March 25, 2015
For the Love of Socrates
Socrates is dressed in his nicest clothes, fresh from a bath for the first time since anyone can remember. In the dialogue The Symposium by Plato, he is getting ready to attend Agathon’s dinner party in celebration of his victory sacrifice the day before. The men drank too much the night before, therefore it is decided that there will be little alcohol and lots of talk about which man can give the best speech. Each man at the party, going from left to right around the room, is to give a speech about what he feels love is, while trying to honor the god Love the best he can. Socrates lover Alcibiades ...view middle of the document...
Alcibiades says that he is going to make a speech speaking the real truth about Socrates and Socrates begs him to start. When Alcibiades begins the accusations about Socrates always ambushing him, the mood of the dinner party shifts from everyone praising Socrates and his genius way of describing love to questioning the way he treats the ones that he supposedly loves. The way Alcibiades reacts to him sitting near an attractive man says one of two things, either that Alcibiades is a very jealous insecure person, or that Socrates cannot be trusted around attractive men. Alcibiades goes further to say that Socrates bullies men into falling in love with him using only his words, Alcibiades does not say whether or not this is how he fell in love with Socrates but it is evident that he is, in fact, in love with Socrates.
Alcibiades speech continues and he is now telling the men at the dinner party that whatever they think they know about Socrates is unlikely to be true, for Alcibiades claims to know the real Socrates and begins to expose him. He does so by saying “He regards us as worthless: all his life is spent mocking and flouting mankind. But there is seriousness in him. I don’t know if any of you have seen him opened up, and the sacred relics that lie within; but I saw once, and they seemed so golden and of such fascinating beauty that I concluded that whatever Socrates commanded must be done” (Plato 216d). Alcibiades goes from telling all the bad about Socrates to almost praising him. The men listening to the speech must be confused, since all of their speeches were about the god Love and this one is about actually loving someone. There is a definite difference in the way the men that went before Socrates spoke, their speeches being about their own personal knowledge about love and Socrates spoke about what he learned from Diotima. Plato probably wrote the dialogue this way so that he could show the reader the way in which the style the speeches were told was slowly changing, while keeping the topic consistent enough to allow the reader to differentiate between the two topics of the god Love, and being in love with another person.
Alcibiades speech comes to an end, where Alcibiades warns the men at Agathon’s party not to make the mistake of falling in love with Socrates like he and so many others did. Socrates, after gathering his thoughts about all the things that were just said about him, says “You are sober, Alcibiades, or you would have never have...