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The Symposium (Penguin Great Ideas)

The Symposium (Penguin Great Ideas) [Kindle Edition]

4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

Plato's retelling of the discourses between Socrates and his friends on such subjects as love and desire, truth and illusion, spiritual transcendence and the qualities of a good ruler, profoundly affected the ways in which we view human relationships, society and leadership - and shaped the whole tradition of Western philosophy.

About the Author

Plato (c.427-347 BC) stands with Socrates and Aristotle as one of the shapers of the whole intellectual tradition of the West. He founded in Athens the Academy, the first permanent institution devoted to philosophical research and teaching, and theprototype of all Western universities.

Christopher Gill is Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter. He has written widely on ancient philosophy and literature.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1150 KB
  • Print Length: 133 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 Aug 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI99P0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #127,113 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Plato (c. 427-347 BC), was an Athenian philosopher-dramatist. Born into a wealthy and prominent family, he grew up during the conflict between Athens and the Peloponnesian states which engulfed the Greek world from 431 to 404 BC. Following its turbulent aftermath, he was deeply affected by the condemnation and execution of his revered master Socrates (469-399) on charges of irreligion and corrupting the young. In revulsion from political activity, Plato devoted his life to the pursuit of philosophy. Plato founded the Academy, an early ancestor of the modern university, devoted to philosophical and mathematical enquiry, and to the education of future rulers or 'philosopher-kings'. The Academy's most celebrated member was the young Aristotle (384-322), who studied there for the last twenty years of Plato's life. Their works mark the highest peak of philosophical achievement in antiquity, and both continue to rank among the greatest philosophers of all time.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Modern Talk" translation 8 Feb 2010
By sanyata
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this translation sacrifices linguistic precision for accessability. this is what is needed to get the nexts generations into plato. and as a "for fun" read, this edition is unsurpassed. just be sure to get at least one other translation as well if you are doing anything academic with the symposion
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is how the ancient Greeks do it... 25 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Symposium is a classic dialogue of Plato's and is set during an ancient Greek drinking party, with the discussion revolving around Love/Desire. As well as a philosophical work, it is a fantastic piece of history and the scene of the party is so well presented that you really do get a sense of the social scene in ancient Greece at the time (circa 400BC).

I am quite new myself to the works of Plato and philosophy in general, so I can't offer up a discussion of how it fits into the wider scheme of things but I can say that Symposium is an enjoyable and interesting discussion. Whether the ideas presented in this dialogue are scientifically or even philosophically relevant now I'm not too sure, but it's still a wonderful piece of ancient Greece, complete with the usual references to Greek Gods and Goddesses and musings on the mystery of love. You may be as surprised as I was to read that nearly all references to love and lovers are concerning man and boy relationships, rather than heterosexual relationships, though this is not really important to the nature of love as is discussed. It seems to have been a much more acceptable and normal practice to the ancient Greeks, than it is in the modern world.

Some of Penguin classic' series on Plato's dialogues can be difficult to read, being interspersed with lengthy commentary and footnotes, though that this does not happen with this book. The dialogue is unbroken by any commentary and this is better for the reader, as it allows him or her to produce their own understanding of the text. There is a lengthy introduction and closing notes, though if you do intend to read these then these are best read after you have read the dialogue, again so as not to be influenced by the ideas and conclusions of someone else.

All in all, this a fairly short but enjoyable book, that is an interesting and an enlightening glimpse into the social and philosophical beginnings of western civilisation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Greatly Accessible 5 Jun 2010
By Caleb Williams VINE VOICE
As one of the prior reviewers has stated, reading a piece of Fourth Century BCE philosophy may fill you with dread, and before opening this book, I was filled with just that. However, as I started reading I was instantly put at ease. The language of the translation itself and the introduction made what seemed to be such a complex piece of ancient philosophy, easily accessible. I would strongly recommend it to those with just a passing interest in ancient Greek philosophy then this is the translation for you.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Conversation 2 Sep 2006
We all like to chat about romance around a dinner table but what is romance and love all about? Well, Symposium is one of the most serious discussions about this issue datable to the 5th century BCE. At that time, Greeks at dinner parties used to sprawl themselves on couches with food and wine and a little music, be ministered by slaves and while eating or after have a spirited conversation/discussion. Well this "soire" takes place with Socrates, and its details are related second hand by the author Plato.

As translations go, this particular issue is one of the best on the market and the author had discussed it's details with a Kabbalist teacher of mine Glynn Davies. A translation is dependent to a greater or lesser extent on the author's appreciation and interpretation of the sorts of contents involved - and this translation is pretty current. There is a good introduction about the characters, especially Alcibiades and Xenophon who were real people from the time.

I think this book is a wonderful evocation of deep thinking from the Greek world starting with sensual love and then going on to describe a sort of spiritual love that subverts our expectations of what we would understand by Love personified as a deity. Socrates is in the beginning seen to enter into a meditational reverie which probably indicates that some such sages did meditate as in Indian traditions in order to obtain wisdom. Later, Socrates recounts the wisdom transmitted by an Oracle called Diotima (almost as if to say, "this is not what I think (though it is actually) but it was conveyed to me as follows by this trustworthy source".

Some of your friends should appreciate the wisdom of this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love love love 23 April 2010
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not a philosophy or ancient history student, I picked up Plato's "Symposium" to challenge myself and see if I could understand it. The "Symposium" is a gathering of Greek thinkers who sit around and give speeches about love.

Phaedrus talks about the greatness of love and how those who have it achieve great things. Pausanias talks of the merits of boy/man love where the boy pleasures the man while the man passes on his wisdom to the boy and that this is the best kind of love, not the lesser lover of procreation between man and woman. Eryximachus talks about how love is the source of all happiness. Aristophanes talks about how once upon a time there was no man or woman but a single human who had both sexes' characteristics. These creatures tried to scale the heavens and so Zeus cut them in half and ever since then man and woman have sought to create that single creature again. Socrates talks about his teacher Diotima and how she taught him that love was the only way human beings could be immortal.

"The Symposium" is a short read not to be rushed as there are some fascinating ideas here. Not new ones though but ones that have influenced western culture and thought for centuries. Aristophanes' and Diotima's especially are ideas I've come across before but didn't know they originated in this text. It's also very pro-pederasty which I thought was amusing and can see why some people might have thought Plato was a closet homosexual. Those Greeks certainly were liberated though.

It's an accesible and interesting little book though this Penguin Great Ideas edition features no notes, contextual history, introduction, glossary, reading list, etc which the Penguin Classics edition does so if you're studying this text I'd get that edition rather than this one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 days ago by J R Burbridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories ...
.... of studying this at university! But somehow, I was too young to 'get it', I think! I heard a radio programme featuring 'The Symposium', and I was immediately hooked and had to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Starwalker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This is a really good book and I'd recommend it if anyone is interested in ancient Greece or philosophy, or just wants a good, challenging read. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Stefan
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic!
I first read this book in college and gave it to my boyfriend for Christmas. It has stood the test of time!
Published 16 months ago by K. Draper
5.0 out of 5 stars Plato makes us fall in love with the topic Love
Plato's 'Symposium' is one of the great philosophical works I have ever read.

In short - which is what this book is - the scene is an intellectual debate between... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Clarky
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
This is a really good book, it helped a lot when it came to my degree. Fast delivery which was really nice.
Published 18 months ago by Maddy
5.0 out of 5 stars Present
I can't really rate the content, as it was a present. The person I bought it for loved the book.
Published 18 months ago by I write reviews on the toilet
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Work of Philosophy
I read 'Republic' before reading Plato's 'Symposium', and so I was pleasantly surprised when I realised how manageable it was. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Jonathan R
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