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mentary, tentative, and indirectly delivered, coincides in such a manner with the germs of pure philosophical speculation, that the two appear as one and the same. And again, as to the subject-matter, while in point of outward form physics and ethics become more distinctly separate, they are united in a peculiar manner in both dialogues. And in the Statesman this is done by the view, only mythical indeed, taken of the historical as subject to the law of nature and conformity of the world itself, and in this point of view, our myth, as it is generally regarded, is anticipatory of the Timaeus, and, as such, corresponds to the approximation to the Platonic Republic.
VIII. THE BANQUET.
A PERson having read the two preceding dialogues and now seeing the Symposium follow, might ask, looking to the beginning of the Sophist, why the Eleatic Stranger, when Socrates enquired what place the Sophist, Statesman, and Philosopher—all these occupy both independently and according to their distinction, form, and relation to one another, has answered only as relates to two of them, and not the third. And we might repeat to him on the one hand, that this Eleatic Stranger, because it would have been a sacrilegious act to describe the sophist first, has already mixed up with his attempt to discover that character, the description of the philosopher, though without naming him, as has already been remarked in the Introduction
to that dialogue; on the other hand, that Plato, independent of this anticipation, tired with the already twice repeated and strict form, which could only be alleviated and enlivened by the touches of humour thrown in, did not wish to describe the philosopher also by the same method, Whence it arises, that the trilogy, regarded in this point of view, does indeed continue imperfect, but to those who consider it on less narrow principles, it will appear in general more beautifully and nobly completed by the dialogue now before us, and the next that follows, the Phaedon. For in these two dialogues taken together, Plato exhibits before us an image of a philosopher in the person of Socrates. In the Phaedon, of which we cannot here speak more closely, he displays him as he appears in death, while in our Symposium the same philosopher is ennobled as he lived, by that panegyric of Alcibiades, which is manifestly the crest and crown of the whole dialogue, and exhibits Socrates to us in the unwearied enthusiasm of contemplation, and in joyous communication of the results, in the contempt of danger and exaltation above external things, in the purity of all his relations, and in his inward divinity under that light and cheerful exterior; in short, in that perfect-soundness of body and mind, and, consequently, of existence generally, But if we were to repeat all this, and no other answer, certainly, could be given, it would strike the majority of readers with surprise, because it is unusual to consider the two dialogues from this point of view, and few only would find in such an account any thing worth notice, the majority nothing; because in the two dialogues, even if more importance is to be attributed to the description of Socrates than is usually done, still the remaining and larger part cannot be thrown entirely into the background, and as regards the present dialogue, it may seem as difficult to explain how the preceding speeches about love are to be connected with this panegyric of Alcibiades, as that panegyric with these speeches, if the former is regarded as the principal part. But our answer was intended to apply only to the first inquiry, a half which does not pretend to be more than the whole. On the contrary, the connection of the Symposium with the Phaedon, as well as the place which we assign to the former, depends no less upon the lovespeeches than upon the episode of Alcibiades, and our opinion only goes to uphold that, from the point of view here established, the whole may sooner appear as really one united whole, than from any other; so that we might maintain that whoever considers the Symposium only with reference to itself, and independently of this connection and purport, as is usually done, sees, as far at least as regards the composition, only as it were the external Silenus-form, beautiful indeed, and elegantly worked, but still extravagant and eccentric, and not the infinitely more costly image of the god enclosed within. In order, then, to open the former and bring the latter to light, we must connect the Symposium also with the problem started in the Sophist, which announces a complete trilogy. . Now, in addition to the Sophist and the Statesman, the third object of Socrates' enquiry is not merely the idea of knowledge and wisdom, but a philosopher, a man also like them, who, although god-like when compared with the inferior life of the majority of men, moves notwithstanding a man among men. Consequently, it is not the abstract essence and nature of wisdom that is to be described, but its life and appearance in the mortal life of the visible man, in which wisdom herself, for this is manifestly Plato's principal point in all his explanations respecting philosophy, has put on mortality, and displays herself subject to the conditions of time, as a progressive and expanding power, so that even the life of a philosopher is far from a repose in wisdom, but an endeavour to retain it, and, attaching it to every projecting point, to create in the whole of time and the whole of space something upon which an immortality may arise in the mortal. And when the name of love is given to this endeavour, and the excitement and living formation, not only of true conceptions of the good and just, with which the statesman is engaged, and of which even the great mass is susceptible, but rather the formation of knowledge in the few who are capable of it, is regarded as a species of procreation, this is far from being merely a poetic comparison ; but it was absolutely necessary that Plato should look upon both as one and the same, and only view that spiritual procreation as a higher order of the similar and similarly named energy, since, according to his theory, even the natural birth was nothing but a reproduction of the same eternal form and idea, and, consequently, the immortality of the same in the mortal. Now that the recipient of every means of production generally is the beautiful, the same, that is, in whose particular life and existence the harmony of the universe is visibly recognised as peculiarly innate in it, this is a point which, to any one who is not a perfect stranger to the Hellenic nature, can require no elucidation. When, therefore, the love that creates in the beautiful is described, the business of the philosopher in general is described at the same time, and in order to designate his place in particular, it is only necessary to define the relation of his love and its object, to every other species and object of the same passion. Now, this easily appears to every reader to be the main subject of what Socrates here again repeats, as matter of former discussion between himself and Diotima. For it is scarcely possible that any one should be misled by the single fact, that this wise lady, when out of the more general idea of desire, she seeks for the proper idea of love in the more contracted sense, excludes the love of wisdom, with others like it, from this narrowed sphere. Or, if any one should take occasion from this circumstance to object to our explanation, let him only try whether it would have been possible to place the subject in that light which the purport of Diotima's speech required, without setting aside, by way of beginning, the endeavour after wisdom also, as coming under the general idea of desire, in order to obtain for love as its peculiar character, the desire to create. But starting from this, the whole discussion manifestly displays the uninterrupted gradation, not only from the pleasure arising from the contemplation of personal beauty, through that which every larger object, whether single or manifold, may occasion, to that immediate pleasure whose source is in the eternal beauty, which, without further contemplation of that which is particular and individual, displays itself to the mind's eye when practised and quickened by this order of training, but also, the gradation from the procreation of natural life through that of correct conception up to that participation, which ranges far beyond all master-skill in detail, in N N