This speech marks a turning point in the dialogue. Agathon points out the need for such a distinction a and with this the criterion for the final speeches is established.
And now, taking my leave of you, I would rehearse a tale of love which I heard from Diotima of Mantineia, a woman wise in this and in many other kinds of knowledge, who in the days of old, when the Athenians offered sacrifice before the coming of the plague, delayed the disease ten years.
She was my instructress in the art of love, and I shall repeat to you what she said to me, beginning with the admissions made by Agathon, which are nearly if not quite the same which I made to the wise woman when she questioned me-I think that this will be the easiest way, and I shall take both parts myself as well as I can.
As you, Agathon, suggested, I must speak first of the being and nature of Love, and then of his works. First I said to her in nearly the same words which he used to me, that Love was a mighty god, and likewise fair and she proved to me as I proved to him that, by my own showing, Love was neither fair nor good.
For God mingles not with man; but through Love. The wisdom which understands this is spiritual; all other wisdom, such as that of arts and handicrafts, is mean and vulgar. Now these spirits or intermediate powers are many and diverse, and one of them is Love.
On the birthday of Aphrodite there was a feast of the gods, at which the god Poros or Plenty, who is the son of Metis or Discretion, was one of the guests. When the feast was over, Penia or Poverty, as the manner is on such occasions, came about the doors to beg.
Now Plenty who was the worse for nectar there was no wine in those dayswent into the garden of Zeus and fell into a heavy sleep, and Poverty considering her own straitened circumstances, plotted to have a child by him, and accordingly she lay down at his side and conceived love, who partly because he is naturally a lover of the beautiful, and because Aphrodite is herself beautiful, and also because he was born on her birthday, is her follower and attendant.
And as his parentage is, so also are his fortunes. In the first place he is always poor, and anything but tender and fair, as the many imagine him; and he is rough and squalid, and has no shoes, nor a house to dwell in; on the bare earth exposed he lies under the open heaven, in-the streets, or at the doors of houses, taking his rest; and like his mother he is always in distress.
But that which is always flowing in is always flowing out, and so he is never in want and never in wealth; and, further, he is in a mean between ignorance and knowledge.
No god is a philosopher. Neither do the ignorant seek after Wisdom. For herein is the evil of ignorance, that he who is neither good nor wise is nevertheless satisfied with himself: For wisdom is a most beautiful thing, and Love is of the beautiful; and therefore Love is also a philosopher: And of this too his birth is the cause; for his father is wealthy and wise, and his mother poor and foolish.
Such, my dear Socrates, is the nature of the spirit Love. The error in your conception of him was very natural, and as I imagine from what you say, has arisen out of a confusion of love and the beloved, which made you think that love was all beautiful. For the beloved is the truly beautiful, and delicate, and perfect, and blessed; but the principle of love is of another nature, and is such as I have described.
But some one will say: Of the beautiful in what, Socrates and Diotima? When a man loves the beautiful, what does he desire?
What is given by the possession of beauty? If he who loves good, what is it then that he loves? Nor is there any need to ask why a man desires happiness; the answer is already final. She answered me as follows: All creation or passage of non-being into being is poetry or making, and the processes of all art are creative; and the masters of arts are all poets or makers.
For you may say generally that all desire of good and happiness is only the great and subtle power of love; but they who are drawn towards him by any other path, whether the path of money-making or gymnastics or philosophy, are not called lovers -the name of the whole is appropriated to those whose affection takes one form only-they alone are said to love, or to be lovers.
And they will cut off their own hands and feet and cast them away, if they are evil; for they love not what is their own, unless perchance there be some one who calls what belongs to him the good, and what belongs to another the evil.
For there is nothing which men love but the good.
There is a certain age at which human nature is desirous of procreation - procreation which must be in beauty and not in deformity; and this procreation is the union of man and woman, and is a divine thing; for conception and generation are an immortal principle in the mortal creature, and in the inharmonious they can never be.
But the deformed is always unharmonious with the divine, and the beautiful harmonious. And this is the reason why, when the hour of conception arrives, and the teeming nature is full, there is such a flutter and ecstasy about beauty whose approach is the alleviation of the pain of travail.
For love, Socrates, is not, as you imagine, the love of the beautiful only. Wherefore love is of immortality. And I remember her once saying to me, "What is the cause, Socrates, of love, and the attendant desire?
See you not how all animals, birds, as well as beasts, in their desire of procreation, are in agony when they take the infection of love, which begins with the desire of union; whereto is added the care of offspring, on whose behalf the weakest are ready to battle against the strongest even to the uttermost, and to die for them, and will, let themselves be tormented with hunger or suffer anything in order to maintain their young.
Man may be supposed to act thus from reason; but why should animals have these passionate feelings? Can you tell me why? She said to me: Nay even in the life, of the same individual there is succession and not absolute unity:Socrates asks questions of Agathon: has he referred to the object of love, or love itself?
Socrates then relates a story he was told by a wise woman called Diotima. According to her, Eros is not a god, but is a spirit that mediates between humans and their objects of desire. Socrates questions Agathon, doubting his speech and suggesting that Agathon has described the object of Love, not Love itself.
To correct him, Socrates explains he once held the same beliefs until he met Diotima of Mantinea, a wise woman who taught him everything he knows about Love.
How does Diotima convince Socrates (and the guests at Agathon's) that Love is not a divinity? If Love = god, then god must possess the good. However, it is unreasonable to say that Love desires the good if it already possesses it. Agathon is a good sport as Socrates draws a series of concessions from him, which lead to the conclusion that Love is the desire for things that are not possessed — and therefore, Love himself cannot be beautiful or even good.
As Agathon has become a bit flustered, Socrates suddenly turns the tables on himself by recalling how Diotima, a wise. 1) Functions are stable throughout every story 2)Number of functions is limited 3)Functions always appear in the same order 4)Most likely all Russian folktales are based on one main story, master plot.
Socrates questions Agathon, doubting his speech and suggesting that Agathon has described the object of Love, not Love itself. To correct him, Socrates explains he once held the same beliefs until he met Diotima of Mantinea, a wise woman who taught him everything he knows about Love.