The Symposium
by Plato

APOLLODORUS. I think I may say that I have already rehearsed the scene which you ask me to describe. The day before yesterday, as I was going up to town from my home at Phalerum, an acquaintance of mine caught sight of my back and shouted after me in a mock-official tone:

'Hi, you, Apollodorus of Phalerum, wait for me, can't you?'

I stood still and let him catch me up.

'I've just been looking for you, Apollodorus,' he said; 'I want to know what happened at that party of Agathon's with Socrates and Alcibiades and the others, and what was said on the subject of love. I've already had it from one person, who was told by Phoenix the son of Philip. He couldn't give me any clear account, but he said that you knew about it too. So please tell me; Socrates is your friend, and no one has a better right to report his conversation than you. First of all, were you at the party yourself ?'
'It certainly can't have been at all a clear account,' I answered, 'if you suppose that the party that you are asking about took place at all recently, or that I was there.'
'I certainly did suppose so.'
'How could you, my dear Glaucon ? Don't you know that it is many years since Agathon lived in Athens, whereas it isn't three years yet since I first began to associate with Socrates, and to make it my business to know what he says and does every day? Before that I led a perfectly haphazard existence, and though I thought that I was getting somewhere, I was in fact the most wretched creature imaginable — quite as wretched as you are now — and believed that the pursuit of wisdom was the last thing a man should devote himself to.'
'Don't make fun of me,' he answered; 'tell me when this party happened.'
'While we were still boys,' I said, 'in the year that Agathon won the prize with his first tragedy, on the day after he held the usual celebration with the members of his cast in honour of his victory.'
'Quite a long time ago then. Who described it to you? Socrates himself?'
'No, indeed,' said I; 'the same person as told Phoenix, a man called Aristodemus from Cydathenaeum, a little fellow who always went about barefoot. He was at the party because he was, I believe, one of Socrates' greatest admirers in those days. But I did ask Socrates about a few of the particulars that Aristodemus gave me, and he confirmed his account.'
'Then why are you keeping me on tenterhooks? Our walk to town is an admirable opportunity for conversation.'

As we walked on together, then, we talked about the subject, so that, as I said at the beginning, I am not un-rehearsed, and if you too want to hear the story I suppose I must comply. As a matter of fact, quite apart from any idea of edification, I take an extraordinary pleasure' in talking myself, and in hearing others talk, on philosophical topics; but any other type of conversation — and particularly the talk of you rich business men — fills' me with distress on my own account and with pity for those of you who are with me, because you think that you are accomplishing something when in fact you are accomplishing nothing. You in your turn may perhaps think me an unfortunate creature, and you are probably right, but my feeling about you is a matter not of opinion, but of knowledge.

FRIEND. You're always the same, Apollodorus, — you're always running down yourself and other people; far as I can see you believe that, but for Socrates, everybody in the world is wretched, beginning with yourself. I don't know where exactly you got your nick-name of fanatic, but you live up to it in your conversation, at any rate; you are in a perpetual passion with everybody, yourself included, except Socrates.

APOLLODORUS. My dear friend, is it so perfectly clear that in holding this opinion of myself and you I show fanaticism and eccentricity?

FRIEND. We won't argue about that now, Apollodorus. Just confine yourself to doing what we asked, and describe the course of the conversation.

APOLLODORUS. Well, it was like this, — but I'd better try to describe it all from the beginning just as Aristodemus described it to me. His story was as follows:

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