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Plato’s Symposium

Plato’s Symposium

Issues in Interpretation and Reception

Edited by James H. Lesher, Debra Nails, and Frisbee Sheffield

ISBN 9780674023758

Publication date: 03/31/2007

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.

    —N. D. Smith, Choice


  • James H. Lesher is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland.
  • Debra Nalls is Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University.
  • Frisbee Sheffield is Research Fellow in Classics at Cambridge University.

Book Details

  • 5-1/2 x 9 inches
  • Center for Hellenic Studies