Aristophanes: The Symposium

Aristophanes, a playwright of comedies, asserts that our primitive nature was one where three genders walked on earth: male, female, and hermaphrodite. Each individual had two faces on one head and a round torso with two sets of limbs and genitals. These humans being exceptionally strong and zealous irreverently attacked the gods.

Zeus decided to reduce their power by cutting them into two. The males split from males and the females split from females spent their lives searching for their other halves. The androgynous halves also sought each other but were blessed with the power of reproduction through the interlocking of their genital parts. Aristophanes declares that Love is the desire and longing humans have to once again be wholly reunited. The priestess Diotima acquaints Socrates with the true nature of Love. She introduces the idea of a metaphorical ladder that the lover must climb to be escalated to the absolute form of beauty.

To climb the Ladder of Love, an individual must first love a single beautiful body. That individual must then recognize the commonality between all beautiful bodies and thereby love them. Next the lover will ascend the steps from loving beautiful souls to beautiful laws and institutions. Finally, the individual will find love in philosophy and knowledge, ultimately allowing the lover to be virtuous and immortal. Diotima concludes that when one finally loves knowledge and wisdom they will reach the ultimate form of beauty and achieve the goal of love.The most significant difference between Aristophanes’ and Diotima’s speech is what lovers are in search for.

Diotima refutes Aristophanes’ account on how lovers are simply in search of their other half. She claims that a person will not pursue their other half, unless it is inherently good. We would even go so far as to amputate our own limbs if we thought they were diseased, implying that we only want to be connected to good things.“What everyone…

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