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Boston College
Honors Program
HONR 1101

Emily McClure Plato’s Symposium First Four Speeches Phaedrus: This young man takes the perspective of the beloved in his “eulogy” to Eros. He believes that there is nothing better than a relationship between a lover and their beloved. He sees this relationship as something that creates honor and goodness, and he describes the impact it would have if the city or army were composed of these types of lovers: “‘So if there were any possibility that a city or an army could be composed of lovers and beloveds, then there could be no better way for them to manage their city; for they would abstain from all that is shameful and be filled with love of honor before one another’” (178E-197A). He relates the lover-beloved relationship to the honor code of an army. He says that it would be the ideal army because soldiers would never act shamefully for fearing of losing the respect and love from each other (as in a relationship of lovers). If this were the case, says Phaedrus, this army of lovers would be able to conquer over any army because a man in love would not want his lover to see him act cowardly in battle. Furthermore, the soldiers would always have each other’s backs, as two lovers do. Lastly, Phaedrus offers that the gods admire this relationship above all other relationships because it is noble to be willing to die (if they were in an army) for one whom you love. His comparison to war and the honor code of an army recognizes the lover-beloved relationship as noble, and this continues to be a recurring topic throughout the next speech as well. Pausanias: With a wise perspective of a “lover”, Pausanias offers that there are two sides of Eros and sexual love. The first is a superficial love. It sees male/male relationships and female/male relationships as equal. He describes that in this side of Eros, the lovers are enamored with their bodies more than their souls. The second type of Eros is much different. It is love rooted in virtue and genuine betterment of one another. This, Pausanias says, can only be found in male/male relationships. He believes that this is a more sensible and powerful love, by nature. He then suggests that love is not always noble, but that noble love is defined by the way and reasons for loving. He declares, “‘But he who is in love with a good character remains throughout life, for he is welded to what is lasting’” (183E). The only true, genuine love is that between males who love each other for their true inner selves and want to help the other become a better individual. In contrast, those who love for money or political power are ignoble because that love is not everlasting. He finishes by summarizing true love, Eros of the Uranium Aphrodite: “‘It is Uranian and very worthwhile for both city and private men, for it compels both the lover himself and the beloved – each in his own case – to exercise much concern for virtue’” (185C). Eryximachus: This physician begins by comparing love to medicine. He begins by describing t
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