It was a trend in Greek culture to have festivals where many artists, dramatists, tragedians, comedians, writers would present their pieces and winners were awarded with so many accolades and awards.
The word symposium reflects a kind of philosophical and intellectual debate, alcoholic gathering, and meeting to shed light on any specific and serious topic. This dialogue is considered as one of the most epic dialogues that Plato has ever written because some of the nominate figures, philosophers, intellectuals, comedians, and politicians of all time participate in order to put forth their ideas on the topic LOVE. However, the dialogue took place to tribute the EROS which is considered as god of love in Greek mythology and EROS is considered as both erotic love as well as eternal love which inspires capability, valor, and vigor of the man to do some great things in life. There are a total of seven characters who took part in the dialogue and presented their philosophies regarding love. Among these seven, Socrates holds the key position and recognition because of his ultimate, unmatchable wisdom to dig out truth at any cost and in any way. These seven characters are numbered and named in series wise as Phaedrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Agathon, Socrates, and Alcibiades.
The debate was hosted by Agathon after winning an award for writing a great tragedy which was performed on the stage in a festival in Greek tradition. In addition, it was a trend in Greek culture to have festivals where many artists, dramatists, tragedians, comedians, writers would have presented their pieces and the winners were awarded with so many accolades and awards.
Since, it is believed that the hardest thing in the world is to produce any creative work and book of philosophy, but Plato is master in both manners, writing creative art and generating philosophical symposiums. Main plot of the discussion was love like what is love? What is the value of love in human life? How does one find love? What are the properties of love? So on so forth. Very first speech is given by Phaedrus about love and he says that love is a God that motivates and inspires human beings to do some glorious and wonderful acts in life. He thinks it is the love that unites everything in the universe together. He presented such an iconic speech, yet he is not reaching to the Platonic concept of love. Second speech is demonstrated by Pausanias and he thinks that love is a God and divine virtue and it is not merely human in nature. He goes on to say that love reconciles between body and soul by creating harmony between physicality to the emotions and feelings and allows freedom to humans to think beyond.
Socrates says love is a very powerful spirit of all the other spirits in the universe which connects heaven and earth, profane and sacred, physical and eternal etc.
Third speech is by Eryximachus, doctor of body who thinks that love is like medical science which reconciles between the disharmonious elements of body by taking cure, but at the same time love also cures the disease of soul in a way when it gets weakened and disorganized by doing some unnatural deeds in life. In simple words, love works as a glue that keeps everything together in a very harmonious style. Love makes us look perfect and perfect those whom we love.
Now comes the great comedian Aristophanes who gives his speech. He is a person with body without soul who supports the bronze type of love which is lustful, animal, brutal, physical, and worldly type. He went back to the past and emulated the human faults and those faults haunted them in return in great deal. He narrated a mythological tale of humans when they were together but now separated. Now comes the turn of host of the party Agathon, he delivers a wonderful speech by saying that love is a god and it is the great source of wisdom, justice, perfection, virtues etc. One of the moving speeches and everybody clapped for him and for his sublime eloquence. That is another thing that what he said he himself had very least understanding and for that Socrates mocked him eminently.
Now comes the master Socrates. Socrates viewed that love is not God because God is perfect and love still yearns for perfection. There is a point in it. He outlines his words and says love is a very powerful spirit of all the other spirits in the universe which connects heaven and earth, profane and sacred, physical and eternal etc. Love is the source that mediates between god and man. In nutshell, Socrates’ love is the union between souls and there is minimal interference of physical relationship into it. Love is the journey towards eternity and immortality. In the last episode, Alicibidias, he is very much ugly in his soul but has a handsome outlook. He is not a philosopher, but he possesses all the qualities to persuade people towards himself in friction. In this way, he didn’t give any speech about love, but talked on blank paper. This is all about the symposium from my side.
Personally, I feel that if someone is willing to understand all sorts of love then they must go through this particular book which will solve the mystery and concept of love that people hold in their possession without having any grave understanding of it. Today, everybody claims to be a lover of many things, objects, people, but they really do not know a thing about love therefore, to get to know exactly what love is and what love is not, one has to read this masterpiece. If I carry forward the idea of Socrates of love though he was not handsome and attractive in his stature, yet his soul is beautiful from all the people who were around him. In today’s time, whenever a person talks or listens about love, they start to think physically about it. However, love is not physical, but it connects two souls and a water body to blossom like a flower in the garden. There are many poets and literary writers who have praised love in their writings and in their poetry including Ghalib, Faiz, Iqbal, Shams, Rumi, Tagore, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Bacon and many others. These writers took love as an appetite to produce their works, they never indulged themselves ever in the business of physical love which only destroys the beautiful energy of humans.
The writer is faculty member at department of English, Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University Lyari Karachi, Sindh.