Symposium (Plato)

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The beginning of the symposium in the oldest surviving medieval manuscript, the Codex Clarkianus written in 895 (Oxford, Bodleian Library , Clarke 39)

The symposium ( ancient Greek Συμπόσιον Symposium "feast" or "carousing" Latinized Symposium ) is in dialogue form authored work of the Greek philosopher Plato . In it, a narrator reports on the course of a banquet that was more than a decade ago. On that memorable day, the participants in turn gave speeches on eroticism . They had set themselves the task of honoring the work of the god Eros . Using different approaches, they presented partly contradicting theories. Everyone examined the topic from a special point of view. It is not a report on a historical event, but a fictional, literary text.

Some of the speakers proceeded in a conventional manner, glorifying the God of love and describing and extolling the beneficial effects of erotic love. However, warnings were also given on various occasions about the bad consequences of harmful eroticism. Two speakers - the comedy poet Aristophanes and Plato's teacher Socrates - presented original interpretations of Eros. Aristophanes told the later famous myth of the spherical people . According to him, humans originally had spherical hulls. Later they were cut in two by the father of the gods Zeus as punishment for their arrogance. The myth interprets the erotic desire as an expression of the striving of the halved people to reunite with the missing half. The speech of Socrates, who was the last to speak, formed the climax of the banquet. Socrates claimed that he was only reporting on his long-ago conversations with Diotima , a wise woman who had once taught him about love. He made your point of view his own.

The Eros concept of Diotima corresponds to Plato's own understanding of eroticism, for which the term Platonic love has been used since the Renaissance . It includes a philosophical path of knowledge, an ascent that leads from the particular to the general, from the isolated to the comprehensive. The lover directs the erotic urge in the course of his stepped cognitive process to ever more comprehensive, general, higher-ranking and therefore more rewarding objects. The path begins with the spontaneous desire for a single beautiful body and ends with the most worthy goal, the perception of the "beautiful in itself" that can only be grasped spiritually. With this “look” of the absolutely beautiful, the desire of the erotic reaches its fulfillment.

In the last part of the dialogue the unexpected end of the series of speeches is described: The prominent politician Alkibiades , who later became famous as a general, came into the house drunk after Socrates had finished his remarks. Alcibiades also gave an eulogy, but not for Eros, but for Socrates. Here, too, it was about love, because there was a homoerotic attraction between Socrates and Alcibiades.

The symposium offers the first elaborated metaphysical doctrine of Eros. It is considered a literary masterpiece and is one of Plato's most influential writings. It only had its strongest after-effects in modern times, with the Renaissance humanist Marsilio Ficino pioneering the way in which he interpreted dialogue.

Over time, the meaning of the term platonic love changed , the end result of which is a fundamental reinterpretation. Therefore, the term used today - a love relationship without a sexual component - has only a distant similarity with Plato's concept of the ascent to the beautiful.

Place, time and circumstances

Bust of Socrates (1st century, Louvre , Paris)

The banquet takes place in Athens , the hometown of the participants, in the house of the tragedy poet Agathon . The time can be determined relatively precisely: It is a day in February of the year 416 BC. A decade and a half ago, the Peloponnesian War broke out in which Athens had to assert itself against Sparta and its allies. At the moment there is still the peace signed in 421 , which interrupted the fighting for a few years, but the pause is nearing its end: the following year, at the instigation of Alcibiades, the Athenians' expedition to Sicily will begin, a military adventure whose catastrophic outcome is about to begin forms a new phase of fighting between the warring factions.

The occasion of the banquet is Agathon’s victory at the Lenées , a Dionysus festival in which playwrights compete with their works. The young Agathon has just won the competition with his tragedy and now invited a crowd of friends to a festive get-together on the day after the big victory celebration. The victory of Agathon is a historic event, but the banquet is arguably fictitious.

The course of the meeting is not told directly. Rather, the presentation of the symposium is embedded in a framework plot that, according to the prevailing research opinion, was around 401/400 BC. Takes place around a decade and a half after the event described. According to a different dating, the framework story falls in the year 404 BC. BC, the year of Alcibiades death. In support of this approach, it is asserted that Alcibiades was murdered not long ago. Apollodorus , a pupil of Socrates, tells a group of wealthy friends from the Athenian upper class about the now famous banquet, at the time of which he was still a child. He got his information from Aristodemus , who was among the guests at the time. He also questioned Socrates, who confirmed some of the statements made by Aristodemus. Socrates is still alive at the time of the framework story.

The speakers compete with one another, their improvised speeches are the expression of a competition won by those who do the best at the task initially set.

The participants

All the participants in the banquet whose speeches are reproduced in Plato's work are persons who actually lived.

Apollodorus and Aristodemus

Apollodorus, who appears as the narrator in the framework story, was an ardent supporter of Socrates and always accompanied him. In research it is controversial whether one can identify him with a sculptor of the same name. As a literary figure in Plato, he is easily excitable, enthusiastic and uncontrollable. He only joined Socrates about three years before the framework story.

Aristodemus, who was one of the guests in Agathon’s house, gave Apollodorus a detailed report on the course of the symposium. Plato describes him as one of the most ardent admirers of Socrates and as a short man who, like his role model, used to go barefoot.


Phaedrus, who gives the first speech at the symposium , is well attested as a historical person in the sources. The historical Phaedrus was a distinguished Athenian from the Demos Myrrhinous , who actually belonged to the circle of Socrates. It was established around the middle of the 5th century BC. Born in BC, he was around two decades younger than Socrates. He caused a sensation when he was involved in a scandal that began in 415 BC. BC the political life of Athens shook. Young men had parodied the mysteries of Eleusis in private homes and thereby profaned them. This has been prosecuted as a grave crime against religion. Like other suspects, Phaedrus did not wait for a trial but fled into exile. His conviction in absentia is attested in writing. His property was confiscated. However, he later benefited from an amnesty and was allowed to return.

Phaedrus also appears in Plato's Phaedrus dialogue, named after him , where erotic passion is also discussed. He is a lover of artistic rhetoric . At the symposium , his statements show that he has mastered the rules of the art of speaking. His understanding of eros, however, is limited to the conventional view of his time, which he pleasingly presents; He does not contribute any further lines of thought.


Pausanias, another participant in the speaker contest, is only vaguely tangible as a historical figure. Reference is also made to his concept of love in the symposium of the historian Xenophon , a contemporary of Plato. He puts the distinction between virtuous and shameful eroticism at the center of his remarks and thematizes what is appropriate and improper in society. There is an erotic relationship between him and the host Agathon.


The third speaker, whose opinion is given in the dialogue, is Eryximachus, who has been friends with Phaedrus for a long time. As a doctor and the son of a doctor, he envisions eros from a physiological perspective. He judges it from the point of view of wholesomeness and differentiates between healthy and pathological eros. He appears self-confident and has full confidence in his medical knowledge. His style is clear and sober. It is unclear whether the historical Eryximachus can be identified with an Athenian of the same name, who like Phaedrus in 415 BC. Was accused of religious crime.


The next speech will be given by the famous comedy poet Aristophanes. He is not satisfied with glorifying eroticism, but rather chooses an original approach to the interpretation of the nature of the erotic ties with his spherical man myth. His speech is pure literary fiction; a historical connection between the poet Aristophanes and the - at least in this form - invented by Plato spherical people myth is not to be assumed. In the symposium , Aristophanes fits harmoniously as a dialogue figure into the circle of guests participating in the feast. The historical Aristophanes, on the other hand, mocked Socrates and Socratic philosophy in his 423 comedy The Clouds . In doing so, he contributed to the negative assessment of the philosopher in public and promoted the equation of philosophy with the sophistry, which is disreputable in conservative circles . This bad reputation later became doomed for Socrates when he was accused in 399 of infidelity and seduction of the youth and sentenced to death.


After Aristophanes, the host Agathon, a young man, takes the floor. He gives a conventional eulogy of the god Eros, embellished with rhetorical stylistic devices. It is not profound, but carefully planned and formally brilliant. Little is known about the historical tragedy poet Agathon. He was handsome, rich, and a gifted stylist. Comedy poets - especially Aristophanes - ridiculed him; Aristophanes took his well-groomed appearance and his expression on the grain and portrayed him as effeminate. Agathon's works, some fragments of which have survived, were well received by his contemporaries.


In the symposium, as in many other dialogues of Plato, Socrates is the main character. He is 52 or 53 years old at the time of the feast. He is in his element in the task given to the speakers in this dialogue, because love is a topic that preoccupies him particularly intensely. In his usual modesty, he even claims that it is the only area of ​​knowledge that he understands. In other dialogues of Plato, too, Socrates shows a strongly pronounced interest in love and the philosophical examination of it. Although he is married and has children, his tendencies seem to be exclusively homoerotic. Despite the power of the erotic stimuli that act on him, he never loses his legendary self-control, which is admired by those around him. Alcibiades, who by no means knows how to curb his passion himself, describes in his eulogy of Socrates his unwavering adherence to the ethical principles that result from philosophical insights. In other respects, too, Socrates appears in the symposium , as in other Platonic dialogues, as a master of ascetic discipline, whom nothing can distract from his goals or unbalance. Neither physical exertion nor dangerous situations during a battle can harm him. His ability to drink is also characteristic - the consumption of wine does not affect his mental clarity at all - and his ability to discuss philosophically all night long without fatigue occurring. In Plato's glorifying portrayal, Socrates is the embodiment of the ideal philosopher and the exemplary human being. The effect of his spiritual beauty is so strong that it also makes him erotically attractive, although he is physically far from the ideal of beauty of his time.

From the point of view of the history of philosophy, it should be noted that in general the views that Plato puts into the mouth of his dialogue figure Socrates do not have to agree with those of the historical model. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that the idealizing portrayal of Socrates' attitude in the symposium has a historical basis and that the main features of the literary figure roughly correspond to those of the historical one. According to the prevailing research opinion, here, as in other works by Plato, Socrates is the author's “mouthpiece”, he expresses his opinion.

In his speech, Socrates confines himself to reproducing the view of Diotima, which he subscribes to. According to his portrayal, she was a wise woman from Mantineia in Arcadia , a seer with extraordinary abilities. He reports that it was able to delay the outbreak of the plague in Athens by ten years. It can be seen from this that she acted as a priestess. What is meant is the plague that struck Athens in 430 BC. Broke out (" Attic plague "). The rare female name Diotima means "the one honored by Zeus " or "the one honoring Zeus". It is controversial whether Diotima is a figure freely invented by Plato or has a historical model that may actually have had this name. Some researchers see it only as a literary figure, others assume a connection with a real person or at least do not exclude it.


The appearance of Alcibiades is of a special kind, who is the last to speak out of schedule. He does not develop a theory of eros, but reports on his experience as an eroticist.

The historical Alkibiades was in the late 5th century BC. One of the most influential Athenian politicians. At the time of the fictional dialogue, he was around 34 years old and at the height of his power. The offensive, far-reaching policy of Athens was largely controlled by him. He was the main initiator of the Sicily expedition of 415, but was then unable to help shape this campaign, as he was relieved of his post as naval commander and charged with his alleged role in the religious crime scandal. He then fled and entered the service of opponents in his hometown. Later he changed sides again and took over an Athenian naval command again. He was close to Socrates, but was not one of his students.

As a dialogue figure of Plato, Alkibiades shows the ambition of the historical model, but appears self-critical and voluntarily admits his fatal weakness of character. He admits that the lust for fame dominates him and that because of it he disregards the ethical principles of Socrates, although he cannot deny their justification. In doing so, he reveals a lack of stability that is in sharp contrast to Socrates' firmness in principles. His erotic attachment to Socrates, whose superiority shames him, plunges him into a dilemma from which he can find no way out. He exemplifies the talented and ambitious politicians who want to direct states, but are unable to control themselves and fail because of their lack of self-discipline.


The framework story

A group of wealthy friends question Apollodorus about the legendary Agathon banquet that is rumored to be circulating. Only recently Apollodorus reported about it to a poorly informed acquaintance. Now he agrees to repeat his story for the friends. Although he was not an eyewitness to the event that took place around a decade and a half ago, he relies on the portrayal of Aristodemus, who was among the guests at the time. He also refers to Socrates, who has confirmed certain statements of Aristodemus. He bluntly tells his friends that he despises their concern about money matters and that he feels superior to them as a philosopher. In the following, the dialogue reproduces the report of Apollodorus.

Socrates on the way to the banquet

Socrates happened to meet Aristodemus on the street. He is on his way to a feast at Agathon. On the occasion of his victory in the tragedy poet competition, he invited his friends to a festive get-together. Aristodemus accepts Socrates' proposal to come along as an uninvited guest. He first arrives at the host's house and enters his house alone, as Socrates is lost in thought. Socrates stops outside the door of the neighboring house because he is still thinking about something and does not want to be disturbed. Only when the meal has already been half consumed does he come in and join the others, who, according to the custom of the time, are dining.

Determining the topic of conversation and the procedure

Scene from a banquet. Wall painting of the 5th century BC In the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Paestum

According to custom, drinking begins after dinner is over. Since some had already drunk a lot the day before, it is decided not to aim for a high this time, but only to drink moderately for pleasure. There is no entertainment by a flute player; instead, a serious conversation should be held on an initially determined topic. Eryximachus suggests talking about the excellence of Eros, which, strangely enough, has so far not received any attention from poets and orators. With "Eros" he means the mythical figure who is considered to be the originator of the passionate erotic desire of people. One after the other is supposed to give a speech to glorify the divine eros. The men, who are all very interested in the subject, are happy to agree to the proposal. Phaedrus should make the start.

Phaedrus' speech

Phaedrus begins by stating that Eros is a great god and admirable because of his origins. Namely, he has no parents, but was already there at the time of the beginning of the world, when the earth emerged from the primal chaos. He is not only the oldest of the gods, but also the author of the greatest goods. In Phaedrus' opinion, nothing promotes virtue and the right lifestyle as much as an erotic relationship. Neither the influence of loved ones nor honors and possessions are as important to a person as his need to look good in the eyes of his beloved. Every lover avoids the shameful and does his best because he wants to avoid embarrassing himself in front of the beloved at all costs. This is shown, for example, when men who love one another go into battle together and vie for bravery. If a state or an army consisted of all lovers and loved ones, everything would be in the best of conditions there; such a community would be unsurpassable and insurmountable. The devotion and willingness to die of women like Alcestis also shows this power of love. The lover is closer to the divine than the beloved, because in him the god Eros himself is present.

The speech of Pausanias

After Phaedrus and a few other speakers, Pausanias took the floor. He claims that there is not just one Eros, but two, and that the goddess of love Aphrodite also exists twice. Therefore one has to differentiate. The “heavenly” Aphrodite Urania is opposed to the “common” or “common” goddess of love, the Aphrodite Pandemos. Aphrodite Urania is the older of the two, the motherless daughter of the god Uranus ; the father of the others is Zeus. Both have an Eros as assistant, one the heavenly, the other the common one.

In Pausanias' opinion, loving, like any other activity, is neither good nor bad in itself, only through the way it is exercised does eroticism become right and beautiful or wrong and ugly. Common love is not demanding, it is only aimed at sexual satisfaction. Those who love so lustfully lust for the body and disregard spiritual values. He doesn't care whether what he's doing is beautiful and how worthy the person he wants is. He is changeable in his affection, he does not keep his promises. In contrast, he who loves in the heavenly way is steadfast and faithful. He does not turn to a bad person, but looks for a noble love partner. If both partners are honorable, there is nothing wrong with living out their bond on the sexual level. The ambivalence of eroticism, which can be practiced in a heavenly or vulgar way, is also evident in the prejudices that exist about it in some places.

The speech of Eryximachus

The poet Aristophanes, who would be next in line, has had a hiccup; therefore the doctor Eryximachus steps in for him. He shares the view of Pausanias, according to which a distinction must be made between a good, beneficial and a questionable Eros. He generalizes this concept by giving it a cosmic dimension. According to his understanding, the power of twofold eros prevails not only in the souls of people, but also in animals and plants and in everything in general, for example also in the seasons and in the relationship between warm and cold, dry and damp. His profession, the healing art, led him to this insight. Everywhere it is about the differentiation of the good, which Eryximachus equates with the healthy, from the bad, which he defines as pathological. The heavenly eros shows itself in harmony. The other eros, common or mean, does not have to be strictly avoided, one can enjoy one's lust, but one should proceed with caution and beware of licentiousness.

The spherical man myth of Aristophanes

Portrait of Aristophanes (side of a double bust, Academic Art Museum , Bonn)

The next speaker will be Aristophanes. He considers Eros to be the most humane of the gods. So far, however, people have not been able to grasp the scope of his benefits; otherwise they would have erected the greatest shrines and altars for him and made the greatest sacrifices. Aristophanes wants to counteract the lack of appreciation for the god of love by illustrating the meaning of eroticism with the myth of the spherical people.

According to the myth, people once had spherical torsos and four hands and feet and two faces, each with two ears, on a head supported by a circular neck. The faces looked in opposite directions. With their eight limbs, the spherical people could move quickly, not only upright, but also like a gymnast turning a wheel. There were three genders with them: a purely male, a purely female and the mixed andrógynoi , which had a male and a female half. The purely male spherical people originally descended from the sun, the purely female from the earth, the androgynous (bisexual) from the moon.

The spherical people with their enormous strength and great daring became cocky and wanted to attack the gods. The sky ruler Zeus discussed with the other gods how to respond to this presumption. The gods did not want to destroy the human race because they valued the honor and sacrifice of the people. Hence, Zeus decided to weaken the spherical people by cutting each of them in half. These halves were shaped like two-legged people. From the point of view of Zeus, an additional advantage of this measure was that the number of people and thus also the sacrifices for the gods doubled. In the event that those punished continued to do iniquity and did not keep quiet, he planned to divide them again; then they would have to hop on one leg in future. The god Apollon was given the task of turning the faces towards the cut surface - the current stomach side - and closing the wounds by pulling the skin over the bellies and tying it at the navel. He left wrinkles on the navel as a reminder of the division. The genitals remained on the other side, previously turned outwards, which was now the back side.

The halved, now two-legged people suffered severely from being separated from their other halves. They embraced each other in the hope of growing together and regaining their unity. Since they did nothing else, they began to starve. To prevent their extinction, Zeus moved the genital organs forward. He made it possible for people to temporarily satisfy their need for unity through sexual encounters and thus temporarily satisfy their longing. At the same time, this gave them the ability to reproduce in the way they have since practiced. So they were fit for life again. Their suffering from their incompleteness passed on to their descendants. Therefore, everyone is still looking for the right complement. The longing for the lost wholeness is expressed in the erotic desire that aims at union.

Depending on whether a spherical person was purely male, purely female or mixed, his two halves were heterosexual or homosexual. This differentiation is also evident in the descendants of the halved spherical people, including contemporary mankind. Each biped belongs to one of three types with regard to his erotic disposition, which correspond to the three spherical genders. The direction of the striving for unification depends on this. This explains the differences in sexual orientation. Only those two-legged, whose disposition corresponds to the pattern of the bisexual spherical people, the androgynoi , are heterosexual.

The relevance of the myth to the present and the future

Aristophanes expresses his appreciation for the homoerotics; They are by nature the manliest men and, as lovers of what is similar to them, devoted to their own sex. One of their characteristics is a willingness to devote themselves to state affairs. They are wrongly accused of shamelessness; in reality her love is manliness. On the other hand, Aristophanes remarks disparagingly about the androgynoi facing the opposite sex that most of the adulterers are to be found among them. He assumes that they have a tendency to sexually addictive behavior and a related lack of loyalty.

Of particular importance to Aristophanes are those erotic relationships that are characterized by extraordinary intensity. He attributes the extreme strength of such bonds to the fact that in these cases two souls found each other who complemented each other like two halves of spherical people that belonged together. In them there is an urge to merge with the dearly beloved other half. Such encounters are currently still rare. But if people make friends with the gods through piety, there is hope of restoring the original holistic nature and of a healthy existence as in the age of the spherical people. With Eros' help this goal can be achieved. If everyone succeeded in finding the other half that belonged to them, Aristophanes believed that humanity would be healed and blissful.

When two lovers who belong together have found each other, according to Aristophanes' account, they remain connected to one another throughout their lives, although they "do not even know what to say about each other". Sexual enjoyment offers no explanation for the passion with which they are attached to one another. Rather, both souls strive for something that they cannot name but only suspect; it's a mystery. When Hephaestus , the god of fire and forge, came up to them with his tools and asked them what they actually wanted from each other and suggested that they melt them together so that they would not have to separate in the underworld in death and after death , they would like to accept his suggestion and realize that this is their ultimate goal.

Eros on an Attic red-figure oinochoe from the 5th century BC Chr.

Agathon's speech

Agathon does not focus on the role of eroticism in human life, but on the nature of the god Eros, whose speech serves to glorify. For him Eros is the happiest, most beautiful and best of the gods and at the same time the youngest of them. He must be young, because he hates old age and only youthfulness suits him. That he is tender can be seen from the fact that he resides in souls and avoids people of harsh temperament. In addition, it is supple, because if it were brittle, it could not go unnoticed into every soul and then get out again. Agathon tries to show that Eros is excellently endowed with all four basic virtues - justice , prudence , bravery and wisdom - and is a master of all arts. He spreads a tremendous wealth of benefits over the world of gods and humanity.

Socrates' examination of Agathon's concept

Agathon's exuberant, completely uncritical glorifying eulogy prompts Socrates to philosophically examine the soundness of the Eros concept on which this presentation is based. He also makes ironic reference to the rhetorical embellishment of the previous speaker. The truth fell by the wayside with the splendid description. By asking questions, Socrates forces Agathon to admit that love must always have an object to which it is directed because the lover desires it. But you only want what you need, and every need results from a lack. If Eros is as beautiful and good as Agathon describes it, then he cannot erotically - that is, lustfully - love the beautiful and good, because he already has it, it is present in him. Eros means love, but the love of an absolutely beautiful god Eros cannot have an object: he does not need beautiful things, he cannot desire ugly things. So love and perfection are mutually exclusive. Faced with this dilemma, Agathon is at a loss.

Diotima's understanding of the nature of eros

A long time ago Socrates thought like Agathon. He naively assumed that Eros was a great, beautiful, and good God and loved the beautiful. In the course of his conversations with the wise Diotima, who taught him, this idea turned out to be contradictory. Socrates now presents the insights he has gained from Diotima's remarks.

Diotima showed that Eros is neither good and beautiful nor bad and ugly. Rather, it is to be located in a middle area. So he is imperfect and therefore cannot be a god. But neither is he a mortal. Since he stands between deity and man, he is a daimon ("demon", but not in the current, mostly derogatory sense of this term). Like all demons, he has a role of mediator between gods and humans. He fulfills this task in his area of ​​responsibility, in the field of the erotic. He transmits to people what is to come to them from the gods in this regard.

This view is reflected in Diotima's myth of the origin of Eros. Eros was conceived at the feast that the gods held on the occasion of Aphrodite's birth. His mother Penia , poverty personified , came to the meal as a beggar and met the drunken Poros ("pathfinder") there. Poros is the personification of resourcefulness that always finds a way out and paves the way to abundance and wealth. However, as his drunkenness suggests, he lacks the ability to be moderate. In order to compensate for her need, Penia wanted to conceive a child from him. So it came to the procreation of Eros, which later joined the goddess, whose birth festival had led to the meeting of his parents, and became her companion. In his nature, Eros combines the qualities of his father with those of his mother. He inherited the principle of want from his mother, so he is poor and unsightly, barefoot and homeless. From his father he got his energy and cunning, his magic and the strong inclination for the beautiful and the good that drives him. Since wisdom counts for beauty, he is also a philosopher (literally “wisdom lover”). He lacks some things for insight, but he eagerly strives for it, being aware of this lack.

Diotima's conception of the meaning of eroticism

Just like the mythical Eros, people who are gripped by its power also strive for the beautiful and the good. One can understand this to mean that they want to get it for themselves and then have it permanently in order to be happy. However, as Diotima explains, this statement does not exactly match the facts; it needs to be corrected. The actual goal of the lover is not the beautiful as such, but a creative activity connected with it, which he wants to carry out: A "work" (érgon) is to be created. What drives the erotic is basically not the love of the beautiful, but an urge to create and produce in the beautiful. The power of procreation or fertility, which man has in both the physical and the spiritual sense, urges realization. This ability to produce, like beauty, is of a divine nature. Therefore it unfolds where it meets beautiful, because there it can connect with something that corresponds to it. It does not harmonize with ugliness, so it is not activated by him.

If one asks about the cause of the urge to generate, one encounters a basic principle of nature: everything mortal naturally strives for continuity, for immortality. This is evident in all living beings. By means of reproduction, mortal beings can leave something of themselves behind and thus achieve a permanence with which they participate in the immortal, as it were, on the physical level. Hence, even animals put the welfare of their offspring above their own. Analogous to this, the production of enduring spiritual values, for example in poetry or legislation, is a type of procreation that brings "immortal" fame.

Diotima's teaching of the ascent to the beautiful

The erotic attraction, which initially asserts itself in the encounter with body beauty, acquires a new quality when the erotic opens up the realm of emotional beauty. Starting from such an expansion of the field of vision, Diotima developed her doctrine of the right philosophical guidance of the erotic urge. In youth, one should turn to beautiful bodies and realize that it is not about the advantages of a particular body, but about the physical beauty itself, which is the same in all beautiful bodies. Later one will turn to the spiritual beauty that one initially perceives in a certain person. Therefore, love is now directed towards this person, even if it is outwardly unsightly. This leads to a focus on ethics . Then the lover also discovers the beautiful in beautiful lifestyles and facilities. Later the beauty of knowledge becomes perceptible to him. In doing so, he has the opportunity to discover that in the spiritual and spiritual realm too, beauty is not tied to something individual, but is the general, which always shows itself in particular. From there the lover arrives at the highest level of knowledge. There it is no longer a matter of individual virtues or individual beautiful deeds or insights, but rather beauty in the most general and comprehensive sense: the perfect and unchangeable beauty par excellence, which is ultimately the source of all forms of beauty. This primal beauty is not a mere abstraction, not a conceptual construct, but a perceptible reality for those who have reached the last level. Only looking at them makes life worth living.

In conclusion, Socrates professes the teaching of Diotima, which he has made entirely his own. He adds that Eros is man's best helper on the philosophical path of knowledge that leads to absolute beauty. Therefore, everything that belongs to eroticism should be honored and practiced in this area.

The speech of Alcibiades

Bust of a Silenus (cast in the Pushkin Museum , Moscow)

Shortly after Socrates has finished his speech, a noise can be heard outside: the drunken Alcibiades appears with an entourage including a flute player. He learns of the speeches that have been made and is invited to contribute to the topic of the evening. To this end, he chooses a different path than the previous speakers: He does not want to praise Eros, but rather, as an eroticist, talk about Socrates, whom he loves.

Alkibiades begins his portrait of the philosopher with a comparison: From the outside, Socrates appears to him like a Silenus or like the satyr Marsyas - snub-nosed mythical figures with broad faces and bald heads who are physically far removed from the classical Greek ideal of beauty. But its interior is divine and golden: there images of gods can be seen for him to whom he opens. With the force of his words, Socrates can enchant people like Marsyas, an excellent flute player, with his instrument. He alone is able to make Alcibiades understand the futility of the life he leads and the necessity of radical change. Alkibiades is very successful politically, as a public speaker he knows how to steer the crowd; but Socrates makes it clear to him how little he is able to direct the state as long as he cannot control himself and is the servant of his desires. Therefore, Socrates is the only person of whom Alcibiades is ashamed. Since the ambitious politician does not have the required self-discipline, he would like to avoid the unpleasant admonitions of the relentless philosopher. But he cannot escape the influence of Socrates because he is fascinated by him.

Silenus mask (Roman fresco , Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York)

Alkibiades is deeply impressed by Socrates' sovereign handling of the sexual attractiveness of physical beauty. According to his disposition, the philosopher is very receptive to this, and likes to hang out among beautiful young men. Nevertheless, his attitude towards the people around him cannot be influenced at all by such stimuli and other externalities. The handsome Alcibiades, spoiled by success, had to experience this to his chagrin when he imagined that thanks to his physical attractiveness he could achieve what he wanted with Socrates. All of his attempts to sexually seduce the desired man and make him dependent on himself failed miserably.

Another distinctive aspect of Socrates' steadfastness and superior demeanor is his brave and prudent behavior when faced with mortal danger and his equanimity in enduring physical strain. Alkibiades illustrates this with the description of shared experiences on a campaign. Neither hunger nor severe frost could harm Socrates; Carefree he ran barefoot on the ice. But he could also enjoy when there was an opportunity. Once in the summer he paused in one place for a day and night, reflecting. Like Socrates himself, so are his speeches: On the outside they seem ridiculous like Silenians and satyrs, but when you grasp their meaning, then it shows that they are of a divine nature.

Symposium scene on an Attic red-figure kylix from the 5th century BC. Chr .: A servant serves wine.

The end of the feast

After the open-hearted confessions of Alcibiades and some subsequent teasing, unrest arose as many night owls penetrated the house from outside. Some guests left, others fell asleep. Only Agathon, Aristophanes and Socrates stayed awake and spent the night talking. They turned to a new subject, stage poetry, with Socrates believing that a good tragedy poet should be able to write good comedies. Then Aristophanes fell asleep and after dawn Agathon fell asleep too. Socrates then left the house cheerfully and went to Lykeion , where he passed the day without needing to sleep; only towards evening did he go home to rest.

Interpretation and philosophical content

As in his other works, Plato deliberately refrains from presenting his own doctrinal opinion and labeling it as such in the symposium . He leaves the conclusion to the reader. Countless attempts to reconstruct a systematic teaching of Plato from the texts or at least to clearly assign individual doctrines to him are the subject of ongoing research debates.

The assessment of the first five speeches

It is controversial in research whether the statements of the five speakers, who have their say in the dialogue before Socrates, partly reflect aspects of Plato's own understanding of Eros and should prepare the reader for Socrates' speech or whether they are worthless in terms of content from Plato's point of view and contain only concepts that he thought were wrong. Opinions also differ with regard to the questions of whether the five speeches are internally related, how they should be grouped and what significance their order has. Among other things, it has been proposed to adopt an ascending order. This hypothesis, according to which every speaker outperforms the previous speaker, is supported by the fact that everyone introduces his remarks with criticism of the previous speaker. Against this, however, is the fact that Agathon’s speech clearly offers no improvement compared to that of the previous speaker, Aristophanes. According to another interpretation, the order of the six discourses on Eros corresponds to the order of the stages of erotic ascent.

The speeches of Pausanias and Eryximachus

The speech of Pausanias shows outwardly similarities with that of Socrates, but it lacks philosophical depth. According to one research hypothesis, it is designed by Plato as a parody of Socrates' speech and is intended to show how easily the Socratic concept of Eros can be misunderstood by non-philosophers. The distinction emphasized by Pausanias between Aphrodite Urania and Aphrodite Pandemos is historical insofar as both were worshiped in Athens. The contrasting characteristics which Pausanias ascribes to them are, however, a literary fiction of Plato. The cultural-historical relevance of the statements of Pausanias receives special attention in research. The question is to what extent his speech allows conclusions to be drawn about the norms, values ​​and sexual customs of Athens' upper class at the time. Some of the details are confirmed by other sources.

The speech of Eryximachus, who does not condemn "common" love but approves it with reservations, is judged unfavorably by some researchers. You see in it a text designed by the author with ironic intent, which is supposed to expose the pedantic attitude and incoherent way of thinking of the dialogue figure and thus show the questionable nature of her concept. Others say it is a realistic representation of a traditional, popular view; Eryximachus represents a coherent position that Plato took seriously. In any case, parodic features can be recognized in the speech. Plato caricatures the tendency of self-confident medical authors to develop medicine into a universal science.

Aristophanes and his globe-man myth

Aristophanes' hiccups are interpreted differently in research. While some ancient scholars believe they can discover a meaningful, profound symbolism in it, others consider the incident to be just a loosening up and meaningless episode. It has also been suggested that Plato intended to mock the historical Aristophanes.

The myth of the spherical man, which Plato puts into Aristophanes' mouth, is the subject of extensive specialist literature. He is supposed to explain the extraordinary importance of eros in human life by revealing the cause of erotic desire. The explanatory approach of the Platonic Aristophanes points to a core component of the Platonic theory of love: the explanation of Eros as a deficiency phenomenon. Erotic desire appears as a desire to remedy a deficiency and to achieve wholeness or perfection. The former original state has long been forgotten, but the longing to overcome the original separation remains. The path that Aristophanes praises and whose ultimate goal is the definitive restoration of the original state, however, in no way corresponds to Plato's ideal of love. In contrast to Aristophanes, who knows no higher goal than the enjoyment of unity with the beloved individual, Plato calls for love to be oriented towards the super-individual. He propagates a philosophical striving for knowledge driven by eros, whereby the path of knowledge begins with the transitory sense objects, but then leads away from them. Another sharp contrast concerns the idol. According to the globe-man myth, the gods eagerly seek to receive worship and sacrifice from man, and it is only for this reason that they allow mankind to survive. This notion, with which the gods are assumed to have need and a lower motive, is blasphemous from a Platonic point of view. Such a way of thinking was not alien to the historical Aristophanes, he addressed the greed of the gods on the stage. The levels of style are also contradictory: the description of the spherical people and their movement clearly shows comical, grotesque features and thus contrasts with the sublimity of the representation of Diotima's metaphysical doctrine of love. The humorous aspect of the myth suits the comedy poet Aristophanes.

An often discussed topic of research is the cultural-historical background of the myth and in particular the motif of androgyny . It is pointed out that although Plato invented the spherical people himself, he used old mythical motifs. Some aspects of the myth reveal references to folklore . According to the teaching of the pre-Socratic Empedocles , beings "with double faces and double breasts" arise in the world cycle. Plato knew and used the representation of Empedocles well. The motif of an original androgyny, a later separate initial unity of the sexes, also occurs in non-European myths. In ancient Greece androgyny found expression in the figure of Hermaphroditos .

The spherical shape of the mythical prehistoric man is a result of their descent from the spherical celestial bodies sun, moon and earth, to which they are similar. In addition, Plato regarded the sphere as a perfect body of the highest beauty.

The role of the dialogue figure Diotima

Two aspects of Diotima's role have received special attention in research: the fact that Plato, contrary to his custom, uses a female figure here, and the extraordinary authority with which he endows this figure.

In his rendering of the conversation with Diotima, Socrates appears to her as a student. She asks questions that are supposed to help him gain knowledge, and thus takes on the maieutic role that he plays in other dialogues. Wherever he has to confess that he has no answer, it reveals the truth to him. In the symposium , Socrates can hold on to the assertion familiar to his Plato readers that he is generally ignorant: he does not propose his own theory of eros, but restricts himself to presenting foreign wisdom as a reporter. For this reason, Plato needs the figure of Diotima. As a wise seer, she has an insight that philosophical discourse alone cannot convey. She argues philosophically at times, but with regard to the core of her teaching she invokes a transcendent experience which, according to her presentation, represents the culmination and conclusion of a philosophical training path.

The question is often discussed why Plato exceptionally gave a woman such a central role on this subject. There are also many speculations about his own sexual orientation that come into play. One hypothesis is that Plato wanted to oust Eros from the divine position traditionally assigned to him and to completely disempower the principles of Aphrodite. In line with this intention, it is advisable that “a woman is in command”. Diotima's task is the "self-dismantling of the female principle". According to another explanation, Plato had a woman appear on this subject, since a man who taught the young, homoerotic Socrates about Eros would have been regarded by the contemporary public as his lover. Plato wanted to prevent this suspicion. Another suggestion for interpretation is that Diotima's explanations are based on what Plato sees as a specifically feminine understanding of love.

Diotima's concept of immortality and Plato's own view

A long research discussion revolves around the question of how Plato feels about the teaching of his dialogue figure Diotima. It is striking that Diotima does not address the Platonic idea of ​​an individual immortality of the soul. Rather, it only discusses the striving of mortal beings for "persistence" through progeny or fame, that is, for "immortality" in a figurative sense. This is reminiscent of the doctrine later advocated by Aristotle , according to which there is immortality for mortal individuals only in an improper sense. In Aristotle's opinion, living beings are perishable as such, but through their reproduction cause the species to survive; insofar as it is possible, they have a certain kind of eternity. When Diotima thinks this, then there is a rugged contrast to the doctrine of immortality, Plato's Socrates in the dialogue Phaedo defended strongly.

Three directions of interpretation compete in this regard. According to the first direction, there is agreement or at least no contradiction between the concept of Diotima in the symposium and that of Plato and his "mouthpiece" Socrates in the Phaedo . According to the second direction, Diotima's teaching is incompatible with the Platonic philosophy, therefore Plato rejects it and also expects the reader to recognize its falsehood and to reject it. According to the third direction, Plato adopted Diotima's view in the symposium , although it contradicted his other doctrine of soul and immortality; this means that he has fundamentally changed his mind, at least temporarily.

Since Plato's Socrates unreservedly endorses Diotima's remarks in the symposium , research mainly follows the traditional interpretation, according to which Diotima's teaching is largely or entirely Platonic. At least it is assumed that it is compatible with the "classical" Platonism of Phaedo . Accordingly, the striving for continuity that Diotima speaks of relates only to existence in the realm of perishable sense objects. Diotima only regards this existence as transitory. It does not claim that any kind of individual existence must end with the death of the body. Thus there is no contradiction to the assumption that the individual soul is immortal. This does not mean, however, that Diotima's teaching must be completely identical with Plato's own conviction.

The alternative thesis, according to which Diotima thinks sophistically and represents a concept rejected by Plato or at least his Socrates, is now considered to be wrong. Most ancient scholars also reject the hypothesis that Plato wavered and gave up his concept of individual immortality at the symposium .

The epistemological aspect

Diotima's epistemology is characterized by optimism, the view of the absolutely beautiful is presented as an achievable goal. The object of this perception is the "Platonic idea" - the archetype - of the beautiful in the sense of Plato's theory of ideas . Since a Platonic idea is inaccessible to the senses and can only be grasped spiritually, terms such as “behold”, “see” and “look” are not to be understood literally, but metaphorically in this context . In research, special attention is given to the observation of Diotima that the show occurs "suddenly" after long efforts, after the erotic has completed his gradual ascent. This formulation fed the assumption that Plato was referring to a mystical experience. A correspondence with descriptions in mystical literature consists in the fact that the platonic view suddenly invades those qualified for it. It is made possible by him through the ascent, but he cannot bring it about directly or even force it. The knowledge of the idea of ​​the beautiful is prepared by the performance of discursive thinking, but it is carried out intuitively. The fact that Plato describes the approach to the goal in analogy to initiation into the mysteries fits this . This gives the ascent to the beautiful the quality of a religious initiation. According to Plato's understanding, philosophy delivers what the mysteries promise. An essential difference to mystical experiences, however, is that, according to Diotima's description, there is no unification ( unio mystica ) in which the difference between subject and object is canceled out. The viewer and what is viewed always remain independent.

The sight of the absolutely beautiful is in fact the end point of the ascent, if it is carried out in full. However, this does not mean that the ascending lover must have the highest level in mind as the ultimate goal pursued during the ascension. Rather, he gradually gains knowledge that makes the next higher level seem worthwhile to him.

The social aspect

The step-by-step path that leads to the contemplation of what is inherently beautiful is the philosopher's path of life. Diotima makes it explicitly clear that it is necessary to start with the first stage, the love of beautiful bodies. The possibility of ignoring the physical aspect of eros and advancing directly to the idea of ​​the beautiful is out of their view. Ascension cannot be accomplished alone; it definitely has a social component. Exchange with others is required at least at the lower levels.

For a long time there has been an intensive research discussion about the assessment of erotic advancement from a social point of view. The debate received a decisive impetus in 1973 with the publication of an influential study by Gregory Vlastos on the role of the individual as an object of Platonic love. According to Vlastos' understanding, in Diotima's doctrine of eros the beloved individual is not valued for his own sake. Rather, it is only desirable because and insofar as it embodies something general - physical or mental beauty - impressively. The beloved is relevant to the lover only as a bearer of certain general characteristics, not from the point of view of his individual specificity and value. Therefore, his erotic attractiveness inevitably fades in the course of the ascent. When the erotic rises to higher, more general forms of love, the individual becomes superfluous as an object of eros and clinging to it is therefore pointless. This means that love for the person you love is ultimately only a means of ascending to absolute beauty. Accordingly, the Platonic erotic is really only concerned with himself. This interpretation of Diotima's doctrine of love is denoted by the catchphrase of the " egocentric " character of Platonic Eros. The egocentrism hypothesis is controversial in research and is predominantly rejected today in its radical variant. The opposite view is that Plato's idea is not so one-sided and limited, but that the virtuous individual is valued by him as a legitimate object of love. The ascent to more comprehensive levels of love need not be connected with the extinction of love for the individual, but this is only viewed and classified differently. According to an alternative hypothesis, Platonic eros is self-centered on the lower levels, but that changes as the ascension progresses.

Martha Nussbaum took a different path in 1986 with her attempt at interpretation, with which she sparked a lively research debate. Nussbaum shares Vlastos' view that Diotima's understanding of love makes the beloved individual superfluous and that this consequence is seen and affirmed by Diotima and Plato's Socrates. In contrast to the proponents of the egocentrism hypothesis, however, she does not conclude from this that Plato misunderstood the meaning and value of individuality. Rather, he wanted to set a counter-accent with Alcibiades' speech, in which the uniqueness of Socrates is glorified. There is a tragic conflict between the appreciation of the individual in his uniqueness and the demand for the erotic to rise from the particular to the general, which the reader of the symposium will see. Similar to Nussbaum, Margot Fleischer had already determined in 1976 that Diotima and Alkibiades were extreme opposites and could not be united. The truth about Eros must lie between their positions, but this is not made visible in the symposium , the dilemma remains unsolved. Seen in this way, the dialogue ends in an aporia , an apparent or actual hopelessness.

The role of Alcibiades

Alkibiades among the guests. Etching by Pietro Testa (1648)

The arrival of the drunken, noisy Alcibiades shortly after the end of Socrates' speech is associated with a dramatic change of mood that has always impressed the readers of the dialogue. In the research literature it is pointed out that Alkibiades embodies the irrational principle of intoxication and licentiousness, for which the god Dionysus stands in Greek mythology . With the initial decision of the meal participants to send the flute player away, to limit the consumption of wine and to concentrate on the philosophical discourse, the Dionysian element has been banished from the group. That was a prerequisite for serious engagement with a sublime topic. With the surprising, coarse penetration of Alcibiades and his entourage, Dionysus, who had initially been excluded, has returned and has asserted his claim to attention. That is why the last part of the symposium is often compared to the Satyr Play, a cheerful, coarse sensual play that followed the tragedy in Athens as a sequel . Without knowing Diotima's myth of Eros, Alcibiades offers a partly serious, partly humorous portrait of Socrates as the embodiment of the Eros described by Diotima.

For the perception of ancient Greeks, the described constellation was absurd: the beautiful, celebrated youth Alcibiades confesses that he loves and is scorned by the far older, grotesquely ugly Socrates. With this contrast and the paradox it is believed to be, Plato wanted to drastically illustrate his idea of ​​the superiority of inner beauty.

The discussion of tragedy and comedy poetry

In the night after the others have gone or fell asleep, three more men discuss: the philosopher Socrates, the tragedy poet Agathon and the comedy poet Aristophanes. Your subject is the competence of the playwright. Socrates wants to force the two famous playwrights to admit that writing comedies and tragedies requires the same competence. If a tragedy poet has mastered his art, he can inevitably also write comedies. Agathon and Aristophanes resist this thesis in vain; as specialists, they defend the restriction to the respective traditional area. Socrates cornered his two interlocutors. His thesis is unconventional; it contradicts common ancient practice. It may be based on the idea that tragedy and comedy form a pair of opposites and are therefore the subject of the same knowledge. According to a research hypothesis, Plato has his own writing activity in mind, which has both tragic and comedic elements. He wants to suggest that the philosopher is the true playwright, since his art includes both that of the comedian and that of the tragedian.

Bust of Plato (Roman copy of the Greek Plato portrait of Silanion , Glyptothek Munich )


The time of writing the symposium cannot be determined with certainty. In terms of content, it belongs in the middle creative phase of the author. Some stylistic observations support this finding, according to other indications the work can be assigned to a stylistically early dialogue group. An allusion to the division of the Arcadian city ​​of Mantineia by the Spartans in 385/384 BC provides a historical clue . Chr .; accordingly, the symposium was created after this point in time. However, it is not certain that this historical event is meant. The passage can also refer to a dispute between Sparta and Mantineia in 418 BC. Chr. Refer, but this is less likely. Another passage is probably an allusion to the " King's Peace " of 387/386 BC. To interpret. Another indication that is relevant for the dating is perhaps the fact that Plato's Phaedrus speaks hypothetically of the possibility of raising an army of all lovers and lovers. This plan was made in Thebes in 378 BC. Realized with the foundation of the " Holy Host ". From this it has been concluded that the dialogue arose before the creation of this elite group of Thebans. If these considerations are correct, the date of origin can be traced back to the years between 385 and 378 BC. Limit Chr. However, the utterance of the dialogue figure Phaedrus can also be interpreted as a positive reaction of Plato to the measure in Thebes.

A text from the symposium in the only ancient papyrus manuscript, P. Oxy. V 843, 2nd / 3rd century

Text transmission

Direct ancient text transmission is limited to a papyrus manuscript from the 2nd or 3rd century, a large part of which has survived. It is the most text-rich of all Plato papyri. This tradition is of great value for textual criticism ; it is free from a number of errors found in medieval parchment manuscripts, but it also has its own errors that do not occur in the medieval text tradition.

The medieval text tradition consists of 55 manuscripts that contain the symposium in whole or in part. The oldest surviving medieval symposium manuscript was made for Arethas of Caesarea in the year 895 in the Byzantine Empire .


The symposium is considered one of the most important dialogues of Plato and is one of the most intensely received. It had a powerful effect both in ancient times and in modern times and is one of the most famous works in world literature.


In ancient times, the symposium was eagerly read. From a formal point of view, it became the classic model for ancient symposium literature, a literary genre whose starting point it is. However, later authors did not attempt to compete with Plato's philosophical depth, but instead created more relaxed, more entertaining representations of sympotic gatherings for a wider audience.

From the 4th to the 1st century BC Chr.

According to today's research, the Dialog Symposium by the writer Xenophon , a contemporary of Plato, was later completed as Plato's work of the same name and is influenced by him. There are a number of parallels between the two scriptures. With Xenophon, too, Socrates participates in the banquet and gives a speech on Eros.

Plato's pupil Aristotle quoted in his politics from the speech of Aristophanes in the symposium , the content of which is known to all. He called the dialogue "conversations about love". In his work On the Soul , he took up the idea of ​​Plato's Diotima that the reproduction of living beings is a striving for participation in the eternal and divine. The influence of Diotima's teaching can also be clearly seen in his Nicomachean Ethics .

Among the Cynics and the Epicureans , two philosophical schools rivaling Platonism, the views presented in the symposium met with incomprehension. The Cynic Bion of Borysthenes (4th / 3rd century BC) judged that Socrates had been a fool when he sexually desired Alcibiades but suppressed the urge. Above all, the Epicureans condemned Plato's association of eroticism with virtue or excellence ( aretḗ ) . According to their teaching, passionate love is most harmful. The erotic urge is considered a great evil and the excitement it generates as close to madness.

In the tetralogical order of the works of Plato, which apparently in the 1st century BC The symposium belongs to the third tetralogy.

From the 1st to the 3rd century AD

The philosophy historian Diogenes Laertios counted the symposium among the "ethical" writings and gave "About the good" as an alternative title. In doing so, he referred to a now lost script by the scholar Thrasyllos († 36).

The Jewish scholar Philon of Alexandria , who lived in the first half of the 1st century, sharply criticized the homoerotic aspects of the dialogue. He claimed that the theme of the symposium was primarily the "common and vulgar love" between men or between men and boys, the moral and social effects of which were devastating. It destroys bravery and infects souls with effeminate disease, dignified male youths down to the inner attitude of a lover, distracts from social tasks and leads to childlessness. The myth of the spherical people is seductive and only attracts attention because of the unusual nature of the thought. Xenophon's symposium is morally superior to Plato's work of the same name. Philo probably did not devise this criticism himself, but rather took it from an older anti-platonic script.

The historian and philosopher Plutarch , who professed the tradition of Platonism, interpreted Diotima's myth of Eros. In his treatise On Isis and Osiris he offered an allegorical interpretation of the origin of Eros: the connection between a perfect father (Poros), the Platonic world of ideas, and a needy mother (Penia), who is here equated with matter, gives rise to the visible World (Eros). Plutarch's dialogue Amatorius contains numerous Symposium - reminiscences . In his banquet conversations (Quaestiones convivales) , Plato's dialogue is clearly recognizable as a model.

The Middle Platonist Lukios Kalbenos Tauros treated the symposium in his philosophy class. As his student Gellius reports, Tauros expressed indignation about ignorant beginners who wanted to read the dialogue because of the appearance of the drunken Alcibiades instead of being interested in the philosophical content. At that time, the role of Alcibiades evidently also found attention in circles that were rather distant from philosophy. This audience wanted to have fun and viewed Plato's works as entertainment reading. Tauros emphasized - as is usual in Platonism - that one should pay more attention to the content than to the form, but he also pointed with pride to the rhetorical brilliance in Pausanias' speech; no rhetorician wrote such an excellent prose as Plato. Gellius, who was enthusiastic about the art of language, translated a passage from this speech that particularly impressed him into Latin and learned it by heart. He saw in it a pattern of the highest stylistic elegance that he wanted to reproduce in his native Latin to train his own eloquence.

A Middle Platonist, not known by name, who commented on Theaetetos' dialogue , mentioned in the part of his work preserved on papyrus that he had previously written a commentary on the symposium . The lifetime of this Platonist is controversial; the assumptions vary between the 1st century BC. And the 2nd century AD

The satirist Lukian of Samosata wrote a symposium in which he offered a parodic reversal of Plato's concept. As with Plato, in Lukian philosophers meet for a banquet, but instead of a meeting with intellectual competition at a high level, there are wild scenes, the claim of the philosophers to virtue turns out to be hypocrisy.

The rhetorician and sophist Aelius Aristides grappled with views of Plato that he disliked. He particularly emphasized the fictional character of the Platonic dialogues in order to undermine the authority of the famous philosopher. In this context, he pointed out discrepancies that he had encountered when checking individual details of Plato on the basis of historical facts. In his search for such contradictions, he also struck gold at the symposium .

The anti-philosophical scholar Athenaios also criticized the symposium as part of his polemic against Plato . He called the dialogue empty chatter and claimed that the account of Socrates' military achievements was a lie because it did not agree with the reports of other sources. The report about the night in which Alcibiades tried to seduce Socrates could not be correct either.

The church writer Origen , who was strongly influenced by Platonism, interpreted the myth of the descent of Eros in a Christian way. According to his interpretation, Penia corresponds to the seductress of the snake in paradise and Poros to the person seduced at the fall of man.

Plotinus († 270), the founder of Neoplatonism , took up the Eros concept in his treatise On the Beautiful Diotima's concept, where he redesigned it considerably. In his work On Eros , he interpreted the myth of the origin of Eros. He interpreted the deities allegorically. He refused to equate eros with the visible world.

Plotin's pupil Porphyrios († 301/305) wrote a pamphlet on Eros in the symposium . In it he turned against the view of the rhetorician Diophanes, who had defended the behavior of the dialogue figure Alcibiades in a public speech. Diophanes had spoken about the erotic aspect of the relationship between Socrates and Alcibiades and had expressed the opinion that a philosophy student should be ready to enter into a sexual relationship with his teacher. Plotinus, who was among the audience, had taken offense and asked Porphyrios to write a reply. Plotinus was very satisfied with this reply, which Porphyry delivered to the same audience as Diophanes.

Late antiquity

In late antiquity , Neoplatonism was the dominant philosophical trend. The symposium was appreciated by the Neoplatonists , but very little is known of their commentary on the dialogue. The influential Neo-Platonist Iamblichos († around 320/325) included the symposium in the reading canon of his philosophy school and treated it in the classroom for advanced philosophy students. He found that it was about the highest level of virtue, the "contemplative" virtue. As part of his classification of the twelve dialogues that he considered to be the most important in terms of content, he assigned the symposium to the “theological” group. In the 5th century, the Neo-Platonist Proclus wrote a commentary on Diotima's remarks in the symposium .

Even outside of the Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, Plato's dialogue was received by educated people. The church father Methodios of Olympos wrote a Christian symposium that is not about eros but virginity. The aim of the Methodius was to replace Plato's writing with a Christian counterpart. In his Praeparatio evangelica, the church father Eusebios of Caesarea followed the interpretation already put forward by Origen in the 3rd century, according to which Penia, the mother of Eros, stands as the seductress for the serpent in paradise. The influential theologian Augustine († 430) took up the Platonic concept of the lover's ascent to the most worthy object of love and used it for his own purposes. In it he found a philosophical support for the value system of the Christian doctrine of love, in which love of neighbor is above erotic love for a certain person and love of God above all other forms of love. As with Plato and Plotinus, with Augustine the human urge to love aims at the perfection of the longing lover who is aware of his inadequacy. The one striving for love fulfillment reaches his goal and thus happiness when he has found the highest possible love object in God.

Visual arts

The woman who stands next to the seated Socrates on a mural from the early Roman Empire from Boscoreale is very likely Diotima. The mural, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu , was modeled on a late 4th century BC. Designed.

middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, the scholars of Western and Central Europe had no access to the text of the dialogue. In the Byzantine Empire, however, the symposium was known; a number of Byzantine manuscripts, some of which are provided with scholia , testify to the interest of educated circles in the dialogue. The philosopher Georgios Pachymeres , who was active in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, made a copy himself.

A direct reception has not yet been proven for the Arabic-speaking area, literal quotations are missing. At least parts of the content were known there, including the globular myth, which was widely used in a modified form. The work The Philosophers' Agreement on the Allegories of Love by the philosopher al-Kindī (9th century), now lost to fragments, seems to have contained a relatively detailed summary of Plato's dialogue.


The beginning of the symposium in the first edition, Venice 1513

In the West, the symposium was rediscovered in the age of Renaissance humanism . The Italian humanist and statesman Leonardo Bruni made an incomplete translation of Alcibiades' speech into Latin in 1435. He left out the homoerotic references that were offensive at the time and sent his text to Cosimo de 'Medici .

The strongly anti-Platonic humanist Georgios Trapezuntios castigated homoeroticism in Plato's works, the "Socratic vice", in his pamphlet Comparatio philosophorum Platonis et Aristotelis (comparison of the philosophers Plato and Aristotle) . At the symposium he found a point of attack in the speech of Aristophanes, whose erotic concept he interpreted as an affirmation of the satisfaction of sexual greed. The Platonist Bessarion responded to this challenge with a vehement reply, the text In calumniatorem Platonis published in 1469 (Against the slanderer of Plato) . Bessarion accused Trapezuntios, among other things, of equating the views of the various speakers in the symposium with Plato's own position. He tried to show the correspondence between the Platonic concept of love and the Christian one. This line of reasoning became groundbreaking for Renaissance Platonism.

The famous scholar Marsilio Ficino , an avid explorer of ancient Platonism, translated the symposium into Latin. He published the Latin text in Florence in 1484 in the complete edition of his Plato translations, thus making the dialogue accessible to a broader reading public. He also wrote a Latin commentary ( Commentarium in convivium Platonis de amore , usually short De amore - on love - called), which was also printed in 1484. He gave the comment the form of a dialogue: a group of scholars gather in Ficino's country house for a banquet and after the meal hears a reading of the symposium , then they put out the speeches on Eros. In commenting on Diotima's teaching, Ficino followed Plotin's interpretation. He understood Poros as a divine ray of light, Penia as darkness. He also adopted the distinction between heavenly and profane love introduced by Plato's Pausanias. The latter (amor vulgaris) he regarded as a disease. He saw aspects of the same Platonic doctrine of love in the Eros concepts of all the speeches at the symposium . Ficino also made an Italian (Tuscan) version of De amore , entitled El libro dell'amore , which he addressed to a wide lay audience. His symposium commentary was instrumental in establishing Plato's reputation as a leading theorist of love. The vernacular version became the prototype of a series of treatises known as love tracts (trattati d'amore) . The poet Girolamo Benivieni summarized the main ideas of Ficino's symposium commentary in the nine stamps of his canzone on love . The humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola wrote a commentary on Benivieni's poem in 1486. There he set out his own understanding of platonic love.

The first edition of the Greek text appeared in Venice in September 1513 by Aldo Manuzio as part of the first complete edition of Plato's works. The editor was Markos Musuros . The shape that Musuros gave the text remained authoritative for centuries.

In 1535 the Dialoghi d'amore (Dialogues on Love) by the Jewish philosopher Leo Hebraeus ( Jehuda ben Isaak Abravanel ), who was one of the most famous representatives of Renaissance Platonism, went to press . Leo not only tied in with Plato's art of dialogue in literary terms, but was also heavily influenced in terms of content by the discussions at the symposium . His writing was one of the most important defining factors in love literature of the 16th century.

In France, Queen Margaret of Navarre had Ficino's commentary translated into French. The publication of this translation in 1546 gave the reception of the ideas presented in the symposium an important impetus in French poetry. Margarete, who was a poet herself, combined Platonic and Christian elements in her understanding of love. In her epic Les prisons , she described an ascent from earthly to divine love. She assumed that Diotima's myth of the origin of Eros was familiar to her readers. Among Margarete's circle was the poet Antoine Héroet, who in his very popular poem L'Androgyne de Platon, printed in 1542, addressed the myth of the spherical man.

The philosopher Francesco Patrizi da Cherso wrote the four dialogues L'amorosa filosofia in the late 16th century . In doing so, he imitated the structure of the symposium : As with Plato, it is a report of a banquet, in which a conversation with a woman who gave instruction on love affairs was told. This educated lady, who is known as the "new Diotima" - it is the poet Tarquinia Molza who is friends with Patrizi - presented non-Platonic ideas. She traced all forms of love back to a natural instinct for self-love. In doing so, Patrizi turned against the tendency in contemporary love discourse to polarize love into good spiritual and bad sensual.

17th and 18th centuries

In England in the 17th century, the Cambridge Platonists , who represented Christian Platonism, received the symposium in the sense of Ficino's way of thinking. Henry More particularly attached importance to the teaching of eros.

The philosopher Frans Hemsterhuis (1721–1790), who considered himself a Socratics, called the educated princess Amalie von Gallitzin , with whom he corresponded intensively, “Diotima”, and when dealing with her she called “Socrates”.

Friedrich Schlegel published his treatise On Diotima in 1795 , which was received favorably in the professional world. There he wrote that Plato immortalized a woman in the symposium with a few masterful moves, whose “holy mind” represented a “picture of perfect humanity”.

Friedrich Hölderlin was very impressed by Diotima's statements in the symposium and used her name for the beloved in his love poetry. The Platonic idea that Eros can rise above the ephemeral individual, he poetically expressed in the ode The Farewell and in the elegy Menon's lamentations about Diotima . In his epistolary novel Hyperion he also brought out Plato's Eros concept. There Diotima, a Greek girl, encourages her lover Hyperion to realize that he is actually striving for something higher, for a more beautiful world that no single person can replace for him. Hölderlin's Hyperion shows features of the mythical daimon Eros described by Plato Diotima in the symposium . Like him, he is called to bring people closer to the divine as a mediator between them and the gods. In a prose text on the metric version of Hyperion , Holderlin, referring to the Eros myth of the symposium, recorded the idea that “our originally infinite being” suffered for the first time “when poverty was paired with abundance”. Love came into being and man finally became, on the day "when the beautiful world began for us, when we came to consciousness".

In 1800/1801 , Christoph Martin Wieland dealt critically with the symposium . In his epistolary novel Aristippus , a letter reports on a banquet in which five men took part in addition to the hostess Lais . The symposium was read out and then discussed in terms of its individual components. The participants in the discussion came to results that radically contradict Diotima's teaching. In particular, the redirecting of eros to the primal beautiful met with fundamental criticism, since the primal beautiful lies outside the realm of possible human experience and therefore cannot be the goal of love.

Alkibiades among the guests. Sketch by Peter Paul Rubens, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Visual arts

A sketch made around 1601 by Peter Paul Rubens shows the drunken Alcibiades among the guests in Agathon’s house. An etching by Pietro Testa (1648) and a drawing by Asmus Carstens (1793) have the same subject.

In 1775/1780 the French painter Jacques-Louis painted David Diotima, who taught Socrates. His work is now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC


The modern reception is primarily characterized by the high appreciation of the literary quality of the symposium . The systematic yield, however, is estimated to be relatively low from a technical philosophical point of view. For a wider public, the name of dialogue is primarily associated with the problematic, often misunderstood concept of platonic love .

The reception of Diotima and her love teaching

The name Diotima has been picked up again and again in modern times and used as a pseudonym , as an honorary alternative name or to name a literary figure. It traditionally stands for a wise woman who has an extraordinary, profound understanding in matters of love. This picture emerges from the impression given by the Diotima symposium . The doctrine of love that Diotima presents in dialogue, however, is subject to serious misunderstandings in modern times outside of philosophical and ancient scholarly circles. These are the result of a fundamental change in the meaning of the term platonic love . The catchphrase platonic love originally referred to Diotima's doctrine of love, but its modern meaning (lack of sexual interest) is only in a very distant connection with the ideas of the symposium .

Philosophical reception

Søren Kierkegaard published the book Stages on the Way of Life in 1845 , the first part of which, entitled In vino veritas , is about a banquet and, as a series of speeches about love, is a counterpart to Plato's symposium . Kierkegaard constructed his text almost parallel to the ancient model.

In 1864 Friedrich Nietzsche wrote the treatise On the Relation of Alcibiades' speech to the other speeches of the Platonic Symposium , a youth work in which he praised the dialogue. He believed that the speeches were designed to build on each other; Socrates "rounds the building they gradually created" into a dome. The contrast between Socrates and Alcibiades shows the demonic dual nature of Eros.

The neo-Kantian Paul Natorp introduced in 1903, the symposium the Phaidon over and came to finding the symposium which was immanence of the Platonic idea carried out in the appearance in complete purity. The immanent, world-affirming conception of the idea penetrates victoriously here. The goal, that which is beautiful in itself, can be found neither in time nor in space; The idea of ​​the beautiful, however, is accessible to scientific knowledge that progresses step by step from the sensual in methodological induction .

In 1909 Nicolai Hartmann stated that Plato was building the idea of ​​the beautiful “almost out of negations” in the symposium ; he determines it by withdrawing its determinations in order to rob it of any appearance of a thing-like existence. Nevertheless, from these negations, something is delimited with great sharpness that appears to the reader as something very specific, unmistakable. Seeing the idea in its purity and unmixedness is thought. Here it comes to pure thinking, the thinking of being, of the pure principle of being. This is where philosophy finds its goal and its resting point. There is no other access to true being than the path through negations to the constitutive element in the individual sciences. This is what guarantees all individual existence. That is the way that Plato draws in the symposium . According to Diotima's teaching, the immortal that mortal human endeavors aimed at are above all "the eternal cultural values". Plato entrusts the great moral tasks of mankind to Eros.

In his work Vom Kosmogonischen Eros , published in 1922, Ludwig Klages criticized Plato's love concept as “life-negating” and unrealistic. Contrary to Plato's view, eros has nothing to do with need and want, but shows itself as the urge to overflow and to pour out. Plato tries to divert this urge to “conceptual ghosts”, but thereby suppressing and destroying real Eros. This is an illegitimate and disastrous interference of the mind in matters of the soul.

The philosopher Simone Weil interpreted the globe-man myth in her 1951 book Intuitions pré-chrétiennes . She considered the state of duality, the separation of subject and object, to be the misfortune of humanity and said that the division of spherical people was "only a visible image for this duality state, which is our essential defect". Unity is to be striven for as “the state in which subject and object are one and the same, the state of the one who knows himself and loves himself”. This goal can be achieved through “adjustment to God”.

Leo Strauss interpreted the symposium in 1959 as a representation of a dispute about the question of whether philosophy or poetry represented the path to wisdom. It is a competition in which Socrates overcomes the poets Agathon and Aristophanes and thus shows the reader the superiority of philosophy. This is done in the field of eroticism, a traditional domain of poets. This establishes the primacy of reason over irrational factors. The symposium is the least political of Plato's dialogues; it treats "the natural", human nature, but also the basis of social and political action.

In his Fragments d'un discours amoureux (1977), Roland Barthes dealt with the relationship between love and talking about it, focusing on the role of literarily conveyed language and imagination patterns in the reality of eroticism. The symposium was one of the most important texts he consulted .

In 1984 Michel Foucault's History of Sexuality emphasized the contrast between the conventional and the platonic understanding of love. For Plato, true love is characterized by the fact that it is related to truth through the appearances of the object. In this way the love affair is structured as a relation to truth. As Foucault explains in more detail, such a love relationship differs from a conventional one in the appearance of a new person, the master. He is the one who reflects on himself as the subject of desire, who has the most knowledge in love and is therefore the master of truth and teaches the beloved about love. In the conventional game of love, an active lover woos a passive lover and wins him over; the lover is always the older of the two, the lover the more physically attractive. With Plato, on the other hand, the master of love, an experienced man, becomes an object of love for younger people who far surpass him in physical attractiveness. His power over himself is fascinating and gives him power over others.

Literary reception

The poet Shelley was fascinated by the symposium . He thought it was Plato's finest work. In the summer of 1818 he translated it into English, although for stylistic reasons he allowed himself to use the Greek text freely.

On the other hand, Friedrich Nietzsche's judgment was relatively unfavorable: Plato imitated different styles in the symposium and was not at the height of his art.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a group of homoerotic English-speaking poets called themselves "Uranians". They referred to ancient customs and linked their self-designation to the representation of the “Uranian” eroticism in Pausanias' speech at the symposium . A theorist of this movement was Edward Perry Warren, who published the novel A Tale of Pausanian Love in 1927 under the pseudonym Arthur Lyon Raile and the three-volume work A Defense of Uranian Love in 1928–1930 . In the novel Maurice by Edward Morgan Forster , written 1913–1914 and only published posthumously in 1971, Plato's dialogue also plays a role in the context of a modern homoerotic relationship. Forster had received the inspiration for the novel from the writer Edward Carpenter , who professed the ideal of an “Uranian” love.

Paul Valéry wrote the dialogue L'âme et la danse in 1921 , in which Socrates, Phaedrus and Eryximachos appear.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Plato's literary achievement has received much praise. The philosophy historian Constantin Ritter saw the symposium as “one of the finest and richest products of the literary art of Hellenic antiquity”. Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff emphasized that the symposium should not be viewed as a textbook by a philosopher; the strongest magic of Plato lies in "poetry", the literary achievement. As a “herald of the soul”, Plato could take on any tragedian. In the ladder of eroticism lies “one of the deepest expressions of Plato about his own inner life”. Werner Jaeger said that the symposium would reveal the highest perfection of Platonic art. Through the victory of Socrates in the speech contest it is, as it were, the visible embodiment of the primacy of philosophy over poetry. But philosophy could only soar to this dignity by having become poetry itself or at least by creating poetic works of the highest order in the speeches of Aristophanes and Socrates, which the essence of philosophy “immortalizes before us, regardless of any conflict of opinion Eyes led ”. The main dramatic stimulus is based on the mastery of individualizing characteristics. Hans Reynen found the symposium to be one of the greatest works of art in all of philosophical literature; seldom has the synthesis of philosophical thought and artistic creation succeeded so successfully. In 1968/69 Georg Picht stated that it was a matter of a composition in which each piece had its own tone and style, and that all of these keys were carefully coordinated with one another. The literary technique manifests itself in the play of multiple refractions and reversals of perspective. Particular advantages of the work are “the subtle study of the transitions, the play with the ambiguity of the motifs, from which new and surprising twists are always won”, as well as a “particularly profound art of graduated perspectives”. This great effort is not only made for aesthetic reasons, but is intended to provide an insight into the vast range of stages that one has to go through on the path of knowledge. Numerous other scholars also pointed out the extremely artistic structure.


Sigmund Freud , in his treatise Beyond the Pleasure Principle , published in 1920, cited the myth of the spherical person as evidence that his theory of the conservative nature of instincts had a forerunner in antiquity. The presentation of Aristophanes in the symposium is indeed a “hypothesis” of a “fantastic kind”, but agrees in the basic idea with the assumption of the regressive character of the instincts: “Namely, it derives an instinct from the need to restore an earlier state.” Furthermore Freud stated in 1925 that what is called sexuality in psychoanalysis is in no way congruent with the urge to unite the divorced sexes or to generate sensation of pleasure in the genitals, but rather with the "all-encompassing and all-preserving eros of the symposium of Platos" .

The erotic ascent described in the symposium has been compared on various occasions with sublimation in the sense of Freud's psychoanalysis and interpreted as a process of sublimation, since it leads away from sexual fulfillment. But there are fundamental differences: With sublimation, the libido is suppressed. It is initially blocked as sexual desire and then redirected to other objects, the substitute objects being less attractive to the subject than the original goal of the libido. Even after sublimation, the pursuit of its nature remains sexual. For Plato's Diotima, on the other hand, ascension never implies a blockage of the erotic impulse, and the forms of eroticism that take the place of sexual satisfaction are more attractive than these. The platonic ascent is a consciously executed sequence of steps, the sublimation an unconscious process.

Jacques Lacan dealt intensively with Plato's dialogue. He was particularly concerned with the relationship between Socrates and Alcibiades, which he considered from the psychoanalytic point of view of the transfer of affects from one object to another. He asked about the goal of Alcibiades' desire. He had transferred his erotic desire, which was actually aimed at Agathon, to Socrates and hoped for a countertransference , which Socrates refused. Socrates found himself in a position corresponding to that of the psychoanalyst. In his treatise The Four Basic Concepts of Psychoanalysis (1964), Lacan stated that the transference was articulated in the symposium “in the most perfect and strictest form”. There Plato went further than anywhere else in an attempt to show the reader the comedy quality of his dialogues. In this way he indicated the point of transmission in the most precise way possible. From this point of view, Lacan had already dealt in detail with the symposium in his "eighth seminar", a lecture given in Paris in 1960/1961 that was dedicated to the phenomenon of transmission . He also investigated the deficiency described in the Globular Man myth and man's illusory search for his lost half.


Conrad Ferdinand Meyer wrote the poem The End of the Festival about the appearance of Alcibiades and the outcome of the banquet.

In Robert Musil's novel The Man Without Qualities , the hostess of a salon receives the name Diotima from an admirer. Musil ties in with the ancient tradition with ironic intent: he opposes a romantic exaggeration of trivial relationships.

Plato's feast . Painting by Anselm Feuerbach (1873), Alte Nationalgalerie , Berlin


Anselm Feuerbach painted twice - in 1869 and 1873 - the scene in which Agathon greets Alkibiades, who arrived late. The figures are shown in life size. Feuerbach did not adhere to the seating arrangement of the dialogue, but assigned lovers and lovers to one another.

The Swiss painter and graphic artist Hans Erni created a series of drawings depicting motifs from the symposium , including the conversation between Socrates and Diotima.


Erik Satie composed the "symphonic drama" Socrate for orchestra and voice from 1917 to 1918. The text for the first of the three parts of the piece is taken from the French translation of the symposium by Victor Cousin .

Leonard Bernstein composed a serenade for solo violin, string orchestra, harp and percussion "after Plato's Symposion" (catalog raisonné number 255), which was premiered in 1954 in Venice under his direction. Formally, it followed the Platonic model; the five sentences are headed with the names of the individual speakers and trace their appearances, whereby the first two and the last two speeches are each presented in one sentence.

In the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch , which premiered in New York in 1998 and was filmed in 2001 , the song The Origin of Love offers an alienated version of Aristophanes' interpretation of Eros in the symposium .

Editions and translations

Editions with translation

  • Franz Boll , Wolfgang Buchwald (ed.): Plato: Symposion . 8th, updated edition, Artemis, Munich / Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-7608-1576-6 (Greek text with a very limited critical apparatus; translation by Boll and Buchwald)
  • Annemarie Capelle (ed.): Plato: Das Gastmahl . 2nd edition, Meiner, Hamburg 1973 (reprint of the 2nd edition published in 1960 with additions to the literature review; Greek text based on the edition by John Burnet , 1901, without the critical apparatus; translation by Otto Apelt , 1928, edited)
  • Gunther Eigler (Ed.): Plato: Works in eight volumes . Volume 3, 5th edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-19095-5 , pp. 209–393 (edited by Dietrich Kurz; reprint of the critical edition by Léon Robin, 8th edition, Paris 1966; German translation by Friedrich Schleiermacher )
  • Thomas Paulsen , Rudolf Rehn (ed.): Plato: Symposion . Reclam, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 978-3-15-018435-6 (Greek text based on the edition by John Burnet, 1901, without the critical apparatus, edited; translation by Paulsen and Rehn)
  • Léon Robin , Paul Vicaire (eds.): Plato: Œuvres complètes . Volume 4, Part 2: Le Banquet . Les Belles Lettres, Paris 1989, ISBN 2-251-00216-2 (introduction by Robin, critical edition with French translation by Vicaire)
  • Rudolf Rufener (translator): Plato: Symposion . Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf / Zürich 2002, ISBN 3-7608-1730-0 (uncritical edition of the Greek text with Rufener's translation; introduction by Wolfgang Buchwald, not - as incorrectly stated on the title page - by Thomas A. Szlezák)
  • Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): Plato: Symposion . 2nd, revised edition, Meiner, Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-7873-2404-0 (Greek text based on the edition by John Burnet without the critical apparatus, translation and introduction of ten pfennigs)


  • Rudolf Kassner : Plato's banquet . Eugen Diederichs, Leipzig 1903
  • Otto Apelt: Plato: Banquet . In: Otto Apelt (Ed.): Plato: All dialogues . Volume 3, Meiner, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-7873-1156-4 (with introduction and explanations; reprint of the Leipzig 1926 edition)
  • Kurt Hildebrandt : Plato: The Banquet or From Love . Reclam, Stuttgart 1979, ISBN 3-15-000927-8
  • Arthur Hübscher : Plato: The Banquet or Of Love . 2nd edition, Piper, Munich / Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-492-10672-2
  • Renate Johne : Plato: The Banquet or About Love . Dieterich, Leipzig 1979
  • Rudolf Rufener: Plato: Meisterdialoge (= anniversary edition of all works , volume 3). Artemis, Zurich / Munich 1974, ISBN 3-7608-3640-2 , pp. 105–181 (with introduction by Olof Gigon pp. XXXV – LX)
  • Albert von Schirnding : Plato: Symposium. A drinking binge. Beck, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-63864-0
  • Ute Schmidt-Berger: Plato: The drinking bout or about eros . Insel, Frankfurt / Leipzig 2004, ISBN 3-458-34741-0
  • Bruno Snell : Plato: The banquet . 3rd edition, Marion von Schröder Verlag, Hamburg 1949
  • Franz Susemihl : The banquet . In: Erich Loewenthal (ed.): Plato: Complete works in three volumes . Volume 1, unchanged reprint of the 8th, revised edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 3-534-17918-8 , pp. 657–727


Overview presentations and introductions

Investigations and Comments

  • Daniel E. Anderson: The Masks of Dionysus. A Commentary on Plato's Symposium . State University of New York Press, Albany 1993, ISBN 0-7914-1316-0 .
  • Kevin Corrigan, Elena Glazov-Corrigan: Plato's Dialectic at Play. Argument, Structure, and Myth in the Symposium . Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park 2004, ISBN 0-271-02462-3 .
  • Richard Hunter : Plato's Symposium . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-516080-0 .
  • Gerhard Krüger : insight and passion. The essence of platonic thinking . 6th edition. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 978-3-465-02570-2
  • Giovanni Reale: Eros, dèmone mediatore e il gioco delle maschere nel Simposio di Platone . Tascabili Bompiani, Milano 2005, ISBN 88-452-3471-1 (illustration from the perspective of the "Tübingen and Milan School")
  • James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence. Plato's Erotic Dialogues . University of Missouri Press, Columbia / London 2003, ISBN 0-8262-1459-2 , pp. 182-410
  • Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium . 2nd edition, Yale University Press, New Haven 1987, ISBN 0-300-03762-7 .
  • Gary Alan Scott, William A. Welton: Erotic Wisdom. Philosophy and Intermediacy in Plato's Symposium . State University of New York Press, Albany 2008, ISBN 978-0-7914-7583-6 .
  • Frisbee CC Sheffield: Plato's Symposium: The Ethics of Desire . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2006, ISBN 0-19-928677-9 .
  • Kurt Sier : The speech of Diotima. Investigations on the Platonic Symposium . Teubner, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-519-07635-7 .

Collections of articles

  • Pierre Destrée, Zina Giannopoulou (Ed.): Plato's Symposium. A critical guide. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2017, ISBN 978-1-107-11005-2
  • Aleš Havlíček, Martin Cajthaml (eds.): Plato's Symposium. Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium Platonicum Pragense . Oikoumene, Prague 2007, ISBN 978-80-7298-293-6 .
  • Christoph Horn (Ed.): Plato: Symposion . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-05-004345-6 .
  • James H. Lesher et al. (Ed.): Plato's Symposium. Issues in Interpretation and Reception . Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2006, ISBN 0-674-02375-7 .


  • Thomas L. Cooksey: Plato's Symposium. A reader's guide . Continuum, London / New York 2010, ISBN 978-0-8264-4417-2 , pp. 133-155
  • Sabrina Ebbersmeyer: Sensuality and reason. Studies on the reception and transformation of Plato's love theory in the Renaissance. Wilhelm Fink, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-7705-3604-5 .
  • Vanessa Kayling: The Reception and Modification of the Platonic Concept of Eros in French Literature of the 16th and 17th Centuries with Special Consideration of the Ancient and Italian Tradition. Romanistischer Verlag, Bonn 2010, ISBN 978-3-86143-190-9
  • Stefan Matuschek (ed.): Where the philosophical conversation turns completely into poetry. Plato's Symposium and its impact in the Renaissance, Romantic and Modern periods . Winter, Heidelberg 2002, ISBN 3-8253-1279-8 .
  • Jochen Schmidt : History of impact. In: Ute Schmidt-Berger (Ed.): Plato: Das Trinkgelage or About Eros. Insel, Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 2004, ISBN 3-458-34741-0 , pp. 160-187.
  • Achim Wurm: Platonicus amor. Readings of love in Plato, Plotinus and Ficino . De Gruyter, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-11-020425-4 .

Web links


  1. ^ Daniel Babut : Peinture et dépassement de la réalité dans le Banquet de Platon . In: Revue des études anciennes 82, 1980, pp. 5–29, here: 5–19.
  2. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 194. For possible reasons for the choice of this form of representation see Hans Reynen: The mediated report in the Platonic Symposium . In: Gymnasium 74, 1967, pp. 405-422; Thomas Schmitz : The conveyed report in Plato's 'Symposion' . In: Würzburger Yearbooks for Classical Studies 20, 1994/1995, pp. 115–128.
  3. Martha C. Nussbaum: The fragility of goodness , Cambridge 1986, pp. 168-171; James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 190-194.
  4. See the competitive character of David Sider: Plato's Symposium as Dionysian Festival . In: Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 33 (= Nuova Series 4), 1980, pp. 41–56, here: 41–43.
  5. Thomas Schirren : Apollodoros manikos - a text-critical problem in Plato's 'Symposium' 173d8 and its consequences . In: Göttingen Forum for Classical Studies 2, 1999, pp. 217–236 ( PDF ); Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, p. 39 f .; Harry Neumann: On the Madness of Plato's Apollodorus . In: Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 96, 1965, pp. 283-289.
  6. ^ Plato, Symposium 173b. See Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, p. 52 f.
  7. Russell Meiggs, David Lewis (eds.): A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions to the End of the Fifth Century BC , 2nd Edition, Oxford 1988, pp. 244, 246. For background, see Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 17-20; Martin Ostwald : From Popular Sovereignty to the Sovereignty of Law , Berkeley 1986, pp. 537-550.
  8. See on the historical Phaedrus Luc Brisson : Phèdre de Myrrhinonte . In: Richard Goulet (Ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 5, Part 1, Paris 2012, pp. 286 f .; Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 232-234.
  9. See the dialogue figure Phaedrus Luc Brisson: Phèdre de Myrrhinonte . In: Richard Goulet (Ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 5, Part 1, Paris 2012, pp. 286 f .; Daniel E. Anderson: The Masks of Dionysus , Albany 1993, pp. 21-26; Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium , 2nd Edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 39-59.
  10. Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, p. 222; Richard Goulet: Pausanias de Céramées . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 5, Part 1, Paris 2012, pp. 191–193; Daniel E. Anderson: The Masks of Dionysos , Albany 1993, pp. 26-30.
  11. Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 143 f .; Daniel E. Anderson: The Masks of Dionysos , Albany 1993, pp. 34-39.
  12. James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 242-264; William KC Guthrie : A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 3, Cambridge 1969, pp. 374 f.
  13. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 195; Debra Nails: The People of Plato , Indianapolis 2002, pp. 8-10; Peter Rau: Paratragodia , Munich 1967, pp. 98-114; Daniel E. Anderson: The Masks of Dionysus , Albany 1993, pp. 46-50; Peter H. von Blanckenhagen : Stage and Actors in Plato's Symposium . In: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 33, 1992, pp. 51-68, here: 59-63. Pierre Lévêque: Agathon , Paris 1955, examines the life and works of the historical poet Agathon in depth .
  14. Plato, Symposium 177d-e.
  15. ^ Plato, Symposium 201d.
  16. Luc Brisson: Diotima . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 2, Paris 1994, pp. 883 f., Here: 884.
  17. Luc Brisson (ed.): Platon: Le Banquet , 2nd edition, Paris 2001, p. 29 f .; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 196; David M. Halperin : Why Is Diotima a Woman? In: David M. Halperin: One Hundred Years of Homosexuality , New York 1990, pp. 113–151, here: 119–124; Kurt Sier: The speech of Diotima , Stuttgart 1997, p. 8.
  18. See Stanley Rosen on the role of Alkibiades: Plato's Symposium , 2nd edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 280–283, 290 f.
  19. ^ Plato, Symposium 172a-174a.
  20. ^ Plato, Symposium 174a – 175e. Cf. Thomas D. Worthen: Sokrates and Aristodemos, the αὐτόματοι ἀγαθοί of the Symposium . In: New England Classical Journal Vol. 26 No. 3, 1999, pp. 15-21.
  21. ^ Plato, Symposium 176a-178a.
  22. Plato, Symposium 178a-180b. See Georg Picht: Plato's dialogues “Nomoi” and “Symposion” , Stuttgart 1990, pp. 500–506; James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 207-216; Robert Nola: On Some Neglected Minor Speakers in Plato's Symposium: Phaedrus and Pausanias . In: Prudentia 22, 1990, pp. 54-73, here: 54-66; Christian Pietsch : The speech of Phaedrus (178a6–180b8) . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , Berlin 2012, pp. 35–52.
  23. Plato, Symposium 180c-e. See James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 216-218.
  24. Plato, Symposium 180e-185c. Cf. Georg Picht: Plato's dialogues “Nomoi” and “Symposion” , Stuttgart 1990, pp. 506–515; James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 218-226; Kenneth James Dover: Eros and Nomos . In: Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 11, 1964, pp. 31-42; Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium , 2nd Edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 69-89; Kurt Sier: The speech of Pausanias (180c1–185c3) . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , Berlin 2012, pp. 53–69.
  25. Plato, Symposium 185c-188e. Cf. Georg Picht: Plato's dialogues “Nomoi” and “Symposion” , Stuttgart 1990, pp. 515–539; James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 226-242; Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium , 2nd Edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 90-119, 333-335; Werner Jaeger: Paideia , Berlin 1989, pp. 769-771.
  26. ^ Plato, Symposium 189a – d.
  27. On the spherical shape, which has been disputed by some researchers who assume a cylindrical shape, see Bernd Manuwald : Die Rede des Aristophanes (189a1–193e2) . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , Berlin 2012, pp. 89–104, here: p. 92 Note 11. See James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, p. 266 f.
  28. Plato, Symposium 189d-190b. See Bernd Manuwald: The Speech of Aristophanes (189a1–193e2) . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , Berlin 2012, pp. 89–104, here: 92–95.
  29. Plato, Symposium 190b-191a. See James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 267-270.
  30. ^ Plato, Symposium 191a – d. See James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 270 f.
  31. Plato, Symposium 191d-192b. Cf. Mário Jorge de Carvalho: The Aristophanesrede in Plato's Symposium , Würzburg 2009, pp. 295–297.
  32. See on this Paul W. Ludwig: Eros and Polis. Desire and Community in Greek Political Theory , Cambridge 2002, pp. 27-35, 48-57; James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 274-276.
  33. Plato, Symposium 191d-192b. See Mário Jorge de Carvalho: The Aristophanesrede in Plato's Symposium , Würzburg 2009, pp. 296-302.
  34. Plato, Symposium 192b-193e.
  35. Plato, Symposium 192b-e.
  36. Plato, Symposium 194e-197e. See Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium , 2nd Edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 169-196; Werner Jaeger: Paideia , Berlin 1989, p. 773 f .; James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 280-294; John L. Penwill: Men in Love: Aspects of Plato's Symposium . In: Ramus 7, 1978, pp. 143-175, here: 151-155; Suzanne Stern-Gillet: Poets and Other Makers: Agathon's Speech in Context . In: Dionysius 26, 2008, pp. 9-27, here: 9-17.
  37. Plato, Symposium 198a-201c. See Hartmut Buchner: Eros und Sein , Bonn 1965, pp. 23–45; James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 294-298, 306-313; Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium , 2nd Edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 202-221; Michael C. Stokes: Plato's Socratic Conversations , Baltimore 1986, pp. 114-146; Jörn Müller : The contest for wisdom between poetry and philosophy: Agathon's speech and its examination by Socrates (193e – 201c). In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , Berlin 2012, pp. 105–123, here: 111–119.
  38. ^ Plato, Symposium 201d – e.
  39. Plato, Symposium 201e-203a. See Hartmut Buchner: Eros und Sein , Bonn 1965, pp. 69–80; Catherine Osborne: Eros Unveiled , Oxford 1994, pp. 103-111.
  40. On the nature of Penia and Poros see Steffen Graefe: The split Eros - Plato's drive to "wisdom" , Frankfurt am Main 1989, pp. 123-170.
  41. Plato, Symposium 203a-204c. See Hartmut Buchner: Eros und Sein , Bonn 1965, pp. 81–95.
  42. Plato, Symposium 204c-206e. Cf. Hartmut Buchner: Eros und Sein , Bonn 1965, pp. 98–125; Jürgen Wippern: Eros and immortality in the Diotima speech of the symposium . In: Hellmut Flashar, Konrad Gaiser (ed.): Synusia , Pfullingen 1965, pp. 123–159, here: 129–132.
  43. Plato, Symposium 206e-209e. See Stefan Büttner: The theory of literature in Plato and its anthropological justification , Tübingen 2000, pp. 215–222; Hartmut Buchner: Eros and Being , Bonn 1965, pp. 126-133, Jürgen Wippern: Eros and immortality in the Diotima speech of the symposium . In: Hellmut Flashar, Konrad Gaiser (ed.): Synusia , Pfullingen 1965, pp. 123–159, here: 132–139.
  44. Plato, Symposium 209e-212a. See Hartmut Buchner: Eros und Sein , Bonn 1965, pp. 133–161; Jürgen Wippern: Eros and immortality in the Diotima speech of the symposium . In: Hellmut Flashar, Konrad Gaiser (ed.): Synusia , Pfullingen 1965, pp. 123–159, here: 139–142.
  45. Plato, Symposium 212b-c.
  46. Plato, Symposium 212c-215a.
  47. ^ Plato, Symposium 215a-217a. See Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium , 2nd Edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 294-301.
  48. Plato, Symposium 216c-219E. See Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium , 2nd Edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 301-308.
  49. Plato, Symposium 219E-222a. See Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium , 2nd Edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 309-320.
  50. Plato, Symposium 222c-223d. See Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium , 2nd Edition, New Haven 1987, pp. 321-327.
  51. Frisbee Sheffield: Plato's Symposium , Oxford 2006, pp. 30-39, 207-224; Frisbee Sheffield: The Role of the Earlier Speeches in the Symposium: Plato's Endoxic Method? In: James H. Lesher et al. (Ed.): Plato's Symposium. Issues in Interpretation and Reception , Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2006, pp. 23-46; Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , 2nd, reviewed edition, Hamburg 2012, pp. XXII – XXIX; Wolfgang Detel : Eros and Knowledge in Plato's Symposium . In: Gregor Schiemann u. a. (Ed.): Platon im nachmetaphysischen Zeitalter , Darmstadt 2006, pp. 137–153, here: 140–145; Kenneth Dorter: A Dual Dialectic in the Symposium . In: Philosophy and Rhetoric 25, 1992, pp. 253-270; Steffen Graefe: The split eros - Plato's drive to “wisdom” , Frankfurt am Main 1989, pp. 105–110; Kurt Sier: The philosophical aspect of the symposium or: What is the function of the “pre-Socratic” speeches? In: Aleš Havlíček, Martin Cajthaml (eds.): Plato's Symposium. Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium Platonicum Pragense , Prague 2007, pp. 23-40.
  52. ^ Richard Foley: The Order Question: Climbing the Ladder of Love in Plato's Symposium . In: Ancient Philosophy 30, 2010, pp. 57–72.
  53. ^ William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, pp. 381 f.
  54. ^ Richard Hunter: Plato's Symposium , Oxford 2004, pp. 43-53. See Werner Jaeger: Paideia , Berlin 1989, pp. 767-769.
  55. Christopher Rowe: The Speech of Eryximachus in Plato's Symposium . In: John J. Cleary (Ed.): Traditions of Platonism , Aldershot 1999, pp. 53-64; David Konstan , Elisabeth Young-Bruehl : Eryximachus' Speech in the Symposium . In: Apeiron 16, 1982, pp. 40-46; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, pp. 382 f .; Simon Weber: All of Eros? The speech of Eryximachus (185c1–188e4) . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , Berlin 2012, pp. 71–87.
  56. Richard Hunter: Plato's Symposium , Oxford 2004, pp. 53-59. See Susan B. Levin: Eryximachus' Tale: The Symposium's Role in Plato's Critique of Medicine . In: Apeiron 42, 2009, pp. 275-308.
  57. ^ Paul O'Mahoney: On the "Hiccuping Episode" in Plato's Symposium . In: Classical World 104, 2011, pp. 143-159; Steven Lowenstam: Aristophanes' Hiccups . In: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 27, 1986, pp. 43-56; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, p. 382 and note 2.
  58. On the contrast between Aristophanes' and Plato's concept, see Richard Hunter: Plato's Symposium , Oxford 2004, pp. 69–71; Paul W. Ludwig: Eros and Polis. Desire and Community in Greek Political Theory , Cambridge 2002, pp. 37-39; Bernd Manuwald: The speech of Aristophanes (189a1–193e2) . In: Christoph Horn (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , Berlin 2012, pp. 89–104, here: 102 f.
  59. ^ Paul W. Ludwig: Eros and Polis. Desire and Community in Greek Political Theory , Cambridge 2002, pp. 76-79.
  60. ^ Marie Delcourt , Karl Hoheisel : Hermaphrodit . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 14, Stuttgart 1988, Sp. 649–682, here: 653 f., 662.
  61. Kenneth James Dover: Aristophanes' Speech in Plato's Symposium . In: The Journal of Hellenic Studies 86, 1966, pp. 41–50, here: 42–47.
  62. Empedocles, fragment DK 31 B 61.
  63. Denis O'Brien: Aristophanes' Speech in Plato's Symposium: the Empedoclean Background and its Philosophical Significance . In: Aleš Havlíček, Martin Cajthaml (eds.): Plato's Symposium. Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium Platonicum Pragense , Prague 2007, pp. 59–85 (cf. however Bernd Manuwald: Die Rede des Aristophanes (189a1–193e2) . In: Christoph Horn (ed.): Platon: Symposion , Berlin 2012, Pp. 89-104, here: p. 100, note 33); Paul W. Ludwig: Eros and Polis. Desire and Community in Greek Political Theory , Cambridge 2002, p. 72 f .; Mário Jorge de Carvalho: The Aristophanesrede in Plato's Symposium , Würzburg 2009, pp. 523–531 (and extensive bibliographical information on the subject, pp. 72–74, note 41).
  64. ^ Hermann Baumann : The double sex , Berlin 1986 (reprint of the Berlin 1955 edition), pp. 134, 176–182, 360–363; Marie Delcourt, Karl Hoheisel: Hermaphrodit . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 14, Stuttgart 1988, Sp. 649–682, here: 650–652; Wendy Doniger , Mircea Eliade : Androgynous . In: Lindsay Jones (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Religion , 2nd Edition, Vol. 1, Detroit 2005, pp. 337–342, here: 338.
  65. Mário Jorge de Carvalho: The Aristophanesrede in Plato's Symposium , Würzburg 2009, p. 61 and note 31.
  66. See also Luc Brisson (ed.): Platon: Le Banquet , 2nd edition, Paris 2001, p. 30 f .; Eva-Maria Engelen : On the concept of love in Plato's symposium, or: Why is Diotima a woman? In: Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch für Antike und Mittelalter 6, 2001, pp. 1–20 (with discussion of the older hypotheses); David M. Halperin: Why Is Diotima a Woman? In: David M. Halperin: One Hundred Years of Homosexuality , New York 1990, pp. 113–151, here: 118 f .; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 196; Kurt Sier: Die Rede der Diotima , Stuttgart 1997, p. 10 f .; Enrique A. Ramos Jurado: Eros demónico y mujer demónica, Diotima de Mantinea . In: Habis 30, 1998, pp. 79-86.
  67. Claudia Piras: Forgotten is the end of knowledge. Eros, Myth and Memory in Plato's Symposium , Frankfurt am Main 1997, p. 94 f.
  68. David M. Halperin: Why Is Diotima a Woman? In: David M. Halperin: One Hundred Years of Homosexuality , New York 1990, pp. 113-151, here: 114-116.
  69. David M. Halperin: Why Is Diotima a Woman? In: David M. Halperin: One Hundred Years of Homosexuality , New York 1990, pp. 113–151, here: 117.
  70. Michael J. O'Brien: "Becoming Immortal" in Plato's Symposium . In: Douglas E. Gerber (Ed.): Greek Poetry and Philosophy , Chico 1984, pp. 185–205, here: 185 f .; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, pp. 387 f.
  71. Michael J. O'Brien: "Becoming Immortal" in Plato's Symposium . In: Douglas E. Gerber (Ed.): Greek Poetry and Philosophy , Chico 1984, pp. 185–205, here: 186.
  72. Michael J. O'Brien: "Becoming Immortal" in Plato's Symposium . In: Douglas E. Gerber (Ed.): Greek Poetry and Philosophy , Chico 1984, pp. 185-205; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, pp. 388-390; Kurt Sier: Die Rede der Diotima , Stuttgart 1997, pp. 185–197; Anthony W. Price: Love and Friendship in Plato and Aristotle , Oxford 1989, pp. 21-25, 30-35.
  73. Steffen Graefe: The split Eros - Plato's drive to “wisdom” , Frankfurt am Main 1989, pp. 110–119; Barbara Zehnpfennig (Ed.): Platon: Symposion , Hamburg 2000, p. XVI and note 13; Stefan Büttner: The theory of literature in Plato and its anthropological justification , Tübingen 2000, p. 215 f. Note 1; Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 197. See also Walther Kranz : Diotima von Mantineia . In: Walther Kranz: Studies on ancient literature and its continued work , Heidelberg 1967, pp. 330–337, here: 331 f.
  74. ^ Christos Evangeliou: Eros and Immortality in the Symposium of Plato . In: Diotima 13, 1985, pp. 200-211.
  75. Plato, Symposium 210e.
  76. Kurt Sier: Die Rede der Diotima , Stuttgart 1997, pp. 169–172, 184, 269–272; William S. Cobb (translator): The Symposium and The Phaedrus , Albany 1993, pp. 77-81; Sabine MM Scharnagl: Plato and the Mysteries. Mystery Terminology and Imagery in the Symposium, the Phaedo and the Phaedrus , Dissertation Cambridge 1994, pp. 39-97; Christoph Riedweg : Mystery terminology in Plato, Philon and Klemens von Alexandrien , Berlin 1987, pp. 1–29; Thomas A. Szlezák : The twofold image of the dialectician in the symposium . In: Aleš Havlíček, Martin Cajthaml (eds.): Plato's Symposium. Proceedings of the Fifth Symposium Platonicum Pragense , Prague 2007, pp. 258-279; Manuel Schölles: The mysteries of the beautiful . In: Dietmar Koch et al. (Ed.): Platon und das Götigte, Tübingen 2010, pp. 174–192.
  77. ^ Andrew Payne: The Teleology of the Ascent in Plato's Symposium . In: Apeiron 41, 2008, pp. 123-145.
  78. See Maria Schwartz: Der philosophische bios in Platon , Freiburg 2013, pp. 280–299.
  79. ^ Gregory Vlastos: The Individual as an Object of Love in Plato . In: Gregory Vlastos: Platonic Studies , 2nd edition, Princeton 1981, pp. 3-42, 424 f. (Reprint of Princeton 1973 edition with corrections).
  80. Agreement with the egocentrism hypothesis expressed ia Willem J. Verdenius: The concept of mania in Plato's Phaedrus . In: Archive for the history of philosophy 44, 1962, pp. 132–150, here: 139–143; Gerasimos Santas : Plato and Freud. Two Theories of Love , Oxford 1988, pp. 31 f., 42, 52; Louis A. Kosman: Platonic love . In: William Henry Werkmeister (ed.): Facets of Plato's Philosophy , Assen 1976, pp. 53-69.
  81. ^ In this sense, Arthur Hilary Armstrong, among others, expressed himself: Plotinian and Christian Studies , London 1979, essays IX and X; Donald Levy: The Definition of Love in Plato's Symposium . In: Journal of the History of Ideas 40, 1979, pp. 285-291; Catherine Osborne: Eros Unveiled. Plato and the God of Love , Oxford 1994, pp. 54-61, 222-226; Anthony W. Price: Love and Friendship in Plato and Aristotle , Oxford 1989, pp. 45-54, 97-102; C. David C. Reeve: Plato on Eros and Friendship . In: Hugh H. Benson (ed.): A Companion to Plato , Malden 2006, pp. 294–307, here: 300–302; Frisbee Sheffield: Plato's Symposium: The Ethics of Desire , Oxford 2006, pp. 154-182; Alexander Nehamas : Beauty of Body, Nobility of Soul: The Pursuit of Love in Plato's Symposium . In: Dominic Scott (ed.): Maieusis , Oxford 2007, pp. 97–135, here: 108–117; David C. Schindler: Plato and the Problem of Love: On the Nature of Eros in the Symposium . In: Apeiron 40, 2007, pp. 199-220.
  82. This view is represented, among others, by John M. Rist: Eros and Psyche , Toronto 1964, pp. 33-40 and Timothy A. Mahoney: Is Socratic eros in the Symposium Egoistic? In: Apeiron 29, 1996, pp. 1-18. Mahoney provides an overview of the older literature on pp. 1-3 and note 4-6.
  83. ^ Martha C. Nussbaum: The fragility of goodness , Cambridge 1986, pp. 176-199.
  84. ^ Margot Fleischer: Hermeneutische Anthropologie , Berlin 1976, p. 19.
  85. ^ Frisbee Sheffield: Plato's Symposium , Oxford 2006, pp. 183-206; Elizabeth Belfiore: Poets at the Symposium . In: Pierre Destrée, Fritz-Gregor Herrmann (ed.): Plato and the Poets , Leiden 2011, pp. 155–174, here: 167–169; James M. Rhodes: Eros, Wisdom, and Silence , Columbia 2003, pp. 367-369.
  86. Werner Jaeger: Paideia , Berlin 1989, p. 784 f.
  87. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 198 f .; Giovanni Reale: Everything that is deep loves the mask . In: Thomas Alexander Szlezák (Ed.): Platonisches Philosophieren , Hildesheim 2001, pp. 87–108, here: 106 f .; Olof Gigon: Introduction . In: Platon: Meisterdialoge (= anniversary edition of all works , vol. 3), Zurich / Munich 1974, pp. V – LXXXVI, here: XL f .; Luigi M. Segoloni: Socrate a banchetto , Rome 1994, pp. 197-220.
  88. ^ Plato, Symposium 193a.
  89. Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, pp. 24 f., 193 f .; William KC Guthrie: A History of Greek Philosophy , Vol. 4, Cambridge 1975, p. 365 and note 3. See Harold B. Mattingly : The Date of Plato's Symposium . In: Phronesis 3, 1958, pp. 31-39; Kenneth James Dover: The Date of Plato's Symposium . In: Phronesis 10, 1965, pp. 2-20; Rossana Arcioni (Ed.): Platone: Il Simposio , Rome 2003, p. 10 f.
  90. ^ Corpus dei Papiri Filosofici Greci e Latini (CPF) , Part 1, Vol. 1 ***, Firenze 1999, pp. 376-465.
  91. ^ Christian Brockmann : The handwritten tradition of Platon's Symposion , Wiesbaden 1992, p. 1 (directory p. 17–36).
  92. Oxford, Bodleian Library , Clarke 39 (= "Codex B" of the Plato textual tradition).
  93. ^ See, for example, Robin Waterfield (translator): Plato: Symposium , Oxford 1994, p. XI.
  94. ^ Irmgard Männlein-Robert : Longin. Philologist and philosopher , Munich 2001, pp. 260–268; Richard Hunter: Plato's Symposium , Oxford 2004, p. 126 f .; Joel C. Relihan: Rethinking the History of the Literary Symposium . In: Illinois Classical Studies 17, 1992, pp. 213-244, here: 214-218, 222 f.
  95. See Bernhard Huss : Xenophons Symposion. A commentary , Stuttgart 1999, pp. 13-18, 449-453.
  96. Aristotle, Politics 1262b.
  97. Aristotle, De anima 415a – b. See Kurt Sier: Die Rede der Diotima , Stuttgart 1997, p. 127 f.
  98. Kurt Sier: Die Rede der Diotima , Stuttgart 1997, pp. 115–117.
  99. Diogenes Laertios 4.49.
  100. ^ See on relevant statements from the Epicurean side Hermann Diels : Philodemos over the gods. Third book. II: Explanation of the text , Berlin 1917, pp. 79–83.
  101. Diogenes Laertios 3.57 f.
  102. Philon, On Life Contemplating 57–63; Text and translation by Heinrich Dörrie , Matthias Baltes : Der Platonismus in der Antike , Vol. 2, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1990, pp. 40–45 (commentary on pp. 279–281).
  103. Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride 57.
  104. ^ John M. Rist: Plutarch's Amatorius: A Commentary on Plato's Theories of Love? In: The Classical Quarterly 51, 2001, pp. 557-575, here: 558; Richard Hunter: Plato and the traditions of ancient literature , Cambridge 2012, pp. 191-203; Geert Roskam: Plutarch's 'Socratic Symposia' . In: Athenaeum 98, 2010, pp. 45-70.
  105. Gellius, Noctes Atticae 1, 9, 8-11. See Marie-Luise Lakmann: The Platonist Tauros in the depiction of Aulus Gellius , Leiden 1995, p. 24 f.
  106. Gellius, Noctes Atticae 17:20. See Marie-Luise Lakmann: The Platonist Tauros in the depiction of Aulus Gellius , Leiden 1995, pp. 165–178.
  107. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in antike , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 42 f., 199 f.
  108. ^ Robert Bracht Branham: Unruly Eloquence , Cambridge (Massachusetts) 1989, pp. 108-113, 120-123.
  109. See Jaap-Jan Flinterman: '… largely fictions…': Aelius Aristides on Plato's dialogues . In: Ancient Narrative 1, 2000/2001, pp. 32–54, here: 42 f.
  110. Athenaios 5,215c-217c.
  111. Athenaios 5,219b.
  112. Origen, Against Celsus 4,39.
  113. Kurt Sier: Die Rede der Diotima , Stuttgart 1997, p. 57 f .; Teresa Chevrolet: L'Eros de Diotime comme mythe intertextuel: lectures néo-platoniciennes d'un passage du Banquet . In: Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance 51, 1989, pp. 311-330, here: 313 f., 317, 322 f.
  114. Porphyrios, Vita Plotini 15. Cf. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Der Platonismus in der Antike , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 200 Note 1.
  115. Prolegomena to the Philosophy of Plato 26, ed. von Leendert G. Westerink : Prolégomènes à la philosophie de Platon , Paris 1990, p. 39 f.
  116. ^ Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in antiquity , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 200.
  117. See also Katharina Bracht: Perfection and Perfection. On the anthropology of Methodius von Olympus , Tübingen 1999, pp. 174–206.
  118. Eusebios of Caesarea, Praeparatio evangelica 12.11.
  119. ^ Karl Schefold : The portraits of ancient poets, speakers and thinkers , Basel 1997, p. 178 f. (with picture).
  120. Christian Brockmann: The handwritten tradition of Plato's Symposion , Wiesbaden 1992, pp. 40–42.
  121. Dimitri Gutas : Plato's Symposion in the Arabic Tradition . In: Oriens 31, 1988, pp. 36-60; Rkia Elaroui Cornell: The Muslim Diotima? In: Kevin Corrigan et al. (Ed.): Religion and Philosophy in the Platonic and Neoplatonic Traditions , Sankt Augustin 2012, pp. 235–256, here: 240–244.
  122. James Hankins: Plato in the Italian Renaissance , 3rd edition, Leiden 1994, pp. 80 f., 399 f.
  123. Sabrina Ebbersmeyer: Sinnlichkeit und Vernunft , Munich 2002, pp. 63–67.
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  125. Christian Brockmann: The handwritten tradition of Plato's Symposion , Wiesbaden 1992, p. 5 f.
  126. Achim Aurnhammer : Androgyny. Studies on a Motive in European Literature , Cologne / Vienna 1986, pp. 98–100; Vanessa Kayling: The Reception and Modification of the Platonic Concept of Eros in French Literature of the 16th and 17th Centuries with Special Consideration of the Ancient and Italian Tradition , Bonn 2010, pp. 131–146, 174.
  127. See Sabrina Ebbersmeyer: Between Physiology and Spirituality. On the Reception of the Platonic Symposium in Renaissance Philosophy . In: Stefan Matuschek (ed.): Where the philosophical conversation turns entirely into poetry , Heidelberg 2002, pp. 17–32, here: 29–31.
  128. Ernst Behler (Ed.): Friedrich Schlegel: Studies of the Classical Antiquity (= Critical Friedrich Schlegel Edition, Vol. 1 Section 1), Paderborn 1979, p. 115; see. S. CXLIX-CLII.
  129. See on Hölderlin's reception of the Platonic Eros concept, Pascal Firges: Eros im Hyperion , Annweiler 2010, pp. 30–35, 40–50.
  130. ^ Friedrich Hölderlin: Complete Works (Large Stuttgart Edition), Vol. 3, Stuttgart 1957, p. 192.
  131. ^ Klaus Manger: Lais' Antisymposion in Wieland's Aristippus . In: Stefan Matuschek (Ed.): Where the philosophical conversation turns entirely into poetry , Heidelberg 2002, pp. 49–61.
  132. See Elizabeth McGrath: 'The Drunken Alcibiades': Rubens' Picture of Plato's Symposium . In: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 46, 1983, pp. 228-235; James H. Lesher: Some Notable Afterimages of Plato's Symposium . In: James H. Lesher et al. (Ed.): Plato's Symposium. Issues in Interpretation and Reception , Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2006, pp. 313-340, here: 317-320.
  133. See on this work James H. Lesher: Some Notable Afterimages of Plato's Symposium . In: James H. Lesher et al. (Ed.): Plato's Symposium. Issues in Interpretation and Reception , Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2006, pp. 313-340, here: 327 (with illustration).
  134. Olof Gigon: Introduction . In: Platon: Meisterdialoge (= anniversary edition of all works , vol. 3), Zurich / Munich 1974, pp. V – LXXXVI, here: LIX f.
  135. See also Dirk Oschmann: Das Gastmahl der Pseudonyms . In: Stefan Matuschek (ed.): Where the philosophical conversation turns entirely into poetry , Heidelberg 2002, pp. 191–208.
  136. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: Works. Critical Complete Edition , Department 1, Vol. 3, Berlin 2006, pp. 384–388.
  137. ^ Paul Natorp: Plato's theory of ideas , 2nd edition, Hamburg 1994 (first published in 1903), pp. 167, 173, 178.
  138. Nicolai Hartmann: Plato's Logic of Being , 2nd edition, Berlin 1965 (first published in 1909), pp. 196–198, 308 f., 346–350, 423.
  139. Ludwig Klages: Vom kosmogonischen Eros , 4th edition, Jena 1941, pp. 41–49, 56–59, 93 f.
  140. Simone Weil: Vorchristliche Schau , Munich 1959, p. 43 (translation of the Intuitions pré-chrétiennes ).
  141. ^ Leo Strauss: On Plato's Symposium , Chicago 2001 (reproduction of a lecture from 1959), pp. 6-11.
  142. See Claudia Becker: Conversations “against the grain” . In: Stefan Matuschek (Hrsg.): Where the philosophical conversation turns completely into poetry , Heidelberg 2002, pp. 209–222, here: 209 f.
  143. Michel Foucault: Sexuality and Truth (title of the original edition: Histoire de la sexualité ), Vol. 2: The use of lusts , 2nd edition, Frankfurt am Main 1990, pp. 302-310. Cf. Wilhelm Schmid : The birth of philosophy in the garden of earthly delights. Michel Foucault's Archeology of Platonic Eros , Frankfurt am Main 1994, pp. 115–128, 135–140.
  144. See Ekaterini Douka Kabitoglou: Plato and the English Romantics , London 1990, pp. 83–86.
  145. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: Studies from the conversion period 1882–1888 . In: Friedrich Nietzsche: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 16, Munich 1925, p. 7.
  146. ^ Richard Hunter: Plato's Symposium , Oxford 2004, pp. 114–117.
  147. Constantin Ritter: Platon , Vol. 1, Munich 1910, p. 526.
  148. ^ Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff: Platon. His life and his works , 5th edition, Berlin 1959 (1st edition Berlin 1919), p. 297 and Plato. Supplements and text criticism , 4th edition, Dublin / Zurich 1969 (1st edition Berlin 1919), p. 174.
  149. Werner Jaeger: Paideia , Berlin 1989 (reprint of the 1973 edition in one volume), p. 762 f., 765.
  150. Hans Reynen: The mediated report in the Platonic Symposium . In: Gymnasium 74, 1967, pp. 405-422, here: 405.
  151. ^ Georg Picht: Plato's dialogues "Nomoi" and "Symposion" , Stuttgart 1990, pp. 351, 360 (lecture in the winter semester 1968/69).
  152. ^ For example, Michael Erler: Platon , Basel 2007, p. 196.
  153. Sigmund Freud: Beyond the pleasure principle . In: Sigmund Freud: Psychology of the Unconscious (= study edition , vol. 3), Frankfurt am Main 1975, pp. 213-272, here: 266. Cf. Gerasimos Santas: Plato and Freud. Two Theories of Love , Oxford 1988, pp. 21, 160-162.
  154. Sigmund Freud: The Resistance to Psychoanalysis . In: Sigmund Freud: Gesammelte Werke , Vol. 14, 5th edition, Frankfurt am Main 1972, pp. 97–110, here: 105.
  155. ^ Robin Waterfield (translator): Plato: Symposium , Oxford 1994, pp. XXXI; Gerasimos Santas: Plato and Freud. Two Theories of Love , Oxford 1988, pp. 169-172.
  156. Jacques Lacan: The four basic concepts of psychoanalysis , 2nd edition, Olten 1980, p. 243 f.
  157. See Paul Allen Miller: Postmodern Spiritual Practices , Columbus (Ohio) 2007, pp. 106-108, 121-132. The literary scholar Martin von Koppenfels criticizes Lacan's interpretation of the symposium : A strange feeling. Lacan as a reader of the symposium . In: Eckart Goebel, Elisabeth Bronfen (eds.): Narcissus and Eros. Picture or text? , Göttingen 2009, pp. 269-295.
  158. See Karin Sporkhorst: From which, remarkably, nothing emerges. Diotima - a woman with a past but no future . In: Gabriele Uerscheln (Ed.): "Perhaps the truth is a woman ..." Female figures from Mythos im Zwielicht , Cologne 2009, pp. 112–121.
  159. James H. Lesher: Feuerbach's 'Das Gastmahl des Platon' and Plato's Symposium . In: Pepa Castillo et al. (Ed.): Congreso Internacional: Imagines: La Antigüedad en las Artes Escénicas y Visuales , Logroño 2008, pp. 479-490.
  160. ^ František Novotný: The Posthumous Life of Plato , Den Haag 1977, p. 634 (images behind p. 632).
  161. ^ Richard Hunter: Plato's Symposium , Oxford 2004, p. 67.
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