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Plato's Symposium

Richard Hunter

Publication Date - July 2004

ISBN: 9780195160802

168 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

An up-to-date introduction to a classic of western philosophy


Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature (Series Editors: Kathleen Coleman and Richard Rutherford) introduces individual works of Greek and Latin literature to readers who are approaching them for the first time. Each volume sets the work in its literary and historical context, and aims to offer a balanced and engaging assessment of its content, artistry, and purpose. A brief survey of the influence of the work upon subsequent generations is included to demonstrate its enduring relevance and power. All quotations from the original are translated into English.

Plato's Symposium tells of a dinner party at a crucial point in Athenian history at which the guests decide that they will each in turn deliver a speech in praise of love. The humorous and brilliant work that follows points the way towards all Western thinking about love. The Symposium is also one of Plato's most sophisticated meditations on the practice of philosophy. This book introduces the literary and historical context of Plato's work, surveys and explains the arguments, and considers why Plato has cast this work in a highly unusual narrative form. A final chapter traces the influence of the Symposium from antiquity to the modern day.

About the Author(s)

Richard Hunter is Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge University.


"[Hunter's] deep command of Greek literature broadens our appreciation of many parts of the dialogue. All readers of this book, beginner or advanced, stand to gain a richer understanding of the Symposium."--New England Classical Journal

"Hunter is largely successful in achieving his stated goals, his book is clear, stimulating, and well-informed introduction, rich with detail that puts the Symposium into its larger cultural context. It will be of particular value to students in literature and classics, but also of some interest to those with a broad interest in the history of philosophy."--The Classical Outlook

Table of Contents

    Editor's Foreword
    Preliminary Note
    1. Setting the Scene
    2. Erôs before Socrates
    3. The Love of Socrates
    4. The Morning After
    Bibliography and Further Reading
    Index of Passages
    General Index