Plato’s Symposium, the Shelley translation

The Symposium is one of the most dramatically entertaining of Plato’s dialogues, since it describes a booze up involving Socrates, Aristophanes, Pericles and various others. I was interested to read the translation by Shelley since the combination of the Greek original and translation by one of the leading Romantic poets seemed like a winner.

And winner it is, despite Shelley’s very prudish approach (to modern eyes) to the pederasty that pervades the discussion of love that defines the dialogue. He just ignores it, basically. But love between an older man and a male youth was considered my many Greeks to be the highest form of human love.

The most famous part of the dialogue is probably Aristophanes’s description of human souls as one half of what formerly had been a single soul, with love as the search for the other half and a quest for reunification.

Classic doesn’t even begin to cover it – this is timeless and wonderful.


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