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Posts Tagged ‘Alcibiades’

Welcome to our new unofficial*  Open University A396 2009 blog for discussing Plato’s Symposium.  I am hoping this is going to be as simple as setting up some categories with very basic posts about the different sections of the Symposium and inviting all you knowledgable poeple to comment about them.  I was thinking of having sections for

1 The Framing Narrative

2 Phaedrus’ Speech

3 Pausanias’ Speech

4 Eryximachus’ Speech

5 Aristophanes’ Speech

6 Agathon’s Speech

7 Socrates’ Speech

8 Alcibiades’ Speech

9 The Conclusion

How does that sound to the rest of you?

I think you will be able to leave comments without logging in but the first one will need to be approved before it appears – I will try not to take too long 🙂

*NB This is not an official Open University site – it is provided by students for students but anyone is welcome to contribute 🙂

[This content was provided by Mairsmagic]

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Ἀλκιβιάδης

So-called “Alcibiades”, ideal male portrait. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek original of the 4th century BC—the hermaic pillar and the inscription (“Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, Athenian”) are modern additions.

So-called “Alcibiades”, ideal male portrait. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek original of the 4th century BC—the hermaic pillar and the inscription (“Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, Athenian”) are modern additions. This image was provided by Wikimedia Commons Jastrow (2006)

At 212d, Alcibiades makes his entrance like this:

‘A few moments after, they heard the voice of Alcibiades in the forecourt, very drunken and bawling loud, to know where Agathon was, and bidding them bring him to Agathon. So he was brought into the company by the flute-girl and some others of his people supporting him: he stood at the door, crowned with a bushy wreath of ivy and violets, and wearing a great array of ribands on his head. “Good evening, sirs,” he said; “will you admit to your drinking a fellow very far gone in liquor …’

Being welcomed, he flirts with both Agathon and Socrates and then takes over the running of the Symposium, making his own speech in praise, not of love, but of Socrates.  He likens Socrates to a Silenus figure which can be opened to reveal images of the gods, and to the satyr Marsyas, in his ability to draw a crowd of admirers to himself and fill them with emotion.  He tells of his own infatuation and  his rejected attempts to become Socrates’ lover.  He praises Socrates imperviousness to his own charms, to inebriation and to the cruellest of weather.  He commends the endurance which lets him stand from one dawn to the next considering a problem.  He recounts Socrates courage in battle and reluctance to accept recognition for it.  Finally he praises the wisdom hidden within the shell of Socrates’ simple words.

Alcibiades ends his speech abruptly at 222b with a warning to Agathon that many beautiful young men have loved Socrates but been hurt by his rejecting them as lovers.

Alcibiades’ speech takes up about one fifth of the entire content of the Symposium.  Why did Plato devote so much space to his words?  What does the speech add to Plato’s exposition on love?  What does it tell us about Socrates and why?  Socrates himself accuses Alcibiades of trying to stir up trouble between him and Agathon.  Is there any justification for this? Why is the character of Alcibiades so attractive relative to the others at the Symposium? Does this reflect anything of the character of the ‘real’ Alcibiades?

Answers on a largish postcard please 🙂

[This content was provided by Mairsmagic]

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