Sacred Texts  Classics  Plato


by Plato

360 BC

translated by Benjamin Jowett

New York, C. Scribner's sons [1871]

   PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: APOLLODORUS, who repeats to his companion
 the dialogue which he had heard from Aristodemus, and had already once
 House of Agathon.
   Concerning the things about which you ask to be informed I believe
 that I am not ill-prepared with an answer. For the day before
 yesterday I was coming from my own home at Phalerum to the city, and
 one of my acquaintance, who had caught a sight of me from behind,
 hind, out playfully in the distance, said: Apollodorus, O thou
 Phalerian man, halt! So I did as I was bid; and then he said, I was
 looking for you, Apollodorus, only just now, that I might ask you
 about the speeches in praise of love, which were delivered by
 Socrates, Alcibiades, and others, at Agathon's supper. Phoenix, the
 son of Philip, told another person who told me of them; his
 narrative was very indistinct, but he said that you knew, and I wish
 that you would give me an account of them. Who, if not you, should
 be the reporter of the words of your friend? And first tell me, he
 said, were you present at this meeting?
   Your informant, Glaucon, I said, must have been very indistinct
 indeed, if you imagine that the occasion was recent; or that I could
 have been of the party.
   Why, yes, he replied, I thought so.
   Impossible: I said. Are you ignorant that for many years Agathon has
 not resided at Athens; and not three have elapsed since I became
 acquainted with Socrates, and have made it my daily business to know
 all that he says and does. There was a time when I was running about
 the world, fancying myself to be well employed, but I was really a
 most wretched thing, no better than you are now. I thought that I
 ought to do anything rather than be a philosopher.
   Well, he said, jesting apart, tell me when the meeting occurred.
   In our boyhood, I replied, when Agathon won the prize with his first
 tragedy, on the day after that on which he and his chorus offered
 the sacrifice of victory.
   Then it must have been a long while ago, he said; and who told
 you-did Socrates?
   No indeed, I replied, but the same person who told Phoenix;-he was a
 little fellow, who never wore any shoes Aristodemus, of the deme of
 Cydathenaeum. He had been at Agathon's feast; and I think that in
 those days there was no one who was a more devoted admirer of
 Socrates. Moreover, I have asked Socrates about the truth of some
 parts of his narrative, and he confirmed them. Then, said Glaucon, let
 us have the tale over again; is not the road to Athens just made for
 conversation? And so we walked, and talked of the discourses on
 love; and therefore, as I said at first, I am not ill-prepared to
 comply with your request, and will have another rehearsal of them if
 you like. For to speak or to hear others speak of philosophy always
 gives me the greatest pleasure, to say nothing of the profit. But when
 I hear another strain, especially that of you rich men and traders,
 such conversation displeases me; and I pity you who are my companions,
 because you think that you are doing something when in reality you are
 doing nothing. And I dare say that you pity me in return, whom you
 regard as an unhappy creature, and very probably you are right. But
 I certainly know of you what you only think of me-there is the
   Companion. I see, Apollodorus, that you are just the same-always
 speaking evil of yourself, and of others; and I do believe that you
 pity all mankind, with the exception of Socrates, yourself first of
 all, true in this to your old name, which, however deserved I know how
 you acquired, of Apollodorus the madman; for you are always raging
 against yourself and everybody but Socrates.
   Apollodorus. Yes, friend, and the reason why I am said to be mad,
 and out of my wits, is just because I have these notions of myself and
 you; no other evidence is required.
   Com. No more of that, Apollodorus; but let me renew my request
 that you would repeat the conversation.
   Apoll. Well, the tale of love was on this wise:-But perhaps I had
 better begin at the beginning, and endeavour to give you the exact
 words of Aristodemus:
   He said that he met Socrates fresh from the bath and sandalled;
 and as the sight of the sandals was unusual, he asked him whither he
 was going that he had been converted into such a beau:-
   To a banquet at Agathon's, he replied, whose invitation to his
 sacrifice of victory I refused yesterday, fearing a crowd, but
 promising that I would come to-day instead; and so I have put on my
 finery, because he is such a fine man. What say you to going with me
   I will do as you bid me, I replied.
   Follow then, he said, and let us demolish the proverb:
     To the feasts of inferior men the good unbidden go;
 instead of which our proverb will run:-
     To the feasts of the good the good unbidden go;
 and this alteration may be supported by the authority of Homer
 himself, who not only demolishes but literally outrages the proverb.
 For, after picturing Agamemnon as the most valiant of men, he makes
 Menelaus, who is but a fainthearted warrior, come unbidden to the
 banquet of Agamemnon, who is feasting and offering sacrifices, not the
 better to the worse, but the worse to the better.
   I rather fear, Socrates, said Aristodemus, lest this may still be my
 case; and that, like Menelaus in Homer, I shall be the inferior
 person, who
     To the leasts of the wise unbidden goes.
 But I shall say that I was bidden of you, and then you will have to
 make an excuse.
     Two going together,
 he replied, in Homeric fashion, one or other of them may invent an
 excuse by the way.
   This was the style of their conversation as they went along.
 Socrates dropped behind in a fit of abstraction, and desired
 Aristodemus, who was waiting, to go on before him. When he reached the
 house of Agathon he found the doors wide open, and a comical thing
 happened. A servant coming out met him, and led him at once into the
 banqueting-hall in which the guests were reclining, for the banquet
 was about to begin. Welcome, Aristodemus, said Agathon, as soon as
 he appeared-you are just in time to sup with us; if you come on any
 other matter put it off, and make one of us, as I was looking for
 you yesterday and meant to have asked you, if I could have found
 you. But what have you done with Socrates?
   I turned round, but Socrates was nowhere to be seen; and I had to
 explain that he had been with me a moment before, and that I came by
 his invitation to the supper.
   You were quite right in coming, said Agathon; but where is he
   He was behind me just now, as I entered, he said, and I cannot think
 what has become of him.
   Go and look for him, boy, said Agathon, and bring him in; and do
 you, Aristodemus, meanwhile take the place by Eryximachus.
   The servant then assisted him to wash, and he lay down, and
 presently another servant came in and reported that our friend
 Socrates had retired into the portico of the neighbouring house.
 "There he is fixed," said he, "and when I call to him he will not
   How strange, said Agathon; then you must call him again, and keep
 calling him.
   Let him alone, said my informant; he has a way of stopping
 anywhere and losing himself without any reason. I believe that he will
 soon appear; do not therefore disturb him.
   Well, if you think so, I will leave him, said Agathon. And then,
 turning to the servants, he added, "Let us have supper without waiting
 for him. Serve up whatever you please, for there; is no one to give
 you orders; hitherto I have never left you to yourselves. But on
 this occasion imagine that you art our hosts, and that I and the
 company are your guests; treat us well, and then we shall commend
 you." After this, supper was served, but still no-Socrates; and during
 the meal Agathon several times expressed a wish to send for him, but
 Aristodemus objected; and at last when the feast was about half
 over-for the fit, as usual, was not of long duration-Socrates entered;
 Agathon, who was reclining alone at the end of the table, begged
 that he would take the place next to him; that "I may touch you," he
 said, "and have the benefit of that wise thought which came into
 your mind in the portico, and is now in your possession; for I am
 certain that you would not have come away until you had found what you
   How I wish, said Socrates, taking his place as he was desired,
 that wisdom could be infused by touch, out of the fuller the emptier
 man, as water runs through wool out of a fuller cup into an emptier
 one; if that were so, how greatly should I value the privilege of
 reclining at your side! For you would have filled me full with a
 stream of wisdom plenteous and fair; whereas my own is of a very
 mean and questionable sort, no better than a dream. But yours is
 bright and full of promise, and was manifested forth in all the
 splendour of youth the day before yesterday, in the presence of more
 than thirty thousand Hellenes.
   You are mocking, Socrates, said Agathon, and ere long you and I will
 have to determine who bears off the palm of wisdom-of this Dionysus
 shall be the judge; but at present you are better occupied with
   Socrates took his place on the couch, and supped with the rest;
 and then libations were offered, and after a hymn had been sung to the
 god, and there had been the usual ceremonies, they were about to
 commence drinking, when Pausanias said, And now, my friends, how can
 we drink with least injury to ourselves? I can assure you that I
 feel severely the effect of yesterday's potations, and must have
 time to recover; and I suspect that most of you are in the same
 predicament, for you were of the party yesterday. Consider then: How
 can the drinking be made easiest?
   I entirely agree, said Aristophanes, that we should, by all means,
 avoid hard drinking, for I was myself one of those who were
 yesterday drowned in drink.
   I think that you are right, said Eryximachus, the son of Acumenus;
 but I should still like to hear one other person speak: Is Agathon
 able to drink hard?
   I am not equal to it, said Agathon.
   Then, the Eryximachus, the weak heads like myself, Aristodemus,
 Phaedrus, and others who never can drink, are fortunate in finding
 that the stronger ones are not in a drinking mood. (I do not include
 Socrates, who is able either to drink or to abstain, and will not
 mind, whichever we do.) Well, as of none of the company seem
 disposed to drink much, I may be forgiven for saying, as a
 physician, that drinking deep is a bad practice, which I never follow,
 if I can help, and certainly do not recommend to another, least of all
 to any one who still feels the effects of yesterday's carouse.
   I always do what you advise, and especially what you prescribe as
 a physician, rejoined Phaedrus the Myrrhinusian, and the rest of the
 company, if they are wise, will do the same.
   It was agreed that drinking was not to be the order of the day,
 but that they were all to drink only so much as they pleased.
   Then, said Eryximachus, as you are all agreed that drinking is to be
 voluntary, and that there is to be no compulsion, I move, in the
 next place, that the flute-girl, who has just made her appearance,
 be told to go away and play to herself, or, if she likes, to the women
 who are within. To-day let us have conversation instead; and, if you
 will allow me, I will tell you what sort of conversation. This
 proposal having been accepted, Eryximachus proceeded as follows:-
   I will begin, he said, after the manner of Melanippe in Euripides,
                   Not mine the word
 which I am about to speak, but that of Phaedrus. For often he says
 to me in an indignant tone: "What a strange thing it is,
 Eryximachus, that, whereas other gods have poems and hymns made in
 their honour, the great and glorious god, Love, has no encomiast among
 all the poets who are so many. There are the worthy sophists too-the
 excellent Prodicus for example, who have descanted in prose on the
 virtues of Heracles and other heroes; and, what is still more
 extraordinary, I have met with a philosophical work in which the
 utility of salt has been made the theme of an eloquent discourse;
 and many other like things have had a like honour bestowed upon
 them. And only to think that there should have been an eager
 interest created about them, and yet that to this day no one has
 ever dared worthily to hymn Love's praises! So entirely has this great
 deity been neglected." Now in this Phaedrus seems to me to be quite
 right, and therefore I want to offer him a contribution; also I
 think that at the present moment we who are here assembled cannot do
 better than honour the. god Love. If you agree with me, there will
 be no lack of conversation; for I mean to propose that each of us in
 turn, going from left to right, shall make a speech in honour of Love.
 Let him give us the best which he can; and Phaedrus, because he is
 sitting first on the left hand, and because he is the father of the
 thought, shall begin.
   No one will vote against you, Eryximachus, said Socrates. How can
 I oppose your motion, who profess to understand nothing but matters of
 love; nor, I presume, will Agathon and Pausanias; and there can be
 no doubt of Aristophanes, whose whole concern is with Dionysus and
 Aphrodite; nor will any one disagree of those whom I, see around me.
 The proposal, as I am aware, may seem rather hard upon us whose
 place is last; but we shall be contented if we hear some good speeches
 first. Let Phaedrus begin the praise of Love, and good luck to him.
 All the company expressed their assent, and desired him to do as
 Socrates bade him.
   Aristodemus did not recollect all that was said, nor do I
 recollect all that he related to me; but I will tell you what I
 thought most worthy of remembrance, and what the chief speakers said.
   Phaedrus began by affirming that love is a mighty god, and wonderful
 among gods and men, but especially wonderful in his birth. For he is
 the eldest of the gods, which is an honour to him; and a proof of
 his claim to this honour is, that of his parents there is no memorial;
 neither poet nor prose-writer has ever affirmed that he had any. As
 Hesiod says:
      First Chaos came, and then broad-bosomed Earth,
      The everlasting seat of all that is,
      And Love.
 In other words, after Chaos, the Earth and Love, these two, came
 into being. Also Parmenides sings of Generation:
      First in the train of gods, he fashioned Love.
 And Acusilaus agrees with Hesiod. Thus numerous are the witnesses
 who acknowledge Love to be the eldest of the gods. And not only is
 he the eldest, he is also the source of the greatest benefits to us.
 For I know not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning
 life than a virtuous lover or to the lover than a beloved youth. For
 the principle which ought to be the guide of men who would nobly
 live at principle, I say, neither kindred, nor honour, nor wealth, nor
 any other motive is able to implant so well as love. Of what am I
 speaking? Of the sense of honour and dishonour, without which
 neither states nor individuals ever do any good or great work. And I
 say that a lover who is detected in doing any dishonourable act, or
 submitting through cowardice when any dishonour is done to him by
 another, will be more pained at being detected by his beloved than
 at being seen by his father, or by his companions, or by any one else.
 The beloved too, when he is found in any disgraceful situation, has
 the same feeling about his lover. And if there were only some way of
 contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and
 their loves, they would be the very best governors of their own
 city, abstaining from all dishonour, and emulating one another in
 honour; and when fighting at each other's side, although a mere
 handful, they would overcome the world. For what lover would not
 choose rather to be seen by all mankind than by his beloved, either
 when abandoning his post or throwing away his arms? He would be
 ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure this. Or who would
 desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger? The veriest
 coward would become an inspired hero, equal to the bravest, at such
 a time; Love would inspire him. That courage which, as Homer says, the
 god breathes into the souls of some heroes, Love of his own nature
 infuses into the lover.
   Love will make men dare to die for their beloved-love alone; and
 women as well as men. Of this, Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, is
 a monument to all Hellas; for she was willing to lay down her life
 on behalf of her husband, when no one else would, although he had a
 father and mother; but the tenderness of her love so far exceeded
 theirs, that she made them seem to be strangers in blood to their
 own son, and in name only related to him; and so noble did this action
 of hers appear to the gods, as well as to men, that among the many who
 have done virtuously she is one of the very few to whom, in admiration
 of her noble action, they have granted the privilege of returning
 alive to earth; such exceeding honour is paid by the gods to the
 devotion and virtue of love. But Orpheus, the son of Oeagrus, the
 harper, they sent empty away, and presented to him an apparition
 only of her whom he sought, but herself they would not give up,
 because he showed no spirit; he was only a harp-player, and did
 not-dare like Alcestis to die for love, but was contriving how he
 might enter hades alive; moreover, they afterwards caused him to
 suffer death at the hands of women, as the punishment of his
 cowardliness. Very different was the reward of the true love of
 Achilles towards his lover Patroclus-his lover and not his love (the
 notion that Patroclus was the beloved one is a foolish error into
 which Aeschylus has fallen, for Achilles was surely the fairer of
 the two, fairer also than all the other heroes; and, as Homer
 informs us, he was still beardless, and younger far). And greatly as
 the gods honour the virtue of love, still the return of love on the
 part of the beloved to the lover is more admired and valued and
 rewarded by them, for the lover is more divine; because he is inspired
 by God. Now Achilles was quite aware, for he had been told by his
 mother, that he might avoid death and return home, and live to a
 good old age, if he abstained from slaying Hector. Nevertheless he
 gave his life to revenge his friend, and dared to die, not only in his
 defence, but after he was dead Wherefore the gods honoured him even
 above Alcestis, and sent him to the Islands of the Blest. These are my
 reasons for affirming that Love is the eldest and noblest and
 mightiest of the gods; and the chiefest author and giver of virtue
 in life, and of happiness after death.
   This, or something like this, was the speech of Phaedrus; and some
 other speeches followed which Aristodemus did not remember; the next
 which he repeated was that of Pausanias. Phaedrus, he said, the
 argument has not been set before us, I think, quite in the right
 form;-we should not be called upon to praise Love in such an
 indiscriminate manner. If there were only one Love, then what you said
 would be well enough; but since there are more Loves than
 one,-should have begun by determining which of them was to be the
 theme of our praises. I will amend this defect; and first of all I
 would tell you which Love is deserving of praise, and then try to hymn
 the praiseworthy one in a manner worthy of him. For we all know that
 Love is inseparable from Aphrodite, and if there were only one
 Aphrodite there would be only one Love; but as there are two goddesses
 there must be two Loves.
   And am I not right in asserting that there are two goddesses? The
 elder one, having no mother, who is called the heavenly
 Aphrodite-she is the daughter of Uranus; the younger, who is the
 daughter of Zeus and Dione-her we call common; and the Love who is her
 fellow-worker is rightly named common, as the other love is called
 heavenly. All the gods ought to have praise given to them, but not
 without distinction of their natures; and therefore I must try to
 distinguish the characters of the two Loves. Now actions vary
 according to the manner of their performance. Take, for example,
 that which we are now doing, drinking, singing and talking these
 actions are not in themselves either good or evil, but they turn out
 in this or that way according to the mode of performing them; and when
 well done they are good, and when wrongly done they are evil; and in
 like manner not every love, but only that which has a noble purpose,
 is noble and worthy of praise. The Love who is the offspring of the
 common Aphrodite is essentially common, and has no discrimination,
 being such as the meaner sort of men feel, and is apt to be of women
 as well as of youths, and is of the body rather than of the soul-the
 most foolish beings are the objects of this love which desires only to
 gain an end, but never thinks of accomplishing the end nobly, and
 therefore does good and evil quite indiscriminately. The goddess who
 is his mother is far younger than the other, and she was born of the
 union of the male and female, and partakes of both.
   But the offspring of the heavenly Aphrodite is derived from a mother
 in whose birth the female has no part,-she is from the male only; this
 is that love which is of youths, and the goddess being older, there is
 nothing of wantonness in her. Those who are inspired by this love turn
 to the male, and delight in him who is the more valiant and
 intelligent nature; any one may recognise the pure enthusiasts in
 the very character of their attachments. For they love not boys, but
 intelligent, beings whose reason is beginning to be developed, much
 about the time at which their beards begin to grow. And in choosing
 young men to be their companions, they mean to be faithful to them,
 and pass their whole life in company with them, not to take them in
 their inexperience, and deceive them, and play the fool with them,
 or run away from one to another of them. But the love of young boys
 should be forbidden by law, because their future is uncertain; they
 may turn out good or bad, either in body or soul, and much noble
 enthusiasm may be thrown away upon them; in this matter the good are a
 law to themselves, and the coarser sort of lovers ought to be
 restrained by force; as we restrain or attempt to restrain them from
 fixing their affections on women of free birth. These are the
 persons who bring a reproach on love; and some have been led to deny
 the lawfulness of such attachments because they see the impropriety
 and evil of them; for surely nothing that is decorously and lawfully
 done can justly be censured.
   Now here and in Lacedaemon the rules about love are perplexing,
 but in most cities they are simple and easily intelligible; in Elis
 and Boeotia, and in countries having no gifts of eloquence, they are
 very straightforward; the law is simply in favour of these connexions,
 and no one, whether young or old, has anything to say to their
 discredit; the reason being, as I suppose, that they are men of few
 words in those parts, and therefore the lovers do not like the trouble
 of pleading their suit. In Ionia and other places, and generally in
 countries which are subject to the barbarians, the custom is held to
 be dishonourable; loves of youths share the evil repute in which
 philosophy and gymnastics are held because they are inimical to
 tyranny; for the interests of rulers require that their subjects
 should be poor in spirit and that there should be no strong bond of
 friendship or society among them, which love, above all other motives,
 is likely to inspire, as our Athenian tyrants-learned by experience;
 for the love of Aristogeiton and the constancy of Harmodius had
 strength which undid their power. And, therefore, the ill-repute
 into which these attachments have fallen is to be ascribed to the evil
 condition of those who make them to be ill-reputed; that is to say, to
 the self-seeking of the governors and the cowardice of the governed;
 on the other hand, the indiscriminate honour which is given to them in
 some countries is attributable to the laziness of those who hold
 this opinion of them. In our own country a far better principle
 prevails, but, as I was saying, the explanation of it is rather
 perplexing. For, observe that open loves are held to be more
 honourable than secret ones, and that the love of the noblest and
 highest, even if their persons are less beautiful than others, is
 especially honourable.
   Consider, too, how great is the encouragement which all the world
 gives to the lover; neither is he supposed to be doing anything
 dishonourable; but if he succeeds he is praised, and if he fail he
 is blamed. And in the pursuit of his love the custom of mankind allows
 him to do many strange things, which philosophy would bitterly censure
 if they were done from any motive of interest, or wish for office or
 power. He may pray, and entreat, and supplicate, and swear, and lie on
 a mat at the door, and endure a slavery worse than that of any
 slave-in any other case friends and enemies would be equally ready
 to prevent him, but now there is no friend who will be ashamed of
 him and admonish him, and no enemy will charge him with meanness or
 flattery; the actions of a lover have a grace which ennobles them; and
 custom has decided that they are highly commendable and that there
 no loss of character in them; and, what is strangest of all, he only
 may swear and forswear himself (so men say), and the gods will forgive
 his transgression, for there is no such thing as a lover's oath.
 Such is the entire liberty which gods and men have allowed the
 lover, according to the custom which prevails in our part of the
 world. From this point of view a man fairly argues in Athens to love
 and to be loved is held to be a very honourable thing. But when
 parents forbid their sons to talk with their lovers, and place them
 under a tutor's care, who is appointed to see to these things, and
 their companions and equals cast in their teeth anything of the sort
 which they may observe, and their elders refuse to silence the
 reprovers and do not rebuke them-any one who reflects on all this
 will, on the contrary, think that we hold these practices to be most
 disgraceful. But, as I was saying at first, the truth as I imagine is,
 that whether such practices are honourable or whether they are
 dishonourable is not a simple question; they are honourable to him who
 follows them honourably, dishonourable to him who follows them
 dishonourably. There is dishonour in yielding to the evil, or in an
 evil manner; but there is honour in yielding to the good, or in an
 honourable manner.
   Evil is the vulgar lover who loves the body rather than the soul,
 inasmuch as he is not even stable, because he loves a thing which is
 in itself unstable, and therefore when the bloom of youth which he was
 desiring is over, he takes wing and flies away, in spite of all his
 words and promises; whereas the love of the noble disposition is
 life-long, for it becomes one with the everlasting. The custom of
 our country would have both of them proven well and truly, and would
 have us yield to the one sort of lover and avoid the other, and
 therefore encourages some to pursue, and others to fly; testing both
 the lover and beloved in contests and trials, until they show to which
 of the two classes they respectively belong. And this is the reason
 why, in the first place, a hasty attachment is held to be
 dishonourable, because time is the true test of this as of most
 other things; and secondly there is a dishonour in being overcome by
 the love of money, or of wealth, or of political power, whether a
 man is frightened into surrender by the loss of them, or, having
 experienced the benefits of money and political corruption, is
 unable to rise above the seductions of them. For none of these
 things are of a permanent or lasting nature; not to mention that no
 generous friendship ever sprang from them. There remains, then, only
 one way of honourable attachment which custom allows in the beloved,
 and this is the way of virtue; for as we admitted that any service
 which the lover does to him is not to be accounted flattery or a
 dishonour to himself, so the beloved has one way only of voluntary
 service which is not dishonourable, and this is virtuous service.
   For we have a custom, and according to our custom any one who does
 service to another under the idea that he will be improved by him
 either in wisdom, or, in some other particular of virtue-such a
 voluntary service, I say, is not to be regarded as a dishonour, and is
 not open to the charge of flattery. And these two customs, one the
 love of youth, and the other the practice of philosophy and virtue
 in general, ought to meet in one, and then the beloved may
 honourably indulge the lover. For when the lover and beloved come
 together, having each of them a law, and the lover thinks that he is
 right in doing any service which he can to his gracious loving one;
 and the other that he is right in showing any kindness which he can to
 him who is making him wise and good; the one capable of
 communicating wisdom and virtue, the other seeking to acquire them
 with a view to education and wisdom, when the two laws of love are
 fulfilled and meet in one-then, and then only, may the beloved yield
 with honour to the lover. Nor when love is of this disinterested
 sort is there any disgrace in being deceived, but in every other
 case there is equal disgrace in being or not being deceived. For he
 who is gracious to his lover under the impression that he is rich, and
 is disappointed of his gains because he turns out to be poor, is
 disgraced all the same: for he has done his best to show that he would
 give himself up to any one's "uses base" for the sake of money; but
 this is not honourable. And on the same principle he who gives himself
 to a lover because he is a good man, and in the hope that he will be
 improved by his company, shows himself to be virtuous, even though the
 object of his affection turn out to be a villain, and to have no
 virtue; and if he is deceived he has committed a noble error. For he
 has proved that for his part he will do anything for anybody with a
 view to virtue and improvement, than which there can be nothing
 nobler. Thus noble in every case is the acceptance of another for
 the sake of virtue. This is that love which is the love of the
 heavenly godess, and is heavenly, and of great price to individuals
 and cities, making the lover and the beloved alike eager in the work
 of their own improvement. But all other loves are the offspring of the
 other, who is the common goddess. To you, Phaedrus, I offer this my
 contribution in praise of love, which is as good as I could make
   Pausanias came to a pause-this is the balanced way in which I have
 been taught by the wise to speak; and Aristodemus said that the turn
 of Aristophanes was next, but either he had eaten too much, or from
 some other cause he had the hiccough, and was obliged to change
 turns with Eryximachus the physician, who was reclining on the couch
 below him. Eryximachus, he said, you ought either to stop my hiccough,
 or to speak in my turn until I have left off.
   I will do both, said Eryximachus: I will speak in your turn, and
 do you speak in mine; and while I am speaking let me recommend you
 to hold your breath, and if after you have done so for some time the
 hiccough is no better, then gargle with a little water; and if it
 still continues, tickle your nose with something and sneeze; and if
 you sneeze once or twice, even the most violent hiccough is sure to
 go. I will do as you prescribe, said Aristophanes, and now get on.
   Eryximachus spoke as follows: Seeing that Pausanias made a fair
 beginning, and but a lame ending, I must endeavour to supply his
 deficiency. I think that he has rightly distinguished two kinds of
 love. But my art further informs me that the double love is not merely
 an affection of the soul of man towards the fair, or towards anything,
 but is to be found in the bodies of all animals and in productions
 of the earth, and I may say in all that is; such is the conclusion
 which I seem to have gathered from my own art of medicine, whence I
 learn how great and wonderful and universal is the deity of love,
 whose empire extends over all things, divine as well as human. And
 from medicine I would begin that I may do honour to my art. There
 are in the human body these two kinds of love, which are confessedly
 different and unlike, and being unlike, they have loves and desires
 which are unlike; and the desire of the healthy is one, and the desire
 of the diseased is another; and as Pausanias was just now saying
 that to indulge good men is honourable, and bad men
 dishonourable:-so too in the body the good and healthy elements are to
 be indulged, and the bad elements and the elements of disease are
 not to be indulged, but discouraged. And this is what the physician
 has to do, and in this the art of medicine consists: for medicine
 may be regarded generally as the knowledge of the loves and desires of
 the body, and how to satisfy them or not; and the best physician is he
 who is able to separate fair love from foul, or to convert one into
 the other; and he who knows how to eradicate and how to implant
 love, whichever is required, and can reconcile the most hostile
 elements in the constitution and make them loving friends, is
 skilful practitioner. Now the: most hostile are the most opposite,
 such as hot and cold, bitter and sweet, moist and dry, and the like.
 And my ancestor, Asclepius, knowing how-to implant friendship and
 accord in these elements, was the creator of our art, as our friends
 the poets here tell us, and I believe them; and not only medicine in
 every branch but the arts of gymnastic and husbandry are under his
   Any one who pays the least attention to the subject will also
 perceive that in music there is the same reconciliation of
 opposites; and I suppose that this must have been the meaning, of
 Heracleitus, although, his words are not accurate, for he says that is
 united by disunion, like the harmony-of bow and the lyre. Now there is
 an absurdity saying that harmony is discord or is composed of elements
 which are still in a state of discord. But what he probably meant was,
 that, harmony is composed of differing notes of higher or lower
 pitch which disagreed once, but are now reconciled by the art of
 music; for if the higher and lower notes still disagreed, there
 could be there could be no harmony-clearly not. For harmony is a
 symphony, and symphony is an agreement; but an agreement of
 disagreements while they disagree there cannot be; you cannot
 harmonize that which disagrees. In like manner rhythm is compounded of
 elements short and long, once differing and now-in accord; which
 accordance, as in the former instance, medicine, so in all these other
 cases, music implants, making love and unison to grow up among them;
 and thus music, too, is concerned with the principles of love in their
 application to harmony and rhythm. Again, in the essential nature of
 harmony and rhythm there is no difficulty in discerning love which has
 not yet become double. But when you want to use them in actual life,
 either in the composition of songs or in the correct performance of
 airs or metres composed already, which latter is called education,
 then the difficulty begins, and the good artist is needed. Then the
 old tale has to be repeated of fair and heavenly love -the love of
 Urania the fair and heavenly muse, and of the duty of accepting the
 temperate, and those who are as yet intemperate only that they may
 become temperate, and of preserving their love; and again, of the
 vulgar Polyhymnia, who must be used with circumspection that the
 pleasure be enjoyed, but may not generate licentiousness; just as in
 my own art it is a great matter so to regulate the desires of the
 epicure that he may gratify his tastes without the attendant evil of
 disease. Whence I infer that in music, in medicine, in all other
 things human as which as divine, both loves ought to be noted as far
 as may be, for they are both present.
   The course of the seasons is also full of both these principles; and
 when, as I was saying, the elements of hot and cold, moist and dry,
 attain the harmonious love of one another and blend in temperance
 and harmony, they bring to men, animals, and plants health and plenty,
 and do them no harm; whereas the wanton love, getting the upper hand
 and affecting the seasons of the year, is very destructive and
 injurious, being the source of pestilence, and bringing many other
 kinds of diseases on animals and plants; for hoar-frost and hail and
 blight spring from the excesses and disorders of these elements of
 love, which to know in relation to the revolutions of the heavenly
 bodies and the seasons of the year is termed astronomy. Furthermore
 all sacrifices and the whole province of divination, which is the
 art of communion between gods and men-these, I say, are concerned with
 the preservation of the good and the cure of the evil love. For all
 manner of impiety is likely to ensue if, instead of accepting and
 honouring and reverencing the harmonious love in all his actions, a
 man honours the other love, whether in his feelings towards gods or
 parents, towards the living or the dead. Wherefore the business of
 divination is to see to these loves and to heal them, and divination
 is the peacemaker of gods and men, working by a knowledge of the
 religious or irreligious tendencies which exist in human loves. Such
 is the great and mighty, or rather omnipotent force of love in
 general. And the love, more especially, which is concerned with the
 good, and which is perfected in company with temperance and justice,
 whether among gods or men, has the greatest power, and is the source
 of all our happiness and harmony, and makes us friends with the gods
 who are above us, and with one another. I dare say that I too have
 omitted several things which might be said in praise of Love, but this
 was not intentional, and you, Aristophanes, may now supply the
 omission or take some other line of commendation; for I perceive
 that you are rid of the hiccough.
   Yes, said Aristophanes, who followed, the hiccough is gone; not,
 however, until I applied the sneezing; and I wonder whether the
 harmony of the body has a love of such noises and ticklings, for I
 no sooner applied the sneezing than I was cured.
   Eryximachus said: Beware, friend Aristophanes, although you are
 going to speak, you are making fun of me; and I shall have to watch
 and see whether I cannot have a laugh at your expense, when you
 might speak in peace.
   You are right, said Aristophanes, laughing. I will unsay my words;
 but do you please not to watch me, as I fear that in the speech
 which I am about to make, instead of others laughing with me, which is
 to the manner born of our muse and would be all the better, I shall
 only be laughed at by them.
   Do you expect to shoot your bolt and escape, Aristophanes? Well,
 perhaps if you are very careful and bear in mind that you will be
 called to account, I may be induced to let you off.
   Aristophanes professed to open another vein of discourse; he had a
 mind to praise Love in another way, unlike that either of Pausanias or
 Eryximachus. Mankind; he said, judging by their neglect of him, have
 never, as I think, at all understood the power of Love. For if they
 had understood him they would surely have built noble temples and
 altars, and offered solemn sacrifices in his honour; but this is not
 done, and most certainly ought to be done: since of all the gods he is
 the best friend of men, the helper and the healer of the ills which
 are the great impediment to the happiness of the race. I will try to
 describe his power to you, and you shall teach the rest of the world
 what I am teaching you. In the first place, let me treat of the nature
 of man and what has happened to it; for the original human nature
 was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two as
 they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman,
 and the union of the two, having a name corresponding to this double
 nature, which had once a real existence, but is now lost, and the word
 "Androgynous" is only preserved as a term of reproach. In the second
 place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a
 circle; and he had four hands and four feet, one head with two
 faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike;
 also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond. He
 could walk upright as men now do, backwards or forwards as he pleased,
 and he could also roll over and over at a great pace, turning on his
 four hands and four feet, eight in all, like tumblers going over and
 over with their legs in the air; this was when he wanted to run
 fast. Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them;
 because the sun, moon, and earth are three;-and the man was originally
 the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the
 moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and
 moved round and round: like their parents. Terrible was their might
 and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they
 made an attack upon the gods; of them is told the tale of Otys and
 Ephialtes who, as Homer says, dared to scale heaven, and would have
 laid hands upon the gods. Doubt reigned in the celestial councils.
 Should they kill them and annihilate the race with thunderbolts, as
 they had done the giants, then there would be an end of the sacrifices
 and worship which men offered to them; but, on the other hand, the
 gods could not suffer their insolence to be unrestrained.
   At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way.
 He said: "Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and
 improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut
 them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased
 in numbers; this will have the advantage of making them more
 profitable to us. They shall walk upright on two legs, and if they
 continue insolent and will not be quiet, I will split them again and
 they shall hop about on a single leg." He spoke and cut men in two,
 like a sorb-apple which is halved for pickling, or as you might divide
 an egg with a hair; and as he cut them one after another, he bade
 Apollo give the face and the half of the neck a turn in order that the
 man might contemplate the section of himself: he would thus learn a
 lesson of humility. Apollo was also bidden to heal their wounds and
 compose their forms. So he gave a turn to the face and pulled the skin
 from the sides all over that which in our language is called the
 belly, like the purses which draw in, and he made one mouth at the
 centre, which he fastened in a knot (the same which is called the
 navel); he also moulded the breast and took out most of the
 wrinkles, much as a shoemaker might smooth leather upon a last; he
 left a few, however, in the region of the belly and navel, as a
 memorial of the primeval state. After the division the two parts of
 man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their
 arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow
 into one, they were on the point of dying from hunger and
 self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart; and when
 one of the halves died and the other survived, the survivor sought
 another mate, man or woman as we call them, being the sections of
 entire men or women, and clung to that. They were being destroyed,
 when Zeus in pity of them invented a new plan: he turned the parts
 of generation round to the front, for this had not been always their
 position and they sowed the seed no longer as hitherto like
 grasshoppers in the ground, but in one another; and after the
 transposition the male generated in the female in order that by the
 mutual embraces of man and woman they might breed, and the race
 might continue; or if man came to man they might be satisfied, and
 rest, and go their ways to the business of life: so ancient is the
 desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original
 nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man.
   Each of us when separated, having one side only, like a flat fish,
 is but the indenture of a man, and he is always looking for his
 other half. Men who are a section of that double nature which was once
 called Androgynous are lovers of women; adulterers are generally of
 this breed, and also adulterous women who lust after men: the women
 who are a section of the woman do not care for men, but have female
 attachments; the female companions are of this sort. But they who
 are a section of the male follow the male, and while they are young,
 being slices of the original man, they hang about men and embrace
 them, and they are themselves the best of boys and youths, because
 they have the most manly nature. Some indeed assert that they are
 shameless, but this is not true; for they do not act thus from any
 want of shame, but because they are valiant and manly, and have a
 manly countenance, and they embrace that which is like them. And these
 when they grow up become our statesmen, and these only, which is a
 great proof of the truth of what I am saving. When they reach
 manhood they are loves of youth, and are not naturally inclined to
 marry or beget children,-if at all, they do so only in obedience to
 the law; but they are satisfied if they may be allowed to live with
 one another unwedded; and such a nature is prone to love and ready
 to return love, always embracing that which is akin to him. And when
 one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself,
 whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair
 are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and
 would not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a
 moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together;
 yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the
 intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not
 appear to be the desire of lover's intercourse, but of something
 else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and
 of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment. Suppose
 Hephaestus, with his instruments, to come to the pair who are lying
 side, by side and to say to them, "What do you people want of one
 another?" they would be unable to explain. And suppose further, that
 when he saw their perplexity he said: "Do you desire to be wholly one;
 always day and night to be in one another's company? for if this is
 what you desire, I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow
 together, so that being two you shall become one, and while you live a
 common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the
 world below still be one departed soul instead of two-I ask whether
 this is what you lovingly desire, and whether you are satisfied to
 attain this?"-there is not a man of them who when he heard the
 proposal would deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and
 melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the
 very expression of his ancient need. And the reason is that human
 nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and
 pursuit of the whole is called love. There was a time, I say, when
 we were one, but now because of the wickedness of mankind God has
 dispersed us, as the Arcadians were dispersed into villages by the
 Lacedaemonians. And if we are not obedient to the gods, there is a
 danger that we shall be split up again and go about in
 basso-relievo, like the profile figures having only half a nose
 which are sculptured on monuments, and that we shall be like tallies.
   Wherefore let us exhort all men to piety, that we may avoid evil,
 and obtain the good, of which Love is to us the lord and minister; and
 let no one oppose him-he is the enemy of the gods who oppose him.
 For if we are friends of the God and at peace with him we shall find
 our own true loves, which rarely happens in this world at present. I
 am serious, and therefore I must beg Eryximachus not to make fun or to
 find any allusion in what I am saying to Pausanias and Agathon, who,
 as I suspect, are both of the manly nature, and belong to the class
 which I have been describing. But my words have a wider
 application-they include men and women everywhere; and I believe
 that if our loves were perfectly accomplished, and each one
 returning to his primeval nature had his original true love, then
 our race would be happy. And if this would be best of all, the best in
 the next degree and under present circumstances must be the nearest
 approach to such an union; and that will be the attainment of a
 congenial love. Wherefore, if we would praise him who has given to
 us the benefit, we must praise the god Love, who is our greatest
 benefactor, both leading us in this life back to our own nature, and
 giving us high hopes for the future, for he promises that if we are
 pious, he will restore us to our original state, and heal us and
 make us happy and blessed. This, Eryximachus, is my discourse of love,
 which, although different to yours, I must beg you to leave unassailed
 by the shafts of your ridicule, in order that each may have his
 turn; each, or rather either, for Agathon and Socrates are the only
 ones left.
   Indeed, I am not going to attack you, said Eryximachus, for I
 thought your speech charming, and did I not know that Agathon and
 Socrates are masters in the art of love, I should be really afraid
 that they would have nothing to say, after the world of things which
 have been said already. But, for all that, I am not without hopes.
   Socrates said: You played your part well, Eryximachus; but if you
 were as I am now, or rather as I shall be when Agathon has spoken, you
 would, indeed, be in a great strait.
   You want to cast a spell over me, Socrates, said Agathon, in the
 hope that I may be disconcerted at the expectation raised among the
 audience that I shall speak well.
   I should be strangely forgetful, Agathon replied Socrates, of the
 courage and magnanimity which you showed when your own compositions
 were about to be exhibited, and you came upon the stage with the
 actors and faced the vast theatre altogether undismayed, if I
 thought that your nerves could be fluttered at a small party of
   Do you think, Socrates, said Agathon, that my head is so full of the
 theatre as not to know how much more formidable to a man of sense a
 few good judges are than many fools?
   Nay, replied Socrates, I should be very wrong in attributing to you,
 Agathon, that or any other want of refinement. And I am quite aware
 that if you happened to meet with any whom you thought wise, you would
 care for their opinion much more than for that of the many. But then
 we, having been a part of the foolish many in the theatre, cannot be
 regarded as the select wise; though I know that if you chanced to be
 in the presence, not of one of ourselves, but of some really wise man,
 you would be ashamed of disgracing yourself before him-would you not?
   Yes, said Agathon.
   But before the many you would not be ashamed, if you thought that
 you were doing something disgraceful in their presence?
   Here Phaedrus interrupted them, saying: not answer him, my dear
 Agathon; for if he can only get a partner with whom he can talk,
 especially a good-looking one, he will no longer care about the
 completion of our plan. Now I love to hear him talk; but just at
 present I must not forget the encomium on Love which I ought to
 receive from him and from every one. When you and he have paid your
 tribute to the god, then you may talk.
   Very good, Phaedrus, said Agathon; I see no reason why I should
 not proceed with my speech, as I shall have many other opportunities
 of conversing with Socrates. Let me say first how I ought to speak,
 and then speak:-
   The previous speakers, instead of praising the god Love, or
 unfolding his nature, appear to have congratulated mankind on the
 benefits which he confers upon them. But I would rather praise the god
 first, and then speak of his gifts; this is always the right way of
 praising everything. May I say without impiety or offence, that of all
 the blessed gods he is the most blessed because he is the fairest
 and best? And he is the fairest: for, in the first place, he is the
 youngest, and of his youth he is himself the witness, fleeing out of
 the way of age, who is swift enough, swifter truly than most of us
 like:-Love hates him and will not come near him; but youth and love
 live and move together-like to like, as the proverb says. Many
 things were said by Phaedrus about Love in which I agree with him; but
 I cannot agree that he is older than Iapetus and Kronos:-not so; I
 maintain him to be the youngest of the gods, and youthful ever. The
 ancient doings among the gods of which Hesiod and Parmenides spoke, if
 the tradition of them be true, were done of Necessity and not Love;
 had Love been in those days, there would have been no chaining or
 mutilation of the gods, or other violence, but peace and sweetness, as
 there is now in heaven, since the rule of Love began.
   Love is young and also tender; he ought to have a poet like Homer to
 describe his tenderness, as Homer says of Ate, that she is a goddess
 and tender:
      Her feet are tender, for she sets her steps,
      Not on the ground but on the heads of men:
 herein is an excellent proof of her tenderness that,-she walks not
 upon the hard but upon the soft. Let us adduce a similar proof of
 the tenderness of Love; for he walks not upon the earth, nor yet
 upon skulls of men, which are not so very soft, but in the hearts
 and souls of both god, and men, which are of all things the softest:
 in them he walks and dwells and makes his home. Not in every soul
 without exception, for Where there is hardness he departs, where there
 is softness there he dwells; and nestling always with his feet and
 in all manner of ways in the softest of soft places, how can he be
 other than the softest of all things? Of a truth he is the tenderest
 as well as the youngest, and also he is of flexile form; for if he
 were hard and without flexure he could not enfold all things, or
 wind his way into and out of every soul of man undiscovered. And a
 proof of his flexibility and symmetry of form is his grace, which is
 universally admitted to be in an especial manner the attribute of
 Love; ungrace and love are always at war with one another. The
 fairness of his complexion is revealed by his habitation among the
 flowers; for he dwells not amid bloomless or fading beauties,
 whether of body or soul or aught else, but in the place of flowers and
 scents, there he sits and abides. Concerning the beauty of the god I
 have said enough; and yet there remains much more which I might say.
 Of his virtue I have now to speak: his greatest glory is that he can
 neither do nor suffer wrong to or from any god or any man; for he
 suffers not by force if he suffers; force comes not near him,
 neither when he acts does he act by force. For all men in all things
 serve him of their own free will, and where there is voluntary
 agreement, there, as the laws which are the lords of the city say,
 is justice. And not only is he just but exceedingly temperate, for
 Temperance is the acknowledged ruler of the pleasures and desires, and
 no pleasure ever masters Love; he is their master and they are his
 servants; and if he conquers them he must be temperate indeed. As to
 courage, even the God of War is no match for him; he is the captive
 and Love is the lord, for love, the love of Aphrodite, masters him, as
 the tale runs; and the master is stronger than the servant. And if
 he conquers the bravest of all others, he must be himself the bravest.
   Of his courage and justice and temperance I have spoken, but I
 have yet to speak of his wisdom-and according to the measure of my
 ability I must try to do my best. In the first place he is a poet (and
 here, like Eryximachus, I magnify my art), and he is also the source
 of poesy in others, which he could not be if he were not himself a
 poet. And at the touch of him every one becomes a poet, even though he
 had no music in him before; this also is a proof that Love is a good
 poet and accomplished in all the fine arts; for no one can give to
 another that which he has not himself, or teach that of which he has
 no knowledge. Who will deny that the creation of the animals is his
 doing? Are they not all the works his wisdom, born and begotten of
 him? And as to the artists, do we not know that he only of them whom
 love inspires has the light of fame?-he whom Love touches riot walks
 in darkness. The arts of medicine and archery and divination were
 discovered by Apollo, under the guidance of love and desire; so that
 he too is a disciple of Love. Also the melody of the Muses, the
 metallurgy of Hephaestus, the weaving of Athene, the empire of Zeus
 over gods and men, are all due to Love, who was the inventor of
 them. And so Love set in order the empire of the gods-the love of
 beauty, as is evident, for with deformity Love has no concern. In
 the days of old, as I began by saying, dreadful deeds were done
 among the gods, for they were ruled by Necessity; but now since the
 birth of Love, and from the Love of the beautiful, has sprung every
 good in heaven and earth. Therefore, Phaedrus, I say of Love that he
 is the fairest and best in himself, and the cause of what is fairest
 and best in all other things. And there comes into my mind a line of
 poetry in which he is said to be the god who
      Gives peace on earth and calms the stormy deep,
      Who stills the winds and bids the sufferer sleep.
 This is he who empties men of disaffection and fills them with
 affection, who makes them to meet together at banquets such as
 these: in sacrifices, feasts, dances, he is our lord-who sends
 courtesy and sends away discourtesy, who gives kindness ever and never
 gives unkindness; the friend of the good, the wonder of the wise,
 the amazement of the gods; desired by those who have no part in him,
 and precious to those who have the better part in him; parent of
 delicacy, luxury, desire, fondness, softness, grace; regardful of
 the good, regardless of the evil: in every word, work, wish,
 fear-saviour, pilot, comrade, helper; glory of gods and men, leader
 best and brightest: in whose footsteps let every man follow, sweetly
 singing in his honour and joining in that sweet strain with which love
 charms the souls of gods and men. Such is the speech, Phaedrus,
 half-playful, yet having a certain measure of seriousness, which,
 according to my ability, I dedicate to the god.
   When Agathon had done speaking, Aristodemus said that there was a
 general cheer; the young man was thought to have spoken in a manner
 worthy of himself, and of the god. And Socrates, looking at
 Eryximachus, said: Tell me, son of Acumenus, was there not reason in
 my fears? and was I not a true prophet when I said that Agathon
 would make a wonderful oration, and that I should be in a strait?
   The part of the prophecy which concerns Agathon, replied
 Eryximachus, appears to me to be true; but, not the other part-that
 you will be in a strait.
   Why, my dear friend, said Socrates, must not I or any one be in a
 strait who has to speak after he has heard such a rich and varied
 discourse? I am especially struck with the beauty of the concluding
 words-who could listen to them without amazement? When I reflected
 on the immeasurable inferiority of my own powers, I was ready to run
 away for shame, if there had been a possibility of escape. For I was
 reminded of Gorgias, and at the end of his speech I fancied that
 Agathon was shaking at me the Gorginian or Gorgonian head of the great
 master of rhetoric, which was simply to turn me and my speech, into
 stone, as Homer says, and strike me dumb. And then I perceived how
 foolish I had been in consenting to take my turn with you in
 praising love, and saying that I too was a master of the art, when I
 really had no conception how anything ought to be praised. For in my
 simplicity I imagined that the topics of praise should be true, and
 that this being presupposed, out of the true the speaker was to choose
 the best and set them forth in the best manner. And I felt quite
 proud, thinking that I knew the nature of true praise, and should
 speak well. Whereas I now see that the intention was to attribute to
 Love every species of greatness and glory, whether really belonging to
 him not, without regard to truth or falsehood-that was no matter;
 for the original, proposal seems to have been not that each of you
 should really praise Love, but only that you should appear to praise
 him. And so you attribute to Love every imaginable form of praise
 which can be gathered anywhere; and you say that "he is all this," and
 "the cause of all that," making him appear the fairest and best of all
 to those who know him not, for you cannot impose upon those who know
 him. And a noble and solemn hymn of praise have you rehearsed. But
 as I misunderstood the nature of the praise when I said that I would
 take my turn, I must beg to be absolved from the promise which I
 made in ignorance, and which (as Euripides would say) was a promise of
 the lips and not of the mind. Farewell then to such a strain: for I do
 not praise in that way; no, indeed, I cannot. But if you like to
 here the truth about love, I am ready to speak in my own manner,
 though I will not make myself ridiculous by entering into any
 rivalry with you. Say then, Phaedrus, whether you would like, to
 have the truth about love, spoken in any words and in any order
 which may happen to come into my mind at the time. Will that be
 agreeable to you?
   Aristodemus said that Phaedrus and the company bid him speak in
 any manner which he thought best. Then, he added, let me have your
 permission first to ask Agathon a few more questions, in order that
 I may take his admissions as the premisses of my discourse.
   I grant the permission, said Phaedrus: put your questions.
 Socrates then proceeded as follows:-
   In the magnificent oration which you have just uttered, I think that
 you were right, my dear Agathon, in proposing to speak of the nature
 of Love first and afterwards of his works-that is a way of beginning
 which I very much approve. And as you have spoken so eloquently of his
 nature, may I ask you further, Whether love is the love of something
 or of nothing? And here I must explain myself: I do not want you to
 say that love is the love of a father or the love of a mother-that
 would be ridiculous; but to answer as you would, if I asked is a
 father a father of something? to which you would find no difficulty in
 replying, of a son or daughter: and the answer would be right.
   Very true, said Agathon.
   And you would say the same of a mother?
   He assented.
   Yet let me ask you one more question in order to illustrate my
 meaning: Is not a brother to be regarded essentially as a brother of
   Certainly, he replied.
   That is, of a brother or sister?
   Yes, he said.
   And now, said Socrates, I will ask about Love:-Is Love of
 something or of nothing?
   Of something, surely, he replied.
   Keep in mind what this is, and tell me what I want to know-whether
 Love desires that of which love is.
   Yes, surely.
   And does he possess, or does he not possess, that which he loves and
   Probably not, I should say.
   Nay, replied Socrates, I would have you consider whether
 "necessarily" is not rather the word. The inference that he who
 desires something is in want of something, and that he who desires
 nothing is in want of nothing, is in my judgment, Agathon absolutely
 and necessarily true. What do you think?
   I agree with you, said Agathon.
   Very good. Would he who is great, desire to be great, or he who is
 strong, desire to be strong?
   That would be inconsistent with our previous admissions.
   True. For he who is anything cannot want to be that which he is?
   Very true.
   And yet, added Socrates, if a man being strong desired to be strong,
 or being swift desired to be swift, or being healthy desired to be
 healthy, in that case he might be thought to desire something which he
 already has or is. I give the example in order that we may avoid
 misconception. For the possessors of these qualities, Agathon, must be
 supposed to have their respective advantages at the time, whether they
 choose or not; and who can desire that which he has? Therefore when
 a person says, I am well and wish to be well, or I am rich and wish to
 be rich, and I desire simply to have what I have-to him we shall
 reply: "You, my friend, having wealth and health and strength, want to
 have the continuance of them; for at this moment, whether you choose
 or no, you have them. And when you say, I desire that which I have and
 nothing else, is not your meaning that you want to have what you now
 have in the future? "He must agree with us-must he not?
   He must, replied Agathon.
   Then, said Socrates, he desires that what he has at present may be
 preserved to him in the future, which is equivalent to saying that
 he desires something which is non-existent to him, and which as yet he
 has not got.
   Very true, he said.
   Then he and every one who desires, desires that which he has not
 already, and which is future and not present, and which he has not,
 and is not, and of which he is in want;-these are the sort of things
 which love and desire seek?
   Very true, he said.
   Then now, said Socrates, let us recapitulate the argument. First, is
 not love of something, and of something too which is wanting to a man?
   Yes, he replied.
   Remember further what you said in your speech, or if you do not
 remember I will remind you: you said that the love of the beautiful
 set in order the empire of the gods, for that of deformed things there
 is no love-did you not say something of that kind?
   Yes, said Agathon.
   Yes, my friend, and the remark was a just one. And if this is
 true, Love is the love of beauty and not of deformity?
   He assented.
   And the admission has been already made that Love is of something
 which a man wants and has not?
   True, he said.
   Then Love wants and has not beauty?
   Certainly, he replied.
   And would you call that beautiful which wants and does not possess
   Certainly not.
   Then would you still say that love is beautiful?
   Agathon replied: I fear that I did not understand what I was saying.
   You made a very good speech, Agathon, replied Socrates; but there is
 yet one small question which I would fain ask:-Is not the good also
 the beautiful?
   Then in wanting the beautiful, love wants also the good?
   I cannot refute you, Socrates, said Agathon:-Let us assume that what
 you say is true.
   Say rather, beloved Agathon, that you cannot refute the truth; for
 Socrates is easily refuted.
   And now, taking my leave of you, I would rehearse a tale of love
 which I heard from Diotima of Mantineia, a woman wise in this and in
 many other kinds of knowledge, who in the days of old, when the
 Athenians offered sacrifice before the coming of the plague, delayed
 the disease ten years. She was my instructress in the art of love, and
 I shall repeat to you what she said to me, beginning with the
 admissions made by Agathon, which are nearly if not quite the same
 which I made to the wise woman when she questioned me-I think that
 this will be the easiest way, and I shall take both parts myself as
 well as I can. As you, Agathon, suggested, I must speak first of the
 being and nature of Love, and then of his works. First I said to her
 in nearly the same words which he used to me, that Love was a mighty
 god, and likewise fair and she proved to me as I proved to him that,
 by my own showing, Love was neither fair nor good. "What do you
 mean, Diotima," I said, "is love then evil and foul?" "Hush," she
 cried; "must that be foul which is not fair?" "Certainly," I said.
 "And is that which is not wise, ignorant? do you not see that there is
 a mean between wisdom and ignorance?" "And what may that be?" I
 said. "Right opinion," she replied; "which, as you know, being
 incapable of giving a reason, is not knowledge (for how can
 knowledge be devoid of reason? nor again, ignorance, for neither can
 ignorance attain the truth), but is clearly something which is a
 mean between ignorance and wisdom." "Quite true," I replied. "Do not
 then insist," she said, "that what is not fair is of necessity foul,
 or what is not good evil; or infer that because love is not fair and
 good he is therefore foul and evil; for he is in a mean between them."
 "Well," I said, "Love is surely admitted by all to be a great god."
 "By those who know or by those who do not know?" "By all." "And how,
 Socrates," she said with a smile, "can Love be acknowledged to be a
 great god by those who say that he is not a god at all?" "And who
 are they?" I said. "You and I are two of them," she replied. "How
 can that be?" I said. "It is quite intelligible," she replied; "for
 you yourself would acknowledge that the gods are happy and fair of
 course you would-would to say that any god was not?" "Certainly
 not," I replied. "And you mean by the happy, those who are the
 possessors of things good or fair?" "Yes." "And you admitted that
 Love, because he was in want, desires those good and fair things of
 which he is in want?" "Yes, I did." "But how can he be a god who has
 no portion in what is either good or fair?" "Impossible." "Then you
 see that you also deny the divinity of Love."
   "What then is Love?" I asked; "Is he mortal?" "No." "What then?" "As
 in the former instance, he is neither mortal nor immortal, but in a
 mean between the two." "What is he, Diotima?" "He is a great spirit
 (daimon), and like all spirits he is intermediate between the divine
 and the mortal." "And what," I said, "is his power?" "He
 interprets," she replied, "between gods and men, conveying and
 taking across to the gods the prayers and sacrifices of men, and to
 men the commands and replies of the gods; he is the mediator who spans
 the chasm which divides them, and therefore in him all is bound
 together, and through him the arts of the prophet and the priest,
 their sacrifices and mysteries and charms, and all, prophecy and
 incantation, find their way. For God mingles not with man; but through
 Love. all the intercourse, and converse of god with man, whether awake
 or asleep, is carried on. The wisdom which understands this is
 spiritual; all other wisdom, such as that of arts and handicrafts,
 is mean and vulgar. Now these spirits or intermediate powers are
 many and diverse, and one of them is Love. "And who," I said, "was his
 father, and who his mother?" "The tale," she said, "will take time;
 nevertheless I will tell you. On the birthday of Aphrodite there was a
 feast of the gods, at which the god Poros or Plenty, who is the son of
 Metis or Discretion, was one of the guests. When the feast was over,
 Penia or Poverty, as the manner is on such occasions, came about the
 doors to beg. Now Plenty who was the worse for nectar (there was no
 wine in those days), went into the garden of Zeus and fell into a
 heavy sleep, and Poverty considering her own straitened circumstances,
 plotted to have a child by him, and accordingly she lay down at his
 side and conceived love, who partly because he is naturally a lover of
 the beautiful, and because Aphrodite is herself beautiful, and also
 because he was born on her birthday, is her follower and attendant.
 And as his parentage is, so also are his fortunes. In the first
 place he is always poor, and anything but tender and fair, as the many
 imagine him; and he is rough and squalid, and has no shoes, nor a
 house to dwell in; on the bare earth exposed he lies under the open
 heaven, in-the streets, or at the doors of houses, taking his rest;
 and like his mother he is always in distress. Like his father too,
 whom he also partly resembles, he is always plotting against the
 fair and good; he is bold, enterprising, strong, a mighty hunter,
 always weaving some intrigue or other, keen in the pursuit of
 wisdom, fertile in resources; a philosopher at all times, terrible
 as an enchanter, sorcerer, sophist. He is by nature neither mortal nor
 immortal, but alive and flourishing at one moment when he is in
 plenty, and dead at another moment, and again alive by reason of his
 father's nature. But that which is always flowing in is always flowing
 out, and so he is never in want and never in wealth; and, further,
 he is in a mean between ignorance and knowledge. The truth of the
 matter is this: No god is a philosopher. or seeker after wisdom, for
 he is wise already; nor does any man who is wise seek after wisdom.
 Neither do the ignorant seek after Wisdom. For herein is the evil of
 ignorance, that he who is neither good nor wise is nevertheless
 satisfied with himself: he has no desire for that of which he feels no
 want." "But-who then, Diotima," I said, "are the lovers of wisdom,
 if they are neither the wise nor the foolish?" "A child may answer
 that question," she replied; "they are those who are in a mean between
 the two; Love is one of them. For wisdom is a most beautiful thing,
 and Love is of the beautiful; and therefore Love is also a
 philosopher: or lover of wisdom, and being a lover of wisdom is in a
 mean between the wise and the ignorant. And of this too his birth is
 the cause; for his father is wealthy and wise, and his mother poor and
 foolish. Such, my dear Socrates, is the nature of the spirit Love. The
 error in your conception of him was very natural, and as I imagine
 from what you say, has arisen out of a confusion of love and the
 beloved, which made you think that love was all beautiful. For the
 beloved is the truly beautiful, and delicate, and perfect, and
 blessed; but the principle of love is of another nature, and is such
 as I have described."
   I said, "O thou stranger woman, thou sayest well; but, assuming Love
 to be such as you say, what is the use of him to men?" "That,
 Socrates," she replied, "I will attempt to unfold: of his nature and
 birth I have already spoken; and you acknowledge that love is of the
 beautiful. But some one will say: Of the beautiful in what, Socrates
 and Diotima?-or rather let me put the question more dearly, and ask:
 When a man loves the beautiful, what does he desire?" I answered her
 "That the beautiful may be his." "Still," she said, "the answer
 suggests a further question: What is given by the possession of
 beauty?" "To what you have asked," I replied, "I have no answer
 ready." "Then," she said, "Let me put the word 'good' in the place
 of the beautiful, and repeat the question once more: If he who loves
 good, what is it then that he loves? "The possession of the good," I
 said. "And what does he gain who possesses the good?" "Happiness," I
 replied; "there is less difficulty in answering that question." "Yes,"
 she said, "the happy are made happy by the acquisition of good things.
 Nor is there any need to ask why a man desires happiness; the answer
 is already final." "You are right." I said. "And is this wish and this
 desire common to all? and do all men always desire their own good,
 or only some men?-what say you?" "All men," I replied; "the desire
 is common to all." "Why, then," she rejoined, "are not all men,
 Socrates, said to love, but only some them? whereas you say that all
 men are always loving the same things." "I myself wonder," I said,-why
 this is." "There is nothing to wonder at," she replied; "the reason is
 that one part of love is separated off and receives the name of the
 whole, but the other parts have other names." "Give an
 illustration," I said. She answered me as follows: "There is poetry,
 which, as you know, is complex; and manifold. All creation or
 passage of non-being into being is poetry or making, and the processes
 of all art are creative; and the masters of arts are all poets or
 makers." "Very true." "Still," she said, "you know that they are not
 called poets, but have other names; only that portion of the art which
 is separated off from the rest, and is concerned with music and metre,
 is termed poetry, and they who possess poetry in this sense of the
 word are called poets." "Very true," I said. "And the same holds of
 love. For you may say generally that all desire of good and
 happiness is only the great and subtle power of love; but they who are
 drawn towards him by any other path, whether the path of
 money-making or gymnastics or philosophy, are not called lovers -the
 name of the whole is appropriated to those whose affection takes one
 form only-they alone are said to love, or to be lovers." "I dare say,"
 I replied, "that you are right." "Yes," she added, "and you hear
 people say that lovers are seeking for their other half; but I say
 that they are seeking neither for the half of themselves, nor for
 the whole, unless the half or the whole be also a good. And they
 will cut off their own hands and feet and cast them away, if they
 are evil; for they love not what is their own, unless perchance
 there be some one who calls what belongs to him the good, and what
 belongs to another the evil. For there is nothing which men love but
 the good. Is there anything?" "Certainly, I should say, that there
 is nothing." "Then," she said, "the simple truth is, that men love the
 good." "Yes," I said. "To which must be added that they love the
 possession of the good? "Yes, that must be added." "And not only the
 possession, but the everlasting possession of the good?" "That must be
 added too." "Then love," she said, "may be described generally as
 the love of the everlasting possession of the good?" "That is most
   "Then if this be the nature of love, can you tell me further," she
 said, "what is the manner of the pursuit? what are they doing who show
 all this eagerness and heat which is called love? and what is the
 object which they have in view? Answer me." "Nay, Diotima," I replied,
 "if I had known, I should not have wondered at your wisdom, neither
 should I have come to learn from you about this very matter."
 "Well," she said, "I will teach you:-The object which they have in
 view is birth in beauty, whether of body or, soul." "I do not
 understand you," I said; "the oracle requires an explanation." "I will
 make my meaning dearer," she replied. "I mean to say, that all men are
 bringing to the birth in their bodies and in their souls. There is a
 certain age at which human nature is desirous of
 procreation-procreation which must be in beauty and not in
 deformity; and this procreation is the union of man and woman, and
 is a divine thing; for conception and generation are an immortal
 principle in the mortal creature, and in the inharmonious they can
 never be. But the deformed is always inharmonious with the divine, and
 the beautiful harmonious. Beauty, then, is the destiny or goddess of
 parturition who presides at birth, and therefore, when approaching
 beauty, the conceiving power is propitious, and diffusive, and benign,
 and begets and bears fruit: at the sight of ugliness she frowns and
 contracts and has a sense of pain, and turns away, and shrivels up,
 and not without a pang refrains from conception. And this is the
 reason why, when the hour of conception arrives, and the teeming
 nature is full, there is such a flutter and ecstasy about beauty whose
 approach is the alleviation of the pain of travail. For love,
 Socrates, is not, as you imagine, the love of the beautiful only."
 "What then?" "The love of generation and of birth in beauty." "Yes," I
 said. "Yes, indeed," she replied. "But why of generation?" "Because to
 the mortal creature, generation is a sort of eternity and
 immortality," she replied; "and if, as has been already admitted, love
 is of the everlasting possession of the good, all men will necessarily
 desire immortality together with good: Wherefore love is of
   All this she taught me at various times when she spoke of love.
 And I remember her once saying to me, "What is the cause, Socrates, of
 love, and the attendant desire? See you not how all animals, birds, as
 well as beasts, in their desire of procreation, are in agony when they
 take the infection of love, which begins with the desire of union;
 whereto is added the care of offspring, on whose behalf the weakest
 are ready to battle against the strongest even to the uttermost, and
 to die for them, and will, let themselves be tormented with hunger
 or suffer anything in order to maintain their young. Man may be
 supposed to act thus from reason; but why should animals have these
 passionate feelings? Can you tell me why?" Again I replied that I
 did not know. She said to me: "And do you expect ever to become a
 master in the art of love, if you do not know this?" "But I have
 told you already, Diotima, that my ignorance is the reason why I
 come to you; for I am conscious that I want a teacher; tell me then
 the cause of this and of the other mysteries of love." "Marvel not,"
 she said, "if you believe that love is of the immortal, as we have
 several times acknowledged; for here again, and on the same
 principle too, the mortal nature is seeking as far as is possible to
 be everlasting and immortal: and this is only to be attained by
 generation, because generation always leaves behind a new existence in
 the place of the old. Nay even in the life, of the same individual
 there is succession and not absolute unity: a man is called the
 same, and yet in the short interval which elapses between youth and
 age, and in which every animal is said to have life and identity, he
 is undergoing a perpetual process of loss and reparation-hair,
 flesh, bones, blood, and the whole body are always changing. Which
 is true not only of the body, but also of the soul, whose habits,
 tempers, opinions, desires, pleasures, pains, fears, never remain
 the same in any one of us, but are always coming and going; and
 equally true of knowledge, and what is still more surprising to us
 mortals, not only do the sciences in general spring up and decay, so
 that in respect of them we are never the same; but each of them
 individually experiences a like change. For what is implied in the
 word 'recollection,' but the departure of knowledge, which is ever
 being forgotten, and is renewed and preserved by recollection, and
 appears to be the same although in reality new, according to that
 law of succession by which all mortal things are preserved, not
 absolutely the same, but by substitution, the old worn-out mortality
 leaving another new and similar existence behind unlike the divine,
 which is always the same and not another? And in this way, Socrates,
 the mortal body, or mortal anything, partakes of immortality; but
 the immortal in another way. Marvel not then at the love which all men
 have of their offspring; for that universal love and interest is for
 the sake of immortality."
   I was astonished at her words, and said: "Is this really true, O
 thou wise Diotima?" And she answered with all the authority of an
 accomplished sophist: "Of that, Socrates, you may be assured;-think
 only of the ambition of men, and you will wonder at the
 senselessness of their ways, unless you consider how they are
 stirred by the love of an immortality of fame. They are ready to run
 all risks greater far than they would have for their children, and
 to spend money and undergo any sort of toil, and even to die, for
 the sake of leaving behind them a name which shall be eternal. Do
 you imagine that Alcestis would have died to save Admetus, or Achilles
 to avenge Patroclus, or your own Codrus in order to preserve the
 kingdom for his sons, if they had not imagined that the memory of
 their virtues, which still survives among us, would be immortal? Nay,"
 she said, "I am persuaded that all men do all things, and the better
 they are the more they do them, in hope of the glorious fame of
 immortal virtue; for they desire the immortal.
   "Those who are pregnant in the body only, betake themselves to women
 and beget children-this is the character of their love; their
 offspring, as they hope, will preserve their memory and giving them
 the blessedness and immortality which they desire in the future. But
 souls which are pregnant-for there certainly are men who are more
 creative in their souls than in their bodies conceive that which is
 proper for the soul to conceive or contain. And what are these
 conceptions?-wisdom and virtue in general. And such creators are poets
 and all artists who are deserving of the name inventor. But the
 greatest and fairest sort of wisdom by far is that which is
 concerned with the ordering of states and families, and which is
 called temperance and justice. And he who in youth has the seed of
 these implanted in him and is himself inspired, when he comes to
 maturity desires to beget and generate. He wanders about seeking
 beauty that he may beget offspring-for in deformity he will beget
 nothing-and naturally embraces the beautiful rather than the
 deformed body; above all when he finds fair and noble and
 well-nurtured soul, he embraces the two in one person, and to such
 an one he is full of speech about virtue and the nature and pursuits
 of a good man; and he tries to educate him; and at the touch of the
 beautiful which is ever present to his memory, even when absent, he
 brings forth that which he had conceived long before, and in company
 with him tends that which he brings forth; and they are married by a
 far nearer tie and have a closer friendship than those who beget
 mortal children, for the children who are their common offspring are
 fairer and more immortal. Who, when he thinks of Homer and Hesiod
 and other great poets, would not rather have their children than
 ordinary human ones? Who would not emulate them in the creation of
 children such as theirs, which have preserved their memory and given
 them everlasting glory? Or who would not have such children as
 Lycurgus left behind him to be the saviours, not only of Lacedaemon,
 but of Hellas, as one may say? There is Solon, too, who is the revered
 father of Athenian laws; and many others there are in many other
 places, both among hellenes and barbarians, who have given to the
 world many noble works, and have been the parents of virtue of every
 kind; and many temples have been raised in their honour for the sake
 of children such as theirs; which were never raised in honour of any
 one, for the sake of his mortal children.
   "These are the lesser mysteries of love, into which even you,
 Socrates, may enter; to the greater and more hidden ones which are the
 crown of these, and to which, if you pursue them in a right spirit,
 they will lead, I know not whether you will be able to attain. But I
 will do my utmost to inform you, and do you follow if you can. For
 he who would proceed aright in this matter should begin in youth to
 visit beautiful forms; and first, if he be guided by his instructor
 aright, to love one such form only-out of that he should create fair
 thoughts; and soon he will of himself perceive that the beauty of
 one form is akin to the beauty of another; and then if beauty of
 form in general is his pursuit, how foolish would he be not to
 recognize that the beauty in every form is and the same! And when he
 perceives this he will abate his violent love of the one, which he
 will despise and deem a small thing, and will become a lover of all
 beautiful forms; in the next stage he will consider that the beauty of
 the mind is more honourable than the beauty of the outward form. So
 that if a virtuous soul have but a little comeliness, he will be
 content to love and tend him, and will search out and bring to the
 birth thoughts which may improve the young, until he is compelled to
 contemplate and see the beauty of institutions and laws, and to
 understand that the beauty of them all is of one family, and that
 personal beauty is a trifle; and after laws and institutions he will
 go on to the sciences, that he may see their beauty, being not like
 a servant in love with the beauty of one youth or man or
 institution, himself a slave mean and narrow-minded, but drawing
 towards and contemplating the vast sea of beauty, he will create
 many fair and noble thoughts and notions in boundless love of
 wisdom; until on that shore he grows and waxes strong, and at last the
 vision is revealed to him of a single science, which is the science of
 beauty everywhere. To this I will proceed; please to give me your very
 best attention:
   "He who has been instructed thus far in the things of love, and
 who has learned to see the beautiful in due order and succession, when
 he comes toward the end will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous
 beauty (and this, Socrates, is the final cause of all our former
 toils)-a nature which in the first place is everlasting, not growing
 and decaying, or waxing and waning; secondly, not fair in one point of
 view and foul in another, or at one time or in one relation or at
 one place fair, at another time or in another relation or at another
 place foul, as if fair to some and-foul to others, or in the
 likeness of a face or hands or any other part of the bodily frame,
 or in any form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any other being,
 as for example, in an animal, or in heaven or in earth, or in any
 other place; but beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting,
 which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is
 imparted to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other
 things. He who from these ascending under the influence of true
 love, begins to perceive that beauty, is not far from the end. And the
 true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love,
 is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the
 sake of that other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one
 going on to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms
 to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from
 fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at
 last knows what the essence of beauty is. This, my dear Socrates,"
 said the stranger of Mantineia, "is that life above all others which
 man should live, in the contemplation of beauty absolute; a beauty
 which if you once beheld, you would see not to be after the measure of
 gold, and garments, and fair boys and youths, whose presence now
 entrances you; and you and many a one would be content to live
 seeing them only and conversing with them without meat or drink, if
 that were possible-you only want to look at them and to be with
 them. But what if man had eyes to see the true beauty-the divine
 beauty, I mean, pure and dear and unalloyed, not clogged with the
 pollutions of mortality and all the colours and vanities of human
 life-thither looking, and holding converse with the true beauty simple
 and divine? Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with
 the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images
 of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a
 reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become
 the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may. Would that be an
 ignoble life?"
   Such, Phaedrus-and I speak not only to you, but to all of you-were
 the words of Diotima; and I am persuaded of their truth. And being
 persuaded of them, I try to persuade others, that in the attainment of
 this end human nature will not easily find a helper better than
 love: And therefore, also, I say that every man ought to honour him as
 I myself honour him, and walk in his ways, and exhort others to do the
 same, and praise the power and spirit of love according to the measure
 of my ability now and ever.
   The words which I have spoken, you, Phaedrus, may call an encomium
 of love, or anything else which you please.
   When Socrates had done speaking, the company applauded, and
 Aristophanes was beginning to say something in answer to the
 allusion which Socrates had made to his own speech, when suddenly
 there was a great knocking at the door of the house, as of
 revellers, and the sound of a flute-girl was heard. Agathon told the
 attendants to go and see who were the intruders. "If they are
 friends of ours," he said, "invite them in, but if not, say that the
 drinking is over." A little while afterwards they heard the voice of
 Alcibiades resounding in the court; he was in a great state of
 intoxication and kept roaring and shouting "Where is Agathon? Lead
 me to Agathon," and at length, supported by the flute-girl and some of
 his attendants, he found his way to them. "Hail, friends," he said,
 appearing-at the door crown, with a massive garland of ivy and
 violets, his head flowing with ribands. "Will you have a very
 drunken man as a companion of your revels? Or shall I crown Agathon,
 which was my intention in coming, and go away? For I was unable to
 come yesterday, and therefore I am here to-day, carrying on my head
 these ribands, that taking them from my own head, I may crown the head
 of this fairest and wisest of men, as I may be allowed to call him.
 Will you laugh at me because I am drunk? Yet I know very well that I
 am speaking the truth, although you may laugh. But first tell me; if I
 come in shall we have the understanding of which I spoke? Will you
 drink with me or not?"
   The company were vociferous in begging that he would take his
 place among them, and Agathon specially invited him. Thereupon he
 was led in by the people who were with him; and as he was being led,
 intending to crown Agathon, he took the ribands from his own head
 and held them in front of his eyes; he was thus prevented from
 seeing Socrates, who made way for him, and Alcibiades took the
 vacant place between Agathon and Socrates, and in taking the place
 he embraced Agathon and crowned him. Take off his sandals, said
 Agathon, and let him make a third on the same couch.
   By all means; but who makes the third partner in our revels? said
 Alcibiades, turning round and starting up as he caught sight of
 Socrates. By Heracles, he said, what is this? here is Socrates
 always lying in wait for me, and always, as his way is, coming out
 at all sorts of unsuspected places: and now, what have you to say
 for yourself, and why are you lying here, where I perceive that you
 have contrived to find a place, not by a joker or lover of jokes, like
 Aristophanes, but by the fairest of the company?
   Socrates turned to Agathon and said: I must ask you to protect me,
 Agathon; for the passion of this man has grown quite a serious
 matter to me. Since I became his admirer I have never been allowed
 to speak to any other fair one, or so much as to look at them. If I
 do, he goes wild with envy and jealousy, and not only abuses me but
 can hardly keep his hands off me, and at this moment he may do me some
 harm. Please to see to this, and either reconcile me to him, or, if he
 attempts violence, protect me, as I am in bodily fear of his mad and
 passionate attempts.
   There can never be reconciliation between you and me, said
 Alcibiades; but for the present I will defer your chastisement. And
 I must beg you, Agathoron, to give me back some of the ribands that
 I may crown the marvellous head of this universal despot-I would not
 have him complain of me for crowning you, and neglecting him, who in
 conversation is the conqueror of all mankind; and this not only
 once, as you were the day before yesterday, but always. Whereupon,
 taking some of the ribands, he crowned Socrates, and again reclined.
   Then he said: You seem, my friends, to be sober, which is a thing
 not to be endured; you must drink-for that was the agreement under
 which I was admitted-and I elect myself master of the feast until
 you are well drunk. Let us have a large goblet, Agathon, or rather, he
 said, addressing the attendant, bring me that wine-cooler. The
 wine-cooler which had caught his eye was a vessel holding more than
 two quarts-this he filled and emptied, and bade the attendant fill
 it again for Socrates. Observe, my friends, said Alcibiades, that this
 ingenious trick of mine will have no effect on Socrates, for he can
 drink any quantity of wine and not be at all nearer being drunk.
 Socrates drank the cup which the attendant filled for him.
   Eryximachus said! What is this Alcibiades? Are we to have neither
 conversation nor singing over our cups; but simply to drink as if we
 were thirsty?
   Alcibiades replied: Hail, worthy son of a most wise and worthy sire!
   The same to you, said Eryximachus; but what shall we do?
   That I leave to you, said Alcibiades.
      The wise physician skilled our wounds to heal
 shall prescribe and we will obey. What do you want?
   Well, said Eryximachus, before you appeared we had passed a
 resolution that each one of us in turn should make a speech in
 praise of love, and as good a one as he could: the turn was passed
 round from left to right; and as all of us have spoken, and you have
 not spoken but have well drunken, you ought to speak, and then
 impose upon Socrates any task which you please, and he on his right
 hand neighbour, and so on.
   That is good, Eryximachus, said Alcibiades; and yet the
 comparison, of a drunken man's speech with those of sober men is
 hardly fair; and I should like to know, sweet friend, whether you
 really believe-what Socrates was just now saying; for I can assure you
 that the very reverse is the fact, and that if I praise any one but
 himself in his presence, whether God or man, he will hardly keep his
 hands off me.
   For shame, said Socrates.
   Hold your tongue, said Alcibiades, for by Poseidon, there is no
 one else whom I will praise when you are-of the company.
   Well then, said Eryximachus, if you like praise Socrates.
   What do you think, Eryximachus-? said Alcibiades: shall I attack
 him: and inflict the punishment before you all?
   What are you about? said Socrates; are you going to raise a laugh at
 my expense? Is that the meaning of your praise?
   I am going to speak the truth, if you will permit me.
   I not only permit, but exhort you to speak the truth.
   Then I will begin at once, said Alcibiades, and if I say anything
 which is not true, you may interrupt me if you will, and say "that
 is a lie," though my intention is to speak the truth. But you must not
 wonder if I speak any how as things come into my mind; for the
 fluent and orderly enumeration of all your singularities is not a task
 which is easy to a man in my condition.
   And now, my boys, I shall praise Socrates in a figure which will
 appear to him to be a caricature, and yet I speak, not to make fun
 of him, but only for the truth's sake. I say, that he is exactly
 like the busts of Silenus, which are set up in the statuaries,
 shops, holding pipes and flutes in their mouths; and they are made
 to open in the middle, and have images of gods inside them. I say also
 that hit is like Marsyas the satyr. You yourself will not deny,
 Socrates, that your face is like that of a satyr. Aye, and there is
 a resemblance in other points too. For example, you are a bully, as
 I can prove by witnesses, if you will not confess. And are you not a
 flute-player? That you are, and a performer far more wonderful than
 Marsyas. He indeed with instruments used to charm the souls of men
 by the powers of his breath, and the players of his music do so still:
 for the melodies of Olympus are derived from Marsyas who taught
 them, and these, whether they are played by a great master or by a
 miserable flute-girl, have a power which no others have; they alone
 possess the soul and reveal the wants of those who have need of gods
 and mysteries, because they are divine. But you produce the same
 effect with your words only, and do not require the flute; that is the
 difference between you and him. When we hear any other speaker, even
 very good one, he produces absolutely no effect upon us, or not
 much, whereas the mere fragments of you and your words, even at
 second-hand, and however imperfectly repeated, amaze and possess the
 souls of every man, woman, and child who comes within hearing of them.
 And if I were not, afraid that you would think me hopelessly drunk,
 I would have sworn as well as spoken to the influence which they
 have always had and still have over me. For my heart leaps within me
 more than that of any Corybantian reveller, and my eyes rain tears
 when I hear them. And I observe that many others are affected in the
 same manner. I have heard Pericles and other great orators, and I
 thought that they spoke well, but I never had any similar feeling;
 my soul was not stirred by them, nor was I angry at the thought of
 my own slavish state. But this Marsyas has often brought me to such
 pass, that I have felt as if I could hardly endure the life which I am
 leading (this, Socrates, you will admit); and I am conscious that if I
 did not shut my ears against him, and fly as from the voice of the
 siren, my fate would be like that of others,-he would transfix me, and
 I should grow old sitting at his feet. For he makes me confess that
 I ought not to live as I do, neglecting the wants of my own soul,
 and busying myself with the concerns of the Athenians; therefore I
 hold my ears and tear myself away from him. And he is the only
 person who ever made me ashamed, which you might think not to be in my
 nature, and there is no one else who does the same. For I know that
 I cannot answer him or say that I ought not to do as he bids, but when
 I leave his presence the love of popularity gets the better of me. And
 therefore I run away and fly from him, and when I see him I am ashamed
 of what I have confessed to him. Many a time have I wished that he
 were dead, and yet I know that I should be much more sorry than
 glad, if he were to die: so that am at my wit's end.
   And this is what I and many others have suffered, from the
 flute-playing of this satyr. Yet hear me once more while I show you
 how exact the image is, and. how marvellous his power. For let me tell
 you; none of you know him; but I will reveal him to you; having begun,
 I must go on. See you how fond he is of the fair? He is always with
 them and is always being smitten by them, and then again he knows
 nothing and is ignorant of all thing such is the appearance which he
 puts on. Is he not like a Silenus in this? To be sure he is: his outer
 mask is the carved head of the Silenus; but, O my companions in drink,
 when he is opened, what temperance there is residing within! Know
 you that beauty and wealth and honour, at which the many wonder, are
 of no account with him, and are utterly despised by him: he regards
 not at all the persons who are gifted with them; mankind are nothing
 to him; all his life is spent in mocking and flouting at them. But
 when I opened him, and looked within at his serious purpose, I saw
 in him divine and golden images of such fascinating beauty that I
 was ready to do in a moment whatever Socrates commanded: they may have
 escaped the observation of others, but I saw them. Now I fancied
 that he was seriously enamoured of my beauty, and I thought that I
 should therefore have a grand opportunity of hearing him tell what
 he knew, for I had a wonderful opinion of the attractions of my youth.
 In the prosecution of this design, when I next went to him, I sent
 away the attendant who usually accompanied me (I will confess the
 whole truth, and beg you to listen; and if I speak falsely, do you,
 Socrates, expose the falsehood). Well, he and I were alone together,
 and I thought that when there was nobody with us, I should hear him
 speak the language which lovers use to their loves when they are by
 themselves, and I was delighted. Nothing of the sort; he conversed
 as usual, and spent the day with me and then went away. Afterwards I
 challenged him to the palaestra; and he wrestled and closed with me,
 several times when there was no one present; I fancied that I might
 succeed in this manner. Not a bit; I made no way with him. Lastly,
 as I had failed hitherto, I thought that I must take stronger measures
 and attack him boldly, and, as I had begun, not give him up, but see
 how matters stood between him and me. So I invited him to sup with me,
 just as if he were a fair youth, and I a designing lover. He was not
 easily persuaded to come; he did, however, after a while accept the
 invitation, and when he came the first time, he wanted to go away at
 once as soon as supper was over, and I had not the face to detain him.
 The second time, still in pursuance of my design, after we had supped,
 I went on conversing far into the night, and when he wanted to go
 away, I pretended that the hour was late and that he had much better
 remain. So he lay down on the couch next to me, the same on which he
 had supped, and there was no one but ourselves sleeping in the
 apartment. All this may be told without shame to any one. But what
 follows I could hardly tell you if I were sober. Yet as the proverb
 says, "In vino veritas," whether with boys, or without them; and
 therefore I must speak. Nor, again, should I be justified in
 concealing the lofty actions of Socrates when I come to praise him.
 Moreover I have felt the serpent's sting; and he who has suffered,
 as they say, is willing to tell his fellow-sufferers only, as they
 alone will be likely to understand him, and will not be extreme in
 judging of the sayings or doings which have been wrung from his agony.
 For I have been bitten by a more than viper's tooth; I have known in
 my soul, or in my heart, or in some other part, that worst of pangs,
 more violent in ingenuous youth than any serpent's tooth, the pang
 of philosophy, which will make a man say or do anything. And you
 whom I see around me, Phaedrus and Agathon and Eryximachus and
 Pausanias and Aristodemus and Aristophanes, all of you, and I need not
 say Socrates himself, have had experience of the same madness and
 passion in your longing after wisdom. Therefore listen and excuse my
 doings then and my sayings now. But let the attendants and other
 profane and unmannered persons close up the doors of their ears.
   When the lamp was put out and the servants had gone away, I
 thought that I must be plain with him and have no more ambiguity. So I
 gave him a shake, and I said: "Socrates, are you asleep?" "No," he
 said. "Do you know what I am meditating? "What are you meditating?" he
 said. "I think," I replied, "that of all the lovers whom I have ever
 had you are the only one who is worthy of me, and you appear to be too
 modest to speak. Now I feel that I should be a fool to refuse you this
 or any other favour, and therefore I come to lay at your feet all that
 I have and all that my friends have, in the hope that you will
 assist me in the way of virtue, which I desire above all things, and
 in which I believe that you can help me better than any one else.
 And I should certainly have more reason to be ashamed of what wise men
 would say if I were to refuse a favour to such as you, than of what
 the world who are mostly fools, would say of me if I granted it." To
 these words he replied in the ironical manner which is so
 characteristic of him: "Alcibiades, my friend, you have indeed an
 elevated aim if what you say is true, and if there really is in me any
 power by which you may become better; truly you must see in me some
 rare beauty of a kind infinitely higher than any which I see in you.
 And therefore, if you mean to share with me and to exchange beauty for
 beauty, you will have greatly the advantage of me; you will gain
 true beauty in return for appearance-like Diomede, gold in exchange
 for brass. But look again, sweet friend, and see whether you are not
 deceived in me. The mind begins to grow critical when the bodily eye
 fails, and it will be a long time before you get old." Hearing this, I
 said: "I have told you my purpose, which is quite serious, and do
 you consider what you think best for you and me." "That is good," he
 said; "at some other time then we will consider and act as seems
 best about this and about other matters." Whereupon, I fancied that
 was smitten, and that the words which I had uttered like arrows had
 wounded him, and so without waiting to hear more I got up, and
 throwing my coat about him crept under his threadbare cloak, as the
 time of year was winter, and there I lay during the whole night having
 this wonderful monster in my arms. This again, Socrates, will not be
 denied by you. And yet, notwithstanding all, he was so superior to
 my solicitations, so contemptuous and derisive and disdainful of my
 beauty-which really, as I fancied, had some attractions-hear, O
 judges; for judges you shall be of the haughty virtue of
 Socrates-nothing more happened, but in the morning when I awoke (let
 all the gods and goddesses be my witnesses) I arose as from the
 couch of a father or an elder brother.
   What do you suppose must have been my feelings, after this
 rejection, at the thought of my own dishonour? And yet I could not
 help wondering at his natural temperance and self-restraint and
 manliness. I never imagined that I could have met with a man such as
 he is in wisdom and endurance. And therefore I could not be angry with
 him or renounce his company, any more than I could hope to win him.
 For I well knew that if Ajax could not be wounded by steel, much
 less he by money; and my only chance of captivating him by my personal
 attractions had faded. So I was at my wit's end; no one was ever
 more hopelessly enslaved by another. All this happened before he and I
 went on the expedition to Potidaea; there we messed together, and I
 had the opportunity of observing his extraordinary power of sustaining
 fatigue. His endurance was simply marvellous when, being cut off
 from our supplies, we were compelled to go without food-on such
 occasions, which often happen in time of war, he was superior not only
 to me but to everybody; there was no one to be compared to him. Yet at
 a festival he was the only person who had any real powers of
 enjoyment; though not willing to drink, he could if compelled beat
 us all at that,-wonderful to relate! no human being had ever seen
 Socrates drunk; and his powers, if I am not mistaken, will be tested
 before long. His fortitude in enduring cold was also surprising. There
 was a severe frost, for the winter in that region is really
 tremendous, and everybody else either remained indoors, or if they
 went out had on an amazing quantity of clothes, and were well shod,
 and had their feet swathed in felt and fleeces: in the midst of
 this, Socrates with his bare feet on the ice and in his ordinary dress
 marched better than the other soldiers who had shoes, and they
 looked daggers at him because he seemed to despise them.
   I have told you one tale, and now I must tell you another, which
 is worth hearing, 'Of the doings and sufferings of the enduring
 man', while he was on the expedition. One morning he was thinking
 about something which he could not resolve; he would not give it up,
 but continued thinking from early dawn until noon-there he stood fixed
 in thought; and at noon attention was drawn to him, and the rumour ran
 through the wondering crowd that Socrates had been standing and
 thinking about something ever since the break of day. At last, in
 the evening after supper, some Ionians out of curiosity (I should
 explain that this was not in winter but in summer), brought out
 their mats and slept in the open air that they might watch him and see
 whether he would stand all night. There he stood until the following
 morning; and with the return of light he offered up a prayer to the
 sun, and went his way. I will also tell, if you please-and indeed I am
 bound to tell of his courage in battle; for who but he saved my
 life? Now this was the engagement in which I received the prize of
 valour: for I was wounded and he would not leave me, but he rescued me
 and my arms; and he ought to have received the prize of valour which
 the generals wanted to confer on me partly on account of my rank,
 and I told them so, (this, again Socrates will not impeach or deny),
 but he was more eager than the generals that I and not he should
 have the prize. There was another occasion on which his behaviour
 was very remarkable-in the flight of the army after the battle of
 Delium, where he served among the heavy-armed-I had a better
 opportunity of seeing him than at Potidaea, for I was myself on
 horseback, and therefore comparatively out of danger. He and Laches
 were retreating, for the troops were in flight, and I met them and
 told them not to be discouraged, and promised to remain with them; and
 there you might see him, Aristophanes, as you describe, just as he
 is in the streets of Athens, stalking like a and rolling his eyes,
 calmly contemplating enemies as well as friends, and making very
 intelligible to anybody, even from a distance, that whoever attacked
 him would be likely to meet with a stout resistance; and in this way
 he and his companion escaped-for this is the sort of man who is
 never touched in war; those only are pursued who are running away
 headlong. I particularly observed how superior he was to Laches in
 presence of mind. Many are the marvels which I might narrate in praise
 of Socrates; most of his ways might perhaps be paralleled in another
 man, but his absolute unlikeness to any human being that is or ever
 has been is perfectly astonishing. You may imagine Brasidas and others
 to have been like Achilles; or you may imagine Nestor and Antenor to
 have been like Perides; and the same may be said of other famous
 men, but of this strange being you will never be able to find any
 likeness, however remote, either among men who now are or who ever
 have been-other than that which I have already suggested of Silenus
 and the satyrs; and they represent in a figure not only himself, but
 his words. For, although I forgot to mention this to you before, his
 words are like the images of Silenus which open; they are ridiculous
 when you first hear them; he clothes himself in language that is
 like the skin of the wanton satyr-for his talk is of pack-asses and
 smiths and cobblers and curriers, and he is always repeating the
 same things in the same words, so that any ignorant or inexperienced
 person might feel disposed to laugh at him; but he who opens the
 bust and sees what is within will find that they are the only words
 which have a meaning in them, and also the most divine, abounding in
 fair images of virtue, and of the widest comprehension, or rather
 extending to the whole duty of a good and honourable man.
   This, friends, is my praise of Socrates. I have added my blame of
 him for his ill-treatment of me; and he has ill-treated not only me,
 but Charmides the son of Glaucon, and Euthydemus the son of Diocles,
 and many others in the same way-beginning as their lover he has
 ended by making them pay their addresses to him. Wherefore I say to
 you, Agathon, "Be no deceived by him; learn from me: and take warning,
 and do not be a fool and learn by experience, as the proverb says."
   When Alcibiades had finished, there was a laugh at his
 outspokenness; for he seemed to be still in love with Socrates. You
 are sober, Alcibiades, said Socrates, or you would never have gone
 so far about to hide the purpose of your satyr's praises, for all this
 long story is only an ingenious circumlocution, of which the point
 comes in by the way at the end; you want to get up a quarrel between
 me and Agathon, and your notion-is that I ought to love you and nobody
 else, and that you and you only ought to love Agathon. But the plot of
 this Satyric or Silenic drama has been detected, and you must not
 allow him, Agathon, to set us at variance.
   I believe you are right, said Agathon, and I am disposed to think
 that his intention in placing himself between you and me was only to
 divide us; but he shall gain nothing by that move; for I will go and
 lie on the couch next to you.
   Yes, yes, replied Socrates, by all means come here and lie on the
 couch below me.
   Alas, said Alcibiades, how I am fooled by this man; he is determined
 to get the better of me at every turn. I do beseech you, allow Agathon
 to lie between us.
   Certainly not, said Socrates, as you praised me, and I in turn ought
 to praise my neighbour on the right, he will be out of order in
 praising me again when he ought rather to be praised by me, and I must
 entreat you to consent to this, and not be jealous, for I have a great
 desire to praise the youth.
   Hurrah! cried Agathon, I will rise instantly, that I may be
 praised by Socrates.
   The usual way, said Alcibiades; where Socrates is, no one else has
 any chance with the fair; and now how readily has he invented a
 specious reason for attracting Agathon to himself.
   Agathon arose in order that he might take his place on the couch
 by Socrates, when suddenly a band of revellers entered, and spoiled
 the order of the banquet. Some one who was going out having left the
 door open, they had found their way in, and made themselves at home;
 great confusion ensued, and every one was compelled to drink large
 quantities of wine. Aristodemus said that Eryximachus, Phaedrus, and
 others went away-he himself fell asleep, and as the nights were long
 took a good rest: he was awakened towards daybreak by a crowing of
 cocks, and when he awoke, the others were either asleep, or had gone
 away; there remained only Socrates, Aristophanes, and Agathon, who
 were drinking out of a large goblet which they passed round, and
 Socrates was discoursing to them. Aristodemus was only half awake, and
 he did not hear the beginning of the discourse; the chief thing
 which he remembered was Socrates compelling the other two to
 acknowledge that the genius of comedy was the same with that of
 tragedy, and that the true artist in tragedy was an artist in comedy
 also. To this they were constrained to assent, being drowsy, and not
 quite following the argument. And first of all Aristophanes dropped
 off, then, when the day was already dawning, Agathon. Socrates, having
 laid them to sleep, rose to depart; Aristodemus, as his manner was,
 following him. At the Lyceum he took a bath, and passed the day as
 usual. In the evening he retired to rest at his own home.
                               -THE END-