jlb.alb5.alcibiades.art.love.beauty.plato.symposium - Art,...

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Art, Love, and Beauty 5 1/29/08 Harries 1 5. Alcibiades 1 In my last lecture I considered the speeches of Agathon and Socrates. The latter represents the high-point of the dialogue. One may indeed wonder: why did Plato not end the dialogue on this high philosophical note? Why is Alcibiades introduced as the final speaker? But let me return to the point where I left off last time. Socrates has finished his speech. There is general applause. Aristophanes is trying to explain that it was his theory that Socrates was referring to when he said There is indeed a theory," she continued, "that lovers are people who are in search of the other half of themselves, but according to my view of the matter, my friend, love is not desire either of the half or the whole, unless that half or whole happens to be good. (85) This little remark is of interest in that it suggests that Diotima may be no more than Socrates' creation; that she sprang from his head as Athena is said to have sprung from the head of Zeus. Or does she represent, to use the language of C. G. Jung, Socrates’ anima , suggesting a possible split within Socrates himself between a more masculine and a more feminine half? At this point there is a commotion at the door, a very drunk Alcibiades appears, attended by a flute girl. Drink and music, which had been banished following Erixymachus's suggestion, return.
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1/29/08 Harries 2 Alcibiades is described in a way that very much suggests descriptions of the drunken Dionysus, attended by flute playing attendants and satyrs. Alcibiades wears a thick wreath of ivy and violets: 'Good evening, gentlemen. Will you welcome into your company a man who is already drunk, utterly drunk, or shall we just put a garland on Agathon, which is what we came for, and go away? I couldn't be at the celebration yesterday, but I've come now with this wreath to have the pleasure of transferring it from my head to the head of this paragon of beauty and cleverness. (96) Once again we have an uninvited guest. Alcibiades proposes to honor Agathon, “this paragon of beauty and cleverness.” Recall that beauty has been discussed as the object of love. So there is a sense in which Alcibiades, too, here takes the place of love, but note also that Socrates, while he admitted the beauty of Agathon's speech, also showed that his was a beauty divorced from reality, a beauty of appearance only without much substance. It is this sort of beauty, a low beauty that Alcibiades wants to honor, the beauty that had just been honored by all the Athenians. It is not surprising that he is welcomed in and joins the party, taking his place next to Agathon. At first, because the wreath is tilted over his eyes, he cannot see that someone is already sitting next to Agathon: ‘Good God. What have we here? Socrates? Lying there in wait for me again? How you like to make sudden appearance just when I least expect to find you. What are you doing here? And why have you taken this place?
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jlb.alb5.alcibiades.art.love.beauty.plato.symposium - Art,...

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