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This is how the ancient Greeks do it...,
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This review is from: The Symposium (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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.