jlb.alb4.art.love.beauty.socrates.symposium.plato

jlb.alb4.art.love.beauty.socrates.symposium.plato - Art,...

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Art, Love, and Beauty 4 1/23/08 Harries 1 4. Socrates 1 Before turning to the speech of Socrates, let us take a brief look at the speech by Agathon — remember that he had just won an important prize as a tragic poet — and at the banter between Socrates and Agathon that both precedes and follows that speech. After Aristophanes has finished, Socrates flatters Agathon, although there are barbs in his flattery: 'You want to upset me by making me think that the audience has formed great expectations of my eloquence.' 'I should be forgetful indeed, my dear Agathon, if after seeing your courage and high spirit when you appeared upon the platform with the actors just before the production of your play, and faced a crowded audience without the least sign of embarrassment, I now supposed that you were likely to be upset by a handful of people like us.' (66) Should he have been embarrassed? Agathon retorts that he knew very well the difference between addressing a few wise men and a group of fools. Socrates protests by suggesting that Agathon is wrong to split off the supposedly wise symposiasts from the foolish crowd. After all, they, including Socrates, were part of the audience in the theatre, part of the audience of ordinary people.
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Art, Love, and Beauty 4 1/23/08 Harries 2 ‘But if you were to meet really wise men, you would probably feel shame before them if you were conscious of doing something discreditable, wouldn't you?' ‘Of course I should.’ (66 - 67) Again there is a suggestion of possible wrongdoing by Agathon, whose name means the good. When Socrates wants to pursue the discussion by asking him whether he would feel shame before ordinary people, Phaedrus interrupts and urges Agathon to get on with his speech. Recall that Phaedrus had spoken of the shame that the lovers feel in each others presence when they do something that appears discreditable. 2 Agathon shows himself to be an experienced speaker. He first lays out his intention which is to speak first of the nature of love and then of the gifts love bestows. He opens by taking on Phaedrus: First of all, Phaedrus, he is the youngest of the gods. He himself provides convincing evidence of the truth of what I say by fleeing before old age, which moves fast as we know; at any rate it advances upon us faster than it should. It is the nature of Love to hate old age (68) Love is now placed in radical opposition to the terror of fleeting time. And if in Phaedrus’ speeech already there is a suppression of Tartaros, the repression of the dark and chaotic side of love that
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Art, Love, and Beauty 4 1/23/08 Harries 3 eludes the logos, also of destructive time, that suppression is carried much further by Agathon, who now insists that the ancient disturbances in heaven of which Hesiod and Parmenides tell are to be ascribed to the agency of Necessity and not of Love, if they happened at all. Mutilation, imprisonment, and many other like deeds of
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jlb.alb4.art.love.beauty.socrates.symposium.plato - Art,...

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