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Plato's Symposium: A Translation by Seth Benardete with Commentaries by Allan Bloom and Seth Benardete [Paperback]

By Plato (Author) & Seth Benardete (Translator)
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Item description for Plato's Symposium: A Translation by Seth Benardete with Commentaries by Allan Bloom and Seth Benardete by Plato & Seth Benardete...

Plato's Symposium - translated here, and with a commentary - is arguably one of the greatest works on the nature of love ever written. It recounts a drinking party following an evening meal, where the guests include Aristophanes, Alcibiades and Socrates. The revellers discuss a variety of topics.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: University Of Chicago Press
Pages   199
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.05" Width: 6.05" Height: 0.65"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2001
Publisher   University Of Chicago Press
ISBN  0226042758  
ISBN13  9780226042756  

Availability  97 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 24, 2017 03:54.
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More About Plato & Seth Benardete

Plato Plato, the greatest philosopher of ancient Greece, was born in Athens in 428 or 427 B.C.E. to an aristocratic family. He studied under Socrates, who appears as a character in many of his dialogues. He attended Socrates' trial and that traumatic experience may have led to his attempt to design an ideal society. Following the death of Socrates he travelled widely in search of learning. After twelve years he returned to Athens and founded his Academy, one of the earliest organized schools in western civilization. Among Plato's pupils was Aristotle. Some of Plato's other influences were Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Parmenides.

Plato wrote extensively and most of his writings survived. His works are in the form of dialogues, where several characters argue a topic by asking questions of each other. This form allows Plato to raise various points of view and let the reader decide which is valid. Plato expounded a form of dualism, where there is a world of ideal forms separate from the world of perception. The most famous exposition of this is his metaphor of the Cave, where people living in a cave are only able to see flickering shadows projected on the wall of the external reality. This influenced many later thinkers, particularly the Neoplatonists and the Gnostics, and is similar to views held by some schools of Hindu dualistic metaphysics.

Plato died in 347 B.C.E. In the middle ages he was eclipsed by Aristotle. His works were saved for posterity by Islamic scholars and reintroduced into the west in the Renaissance. Since then he has been a strong influence on philosophy, as well as natural and social science.

Plato lived in Athens. Plato was born in 428 and died in 347.

Plato has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Bollingen Series (General)

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Greece > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Greece
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Greek & Roman

Reviews - What do customers think about Plato's Symposium: A Translation by Seth Benardete with Commentaries by Allan Bloom and Seth Benardete?

Fantastic!  Apr 6, 2008
The great Seth Benardete has provided an accurate and intriguing translation of this classic masterpiece. The "Ladder of Love" by Bloom is also included, and is as equally important to a fuller understanding of the symposium as a good translation is.
*Note: the ladder of love is a chapter from Bloom's Love and Friendship, so be aware that if you already have this you are mainly buying Benardete's translation. On that note, it is one of the best translations around.
A timeless discourse on desire  Jan 19, 2008
Plato's Symposium is a discourse on the nature and origins of love and eroticism. This is done through a lengthy dialogue at the dinner party at the home of Agathon, where he and his guests, including Socrates (his lover), partake in wine and take turns eulogizing Eros, the god of love and desire. Each does his best to praise the god, while Socrates comments on them afterward through speech and dialogue. In the end, the party is joined by the intoxicated Alcibiades, who speaks of Socrates's honorable traits while also confessing his love and desire for him.

Symposiums in Greek society were a chance for men to recline on couches and drink, converse, debate and party with one another. They were usually held to celebrate a young male entering aristocratic society, and normally these youths would attend as the companion of one of the adults with whom we was involved in a pederastic relationship. The arguments and topics presented in the Symposium can be difficult for the average modern reader to comfortably comprehend, as nearly each speech somehow turns inevitably to the subject of, and ultimate praise of, pederasty. This physical and emotional love between a man and a youth is held in high regard in the Symposium's reasoning, often being seen as more pure and more desirable than one between a man and a woman. The latter is more bent on procreation and physical attraction, while, in their eyes, pederasty deals more with souls and the love of that which is alike. It is these assumptions, which arise in each speech, which can make it difficult for one to agree completely with one of the character's arguments. Nevertheless, it is possible to find persuasive elements in each of their various speeches that can reveal valuable insight into the ways and reasons that human beings love and are beloved.

The young Phaedrus is the first to honor Eros. The value of his view lies in his belief that a man who loves is a man who cares, and thus a man who strives to do good and not bring about shame to him or the ones he loves. Pausinias is next to speak, and he is persuasive in distinguishing the two manifestations of Eros, or two types of love: the love of the physical (Pandemus) and the love of the spiritual (Uranian). He then correctly places the spiritual love higher, for those of the other kind "are in love with their bodies and not their souls" and they can be "in love with the stupidest there can be, for they have an eye only to act [sexually] and are unconcerned with whether it is noble or not" (Plato 10). He decrees that one must love both the body and the soul, for if one loves only the body, "as soon as the bloom of the body fades - which is what he was in love with - `he is off and takes wing'" (Plato 13).

The third to speak is Eryximachus, whose speaks rightly of loves impact upon art and beauty. Aristophanes next gives an amusing, although no less romantic, portrayal of primordial balls of flesh rolling around, and being split into two parts, and searching the rest of its life for its other half to finally complete itself. It illustrates the loneliness one feels when without their lover. Agathon then gives an eloquent speech, the highlight of which is Eros's power to bring humans together in happiness.

Lastly, the wise Socrates speaks. At first he uses what has presently been deemed `Socratic dialogue' by asking Agathon a series of questions in order to bring out inconsistencies in his argument. By doing this, he is able manipulate a conversation to his liking, and convince the person he is conversing with of his own opinion by making it seem as though they arrived at that idea themselves. In this instance, Agathon originally said that Eros was by nature good and beautiful, but when examining the nature of love through Socrates' interrogation, he concludes that Eros is neither good nor beautiful. Socrates furthers his explanation by recounting a dialogue he had with a wise woman named Diotima of Mantineia. The genius of this instance is the realization of procreation being a way for an individual to seek immortality, and the need to create, in general, things such as art or great ideas or laws are driven from this need to be remembered. Human beings not only generate but also nurture to further the guarantee that their mark will be made lasting, whether it is a child or an epic. This could certainly account for the passion in humans for fame and/or reproduction, and gives terrific insight into the ultimate purposes of most human actions. (However, Diotima seems to fall short in one part of her argument when she says that man "will never generate in the ugly" for he desires beauty and good too greatly, yet infamy through death and fear has certainly been a motivating factor in many men's actions through their course to fame and remembrance).

In this publication by The University of Chicago Press the reader is given Seth Benardete's beautiful translation along with the Allan Bloom's insightful "Ladder of Love," which offers an analysis of the ancient text (although some background knowledge of the historical Socrates would ensure getting the most out of this essay). Plato's Symposium proves to be a wonderfully philosophical discourse on desire, although some of its ideas, as identified earlier, are justly outdated. Nevertheless, it provides a glimpse into the inner workings of man's heart and the forces that propel him to go on each day.
Decent  Nov 28, 2007
I found many of the ideas about love in the Symposium very interesting and the Ladder of Love that followed was also good to read.
Plato's Mystery of Desire  Apr 14, 2005
Seth Benardete does a superb service to philosophers and lovers alike with his excellent translation of Plato's Symposium. This masterpiece of theatre and dialogue gives its readers the foundation for the question of desire and Benardete is precisely the kind of careful and precise translator who is capable of bringing out much of what lies hidden in the original Greek language. I recommend this translation for those who love literature as well as philosophy and those who wonder about their own desire.

The commentary by Bloom at the end of the text is informative and stimulating, if not always accurate.
best edition available  Oct 20, 2003
This is an elegant and accurate translation (much more readable than Benardete's gnomic renditions of Theaetetus / Sophist / Statesman). Benardete's essay is also a joy (it was previously published, but in a rather obscure German edition). Bloom's commentary is a bit of a slog and very rarely surprising. The reviewer below who remarked that "if you already have Love and Friendship and a copy of the Symposium you might feel gyped [sic]" has missed the mark; the prize here is the translation itself. Now if only Chicago had included Blanckenhagen's "Stage and Actor" as well!

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