jlb.alb3.art.love.beauty.aristophanes.symposium.plato

jlb.alb3.art.love.beauty.aristophanes.symposium.plato -...

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Art, Love, and Beauty 3 1/19/08 Harries 1 3. Aristophanes 1 Last time I discussed the very deliberate way in which Plato frames the Symposium . You should keep in mind that the time of the supposed telling of the story is 401 BC, three years after the end of the Peloponnesian War. The symposium that is the subject of the narrative happened much earlier, in 416, in the middle of the Peloponnesian War, just before Alcibiades led the Athenians into the disastrous Syracusan venture. This celebration of love, of eros, thus took place in a time of war or strife, of eris. I suggested that the interplay of eros and eris pervades this dialogue. I left off last time when, after the arrival of Socrates, the hungover symposiasts, following a suggestion by he doctor Erixymachus, decide to moderate their drinking, to send away the flute girl, and to entertain themselves with conversation. All agree with the proposal that they speak in praise of love. "Nobody will vote against your proposal, Erixymachus," said Socrates. "I certainly shall not, for I declare that love is the only subject that I understand, nor will Agathon and Pausanias, I am sure, nor yet Aristophanes, whose entire business lies with Dionysus and Aphrodite, nor anyone else that I see here." (41) Socrates and Aristophanes are given here a privileged position, where we may well wonder why Socrates should say that love is the only subject he understands, while Aristophanes' entire
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Art, Love, and Beauty 3 1/19/08 Harries 2 business is said to be with Dionysus and Aphrodite. Note the two levels of eros that are here suggested, one lower and one higher: one more associated with Apollo and Socrates, the other with Dionysus and Aristophanes. Nietzsche’s distinction between the Apoillinian and the Dionysian is here anticipated. The Symposium begins on the higher plane. Socrates would seem to be its real hero. In keeping with this is the decision that sobriety should replace drinking, conversation music, Socrates' higher beauty is to replace the beauty associated with the flute girl, the higher the lower love. As we shall see, in the end the agreement is broken, the flute girls return and with the exception of Socrates everyone gets drunk. With this let us turn to the first four speeches of the Symposium . Of these the first three belong together. Pausanias explicitly addresses himself to Phaedrus's speech, while Erixymachus responds to Pausanias. Aristophanes speech is set apart from the others. 2 Phaedrus praises Love as the most ancient of all beings, citing in evidence the fact that the poets never attribute to love any parents. Hesiod tells us that Chaos first came into existence, but next Broad-breasted Earth, on whose foundation firm Creation stands, and Love. (42)
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Art, Love, and Beauty 3 1/19/08 Harries 3 As a matter of fact, Phaedrus appears to have misquoted a famous passage from Hesiod's Theogony , which originally spoke of four primal deities: First of all Chaos came to be, but then broadbreasted
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This note was uploaded on 04/12/2008 for the course HUMS 255 taught by Professor Karstenharries during the Spring '08 term at Yale.

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jlb.alb3.art.love.beauty.aristophanes.symposium.plato -...

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