Aristophanes Account of Love in Plato’s Symposium Essay
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Plato’s Symposium contains several intriguing accounts of the nature of love. Describe in detail either the account of love offered by Aristophanes or Socrates/Diotima. What arguments could be given for thinking that this is the correct conception of love? DO you find this account compelling? Be sure to explain you reasons for taking the position that you do. The Symposium, written by Plato, is an account of the different speeches given during a dinner party. Each speech given is by a different person and each speech is the speaker’s own theory on love.
An intriguing speech given is the one by Aristophanes, the comedian. In Aristophanes’ speech he starts out by saying that he has a thought of plan for how humans might have come to be the way they are now. His speech is based completely on a madeup idea that he came up with. He describes the natural form of humans as two technically connected humans that together form a perfect sphere.
The humans in this form had three genders. The genders were either made up of male-male, male-female, or female-female.
The male-male gender was superior, as coinciding with this time, and was the offspring of the sun; the sun often referred to as a god. The androgynous gender, or male-female, was the offspring of the moon. The moon shares both the sun and the earth. The female-female then were offspring of the earth. The earth was not highly thought of, just being where humans lived and so quite used and abused [190b]. These humans all made an attempt to attack the gods which then caused the gods to take retaliatory action back.
The gods decided that the human race could not be wiped out completely because that would eliminate the worship and sacrifices the gods receive. Zeus, instead, decided to cut the beings in two [190d]. “Now, since their natural form had been cut in two each one longed for its own other half” [191b]. This is where Aristophanes’ theory on love comes to. He believed each person has another half, or soul mate, they are in search of. “Love is born into every human being; [191d] it calls back the halves of our original nature together. Aristophanes suggests that one is in constant search of their other half that matches, then once found the desire they had felt because of having been separated is now healed. “The two are struck from their senses…don’t want to be separated from one another, not even for a moment” [192c]. In one way I find Aristophanes’ argument correct. People do seem to be in constant search for whom they want, or sometimes feel they are meant to be with. It is very interesting, however, that Aristophanes relates one’s longing and desire as a form of punishment.
In the tory the longing and desire came as a punishment from the gods; the only cure for this was when the two halves were reunited. Aristophanes makes it clear two halves are meant to be together but he also contradicts his own statement, “whenever one of the halves died and one was left, the one that was left still sought another and wove itself together with that”[191b-191c]. If two halves have a certain match that they are always in constant search of, and are meant to be with, wouldn’t it only make sense that there would then not be another being that one could simply find and then weave itself with.
As I previously stated, I agree with Aristophanes in one way. I think that the idea of two people being meant to be together is plausible. People are always in constant search for a soul mate. Not necessarily the “one” per say, but a person they can spend the rest of their life with. There are billions of people in the world are I think it is very possible to have multiple compatible people who can fall in love. Thus, I agree more with Aristophanes own contradiction of himself; there are multiple people who match up together and get woven together in the right way.