In his Symposium, Plato crafted a set of speeches in praise of love that has influenced writers and artists from antiquity to the present. Early Christian writers read the dialogue's 'ascent passage' as a vision of the soul's journey to heaven. Ficino's commentary on the Symposium inspired poets and artists throughout Renaissance Europe and introduced 'a Platonic love' into common speech. Themes or images from the dialogue have appeared in paintings or sketches by Rubens, David, Feuerbach, and La Farge, as well as in musical compositions by Satie and Bernstein. The dialogue's view of love as 'desire for eternal possession of the good' is still of enormous philosophical interest in its own right. Nevertheless, questions remain concerning the meaning of specific features, the significance of the dialogue as a whole, and the character of its influence. This volume brings together an international team of scholars to address such questions.
This handsome and remarkably inexpensive anthology is a bargain. It includes not only 16 interesting and original essays, all by well-known scholars, but also numerous diagrams and illustrations.
For lovers of Plato, of philosophy, of literature, or art (and of the history of philosophy, art, or literature, too), Plato’s Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception is a treat. One of the best things about the book is its range. In sixteen essays we go from Heraclitus to Hedwig and the Angry Inch, with intermediate stops at Aristotle, Plotinus, Renaissance courtly painting and poetry, the United States Supreme Court, and Wallace Stevens; there are essays here for everyone who reads the Symposium...This is interdisciplinary study at its best, with generous attention paid to all the ways Plato can be read, studied, interpreted, and argued about. All the contributors are scholars who know the material, know their fields, and defend their views tenaciously, yet they are all clearly learning from one another and talking to, rather than past, one another. Above all, these essays all show the signs that the authors enjoyed themselves: the joys and delights of hard thinking about good things are surely on view here.
- 5-1/2 x 9 inches
- Center for Hellenic Studies
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