Sacred Texts  Classics  Plato


by Plato

360 BC

translated by Benjamin Jowett

New York, C. Scribner's sons [1871]

  PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: APOLLODORUS, who repeats to his companion
the dialogue which he had heard from Aristodemus, and had already once
House of Agathon.

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

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

  Why, yes, he replied, I thought so.

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

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

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

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

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

  Companion. I see, Apollodorus, that you are just the same-always
speaking evil of yourself, and of others; and I do believe that you
pity all mankind, with the exception of Socrates, yourself first of
all, true in this to your old name, which, however deserved I know how
you acquired, of Apollodorus the madman; for you are always raging
against yourself and everybody but Socrates.

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

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

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

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

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

  I will do as you bid me, I replied.

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

    To the feasts of inferior men the good unbidden go;

instead of which our proverb will run:-

    To the feasts of the good the good unbidden go;

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

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

    To the leasts of the wise unbidden goes.

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

    Two going together,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  I am not equal to it, said Agathon.

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

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

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

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

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

                  Not mine the word

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

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

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

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

     First Chaos came, and then broad-bosomed Earth,

     The everlasting seat of all that is,

     And Love.

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

     First in the train of gods, he fashioned Love.

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

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

  This, or something like this, was the speech of Phaedrus; and some
other speeches followed which Aristodemus did not remember; the next
which he repeated was that of Pausanias. Phaedrus, he said, the
argument has not been set before us, I think, quite in the right
form;-we should not be called upon to praise Love in such an
indiscriminate manner. If there were only one Love, then what you said
would be well enough; but since there are more Loves than
one,-should have begun by determining which of them was to be the
theme of our praises. I will amend this defect; and first of all I
would tell you which Love is deserving of praise, and then try to hymn
the praiseworthy one in a manner worthy of him. For we all know that
Love is inseparable from Aphrodite, and if there were only one
Aphrodite there would be only one Love; but as there are two goddesses
there must be two Loves.

  And am I not right in asserting that there are two goddesses? The
elder one, having no mother, who is called the heavenly
Aphrodite-she is the daughter of Uranus; the younger, who is the
daughter of Zeus and Dione-her we call common; and the Love who is her
fellow-worker is rightly named common, as the other love is called
heavenly. All the gods ought to have praise given to them, but not
without distinction of their natures; and therefore I must try to
distinguish the characters of the two Loves. Now actions vary
according to the manner of their performance. Take, for example,
that which we are now doing, drinking, singing and talking these
actions are not in themselves either good or evil, but they turn out
in this or that way according to the mode of performing them; and when
well done they are good, and when wrongly done they are evil; and in
like manner not every love, but only that which has a noble purpose,
is noble and worthy of praise. The Love who is the offspring of the
common Aphrodite is essentially common, and has no discrimination,
being such as the meaner sort of men feel, and is apt to be of women
as well as of youths, and is of the body rather than of the soul-the
most foolish beings are the objects of this love which desires only to
gain an end, but never thinks of accomplishing the end nobly, and
therefore does good and evil quite indiscriminately. The goddess who
is his mother is far younger than the other, and she was born of the
union of the male and female, and partakes of both.

  But the offspring of the heavenly Aphrodite is derived from a mother
in whose birth the female has no part,-she is from the male only; this
is that love which is of youths, and the goddess being older, there is
nothing of wantonness in her. Those who are inspired by this love turn
to the male, and delight in him who is the more valiant and
intelligent nature; any one may recognise the pure enthusiasts in
the very character of their attachments. For they love not boys, but
intelligent, beings whose reason is beginning to be developed, much
about the time at which their beards begin to grow. And in choosing
young men to be their companions, they mean to be faithful to them,
and pass their whole life in company with them, not to take them in
their inexperience, and deceive them, and play the fool with them,
or run away from one to another of them. But the love of young boys
should be forbidden by law, because their future is uncertain; they
may turn out good or bad, either in body or soul, and much noble
enthusiasm may be thrown away upon them; in this matter the good are a
law to themselves, and the coarser sort of lovers ought to be
restrained by force; as we restrain or attempt to restrain them from
fixing their affections on women of free birth. These are the
persons who bring a reproach on love; and some have been led to deny
the lawfulness of such attachments because they see the impropriety
and evil of them; for surely nothing that is decorously and lawfully
done can justly be censured.

  Now here and in Lacedaemon the rules about love are perplexing,
but in most cities they are simple and easily intelligible; in Elis
and Boeotia, and in countries having no gifts of eloquence, they are
very straightforward; the law is simply in favour of these connexions,
and no one, whether young or old, has anything to say to their
discredit; the reason being, as I suppose, that they are men of few
words in those parts, and therefore the lovers do not like the trouble
of pleading their suit. In Ionia and other places, and generally in
countries which are subject to the barbarians, the custom is held to
be dishonourable; loves of youths share the evil repute in which
philosophy and gymnastics are held because they are inimical to
tyranny; for the interests of rulers require that their subjects
should be poor in spirit and that there should be no strong bond of
friendship or society among them, which love, above all other motives,
is likely to inspire, as our Athenian tyrants-learned by experience;
for the love of Aristogeiton and the constancy of Harmodius had
strength which undid their power. And, therefore, the ill-repute
into which these attachments have fallen is to be ascribed to the evil
condition of those who make them to be ill-reputed; that is to say, to
the self-seeking of the governors and the cowardice of the governed;
on the other hand, the indiscriminate honour which is given to them in
some countries is attributable to the laziness of those who hold
this opinion of them. In our own country a far better principle
prevails, but, as I was saying, the explanation of it is rather
perplexing. For, observe that open loves are held to be more
honourable than secret ones, and that the love of the noblest and
highest, even if their persons are less beautiful than others, is
especially honourable.

  Consider, too, how great is the encouragement which all the world
gives to the lover; neither is he supposed to be doing anything
dishonourable; but if he succeeds he is praised, and if he fail he
is blamed. And in the pursuit of his love the custom of mankind allows
him to do many strange things, which philosophy would bitterly censure
if they were done from any motive of interest, or wish for office or
power. He may pray, and entreat, and supplicate, and swear, and lie on
a mat at the door, and endure a slavery worse than that of any
slave-in any other case friends and enemies would be equally ready
to prevent him, but now there is no friend who will be ashamed of
him and admonish him, and no enemy will charge him with meanness or
flattery; the actions of a lover have a grace which ennobles them; and
custom has decided that they are highly commendable and that there
no loss of character in them; and, what is strangest of all, he only
may swear and forswear himself (so men say), and the gods will forgive
his transgression, for there is no such thing as a lover's oath.
Such is the entire liberty which gods and men have allowed the
lover, according to the custom which prevails in our part of the
world. From this point of view a man fairly argues in Athens to love
and to be loved is held to be a very honourable thing. But when
parents forbid their sons to talk with their lovers, and place them
under a tutor's care, who is appointed to see to these things, and
their companions and equals cast in their teeth anything of the sort
which they may observe, and their elders refuse to silence the
reprovers and do not rebuke them-any one who reflects on all this
will, on the contrary, think that we hold these practices to be most
disgraceful. But, as I was saying at first, the truth as I imagine is,
that whether such practices are honourable or whether they are
dishonourable is not a simple question; they are honourable to him who
follows them honourably, dishonourable to him who follows them
dishonourably. There is dishonour in yielding to the evil, or in an
evil manner; but there is honour in yielding to the good, or in an
honourable manner.

  Evil is the vulgar lover who loves the body rather than the soul,
inasmuch as he is not even stable, because he loves a thing which is
in itself unstable, and therefore when the bloom of youth which he was
desiring is over, he takes wing and flies away, in spite of all his
words and promises; whereas the love of the noble disposition is
life-long, for it becomes one with the everlasting. The custom of
our country would have both of them proven well and truly, and would
have us yield to the one sort of lover and avoid the other, and
therefore encourages some to pursue, and others to fly; testing both
the lover and beloved in contests and trials, until they show to which
of the two classes they respectively belong. And this is the reason
why, in the first place, a hasty attachment is held to be
dishonourable, because time is the true test of this as of most
other things; and secondly there is a dishonour in being overcome by
the love of money, or of wealth, or of political power, whether a
man is frightened into surrender by the loss of them, or, having
experienced the benefits of money and political corruption, is
unable to rise above the seductions of them. For none of these
things are of a permanent or lasting nature; not to mention that no
generous friendship ever sprang from them. There remains, then, only
one way of honourable attachment which custom allows in the beloved,
and this is the way of virtue; for as we admitted that any service
which the lover does to him is not to be accounted flattery or a
dishonour to himself, so the beloved has one way only of voluntary
service which is not dishonourable, and this is virtuous service.

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

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

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

  Eryximachus spoke as follows: Seeing that Pausanias made a fair
beginning, and but a lame ending, I must endeavour to supply his
deficiency. I think that he has rightly distinguished two kinds of
love. But my art further informs me that the double love is not merely
an affection of the soul of man towards the fair, or towards anything,
but is to be found in the bodies of all animals and in productions
of the earth, and I may say in all that is; such is the conclusion
which I seem to have gathered from my own art of medicine, whence I
learn how great and wonderful and universal is the deity of love,
whose empire extends over all things, divine as well as human. And
from medicine I would begin that I may do honour to my art. There
are in the human body these two kinds of love, which are confessedly
different and unlike, and being unlike, they have loves and desires
which are unlike; and the desire of the healthy is one, and the desire
of the diseased is another; and as Pausanias was just now saying
that to indulge good men is honourable, and bad men
dishonourable:-so too in the body the good and healthy elements are to
be indulged, and the bad elements and the elements of disease are
not to be indulged, but discouraged. And this is what the physician
has to do, and in this the art of medicine consists: for medicine
may be regarded generally as the knowledge of the loves and desires of
the body, and how to satisfy them or not; and the best physician is he
who is able to separate fair love from foul, or to convert one into
the other; and he who knows how to eradicate and how to implant
love, whichever is required, and can reconcile the most hostile
elements in the constitution and make them loving friends, is
skilful practitioner. Now the: most hostile are the most opposite,
such as hot and cold, bitter and sweet, moist and dry, and the like.
And my ancestor, Asclepius, knowing how-to implant friendship and
accord in these elements, was the creator of our art, as our friends
the poets here tell us, and I believe them; and not only medicine in
every branch but the arts of gymnastic and husbandry are under his

  Any one who pays the least attention to the subject will also
perceive that in music there is the same reconciliation of
opposites; and I suppose that this must have been the meaning, of
Heracleitus, although, his words are not accurate, for he says that is
united by disunion, like the harmony-of bow and the lyre. Now there is
an absurdity saying that harmony is discord or is composed of elements
which are still in a state of discord. But what he probably meant was,
that, harmony is composed of differing notes of higher or lower
pitch which disagreed once, but are now reconciled by the art of
music; for if the higher and lower notes still disagreed, there
could be there could be no harmony-clearly not. For harmony is a
symphony, and symphony is an agreement; but an agreement of
disagreements while they disagree there cannot be; you cannot
harmonize that which disagrees. In like manner rhythm is compounded of
elements short and long, once differing and now-in accord; which
accordance, as in the former instance, medicine, so in all these other
cases, music implants, making love and unison to grow up among them;
and thus music, too, is concerned with the principles of love in their
application to harmony and rhythm. Again, in the essential nature of
harmony and rhythm there is no difficulty in discerning love which has
not yet become double. But when you want to use them in actual life,
either in the composition of songs or in the correct performance of
airs or metres composed already, which latter is called education,
then the difficulty begins, and the good artist is needed. Then the
old tale has to be repeated of fair and heavenly love -the love of
Urania the fair and heavenly muse, and of the duty of accepting the
temperate, and those who are as yet intemperate only that they may
become temperate, and of preserving their love; and again, of the
vulgar Polyhymnia, who must be used with circumspection that the
pleasure be enjoyed, but may not generate licentiousness; just as in
my own art it is a great matter so to regulate the desires of the
epicure that he may gratify his tastes without the attendant evil of
disease. Whence I infer that in music, in medicine, in all other
things human as which as divine, both loves ought to be noted as far
as may be, for they are both present.

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

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

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

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

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

  Aristophanes professed to open another vein of discourse; he had a
mind to praise Love in another way, unlike that either of Pausanias or
Eryximachus. Mankind; he said, judging by their neglect of him, have
never, as I think, at all understood the power of Love. For if they
had understood him they would surely have built noble temples and
altars, and offered solemn sacrifices in his honour; but this is not
done, and most certainly ought to be done: since of all the gods he is
the best friend of men, the helper and the healer of the ills which
are the great impediment to the happiness of the race. I will try to
describe his power to you, and you shall teach the rest of the world
what I am teaching you. In the first place, let me treat of the nature
of man and what has happened to it; for the original human nature
was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two as
they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman,
and the union of the two, having a name corresponding to this double
nature, which had once a real existence, but is now lost, and the word
"Androgynous" is only preserved as a term of reproach. In the second
place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a
circle; and he had four hands and four feet, one head with two
faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike;
also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond. He
could walk upright as men now do, backwards or forwards as he pleased,
and he could also roll over and over at a great pace, turning on his
four hands and four feet, eight in all, like tumblers going over and
over with their legs in the air; this was when he wanted to run
fast. Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them;
because the sun, moon, and earth are three;-and the man was originally
the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the
moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and
moved round and round: like their parents. Terrible was their might
and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they
made an attack upon the gods; of them is told the tale of Otys and
Ephialtes who, as Homer says, dared to scale heaven, and would have
laid hands upon the gods. Doubt reigned in the celestial councils.
Should they kill them and annihilate the race with thunderbolts, as
they had done the giants, then there would be an end of the sacrifices
and worship which men offered to them; but, on the other hand, the
gods could not suffer their insolence to be unrestrained.

  At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way.
He said: "Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and
improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut
them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased
in numbers; this will have the advantage of making them more
profitable to us. They shall walk upright on two legs, and if they
continue insolent and will not be quiet, I will split them again and
they shall hop about on a single leg." He spoke and cut men in two,
like a sorb-apple which is halved for pickling, or as you might divide
an egg with a hair; and as he cut them one after another, he bade
Apollo give the face and the half of the neck a turn in order that the
man might contemplate the section of himself: he would thus learn a
lesson of humility. Apollo was also bidden to heal their wounds and
compose their forms. So he gave a turn to the face and pulled the skin
from the sides all over that which in our language is called the
belly, like the purses which draw in, and he made one mouth at the
centre, which he fastened in a knot (the same which is called the
navel); he also moulded the breast and took out most of the
wrinkles, much as a shoemaker might smooth leather upon a last; he
left a few, however, in the region of the belly and navel, as a
memorial of the primeval state. After the division the two parts of
man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their
arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow
into one, they were on the point of dying from hunger and
self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart; and when
one of the halves died and the other survived, the survivor sought
another mate, man or woman as we call them, being the sections of
entire men or women, and clung to that. They were being destroyed,
when Zeus in pity of them invented a new plan: he turned the parts
of generation round to the front, for this had not been always their
position and they sowed the seed no longer as hitherto like
grasshoppers in the ground, but in one another; and after the
transposition the male generated in the female in order that by the
mutual embraces of man and woman they might breed, and the race
might continue; or if man came to man they might be satisfied, and
rest, and go their ways to the business of life: so ancient is the
desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original
nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man.

  Each of us when separated, having one side only, like a flat fish,
is but the indenture of a man, and he is always looking for his
other half. Men who are a section of that double nature which was once
called Androgynous are lovers of women; adulterers are generally of
this breed, and also adulterous women who lust after men: the women
who are a section of the woman do not care for men, but have female
attachments; the female companions are of this sort. But they who
are a section of the male follow the male, and while they are young,
being slices of the original man, they hang about men and embrace
them, and they are themselves the best of boys and youths, because
they have the most manly nature. Some indeed assert that they are
shameless, but this is not true; for they do not act thus from any
want of shame, but because they are valiant and manly, and have a
manly countenance, and they embrace that which is like them. And these
when they grow up become our statesmen, and these only, which is a
great proof of the truth of what I am saving. When they reach
manhood they are loves of youth, and are not naturally inclined to
marry or beget children,-if at all, they do so only in obedience to
the law; but they are satisfied if they may be allowed to live with
one another unwedded; and such a nature is prone to love and ready
to return love, always embracing that which is akin to him. And when
one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself,
whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair
are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and
would not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a
moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together;
yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the
intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not
appear to be the desire of lover's intercourse, but of something
else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and
of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment. Suppose
Hephaestus, with his instruments, to come to the pair who are lying
side, by side and to say to them, "What do you people want of one
another?" they would be unable to explain. And suppose further, that
when he saw their perplexity he said: "Do you desire to be wholly one;
always day and night to be in one another's company? for if this is
what you desire, I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow
together, so that being two you shall become one, and while you live a
common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the
world below still be one departed soul instead of two-I ask whether
this is what you lovingly desire, and whether you are satisfied to
attain this?"-there is not a man of them who when he heard the
proposal would deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and
melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the
very expression of his ancient need. And the reason is that human
nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and
pursuit of the whole is called love. There was a time, I say, when
we were one, but now because of the wickedness of mankind God has
dispersed us, as the Arcadians were dispersed into villages by the
Lacedaemonians. And if we are not obedient to the gods, there is a
danger that we shall be split up again and go about in
basso-relievo, like the profile figures having only half a nose
which are sculptured on monuments, and that we shall be like tallies.

  Wherefore let us exhort all men to piety, that we may avoid evil,
and obtain the good, of which Love is to us the lord and minister; and
let no one oppose him-he is the enemy of the gods who oppose him.
For if we are friends of the God and at peace with him we shall find
our own true loves, which rarely happens in this world at present. I
am serious, and therefore I must beg Eryximachus not to make fun or to
find any allusion in what I am saying to Pausanias and Agathon, who,
as I suspect, are both of the manly nature, and belong to the class
which I have been describing. But my words have a wider
application-they include men and women everywhere; and I believe
that if our loves were perfectly accomplished, and each one
returning to his primeval nature had his original true love, then
our race would be happy. And if this would be best of all, the best in
the next degree and under present circumstances must be the nearest
approach to such an union; and that will be the attainment of a
congenial love. Wherefore, if we would praise him who has given to
us the benefit, we must praise the god Love, who is our greatest
benefactor, both leading us in this life back to our own nature, and
giving us high hopes for the future, for he promises that if we are
pious, he will restore us to our original state, and heal us and
make us happy and blessed. This, Eryximachus, is my discourse of love,
which, although different to yours, I must beg you to leave unassailed
by the shafts of your ridicule, in order that each may have his
turn; each, or rather either, for Agathon and Socrates are the only
ones left.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Yes, said Agathon.

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

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

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

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

  Love is young and also tender; he ought to have a poet like Homer to
describe his tenderness, as Homer says of Ate, that she is a goddess
and tender:

     Her feet are tender, for she sets her steps,

     Not on the ground but on the heads of men:

herein is an excellent proof of her tenderness that,-she walks not
upon the hard but upon the soft. Let us adduce a similar proof of
the tenderness of Love; for he walks not upon the earth, nor yet
upon skulls of men, which are not so very soft, but in the hearts
and souls of both god, and men, which are of all things the softest:
in them he walks and dwells and makes his home. Not in every soul
without exception, for Where there is hardness he departs, where there
is softness there he dwells; and nestling always with his feet and
in all manner of ways in the softest of soft places, how can he be
other than the softest of all things? Of a truth he is the tenderest
as well as the youngest, and also he is of flexile form; for if he
were hard and without flexure he could not enfold all things, or
wind his way into and out of every soul of man undiscovered. And a
proof of his flexibility and symmetry of form is his grace, which is
universally admitted to be in an especial manner the attribute of
Love; ungrace and love are always at war with one another. The
fairness of his complexion is revealed by his habitation among the
flowers; for he dwells not amid bloomless or fading beauties,
whether of body or soul or aught else, but in the place of flowers and
scents, there he sits and abides. Concerning the beauty of the god I
have said enough; and yet there remains much more which I might say.
Of his virtue I have now to speak: his greatest glory is that he can
neither do nor suffer wrong to or from any god or any man; for he
suffers not by force if he suffers; force comes not near him,
neither when he acts does he act by force. For all men in all things
serve him of their own free will, and where there is voluntary
agreement, there, as the laws which are the lords of the city say,
is justice. And not only is he just but exceedingly temperate, for
Temperance is the acknowledged ruler of the pleasures and desires, and
no pleasure ever masters Love; he is their master and they are his
servants; and if he conquers them he must be temperate indeed. As to
courage, even the God of War is no match for him; he is the captive
and Love is the lord, for love, the love of Aphrodite, masters him, as
the tale runs; and the master is stronger than the servant. And if
he conquers the bravest of all others, he must be himself the bravest.

  Of his courage and justice and temperance I have spoken, but I
have yet to speak of his wisdom-and according to the measure of my
ability I must try to do my best. In the first place he is a poet (and
here, like Eryximachus, I magnify my art), and he is also the source
of poesy in others, which he could not be if he were not himself a
poet. And at the touch of him every one becomes a poet, even though he
had no music in him before; this also is a proof that Love is a good
poet and accomplished in all the fine arts; for no one can give to
another that which he has not himself, or teach that of which he has
no knowledge. Who will deny that the creation of the animals is his
doing? Are they not all the works his wisdom, born and begotten of
him? And as to the artists, do we not know that he only of them whom
love inspires has the light of fame?-he whom Love touches riot walks
in darkness. The arts of medicine and archery and divination were
discovered by Apollo, under the guidance of love and desire; so that
he too is a disciple of Love. Also the melody of the Muses, the
metallurgy of Hephaestus, the weaving of Athene, the empire of Zeus
over gods and men, are all due to Love, who was the inventor of
them. And so Love set in order the empire of the gods-the love of
beauty, as is evident, for with deformity Love has no concern. In
the days of old, as I began by saying, dreadful deeds were done
among the gods, for they were ruled by Necessity; but now since the
birth of Love, and from the Love of the beautiful, has sprung every
good in heaven and earth. Therefore, Phaedrus, I say of Love that he
is the fairest and best in himself, and the cause of what is fairest
and best in all other things. And there comes into my mind a line of
poetry in which he is said to be the god who

     Gives peace on earth and calms the stormy deep,

     Who stills the winds and bids the sufferer sleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Very true, said Agathon.

  And you would say the same of a mother?

  He assented.

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

  Certainly, he replied.

  That is, of a brother or sister?

  Yes, he said.

  And now, said Socrates, I will ask about Love:-Is Love of
something or of nothing?

  Of something, surely, he replied.

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

  Yes, surely.

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

  Probably not, I should say.

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

  I agree with you, said Agathon.

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

  That would be inconsistent with our previous admissions.

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

  Very true.

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

  He must, replied Agathon.

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

  Very true, he said.

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

  Very true, he said.

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

  Yes, he replied.

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

  Yes, said Agathon.

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

  He assented.

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

  True, he said.

  Then Love wants and has not beauty?

  Certainly, he replied.

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

  Certainly not.

  Then would you still say that love is beautiful?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  That I leave to you, said Alcibiades.

     The wise physician skilled our wounds to heal

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

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

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

  For shame, said Socrates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  This, friends, is my praise of Socrates. I have added my blame of
him for his ill-treatment of me; and he has ill-treated not only me,
but Charmides the son of Glaucon, and Euthydemus the son of Diocles,
and many others in the same way-beginning as their lover he has
ended by making them pay their addresses to him. Wherefore I say to
you, Agathon, "Be no deceived by him; learn from me: and take warning,
and do not be a fool and learn by experience, as the proverb says."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                              -THE END-