49 pages 1 hour read



Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 380

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Important Quotes

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“I think I’m quite an expert in what you’re asking about.”

(Section 172a, Page 3)

The first line in the dialogue, uttered by Apollodorus, the dialogue’s narrator, drops the reader into the middle of a conversation between Apollodorus and his unnamed friends. Presumably, he is referring to Love, but this is never explicitly clarified. The incomplete nature of this beginning captures the narrative style of the Symposium, which weaves in and out of Apollodorus’ conversation, his recollection of events that he heard secondhand, and Socrates’s report of a conversation with Diotima. Dialogue, the narrative style conveys, is always incomplete and ongoing.

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“So we talked as we walked, and that’s why, as I said at the beginning, I’m quite an expert. If I’ve got to go through it all for you, so be it. Besides, I’ve found in the past that I get an immense amount of pleasure from discussing philosophy myself or listening to others doing so; I don’t even stop to think how much good it’s doing me as well.”

(Section 173c, Page 4)

Apollodorus’s description of talking while walking emphasizes that conversation and discovery unfold in and over time. Writing fixes ideas in time, but true dialogue must be lived inside of time, an idea that Plato’s Socrates expresses in Phaedrus as well. One cannot have a dialogue with a sheet of papyrus; it requires exchange of ideas with multiple participants. Plato captures this across the Symposium in the way Socrates questions and banters with Agathon’s guests, interpreting and extrapolating on their responses, which enables ideas to emerge from their conversations. In addition, Socrates’s “speech” is a report of his conversation with