T h e G o d d e s s
A t h e n a
i n P l a t o ' s
S y m p o s i u m
Of Love's courage and justice and
temperance I have spoken, but I have yet to speak of his wisdom - and according
to the measure of my ability I must try to do my best. In the first place
he is a poet (and here, like Eryximachus, I magnify my art), and he is
also the source of poesy in others, which he could not be if he were not
himself a poet.
And at the touch of him every one
becomes a poet, even though he had no music in him before; this also is
a proof that Love is a good poet and accomplished in all the fine arts;
[197a] for no one can give to another that which he has not himself, or
teach that of which he has no knowledge.
And who, let me ask, will deny that
the creation of the animals is his doing? Again, in artificial manufacture,
do we not know that a man who has this God for teacher turns out a brilliant
success, whereas he on whom Love has laid no hold is obscure?
If Apollo invented archery and medicine
and divination, it was under the guidance of Desire and Love; so that he
too may be deemed a disciple of Love as likewise may the [197b] Muses in
music, Hephaestus in metal-work, Athena in
weaving and Zeus "in pilotage of Gods and men."
And so Love set in order the empire
of the Gods - the love of beauty, as is evident, for with deformity Love
has no concern.
In the days of old, as I began by
saying, dreadful deeds were done among the gods, for they were ruled by
Necessity; but now since the birth of Love, and from the Love of the beautiful,
has sprung every good in heaven and earth.
[197c] Therefore, Phaedrus, I say
of Love that he is the fairest and best in himself, and the cause of what
is fairest and best in all other things. And there comes into my mind a
line of poetry in which he is said to be the God who
Gives peace on earth and calms the stormy
Who stills the winds and bids the sufferer
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©1999 Roy George