecstasy about beauty whose
    approach is the alleviation of the pain of travail. For love, Socrates, is
    not, as you imagine, the love of the beautiful only.' 'What then?' 'The
    love of generation and of birth in beauty.' 'Yes,' I said. 'Yes, indeed,'
    she replied. 'But why of generation?' 'Because to the mortal creature,
    generation is a sort of eternity and immortality,' she replied; 'and if, as
    has been already admitted, love is of the everlasting possession of the
    good, all men will necessarily desire immortality together with good:
    Wherefore love is of immortality.'

    All this she taught me at various times when she spoke of love. And I
    remember her once saying to me, 'What is the cause, Socrates, of love, and
    the attendant desire? See you not how all animals, birds, as well as
    beasts, in their desire of procreation, are in agony when they take the
    infection of love, which begins with the desire of union; whereto is added
    the care of offspring, on whose behalf the weakest are ready to battle
    against the strongest even to the uttermost, and to die for them, and will
    let themselves be tormented with hunger or suffer anything in order to
    maintain their young. Man may be supposed to act thus from reason; but why
    should animals have these passionate feelings? Can you tell me why?'
    Again I replied that I did not know. She said to me: 'And do you expect
    ever to become a master in the art of love, if you do not know this?' 'But
    I have told you already, Diotima, that my ignorance is the reason why I
    come to you; for I am conscious that I want a teacher; tell me then the
    cause of this and of the other mysteries of love.' 'Marvel not,' she said,
    'if you believe that love is of the immortal, as we have several times
    acknowledged; for here again, and on the same principle too, the mortal
    nature is seeking as far as is possible to be everlasting and immortal:
    and this is only to be attained by generation, because generation always
    leaves behind a new existence in the place of the old. Nay even in the
    life of the same individual there is succession and not absolute unity: a
    man is called the same, and yet in the short interval which elapses between
    youth and age, and in which every animal is said to have life and identity,
    he is undergoing a perpetual process of loss and reparation--hair, flesh,
    bones, blood, and the whole body are always changing. Which is true not
    only of the body, but also of the soul, whose habits, tempers, opinions,
    desires, pleasures, pains, fears, never remain the same in any one of us,
    but are always coming and going; and equally true of knowledge, and what is
    still more surprising to us mortals, not only do the sciences in general
    spring up and decay, so that in respect of them we are never the same; but
    each of them individually experiences a like change. For what is implied
    in the word "recollection," but the departure of knowledge, which is ever
    being forgotten, and is renewed and preserved by recollection, and appears
    to be the same although in reality new, according to that law of succession
    by which all mortal things are preserved, not absolutely the same, but by
    substitution, the old worn-out mortality leaving another new and similar
    existence behind--unlike the divine, which is always the same and not
    another? And in this way, Socrates, the mortal body, or mortal anything,
    partakes of immortality; but the immortal in another way. Marvel not then
    at the love which all men have of their offspring; for that universal love
    and interest is for the sake of immortality.'

    I was astonished at her words, and said: 'Is this really true, O thou wise
    Diotima?' And she answered with all the authority of an accomplished
    sophist: 'Of that, Socrates, you may be assured;--think only of the
    ambition of men, and you will wonder at the senselessness of their ways,
    unless you consider how they are stirred by the love of an immortality of
    fame. They are ready to run all risks greater far than they would have run
    for their children, and to spend money and undergo any sort of toil, and
    even to die, for the sake of leaving behind them a name which shall be
    eternal. Do you imagine that Alcestis would have died to save Admetus, or
    Achilles to avenge Patroclus, or your own Codrus in order to preserve the
    kingdom for his sons, if they had not imagined that the memory of their
    virtues, which still survives among us, would be immortal? Nay,' she said,
    'I am persuaded that all men do all things, and the better they are the
    more they do them, in hope of the glorious fame of immortal virtue; for
    they desire the immortal.

    'Those who are pregnant in the body only, betake themselves to women and
    beget children--this is the character of their love; their offspring, as
    they hope, will preserve their memory and giving them the blessedness and
    immortality which they desire in the future. But souls which are pregnant
    --for there certainly are men who are more creative in their souls than in
    their bodies--conceive that which is proper for the soul to conceive or
    contain. And what are these conceptions?--wisdom and virtue in general.
    And such creators are poets and all artists who are deserving of the name
    inventor. But the greatest and fairest sort of wisdom by far is that which
    is concerned with the ordering of states and families, and which is called
    temperance and justice. And he who in youth has the seed of these
    implanted in him and is himself inspired, when he comes to maturity desires
    to beget and generate. He wanders about seeking beauty that he may beget
    offspring--for in deformity he will beget nothing--and naturally embraces
    the beautiful rather than the deformed body; above all when he finds a fair
    and noble and well-nurtured soul, he embraces the two in one person, and to
    such an one he is full of speech about virtue and the nature and pursuits
    of a good man; and he tries to educate him; and at the touch of the
    beautiful which is ever present to his memory, even when absent, he brings
    forth that which he had conceived long before, and in company with him
    tends that which he brings forth; and they are married by a far nearer tie
    and have a closer friendship than those who beget mortal children, for the
    children who are their common offspring are fairer and more immortal. Who,
    when he thinks of Homer and Hesiod and other great poets, would not rather
    have their children than ordinary human ones? Who would not emulate them
    in the creation of children such as theirs, which have preserved their
    memory and given them everlasting glory? Or who would not have such
    children as Lycurgus left behind him to be the saviours, not only of
    Lacedaemon, but of Hellas, as one may say? There is Solon, too, who is the
    revered father of Athenian laws; and many others there are in many other
    places, both among Hellenes and barbarians, who have given to the world
    many noble works, and have been the parents of virtue of every kind; and
    many temples have been raised in their honour for the sake of children such
    as theirs; which were never raised in honour of any one, for the sake of
    his mortal children.

    'These are the lesser mysteries of love, into which even you, Socrates, may
    enter; to the greater and more hidden ones which are the crown of these,
    and to which, if you pursue them in a right spirit, they will lead, I know
    not whether you will be able to attain. But I will do my utmost to inform
    you, and do you follow if you can. For he who would proceed aright in this
    matter should begin in youth to visit beautiful forms; and first, if he be
    guided by his instructor aright, to love one such form only--out of that he
    should create fair thoughts; and soon he will of himself perceive that the
    beauty of one form is akin to the beauty of another; and then if beauty of
    form in general is his pursuit, how foolish would he be not to recognize
    that the beauty in every form is and the same! And when he perceives this
    he will abate his violent love of the one, which he will despise and deem a
    small thing, and will become a lover of all beautiful forms; in the next
    stage he will consider that the beauty of the mind is more honourable than
    the beauty of the outward form. So that if a virtuous soul have but a
    little comeliness, he will be content to love and tend him, and will search
    out and bring to the birth thoughts which may improve the young, until he
    is compelled to contemplate and see the beauty of institutions and laws,
    and to understand that the beauty of them all is of one family, and that
    personal beauty is a trifle; and after laws and institutions he will go on
    to the sciences, that he may see their beauty, being not like a servant in
    love with the beauty of one youth or man or institution, himself a slave
    mean and narrow-minded, but drawing towards and contemplating the vast sea
    of beauty, he will create many fair and noble thoughts and notions in
    boundless love of wisdom; until on that shore he grows and waxes strong,
    and at last the vision is revealed to him of a single science, which is the
    science of beauty everywhere. To this I will proceed; please to give me
    your very best attention:

    'He who has been instructed thus far in the things of love, and who has
    learned to see the beautiful in due order and succession, when he comes
    toward the end will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous beauty (and
    this, Socrates, is the final cause of all our former toils)--a nature which
    in the first place is everlasting, not growing and decaying, or waxing and
    waning; secondly, not fair in one point of view and foul in another, or at
    one time or in one relation or at one place fair, at another time or in
    another relation or at another place foul, as if fair to some and foul to
    others, or in the likeness of a face or hands or any other part of the
    bodily frame, or in any form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any
    other being, as for example, in an animal, or in heaven, or in earth, or in
    any other place; but beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting,
    which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is imparted
    to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other things. He who
    from these ascending under the influence of true love, begins to perceive
    that beauty, is not far from the end. And the true order of going, or
    being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties
    of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these
    as steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair
    forms, and from fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to
    fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute
    beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is. This, my dear
    Socrates,' said the stranger of Mantineia, 'is that life above all others
    which man should live, in the contemplation of beauty absolute; a beauty
    which if you once beheld, you would see not to be after the measure of
    gold, and garments, and fair boys and youths, whose presence now entrances
    you; and you and many a one would be content to live seeing them only and
    conversing with them without meat or drink, if that were possible--you only
    want to look at them and to be with them. But what if man had eyes to see
    the true beauty--the divine beauty, I mean, pure and clear and unalloyed,
    not clogged with the pollutions of mortality and all the colours and
    vanities of human life--thither looking, and holding converse with the true
    beauty simple and divine? Remember how in that communion only, beholding
    beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not
    images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a
    reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the
    friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may. Would that be an ignoble

    Such, Phaedrus--and I speak not only to you, but to all of you--were the
    words of Diotima; and I am persuaded of their truth. And being persuaded
    of them, I try to persuade others, that in the attainment of this end human
    nature will not easily find a helper better than love: And therefore,
    also, I say that every man ought to honour him as I myself honour him, and
    walk in his ways, and exhort others to do the same, and praise the power
    and spirit of love according to the measure of my ability now and ever.

    The words which I have spoken, you, Phaedrus, may call an encomium of love,
    or anything else which you please.

    When Socrates had done speaking, the company applauded, and Aristophanes
    was beginning to say something in answer to the allusion which Socrates had
    made to his own speech, when suddenly there was a great knocking at the
    door of the house, as of revellers, and the sound of a flute-girl was
    heard. Agathon told the attendants to go and see who were the intruders.
    'If they are friends of ours,' he said, 'invite them in, but if not, say
    that the drinking is over.' A little while afterwards they heard the voice
    of Alcibiades resounding in the court; he was in a great state of
    intoxication, and kept roaring and shouting 'Where is Agathon? Lead me to
    Agathon,' and at length, supported by the flute-girl and some of his
    attendants, he found his way to them. 'Hail, friends,' he said, appearing
    at the door crowned with a massive garland of ivy and violets, his head
    flowing with ribands. 'Will you have a very drunken man as a companion of
    your revels? Or shall I crown Agathon, which was my intention in coming,
    and go away? For I was unable to come yesterday, and therefore I am here
    to-day, carrying on my head these ribands, that taking them from my own
    head, I may crown the head of this fairest and wisest of men, as I may be
    allowed to call him. Will you laugh at me because I am drunk? Yet I know
    very well that I am speaking the truth, although you may laugh. But first
    tell me; if I come in shall we have the understanding of which I spoke
    (supra Will you have a very drunken man? etc.)? Will you drink with me or

    The company were vociferous in begging that he would take his place among
    them, and Agathon specially invited him. Thereupon he was led in by the
    people who were with him; and as he was being led, intending to crown
    Agathon, he took the ribands from his own head and held them in front of
    his eyes; he was thus prevented from seeing Socrates, who made way for him,
    and Alcibiades took the vacant place between Agathon and Socrates, and in
    taking the place he embraced Agathon and crowned him. Take off his
    sandals, said Agathon, and let him make a third on the same couch.

    By all means; but who makes the third partner in our revels? said
    Alcibiades, turning round and starting up as he caught sight of Socrates.
    By Heracles, he said, what is this? here is Socrates always lying in wait
    for me, and always, as his way is, coming out at all sorts of unsuspected
    places: and now, what have you to say for yourself, and why are you lying
    here, where I perceive that you have contrived to find a place, not by a
    joker or lover of jokes, like Aristophanes, but by the fairest of the

    Socrates turned to Agathon and said: I must ask you to protect me,
    Agathon; for the passion of this man has grown quite a serious matter to
    me. Since I became his admirer I have never been allowed to speak to any
    other fair one, or so much as to look at them. If I do, he goes wild with
    envy and jealousy, and not only abuses me but can hardly keep his hands off
    me, and at this moment he may do me some harm. Please to see to this, and
    either reconcile me to him, or, if he attempts violence, protect me, as I
    am in bodily fear of his mad and passionate attempts.

    There can never be reconciliation between you and me, said Alcibiades; but
    for the present I will defer your chastisement. And I must beg you,
    Agathon, to give me back some of the ribands that I may crown the
    marvellous head of this universal despot--I would not have him complain of
    me for crowning you, and neglecting him, who in conversation is the
    conqueror of all mankind; and this not only once, as you were the day
    before yesterday, but always. Whereupon, taking some of the ribands, he
    crowned Socrates, and again reclined.

    Then he said: You seem, my friends, to be sober, which is a thing not to
    be endured; you must drink--for that was the agreement under which I was
    admitted--and I elect myself master of the feast until you are well drunk.
    Let us have a large goblet, Agathon, or rather, he said, addressing the
    attendant, bring me that wine-cooler. The wine-cooler which had caught his
    eye was a vessel holding more than two quarts--this he filled and emptied,
    and bade the attendant fill it again for Socrates. Observe, my friends,
    said Alcibiades, that this ingenious trick of mine will have no effect on
    Socrates, for he can drink any quantity of wine and not be at all nearer
    being drunk. Socrates drank the cup which the attendant filled for him.

    Eryximachus said: What is this, Alcibiades? Are we to have neither
    conversation nor singing over our cups; but simply to drink as if we were

    Alcibiades replied: Hail, worthy son of a most wise and worthy sire!

    The same to you, said Eryximachus; but what shall we do?

    That I leave to you, said Alcibiades.

    'The wise physician skilled our wounds to heal (from Pope's Homer, Il.)'

    shall prescribe and we will obey. What do you want?

    Well, said Eryximachus, before you appeared we had passed a resolution that
    each one of us in turn should make a speech in praise of love, and as good
    a one as he could: the turn was passed round from left to right; and as
    all of us have spoken, and you have not spoken but have well drunken, you
    ought to speak, and then impose upon Socrates any task which you please,
    and he on his right hand neighbour, and so on.

    That is good, Eryximachus, said Alcibiades; and yet the comparison of a
    drunken man's speech with those of sober men is hardly fair; and I should
    like to know, sweet friend, whether you really believe what Socrates was
    just now saying; for I can assure you that the very reverse is the fact,
    and that if I praise any one but himself in his presence, whether God or
    man, he will hardly keep his hands off me.

    For shame, said Socrates.

    Hold your tongue, said Alcibiades, for by Poseidon, there is no one else
    whom I will praise when you are of the company.

    Well then, said Eryximachus, if you like praise Socrates.

    What do you think, Eryximachus? said Alcibiades: shall I attack him and
    inflict the punishment before you all?

    What are you about? said Socrates; are you going to raise a laugh at my
    expense? Is that the meaning of your praise?

    I am going to speak the truth, if you will permit me.

    I not only permit, but exhort you to speak the truth.

    Then I will begin at once, said Alcibiades, and if I say anything which is
    not true, you may interrupt me if you will, and say 'that is a lie,' though
    my intention is to speak the truth. But you must not wonder if I speak any
    how as things come into my mind; for the fluent and orderly enumeration of
    all your singularities is not a task which is easy to a man in my

    And now, my boys, I shall praise Socrates in a figure which will appear to
    him to be a caricature, and yet I speak, not to make fun of him, but only
    for the truth's sake. I say, that he is exactly like the busts of Silenus,
    which are set up in the statuaries' shops, holding pipes and flutes in
    their mouths; and they are made to open in the middle, and have images of
    gods inside them. I say also that he is like Marsyas the satyr. You
    yourself will not deny, Socrates, that your face is like that of a satyr.
    Aye, and there is a resemblance in other points too. For example, you are
    a bully, as I can prove by witnesses, if you will not confess. And are you
    not a flute-player? That you are, and a performer far more wonderful than
    Marsyas. He indeed with instruments used to charm the souls of men by the
    power of his breath, and the players of his music do so still: for the
    melodies of Olympus (compare Arist. Pol.) are derived from Marsyas who
    taught them, and these, whether they are played by a great master or by a
    miserable flute-girl, have a power which no others have; they alone possess
    the soul and reveal the wants of those who have need of gods and mysteries,
    because they are divine. But you produce the same effect with your words
    only, and do not require the flute: that is the difference between you and
    him. When we hear any other speaker, even a very good one, he produces
    absolutely no effect upon us, or not much, whereas the mere fragments of
    you and your words, even at second-hand, and however imperfectly repeated,
    amaze and possess the souls of every man, woman, and child who comes within
    hearing of them. And if I were not afraid that you would think me
    hopelessly drunk, I would have sworn as well as spoken to the influence
    which they have always had and still have over me. For my heart leaps
    within me more than that of any Corybantian reveller, and my eyes rain
    tears when I hear them. And I observe that many others are affected in the
    same manner. I have heard Pericles and other great orators, and I thought
    that they spoke well, but I never had any similar feeling; my soul was not
    stirred by them, nor was I angry at the thought of my own slavish state.
    But this Marsyas has often brought me to such a pass, that I have felt as
    if I could hardly endure the life which I am leading (this, Socrates, you
    will admit); and I am conscious that if I did not shut my ears against him,
    and fly as from the voice of the siren, my fate would be like that of
    others,--he would transfix me, and I should grow old sitting at his feet.
    For he makes me confess that I ought not to live as I do, neglecting the
    wants of my own soul, and busying myself with the concerns of the
    Athenians; therefore I hold my ears and tear myself away from him. And he
    is the only person who ever made me ashamed, which you might think not to
    be in my nature, and there is no one else who does the same. For I know
    that I cannot answer him or say that I ought not to do as he bids, but when
    I leave his presence the love of popularity gets the better of me. And
    therefore I run away and fly from him, and when I see him I am ashamed of
    what I have confessed to him. Many a time have I wished that he were dead,
    and yet I know that I should be much more sorry than glad, if he were to
    die: so that I am at my wit's end.

    And this is what I and many others have suffered from the flute-playing of
    this satyr. Yet hear me once more while I show you how exact the image is,
    and how marvellous his power. For let me tell you; none of you know him;
    but I will reveal him to you; having begun, I must go on. See you how fond
    he is of the fair? He is always with them and is always being smitten by
    them, and then again he knows nothing and is ignorant of all things--such
    is the appearance which he puts on. Is he not like a Silenus in this? To
    be sure he is: his outer mask is the carved head of the Silenus; but, O my
    companions in drink, when he is opened, what temperance there is residing
    within! Know you that beauty and wealth and honour, at which the many
    wonder, are of no account with him, and are utterly despised by him: he
    regards not at all the persons who are gifted with them; mankind are
    nothing to him; all his life is spent in mocking and flouting at them. But
    when I opened him, and looked within at his serious purpose, I saw in him
    divine and golden images of such fascinating beauty that I was ready to do
    in a moment whatever Socrates commanded: they may have escaped the
    observation of others, but I saw them. Now I fancied that he was seriously
    enamoured of my beauty, and I thought that I should therefore have a grand
    opportunity of hearing him tell what he knew, for I had a wonderful opinion
    of the attractions of my youth. In the prosecution of this design, when I
    next went to him, I sent away the attendant who usually accompanied me (I
    will confess the whole truth, and beg you to listen; and if I speak
    falsely, do you, Socrates, expose the falsehood). Well, he and I were
    alone together, and I thought that when there was nobody with us, I should
    hear him speak the language which lovers use to their loves when they are
    by themselves, and I was delighted. Nothing of the sort; he conversed as
    usual, and spent the day with me and then went away. Afterwards I
    challenged him to the palaestra; and he wrestled and closed with me several
    times when there was no one present; I fancied that I might succeed in this
    manner. Not a bit; I made no way with him. Lastly, as I had failed
    hitherto, I thought that I must take stronger measures and attack him
    boldly, and, as I had begun, not give him up, but see how matters stood
    between him and me. So I invited him to sup with me, just as if he were a
    fair youth, and I a designing lover. He was not easily persuaded to come;
    he did, however, after a while accept the invitation, and when he came the
    first time, he wanted to go away at once as soon as supper was over, and I
    had not the face to detain him. The second time, still in pursuance of my
    design, after we had supped, I went on conversing far into the night, and
    when he wanted to go away, I pretended that the hour was late and that he
    had much better remain. So he lay down on the couch next to me, the same
    on which he had supped, and there was no one but ourselves sleeping in the
    apartment. All this may be told without shame to any one. But what
    follows I could hardly tell you if I were sober. Yet as the proverb says,
    'In vino veritas,' whether with boys, or without them (In allusion to two
    proverbs.); and therefore I must speak. Nor, again, should I be justified
    in concealing the lofty actions of Socrates when I come to praise him.
    Moreover I have felt the serpent's sting; and he who has suffered, as they
    say, is willing to tell his fellow-sufferers only, as they alone will be
    likely to understand him, and will not be extreme in judging of the sayings
    or doings which have been wrung from his agony. For I have been bitten by
    a more than viper's tooth; I have known in my soul, or in my heart, or in
    some other part, that worst of pangs, more violent in ingenuous youth than
    any serpent's tooth, the pang of philosophy, which will make a man say or
    do anything. And you whom I see around me, Phaedrus and Agathon and
    Eryximachus and Pausanias and Aristodemus and Aristophanes, all of you, and
    I need not say Socrates himself, have had experience of the same madness
    and passion in your longing after wisdom. Therefore listen and excuse my
    doings then and my sayings now. But let the attendants and other profane
    and unmannered persons close up the doors of their ears.

    When the lamp was put out and the servants had gone away, I thought that I
    must be plain with him and have no more ambiguity. So I gave him a shake,
    and I said: 'Socrates, are you asleep?' 'No,' he said. 'Do you know what
    I am meditating? 'What are you meditating?' he said. 'I think,' I
    replied, 'that of all the lovers whom I have ever had you are the only one
    who is worthy of me, and you appear to be too modest to speak. Now I feel
    that I should be a fool to refuse you this or any other favour, and
    therefore I come to lay at your feet all that I have and all that my
    friends have, in the hope that you will assist me in the way of virtue,
    which I desire above all things, and in which I believe that you can help
    me better than any one else. And I should certainly have more reason to be
    ashamed of what wise men would say if I were to refuse a favour to such as
    you, than of what the world, who are mostly fools, would say of me if I
    granted it.' To these words he replied in the ironical manner which is so
    characteristic of him:--'Alcibiades, my friend, you have indeed an elevated
    aim if what you say is true, and if there really is in me any power by
    which you may become better; truly you must see in me some rare beauty of a
    kind infinitely higher than any which I see in you. And therefore, if you
    mean to share with me and to exchange beauty for beauty, you will have
    greatly the advantage of me; you will gain true beauty in return for
    appearance--like Diomede, gold in exchange for brass. But look again,
    sweet friend, and see whether you are not deceived in me. The mind begins
    to grow critical when the bodily eye fails, and it will be a long time
    before you get old.' Hearing this, I said: 'I have told you my purpose,
    which is quite serious, and do you consider what you think best for you and
    me.' 'That is good,' he said; 'at some other time then we will consider
    and act as seems best about this and about other matters.' Whereupon, I
    fancied that he was smitten, and that the words which I had uttered like
    arrows had wounded him, and so without waiting to hear more I got up, and
    throwing my coat about him crept under his threadbare cloak, as the time of
    year was winter, and there I lay during the whole night having this
    wonderful monster in my arms. This again, Socrates, will not be denied by
    you. And yet, notwithstanding all, he was so superior to my solicitations,
    so contemptuous and derisive and disdainful of my beauty--which really, as
    I fancied, had some attractions--hear, O judges; for judges you shall be of
    the haughty virtue of Socrates--nothing more happened, but in the morning
    when I awoke (let all the gods and goddesses be my witnesses) I arose as
    from the couch of a father or an elder brother.

    What do you suppose must have been my feelings, after this rejection, at
    the thought of my own dishonour? And yet I could not help wondering at his
    natural temperance and self-restraint and manliness. I never imagined that
    I could have met with a man such as he is in wisdom and endurance. And
    therefore I could not be angry with him or renounce his company, any more
    than I could hope to win him. For I well knew that if Ajax could not be
    wounded by steel, much less he by money; and my only chance of captivating
    him by my personal attractions had failed. So I was at my wit's end; no
    one was ever more hopelessly enslaved by another. All this happened before
    he and I went on the expedition to Potidaea; there we messed together, and
    I had the opportunity of observing his extraordinary power of sustaining
    fatigue. His endurance was simply marvellous when, being cut off from our
    supplies, we were compelled to go without food--on such occasions, which
    often happen in time of war, he was superior not only to me but to
    everybody; there was no one to be compared to him. Yet at a festival he
    was the only person who had any real powers of enjoyment; though not
    willing to drink, he could if compelled beat us all at that,--wonderful to
    relate! no human being had ever seen Socrates drunk; and his powers, if I
    am not mistaken, will be tested before long. His fortitude in enduring
    cold was also surprising. There was a severe frost, for the winter in that
    region is really tremendous, and everybody else either remained indoors, or
    if they went out had on an amazing quantity of clothes, and were well shod,
    and had their feet swathed in felt and fleeces: in the midst of this,
    Socrates with his bare feet on the ice and in his ordinary dress marched
    better than the other soldiers who had shoes, and they looked daggers at
    him because he seemed to despise them.

    I have told you one tale, and now I must tell you another, which is worth

    'Of the doings and sufferings of the enduring man'

    while he was on the expedition. One morning he was thinking about
    something which he could not resolve; he would not give it up, but
    continued thinking from early dawn until noon--there he stood fixed in
    thought; and at noon attention was drawn to him, and the rumour ran through
    the wondering crowd that Socrates had been standing and thinking about
    something ever since the break of day. At last, in the evening after
    supper, some Ionians out of curiosity (I should explain that this was not
    in winter but in summer), brought out their mats and slept in the open air
    that they might watch him and see whether he would stand all night. There
    he stood until the following morning; and with the return of light he
    offered up a prayer to the sun, and went his way (compare supra). I will
    also tell, if you please--and indeed I am bound to tell--of his courage in
    battle; for who but he saved my life? Now this was the engagement in which
    I received the prize of valour: for I was wounded and he would not leave
    me, but he rescued me and my arms; and he ought to have received the prize
    of valour which the generals wanted to confer on me partly on account of my
    rank, and I told them so, (this, again, Socrates will not impeach or deny),
    but he was more eager than the generals that I and not he should have the
    prize. There was another occasion on which his behaviour was very
    remarkable--in the flight of the army after the battle of Delium, where he
    served among the heavy-armed,--I had a better opportunity of seeing him
    than at Potidaea, for I was myself on horseback, and therefore
    comparatively out of danger. He and Laches were retreating, for the troops
    were in flight, and I met them and told them not to be discouraged, and
    promised to remain with them; and there you might see him, Aristophanes, as
    you describe (Aristoph. Clouds), just as he is in the streets of Athens,
    stalking like a pelican, and rolling his eyes, calmly contemplating enemies
    as well as friends, and making very intelligible to anybody, even from a
    distance, that whoever attacked him would be likely to meet with a stout
    resistance; and in this way he and his companion escaped--for this is the
    sort of man who is never touched in war; those only are pursued who are
    running away headlong. I particularly observed how superior he was to
    Laches in presence of mind. Many are the marvels which I might narrate in
    praise of Socrates; most of his ways might perhaps be paralleled in another
    man, but his absolute unlikeness to any human being that is or ever has
    been is perfectly astonishing. You may imagine Brasidas and others to have
    been like Achilles; or you may imagine Nestor and Antenor to have been like
    Pericles; and the same may be said of other famous men, but of this strange
    being you will never be able to find any likeness, however remote, either
    among men who now are or who ever have been--other than that which I have
    already suggested of Silenus and the satyrs; and they represent in a figure
    not only himself, but his words. For, although I forgot to mention this to
    you before, his words are like the images of Silenus which open; they are
    ridiculous when you first hear them; he clothes himself in language that is
    like the skin of the wanton satyr--for his talk is of pack-asses and smiths
    and cobblers and curriers, and he is always repeating the same things in
    the same words (compare Gorg.), so that any ignorant or inexperienced
    person might feel disposed to laugh at him; but he who opens the bust and
    sees what is within will find that they are the only words which have a
    meaning in them, and also the most divine, abounding in fair images of
    virtue, and of the widest comprehension, or rather extending to the whole
    duty of a good and honourable man.

    This, friends, is my praise of Socrates. I have added my blame of him for
    his ill-treatment of me; and he has ill-treated not only me, but Charmides
    the son of Glaucon, and Euthydemus the son of Diocles, and many others in
    the same way--beginning as their lover he has ended by making them pay
    their addresses to him. Wherefore I say to you, Agathon, 'Be not deceived
    by him; learn from me and take warning, and do not be a fool and learn by
    experience, as the proverb says.'

    When Alcibiades had finished, there was a laugh at his outspokenness; for
    he seemed to be still in love with Socrates. You are sober, Alcibiades,
    said Socrates, or you would never have gone so far about to hide the
    purpose of your satyr's praises, for all this long story is only an
    ingenious circumlocution, of which the point comes in by the way at the
    end; you want to get up a quarrel between me and Agathon, and your notion
    is that I ought to love you and nobody else, and that you and you only
    ought to love Agathon. But the plot of this Satyric or Silenic drama has
    been detected, and you must not allow him, Agathon, to set us at variance.

    I believe you are right, said Agathon, and I am disposed to think that his
    intention in placing himself between you and me was only to divide us; but
    he shall gain nothing by that move; for I will go and lie on the couch next
    to you.

    Yes, yes, replied Socrates, by all means come here and lie on the couch
    below me.

    Alas, said Alcibiades, how I am fooled by this man; he is determined to get
    the better of me at every turn. I do beseech you, allow Agathon to lie
    between us.

    Certainly not, said Socrates, as you praised me, and I in turn ought to
    praise my neighbour on the right, he will be out of order in praising me
    again when he ought rather to be praised by me, and I must entreat you to
    consent to this, and not be jealous, for I have a great desire to praise
    the youth.

    Hurrah! cried Agathon, I will rise instantly, that I may be praised by

    The usual way, said Alcibiades; where Socrates is, no one else has any
    chance with the fair; and now how readily has he invented a specious reason
    for attracting Agathon to himself.

    Agathon arose in order that he might take his place on the couch by
    Socrates, when suddenly a band of revellers entered, and spoiled the order
    of the banquet. Some one who was going out having left the door open, they
    had found their way in, and made themselves at home; great confusion
    ensued, and every one was compelled to drink large quantities of wine.
    Aristodemus said that Eryximachus, Phaedrus, and others went away--he
    himself fell asleep, and as the nights were long took a good rest: he was
    awakened towards daybreak by a crowing of cocks, and when he awoke, the
    others were either asleep, or had gone away; there remained only Socrates,
    Aristophanes, and Agathon, who were drinking out of a large goblet which
    they passed round, and Socrates was discoursing to them. Aristodemus was
    only half awake, and he did not hear the beginning of the discourse; the
    chief thing which he remembered was Socrates compelling the other two to
    acknowledge that the genius of comedy was the same with that of tragedy,
    and that the true artist in tragedy was an artist in comedy also. To this
    they were constrained to assent, being drowsy, and not quite following the
    argument. And first of all Aristophanes dropped off, then, when the day
    was already dawning, Agathon. Socrates, having laid them to sleep, rose to
    depart; Aristodemus, as his manner was, following him. At the Lyceum he
    took a bath, and passed the day as usual. In the evening he retired to
    rest at his own home.
    Chapter 2
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