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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars


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on 6 December 2015
The work itself is an interesting read, and the product came very quickly. My criticism would be on the translation itself - f you were looking to use this book for supplementary translation as part of academic/scholar work (or even if you like to translate Ancient Greek for fun!) then the English is quite far removed from the literal or stylistic original Greek. It's been made more idiomatic for the usual English reader, so it's a fun read but not particularly useful if you're looking for some translation help!
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on 1 September 2016
Love is a blind force that moves everything, it is beyond good and bad, he has no rational meaning. This is the main message in this dialogue.
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on 5 September 2017
Really good read and excellent for acquainting yourself with Plato's style if you haven't read anything before. It's also helped by the introduction is breif but informative . If you are interested I would definitely recommend !
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on 18 June 2014
Very efficient and reliable. Would recommend highly to my friends.No complaints, only full praise.Would use again in the future. Excellent.
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on 8 February 2010
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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on 30 December 2015
Written in the 4th century BC, "The Symposium" by Plato is one of the most famous works by the greatest philosopher ever. This time Socrates discusses the nature and mystery of love with a group of friends during a drinking feast. “The Symposium” is probably best known for the introduction of Platonic Love, the description of the ancient Greek ideal of love between an older man and an adolescent boy, and the speech of the comic play write Aristophanes in which he explains that love is a curse of the Gods that has resulted in everybody looking for their lost other half.

As with all of Plato’s works, “The Symposium” requires concentrated reading, but Plato’s prose, the introduction, the excellent explanatory notes and the modern translation make this a highly enjoyable read. Inevitably, there are some outdated and strange ideas addressed in this work, but overall I was impressed by how modern and recognisable most of the ideas on love feel. Plato is as timeless as love is.

Inspired by Peter Adamson’s podcast and books, Classical Philosophy: A history of philosophy without any gaps, Volume 1, I have started reading the sources of philosophy. “The Symposium” is a great introduction.
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on 8 February 2002
For a book 2000 years old, this has a remarkable freshness and vigour, even compared to other Platonic dialogues. The scene is, rather than a dinner party, actually an all night drinking session where a group of notable Athenians decide not to have the usual enforced drinking games due to their enormous hangovers. Instead, with Socrates joining them, they decide that each man should only drink as much as he wants to, and they should all in turn propose a toast to the Greek god of love. I don't know about anyone else out there, but this confirms my idea of what true Philosophy is all about, jabbering away deep into the night with a group of friends on the big subjects in life. Very very entertaining and a salient reminder that, in the intervening millenia, not that much has changed.
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on 25 June 2012
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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It is rather difficult to review Plato's Symposium from a modern viewpoint. The attempts by Agathon's guests, including Socrates, to define love are largely based on the love of boys rather than women. While that is a difficult concept for me to ponder, I recognize that such a social custom prevailed to some degree in ancient Athens and will attempt to offer an unbiased view of the text. Basically, partygoers celebrating Agathon's first victory in a drama contest decide to do something besides drink themselves into a stupor because they are still paying for such activity the night before. Socrates joins the group on this second night, and it is decided that each man in turn will offer his praises to love. Each of six men offer their interesting, diverse thoughts on the matter, ranging from the conventional to the Socratic ideal. Phaedrus says that the greatest good a boy can have is a gentle lover and that the greatest good a lover can have is a boy to love. He stresses self-sacrifice and virtue as the kind of love the gods love most. Pausanias describes two kinds of love: vulgar love is best explained as love for a woman in the interest of sexual satisfaction; noble love is that concerned with bettering the soul of the object of love (necessarily a young boy). The doctor Eryximachus explains love in terms of harmony, and he goes so far as to credit the vague notion of love with accomplishing all kinds of things in a diverse set of subjects. Aristophanes begins by relating a myth about man's origins. When man was created, individuals were actually attached back to back; the gods later split each human entity in half, and love consists of each person's search for his "missing half" who can be of either sex; even when two mates find one another, their love is imperfect because they cannot become literally attached as they were originally. Agathon says that Love is the youngest of the gods, that he offers the means by which all disputes between the gods and between men are settled, and emphasizes the beauty of love (represented quite well by himself, he seems to say).
Socrates, as can be expected, shifts the discussion of love to a higher plane. Claiming to know the art of love if nothing else, Socrates tells how he gained his knowledge from a fictional character called Diotima. He says that love represents the desire to give "birth in beauty," that love is neither a god or a mortal but is instead the messenger between god and man. To love is to want to acquire and possess the good forever and thus attain immortality. Socrates goes on to give a very important speech about one of Plato's perfect Forms--namely, the Form of Beauty. The advanced lover will learn to seek Beauty in its abstract form and will take no more notice of physical beauty; the perfect lover is a philosopher who can create virtue in its true form rather than produce mere images of virtue. This short summary in no way does justice to Socrates' speech, but it gives the general idea. After Socrates speaks, a drunken Alcibiades (Socrates' own beloved) crashes the party and commences to give a speech about Socrates, the effect of which is to identify Socrates as a lover who deceives others into loving him. As both lover and beloved, Socrates is seemingly held up by Plato as the true embodiment of love. To truly love is to be a philosopher.
I myself don't hold this text in as high regard as many intellectuals, but there can be no doubt of this dialogue's influence on Western thought over the centuries. The book succeeds in the presentation of advanced philosophical ideas and as literature. The discussion of the Form of Beauty is particularly useful in terms of understanding Platonic thought. It would seem that this dinner party and the speeches we read are very likely fictitious and represent Plato's thoughts much more closely than Socrates' own views, but it is impossible to tell to what extent this is true. The Symposium is inarguably one of Plato's most influential, most important texts and is required reading for anyone seriously interested in philosophy as it has existed and continues to exist in Western society.
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on 30 August 2014
I have given this book to many friends. They all come back to me and exclaim.." Why haven't I read this before "
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