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Paperback The Symposium Book

ISBN: 0143037536

ISBN13: 9780143037538

The Symposium

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Book Overview

The perfect books for the true book lover, Penguin's Great Ideas series features twelve more groundbreaking works by some of history's most prodigious thinkers. Each volume is beautifully packaged with a unique type-driven design that highlights the bookmaker's art. Offering great literature in great packages at great prices, this series is ideal for those readers who want to explore and savor the Great Ideas that have shaped our world. Plato's retelling...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Probably the best translation out there

Perhaps greatest things about this translation are 1) the Introduction, in which the translators summarize the text and explain why they translated certain ancient Greek words in certain ways; 2) the footnotes, which provide a wealth of historical background information; and 3) the Bibliography at the end, which refers the reader to numerous other books and articles that might help them better understand the text. Hackett Publishing is the King Midas of Philosophy texts...everything it touches turns to gold. Anything produced by Hackett Publishing is probably the best and most informative translation you are going to find. This Nehamas/Woodruff translation of Plato's Symposium is no different. That being said, I also recommend the similarly structured Nehamas/Woodruff translation of Plato's Phaedrus, which they reference a few times in this version of Symposium. Symposium is a short read that should take you no longer than 2-3 days to complete. This translation is also very funny when appropriate, as Symposium is supposed to be, which makes it an even easier read. (For example, when Alcibiades enters at the end and exclaims "Good evening, gentlemen! I'm plastered!") But it is also a serious text that explores the very nature of love between both men and women, as well as the Platonic Form of Beauty, from several different points of view. It is one of the most eloquent and literary ancient philosophical texts available, and I highly recommend this translation to anyone looking for a good read on what makes the world go 'round -- love.

The Conversation

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.

great story, fab translation, and cool drawings!

This book started it all for me. It stood out in the sociology section of floor 3 at the library. They say that you can't judge a book by its cover, but often, a cover will tell you a lot about the book.That's how it was with this one. The cover was funky, with half-finished etchings. What was written inside was even better. It was a beautiful discourse on the nature of Love. From Agathon's (it was Agathon that told of Achilles and Patroclus...wasn't it?) tale of devotion, Aristophanes' haunting fable about our "other halves" (and the interludes in between, especially the one about hiccoughs) to Socrates' speech on love "involving the mind and not the body", this is a timeless and highly accessable study.Read it a few years ago, and have been into philosophy ever since.

Socrates on the Nature of Love, Over Drinks

This is perhaps the most enjoyable of Plato's dialogues, and one of the most enduring. Plato imagines his mentor Socrates, the comic playwright Aristophanes, and other Athenian luminaries of the Golden Age met for a dinner party and a night of discussion on the nature of love. The various guests present their positions in manners ranging from thoughtful to hilarious, but all of this is but an appetizer for the main course: Socrates' concept of Eros as the fuel for the soul's ascent to the Divine, as revealed in Socrates' reminiscence of his own mentor, Diotima, the woman of Mantinea. At the end, a drunken Alcibiades breaks in upon the festivities to reveal Socrates as an avatar of the very divine Eros which he praises.Robin Waterfield's Oxford translation is one of the best. He captures each speaker's individual idiom, a major translational feat in itself. That he is able to do so and also render the text into lucid modern English is a further coup. The Oxford edition also includes an extensive introduction, very helpful notes, and a complete bibliography.The Symposium is great philosophy, great literature, an intimate peek at the social life of one of western civilization's formative eras, a work of spiritual inspiration and transformation, and, not least, a wonderful read. Most highly recommended!

Love a la Socrates

Not only should this book be the literary book-fellow to any Classics student, but an absolute must for every human being on the face of the planet. Griffins' translation is not only beautifully rendered/translated but extremely funky and contemporary. It is so applicable to our own modern interpertations of life, the universe,and everything, that you will easily forget than it was written over 2,500 years ago. In addition, the book design values are astounding. The fonts, both English and Greek, are lovely that even the reader who has never studied Greek will fall in love with the flowing lines.
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