Love is a significant element in Greek culture, as it is associated with emotions and deity. Besides, love was capable of driving a man away from their responsibilities. The characters in the book are mindful of the significance of love and its praiseworthy nature. According to the book, many speakers concur that love is ancient among the gods and offers excellent benefits to mankind. Moreover, individuals seeking to live a beautiful life should seek for love above all else. Love allows one to have a sense of shame and desire for beauty, thereby being able to achieve noble work. Lovers in Greek society were ready to die for each other as a sign of their dedication to each other. Subsequently, it is imperative to explore the concept of giving life for the sake of love, as depicted in Plato's symposium.
Origin of Love
Aristophanes describes the origin of love between male and female through a myth. According to Aristophanes, the first man created by the gods had a circular body shape with four hands and feet. The body of the first man had one head and two faces, which were looking in different directions. Subsequently, the ancient man could walk forward or backward at a great pace. Moreover, according to Aristophanes, the ancient man had three sexes (Plato & Anderson, 2003). The ancient man was full of strength and challenged the gods who punished him through separation. The gods split the circular man into two to humble them and prevent them from challenging the gods. Once the separation of the circular man into two ended, the two halves of males and females kept searching for each other. The two halves roam the earth in search of each other. Aristophanes' description of the origin of love depicts a society that considers love as the most significant objective for humankind. The two halves are continually seeking each other with a view of growing into one.
The society in Greece had gods of love, and the nature of the gods relied on whether they held a positive or negative form of love. Aristophanes describes love gods as the friendliest Greek god within the society (Plato & Anderson, 2003). On the other hand, Socrates describes love as one that cannot exist apart from its possessor. Moreover, Socrates describes love as an object that desires something that it has failed to own. Socrates and Aristophanes are quick to link love with strong desires by an individual. According to Socrates, one can only love what they do not have. Subsequently, the level of desire to own or have what one does not have contributes to the level of love one holds.
Lovers will fight for each other's side as they seek to come together. Subsequently, lovers desire to come together, and the emotional attachment continues to grow when the lovers are separated (Plato & Anderson, 2003). Moreover, the characters describe love as beneficial to the republic as it motivates soldiers and citizens when fighting for the motherland. The strength of love determines the actions of the citizens and the noble work they do for the republic. Similarly, lovers cannot abandon each other since there is a strong emotional attachment that defines how they interact with each other. Lovers are willing to die for each other within Greek society. Subsequently, love has an impact on issues of life and death since there is a strong desire for males and females to find each other. Socrates, Aristophanes, and Agathon are three characters who perceive love as an emotionally strong bond that can determine issues of life and death. Lovers are willing to die for the sake of love for each other.
Love and Death
According to Plato's symposium, lovers are willing to die for each other, and this is true for both males and females (Plato & Anderson, 2003). One of the examples given to show that lovers are willing to die for each other includes the death of Alcetis, who was the daughter of Pelias. Alcetis was willing to sacrifice her life for her husband when everyone else was adamant about the same. Plato's symposium describes Alcetis sacrifice as one considered noble by ordinary citizens and the gods. Moreover, citizens and gods willing to sacrifice their life for love are considered brave and strong within society. The book depicts the Greek gods honoring the excellence of love with young men without beards.
On the other hand, the book highlights the different kinds of love available to man from the gods. Love is a subject of praise, especially when it has a positive impact on individuals. The strongest form of love desires the beautiful and the possession of the one, which holds unique features. One can substitute beautifully with good to imply that love desires the good rather than the bad. Consequently, the possession of good brings about happiness and is the definition of love (Plato & Anderson, 2003). Love involves the desire for everlasting possession of the good. The individual desires to possess a beautiful and good lover who has unique features. The desire for love and own good and beautiful forces people to give birth to children as they age. Giving birth allows one to possess a beautiful offspring that they can love forever. Love ensures that one can dedicate their life to a child or another close person due to the strong emotional attachment present.
In conclusion, Plato's Symposium illustrates the meaning of love among Greek citizens and philosophers. Love has a connection with deity and is considered a strong sign of bravery. The highest level of love is where one sacrifices their life for another. Moreover, love forces one to seek children who are considered beautiful and a true representation of love. Love comes with strong emotions that target owning or possessing the good and beautiful. Furthermore, one desires to love and achieve happiness by getting what they do not have. Subsequently, love offers a chance for one to meet their life partner. According to the myth provided by Aristophanes, every human being seeks his or her love partner from the opposite gender. The strong feelings and emotions that come with love can force one to sacrifice their life to benefit the lover. Such dedication and desire to protect the lover is notable before mankind and the gods within Greek society.
Plato, J. B., & Anderson, A. A. (2003). Plato's symposium: Benjamin Jowett's translation. Millis, MA: Agora Publications, Inc.
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