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Plato : SYMPOSIUM

Persons of the dialogue: Apollodorus - Phaedrus - Pausanias - Eryximachus
 - Aristophanes - Agathon - Socrates - Alcibiades - a troop of revellers

Scene: The House of Agathon
Translated by Benjamin Jowett - 21 Pages (Part 2) - Greek fonts
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SYMPOSIUM part 2 of 2

Part 1

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This Part: 21 Pages


Part 2 Page 2

Very good. Would he who is great, desire to be great, or he who is strong, desire to be strong?

That would be inconsistent with our previous admissions.

True. For he who is anything cannot want to be that which he is?

Very true.

And yet, added Socrates, if a man being strong desired to be strong, or being swift desired to be swift, or being healthy desired to be healthy, in that case he might be thought to desire something which he already has or is. I give the example in order that we may avoid misconception. For the possessors of these qualities, Agathon, must be supposed to have their respective advantages at the time, whether they choose or not; and who can desire that which he has? Therefore when a person says, I am well and wish to be well, or I am rich and wish to be rich, and I desire simply to have what I have-to him we shall reply: "You, my friend, having wealth and health and strength, want to have the continuance of them; for at this moment, whether you choose or no, you have them. And when you say, I desire that which I have and nothing else, is not your meaning that you want to have what you now have in the future? "He must agree with us-must he not?

He must, replied Agathon.

Then, said Socrates, he desires that what he has at present may be preserved to him in the future, which is equivalent to saying that he desires something which is non-existent to him, and which as yet he has not got.

Very true, he said.

Then he and every one who desires, desires that which he has not already, and which is future and not present, and which he has not, and is not, and of which he is in want;-these are the sort of things which love and desire seek?

Very true, he said.

Then now, said Socrates, let us recapitulate the argument. First, is not love of something, and of something too which is wanting to a man? Yes, he replied.

Remember further what you said in your speech, or if you do not remember I will remind you: you said that the love of the beautiful set in order the empire of the gods, for that of deformed things there is no love-did you not say something of that kind?

Yes, said Agathon.

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