49 pages 1 hour read



Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 380

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Key Figures


The ancient Greek Philosopher Plato is the author of the Symposium. Though Plato does not appear as a character in the Symposium, he is inextricably linked with Socrates. No direct records of Socrates’s writing exist: Everything that is known about him comes from the works of Plato and other contemporaries. Thus, it is difficult to differentiate between the historical Socrates and Plato’s fictionalized Socrates, as Plato’s characterization has shaped subsequent generations’ views of the philosopher.

A citizen of Athens, Plato (429-347 BCE) was born into a wealthy and influential family. Details about his life must be approached with caution as it was the habit in antiquity to tell stories about famous figures (historical and mythical) that may or may not be factually accurate by modern standards. Plato is best known for composing philosophical dialogues that feature historical figures in conversation and debate, with Socrates often being a primary participant. Scholars have divided Plato’s work into three stages: beginning, middle, and late. The Symposium falls into his middle period.

A foundational tension around which Plato’s philosophy revolves is between what human senses (which are flawed and mutable) can perceive and the essence of a thing itself (its immutable, eternal nature).