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Symposium B. Jowett Trans. - Plato

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by Plato

Translated by Benjamin Jowett


Of all the works of Plato the Symposium is the most perfect in form, and
may be truly thought to contain more than any commentator has ever dreamed
of; or, as Goethe said of one of his own writings, more than the author
himself knew.  For in philosophy as in prophecy glimpses of the future may
often be conveyed in words which could hardly have been understood or
interpreted at the time when they were uttered (compare Symp.)--which were
wiser than the writer of them meant, and could not have been expressed by
him if he had been interrogated about them.  Yet Plato was not a mystic,
nor in any degree affected by the Eastern influences which afterwards
overspread the Alexandrian world.  He was not an enthusiast or a
sentimentalist, but one who aspired only to see reasoned truth, and whose
thoughts are clearly explained in his language.  There is no foreign
element either of Egypt or of Asia to be found in his writings.  And more
than any other Platonic work the Symposium is Greek both in style and
subject, having a beauty 'as of a statue,' while the companion Dialogue of
the Phaedrus is marked by a sort of Gothic irregularity.  More too than in
any other of his Dialogues, Plato is emancipated from former philosophies.
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