Customer Review

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Conversation, 2 Sept. 2006
This review is from: The Symposium (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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. Above all, it is The Symposium, the important conversation among friends at dinner talking about something of the sublime in a way that echoes but also seriously deepens the level of our own more mundane discussions on romance and true love that crop up regularly if you're at that sort of age.
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Location: Harrow United Kingdom

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