"189cIt is indeed my intention, Eryximachus," said Aristophanes, "to speak in somewhat different strain from you and Pausanias. For in my opinion humanity has entirely failed to perceive the power of Love: if men did perceive it, they would have provided him with splendid temples and altars, and would splendidly honor him with sacrifice; whereas we see none of these things done for him, though they are especially his due. dHe of all gods is most friendly to men; he succors mankind and heals those ills whose cure must be the highest happiness of the human race. Hence I shall try and introduce you to his power, that you may transmit this teaching to the world at large.
"You must begin your lesson with the nature of man and its development. For our original nature was by no means the same as it is now. In the first place, there were three kinds of human beings, enot merely the two sexes, male and female, as at present: there was a third kind as well, which had equal shares of the other two, and whose name survives though, the thing itself has vanished. For 'man-woman'36 was then a unity in form no less than name, composed of both sexes and sharing equally in male and female; whereas now it has come to be merely a name of reproach.
"Secondly, the form of each person was round all over, with back and sides encompassing it every way; each had four arms, and legs to match these, and two faces perfectly alike 190aon a cylindrical neck. There was one head to the two faces, which looked opposite ways; there were four ears, two privy members, and all the other parts, as may be imagined, in proportion. The creature walked upright as now, in either direction as it pleased and whenever it started running fast, it went like our acrobats, whirling over and over with legs stuck out straight; only then they had eight limbs to support and speed them bswiftly round and round.
"The number and features of these three sexes were owing to the fact that the male was originally the offspring of the sun, and the female of the earth; while that which partook of both sexes was born of the moon, for the moon also partakes of both. They were globular in their shape as in their progress, since they took after their parents. Now, they were of surprising strength and vigor, and so lofty in their notions that they even conspired against the gods; and the same story is told of them as Homer relates of cEphialtes and Otus, that scheming to assault the gods in fight they essayed to mount high heaven.
"Thereat Zeus and the other gods debated what they should do, and were perplexed: for they felt they could not slay them like the Giants, whom they had abolished root and branch with strokes of thunder - it would be only abolishing the honors and observances they had from men; nor yet could they endure such sinful rioting.
"Then Zeus, putting all his wits together, spoke at length and said: 'Methinks I can contrive that men, without ceasing to exist, shall give over their iniquity through a lessening of their strength. dI propose now to slice every one of them in two, so that while making them weaker we shall find them more useful by reason of their multiplication; and they shall walk erect upon two legs. If they continue turbulent and do not choose to keep quiet, I will do it again,' said he; 'I will slice every person in two, and then they must go their ways on one leg, hopping.'
"So saying, he sliced each human being in two, just as they slice sorb-apples to make a dry preserve, or eggs with hairs; eand at the cleaving of each he bade Apollo turn its face and half-neck to the section side, in order that every one might be made more orderly by the sight of the knife's work upon him; this done, the god was to heal them up. Then Apollo turned their faces about, and pulled their skin together from the edges over what is now called the belly, just like purses which you draw close with a string; the little opening he tied up in the middle of the belly, so making what we know as the navel.
"191aFor the rest, he smoothed away most of the puckers and figured out the breast with some such instrument as shoemakers use in smoothing the wrinkles of leather on the last; though he left there a few which we have just about the belly and navel, to remind us of our early fall. Now when our first form had been cut in two, each half in longing for its fellow would come to it again; and then would they fling their arms about each other and in mutual embraces byearn to be grafted together, till they began to perish of hunger and general indolence, through refusing to do anything apart.
"And whenever on the death of one half the other was left alone, it went searching and embracing to see if it might happen on that half of the whole woman which now we call a woman, or perchance the half of the whole man.
"In this plight they were perishing away, when Zeus in his pity provided a fresh device. He moved their privy parts to the front - for until then they had these, like all else, on the outside, and did their begetting and bringing forth not on each other but on the earth, like the crickets. These parts he now shifted to the front, cto be used for propagating on each other - in the female member by means of the male; so that if in their embracements a man should happen on a woman there might be conception and continuation of their kind; and also, if male met with male they might have satiety of their union and a relief, and so might turn their hands to their labors and their interest to ordinary life. Thus anciently is mutual love ingrained din mankind, reassembling our early estate and endeavoring to combine two in one and heal the human sore.
"Each of us, then, is but a tally of a man, since every one shows like a flat-fish the traces of having been sliced in two; and each is ever searching for the tally that will fit him. All the men who are sections of that composite sex that at first was called man-woman are woman-courters; our adulterers are mostly descended from that sex, ewhence likewise are derived our man-courting women and adulteresses. All the women who are sections of the woman have no great fancy for men: they are inclined rather to women, and of this stock are the she-minions. Men who are sections of the male pursue the masculine, and so long as their boyhood lasts they show themselves to be slices of the male by making friends with men and delighting 192ato lie with them and to be clasped in men's embraces; these are the finest boys and striplings, for they have the most manly nature. Some say they are shameless creatures, but falsely: for their behavior is due not to shamelessness but to daring, manliness, and virility, since they are quick to welcome their like.
"Sure evidence of this is the fact that on reaching maturity these alone prove in a public career to be men. So when they come to man's estate bthey are boy-lovers, and have no natural interest in wiving and getting children, but only do these things under stress of custom; they are quite contented to live together unwedded all their days. A man of this sort is at any rate born to be a lover of boys or the willing mate of a man, eagerly greeting his own kind. Well, when one of them - whether he be a boy-lover or a lover of any other sort - chappens on his own particular half, the two of them are wondrously thrilled with affection and intimacy and love, and are hardly to be induced to leave each other's side for a single moment. These are they who continue together throughout life, though they could not even say what they would have of one another. No one could imagine this to be the mere amorous connection, or that such alone could be the reason why each rejoices in the other's company with so eager a zest: obviously the soul of each is wishing for something else that it cannot express, donly divining and darkly hinting what it wishes.
"Suppose that, as they lay together, Hephaestus should come and stand over them, and showing his implements should ask: 'What is it, good mortals, that you would have of one another?' - and suppose that in their perplexity he asked them again: 'Do you desire to be joined in the closest possible union, so that you shall not be divided eby night or by day? If that is your craving, I am ready to fuse and weld you together in a single piece, that from being two you may be made one; that so long as you live, the pair of you, being as one, may share a single life; and that when you die you may also in Hades yonder be one instead of two, having shared a single death. Bethink yourselves if this is your heart's desire, and if you will be quite contented with this lot.' No one on hearing this, we are sure, would demur to it or would be found wishing for anything else: each would unreservedly deem that he had been offered just what he was yearning for all the time, namely, to be so joined and fused with his beloved that the two might be made one.
"The cause of it all is this, that our original form was as I have described, and we were entire; and the craving and pursuit 193aof that entirety is called Love. Formerly, as I have said, we were one; but now for our sins we are all dispersed by God, as the Arcadians were by the Lacedaemonians; and we may well be afraid that if we are disorderly towards Heaven we may once more be cloven asunder and may go about in the shape of those outline-carvings on the tombs, with our noses sawn down the middle, and may thus become like tokens of split dice. Wherefore we ought all to exhort our neighbors to a pious observance of the gods, in order that we may escape harm band attain to bliss under the gallant leadership of Love. Let none in act oppose him - and it is opposing him to incur the hate of Heaven: if we make friends with the god and are reconciled, we shall have the fortune that falls to few in our day, of discovering our proper favorites.
"And let not Eryximachus interrupt my speech with a comic mock, cand say I refer to Pausanias and Agathon; it may be they do belong to the fortunate few, and are both of them males by nature; what I mean is - and this applies to the whole world of men and women - that the way to bring happiness to our race is to give our love its true fulfillment: let every one find his own favorite, and so revert to his primal estate. If this be the best thing of all, the nearest approach to it among all acts open to us now must accordingly be the best to choose; and that is, to find a favorite dwhose nature is exactly to our mind.
"Love is the god who brings this about; he fully deserves our hymns. For not only in the present does he bestow the priceless boon of bringing us to our very own, but he also supplies this excellent hope for the future, that if we will supply the gods with reverent duty he will restore us to our ancient life and heal and help us into the happiness of the blest.
201d"And now I shall let you alone, and proceed with the discourse upon Love which I heard one day from a Mantinean woman named Diotima: in this subject she was skilled, and in many others too; for once, by bidding the Athenians offer sacrifices ten years before the plague, she procured them so much delay in the advent of the sickness. Well, I also had my lesson from her in love-matters; so now I will try and follow up the points on which Agathon and I have just agreed by narrating to you all on my own account, as well as I am able, the speech she delivered to me.
"So first, Agathon, I must unfold, ein your manner of exposition, who and what sort of being is Love, and then I shall tell of his works. The readiest way, I think, will be to give my description that form of question and answer which the stranger woman used for hers that day. For I spoke to her in much the same terms as Agathon addressed just now to me, saying Love was a great god, and was of beautiful things; and she refuted me with the very arguments I have brought against our young friend, showing that by my account that god was neither beautiful nor good.
"'How do you mean, Diotima?' said I; 'is Love then ugly and bad?'
"'And what is not skilled, ignorant? Have you not observed that there is something halfway between skill and ignorance?'
"'What is that?'
"'You know, of course, that to have correct opinion, if you can give no reason for it, is neither full knowledge - how can an unreasoned thing be knowledge? - nor yet ignorance; for what hits on the truth cannot be ignorance. So correct opinion, I take it, is just in that position, between understanding and ignorance.'
"'Quite true,' I said. b"'Then do not compel what is not beautiful to be ugly,' she said, 'or what is not good to be bad. Likewise of Love, when you find yourself admitting that he is not good nor beautiful, do not therefore suppose he must be ugly and bad, but something betwixt the two.'
"'And what of the notion,' I asked, 'to which every one agrees, that he is a great god?'
"'Every one? People who do not know,' she rejoined, 'or those who know also?'
"'What persons are they?' I asked.
"'You are one,' she replied, 'and I am another.'
"'How do you make that out?' I said.
"'Easily,' said she; 'tell me, do you not say that all gods are happy and beautiful? Or will you dare to deny that any god is beautiful and happy?'
"'Bless me!' I exclaimed, 'not I.'
"'But you have admitted that Love, from lack of good and beautiful things, desires these very things that he lacks.'
"'Yes, I have.'
"'How then can he be a god, if he is devoid of things beautiful and good?'
"'By no means, it appears.'
"'So you see,' she said, 'you are a person who does not consider Love to be a god.'
"'What then,' I asked, 'can Love be? A mortal?'
"'As I previously suggested, between a mortal and an immortal.'
"'And what is that, Diotima?'
"'A great spirit, Socrates: for the whole of the spiritual is between divine and mortal.'
"'Possessing what power?' I asked.
"'Interpreting and transporting human things to the gods and divine things to men; entreaties and sacrifices from below, and ordinances and requitals from above: being midway between, it makes each to supplement the other, so that the whole is combined in one. Through it are conveyed all divination and priestcraft concerning sacrifice and ritual 203aand incantations, and all soothsaying and sorcery. God with man does not mingle: but the spiritual is the means of all society and converse of men with gods and of gods with men, whether waking or asleep. Whosoever has skill in these affairs is a spiritual man to have it in other matters, as in common arts and crafts, is for the mechanical. Many and multifarious are these spirits, and one of them is Love.'
"'From what father and mother sprung?' I asked. b"'That is rather a long story,' she replied; 'but still, I will tell it you. When Aphrodite was born, the gods made a great feast, and among the company was Resource the son of Cunning. And when they had banqueted there came Poverty abegging, as well she might in an hour of good cheer, and hung about the door. Now Resource, grown tipsy with nectar - for wine as yet there was none - went into the garden of Zeus, and there, overcome with heaviness, slept.
"'Then Poverty, being of herself so resourceless, devised the scheme of having a child by Resource, cand lying down by his side she conceived Love. Hence it is that Love from the beginning has been attendant and minister to Aphrodite, since he was begotten on the day of her birth, and is, moreover, by nature a lover bent on beauty since Aphrodite is beautiful.
"'Now, as the son of Resource and Poverty, Love is in a peculiar case. First, he is ever poor, and far from tender or beautiful as most suppose him: drather is he hard and parched, shoeless and homeless; on the bare ground always he lies with no bedding, and takes his rest on doorsteps and waysides in the open air; true to his mother's nature, he ever dwells with want. But he takes after his father in scheming for all that is beautiful and good; for he is brave, strenuous and high-strung, a famous hunter, always weaving some stratagem; desirous and competent of wisdom, throughout life ensuing the truth; a master of jugglery, witchcraft, eand artful speech.
"'By birth neither immortal nor mortal, in the selfsame day he is flourishing and alive at the hour when he is abounding in resource; at another he is dying, and then reviving again by force of his father's nature: yet the resources that he gets will ever be ebbing away; so that Love is at no time either resourceless or wealthy, and furthermore, he stands midway betwixt wisdom and ignorance. The position is this: no gods ensue wisdom or desire to be made wise; 204asuch they are already; nor does anyone else that is wise ensue it. Neither do the ignorant ensue wisdom, nor desire to be made wise: in this very point is ignorance distressing, when a person who is not comely or worthy or intelligent is satisfied with himself. The man who does not feel himself defective has no desire for that whereof he feels no defect.'
"'Who then, Diotima,' I asked, 'are the followers of wisdom, if they are neither the wise nor the ignorant?' b"'Why, a child could tell by this time,' she answered, 'that they are the intermediate sort, and amongst these also is Love. For wisdom has to do with the fairest things, and Love is a love directed to what is fair; so that Love must needs be a friend of wisdom, and, as such, must be between wise and ignorant. This again is a result for which he has to thank his origin: for while he comes of a wise and resourceful father, his mother is unwise and resourceless. Such, my good Socrates, is the nature of this spirit. That you should have formed your other notion of Love cis no surprising accident. You supposed, if I am to take your own words as evidence, that the beloved and not the lover was Love. This led you, I fancy, to hold that Love is all-beautiful. The lovable, indeed, is the truly beautiful, tender, perfect, and heaven-blest; but the lover is of a different type, in accordance with the account I have given.'
"Upon this I observed: 'Very well then, madam, you are right; but if Love is such as you describe him, of what use is he to mankind?' d"'That is the next question, Socrates,' she replied, 'on which I will try to enlighten you. While Love is of such nature and origin as I have related, he is also set on beautiful things, as you say. Now, suppose some one were to ask us: In what respect is he Love of beautiful things, Socrates and Diotima? But let me put the question more clearly thus: What is the love of the lover of beautiful things?'
"'That they may be his,' I replied.
"'But your answer craves a further query,' she said, 'such as this: What will he have who gets beautiful things?'
"This question I declared I was quite unable now to answer offhand. e"'Well,' she proceeded, 'imagine that the object is changed, and the inquiry is made about the good instead of the beautiful. Come, Socrates (I shall say), what is the love of the lover of good things?'
"'That they may be his,' I replied.
"'And what will he have who gets good things?'
"'I can make more shift to answer this,' I said; 'he will be happy.' 205a"'Yes,' she said, 'the happy are happy by acquisition of good things, and we have no more need to ask for what end a man wishes to be happy, when such is his wish: the answer seems to be ultimate.'
"'Quite true,' I said.
"'Now do you suppose this wish or this love to be common to all mankind, and that every one always wishes to have good things? Or what do you say?'
"'Even so,' I said; 'it is common to all.' b"'Well then, Socrates,' she said, 'we do not mean that all men love, when we say that all men love the same things always; we mean that some people love and others do not?'
"'I am wondering myself,' I replied.
"'But you should not wonder,' she said; 'for we have singled out a certain form of love, and applying thereto the name of the whole, we call it love; and there are other names that we commonly abuse.'
"'As, for example...?' I asked.
"'Take the following: you know that poetry is more than a single thing. For of anything whatever that passes from not being into being the whole cause cis composing or poetry; so that the productions of all arts are kinds of poetry, and their craftsmen are all poets.'
"'That is true.'
"'But still, as you are aware,' said she, 'they are not called poets: they have other names, while a single section disparted from the whole of poetry - merely the business of music and meters - is entitled with the name of the whole. This and no more is called poetry; those only who possess this branch of the art are poets.'
"'Quite true,' I said.
"'Well, it is just the same with love. Generically, indeed, dit is all that desire of good things and of being happy - Love most mighty and all-beguiling. Yet, whereas those who resort to him in various other ways - in money-making, an inclination to sports, or philosophy - are not described either as loving or as lovers, all those who pursue him seriously in one of his several forms obtain, as loving and as lovers, the name of the whole.'
"'I fancy you are right,' I said. e"'And certainly there runs a story,' she continued, 'that all who go seeking their other half are in love; though by my account love is neither for half nor for whole, unless, of course, my dear sir, this happens to be something good. For men are prepared to have their own feet and hands cut off if they feel these belongings to be harmful. The fact is, I suppose, that each person does not cherish his belongings except where a man calls the good his own property and the bad another's; 206asince what men love is simply and solely the good. Or is your view otherwise?'
"'Faith, no,' I said.
"'Then we may state unreservedly that men love the good?'
"'Yes,' I said.
"'Well now, must we not extend it to this, that they love the good to be theirs?'
"'And do they love it to be not merely theirs but theirs always?'
"'Include that also.'
"'Briefly then,' said she, 'love loves the good to be one's own for ever.'
"'That is the very truth,' I said. b"'Now if love is always for this,' she proceeded, 'what is the method of those who pursue it, and what is the behavior whose eagerness and straining are to be termed love? What actually is this effort? Can you tell me?'
"'Ah, Diotima,' I said; 'in that case I should hardly be admiring you and your wisdom, and sitting at your feet to be enlightened on just these questions.'
"'Well, I will tell you,' said she; 'it is begetting on a beautiful thing by means of both the body and the soul.'
"'It wants some divination to make out what you mean,' I said; 'I do not understand.' c"'Let me put it more clearly,' she said. 'All men are pregnant, Socrates, both in body and in soul: on reaching a certain age our nature yearns to beget. This it cannot do upon an ugly person, but only on the beautiful: the conjunction of man and woman is a begetting for both. It is a divine affair, this engendering and bringing to birth, an immortal element in the creature that is mortal; and it cannot occur in the discordant. dThe ugly is discordant with whatever is divine, whereas the beautiful is accordant.
"'Thus Beauty presides over birth as Fate and Lady of Travail; and hence it is that when the pregnant approaches the beautiful it becomes not only gracious but so exhilarate, that it flows over with begetting and bringing forth; though when it meets the ugly it coils itself close in a sullen dismay: rebuffed and repressed, it brings not forth, but goes in labor with the burden of its young. Therefore when a person is big and teeming-ripe ehe feels himself in a sore flutter for the beautiful, because its possessor can relieve him of his heavy pangs. For you are wrong, Socrates, in supposing that love is of the beautiful.'
"'What then is it?'
"'It is of engendering and begetting upon the beautiful.'
"'Be it so,' I said.
"'To be sure it is,' she went on; 'and how of engendering? Because this is something ever-existent and immortal in our mortal life. 207aFrom what has been admitted, we needs must yearn for immortality no less than for good, since love loves good to be one's own for ever. And hence it necessarily follows that love is of immortality.'
"All this instruction did I get from her at various times when she discoursed of love-matters; and one time she asked me, 'What do you suppose, Socrates, to be the cause of this love and desire? For you must have observed the strange state into which all the animals are thrown, whether going on earth or winging the air, when they desire to beget: they are all sick band amorously disposed, first to have union one with another, and next to find food for the new-born; in whose behalf they are ready to fight hard battles, even the weakest against the strongest, and to sacrifice their lives; to be racked with starvation themselves if they can but nurture their young, and be put to any sort of shift. As for men,' said she, 'one might suppose they do these things on the promptings of reason; but what is the cause cof this amorous condition in the animals? Can you tell me?'
"Once more I replied that I did not know; so she proceeded: 'How do you design ever to become a master of love-matters, if you can form no notion of this?'
"'Why, it is just for this, I tell you, Diotima - as I stated a moment ago - that I have come to see you, because I noted my need of an instructor. Come, tell me the cause of these effects as well as of the others that have relation to love.'
"'Well then,' she said, 'if you believe that love is by nature bent on what we have repeatedly admitted, you may cease to wonder. For here, too, on the same principle as before, dthe mortal nature ever seeks, as best it can, to be immortal. In one way only can it succeed, and that is by generation; since so it can always leave behind it a new creature in place of the old. It is only for a while that each live thing can be described as alive and the same, as a man is said to be the same person from childhood until he is advanced in years: yet though he is called the same he does not at any time possess the same properties; he is continually becoming a new person, and there are things also which he loses, eas appears by his hair, his flesh, his bones, and his blood and body altogether. And observe that not only in his body but in his soul besides we find none of his manners or habits, his opinions, desires, pleasures, pains or fears, ever abiding the same in his particular self; some things grow in him, while others perish.
"'And here is a yet stranger fact: 208awith regard to the possessions of knowledge, not merely do some of them grow and others perish in us, so that neither in what we know are we ever the same persons; but a like fate attends each single sort of knowledge. What we call "conning" implies that our knowledge is departing; since forgetfulness is an egress of knowledge, while conning substitutes a fresh one in place of that which departs, and so preserves our knowledge enough to make it seem the same.
"'Every mortal thing is preserved in this way; not by keeping it exactly the same for ever, blike the divine, but by replacing what goes off or is antiquated with something fresh, in the semblance of the original. Through this device, Socrates, a mortal thing partakes of immortality, both in its body and in all other respects; by no other means can it be done. So do not wonder if everything naturally values its own offshoot; since all are beset by this eagerness and this love with a view to immortality.'
"Whereat she, like the professors in their glory: 'Be certain of it, Socrates; only glance at the ambition of the men around you, and you will have to wonder at the unreasonableness of what I have told you, unless you are careful to consider how singularly they are affected with the love of winning a name, "and laying up fame immortal for all time to come." For this, even more than for their children, they are ready to run all risks, dto expend money, perform any kind of task, and sacrifice their lives.
"'Do you suppose,' she asked, 'that Alcestis would have died for Admetus, or Achilles have sought death on the corpse of Patroclus, or your own Codrus have welcomed it to save the children of his queen, if they had not expected to win "a deathless memory for valor," which now we keep? Of course not. I hold it is for immortal distinction and efor such illustrious renown as this that they all do all they can, and so much the more in proportion to their excellence. They are in love with what is immortal.
"'Now those who are teeming in body betake them rather to women, and are amorous on this wise: by getting children they acquire an immortality, a memorial, and a state of bliss, which in their imagining they "for all succeeding time procure." 209aBut pregnancy of soul - for there are persons,' she declared, 'who in their souls still more than in their bodies conceive those things which are proper for soul to conceive and bring forth; and what are those things? Prudence, and virtue in general; and of these the begetters are all the poets and those craftsmen who are styled "inventors." Now by far the highest and fairest part of prudence is that which concerns the regulation of cities and habitations; it is called sobriety band justice.
"'So when a man's soul is so far divine that it is made pregnant with these from his youth, and on attaining manhood immediately desires to bring forth and beget, he too, I imagine, goes about seeking the beautiful object whereon he may do his begetting, since he will never beget upon the ugly. Hence it is the beautiful rather than the ugly bodies that he welcomes in his pregnancy, and if he chances also on a soul that is fair and noble and well-endowed, he gladly cherishes the two combined in one; and straightway in addressing such a person he is resourceful in discoursing of virtue and of what should be cthe good man's character and what his pursuits; and so he takes in hand the other's education. For I hold that by contact with the fair one and by consorting with him he bears and brings forth his long-felt conception, because in presence or absence he remembers his fair.
"'Equally too with him he shares the nurturing of what is begotten, so that men in this condition enjoy a far fuller community with each other than that which comes with children, and a far surer friendship, since the children of their union are fairer and more deathless. Every one would choose to have got children such as these rather than the human sort - dmerely from turning a glance upon Homer and Hesiod and all the other good poets, and envying the fine offspring they leave behind to procure them a glory immortally renewed in the memory of men. Or only look,' she said, 'at the fine children whom Lycurgus left behind him in Lacedaemon to deliver his country and - I may almost say - the whole of Greece; while Solon is highly esteemed among you for begetting his laws; and so are ediverse men in diverse other regions, whether among the Greeks or among foreign peoples, for the number of goodly deeds shown forth in them, the manifold virtues they begot. In their name has many a shrine been reared because of their fine children; whereas for the human sort never any man obtained this honor.
"'Into these love-matters even you, Socrates, might haply be initiated; 210abut I doubt if you could approach the rites and revelations to which these, for the properly instructed, are merely the avenue. However I will speak of them,' she said, 'and will not stint my best endeavors; only you on your part must try your best to follow. He who would proceed rightly in this business must not merely begin from his youth to encounter beautiful bodies. In the first place, indeed, if his conductor guides him aright, he must be in love with one particular body, and engender beautiful converse therein; bbut next he must remark how the beauty attached to this or that body is cognate to that which is attached to any other, and that if he means to ensue beauty in form, it is gross folly not to regard as one and the same the beauty belonging to all; and so, having grasped this truth, he must make himself a lover of all beautiful bodies, and slacken the stress of his feeling for one by contemning it and counting it a trifle.
"'But his next advance will be to set a higher value on the beauty of souls than on that of the body, so that however little the grace that may bloom in any likely soul cit shall suffice him for loving and caring, and for bringing forth and soliciting such converse as will tend to the betterment of the young; and that finally he may be constrained to contemplate the beautiful as appearing in our observances and our laws, and to behold it all bound together in kinship and so estimate the body's beauty as a slight affair.
"'From observances he should be led on to the branches of knowledge, that there also he may behold a province of beauty, and by looking thus on beauty in the mass may escape from the mean, meticulous slavery of a single instance, where he must center all his care, dlike a lackey, upon the beauty of a particular child or man or single observance; and turning rather towards the main ocean of the beautiful may by contemplation of this bring forth in all their splendor many fair fruits of discourse and meditation in a plenteous crop of philosophy; until with the strength and increase there acquired he descries a certain single knowledge connected with a beauty which has yet to be told. And here, I pray you,' esaid she, 'give me the very best of your attention.
"When a man has been thus far tutored in the lore of love, passing from view to view of beautiful things, in the right and regular ascent, suddenly he will have revealed to him, as he draws to the close of his dealings in love, a wondrous vision, beautiful in its nature; and this, Socrates, is the final object of all those previous toils. First of all, it is ever-existent 211aand neither comes to be nor perishes, neither waxes nor wanes; next, it is not beautiful in part and in part ugly, nor is it such at such a time and other at another, nor in one respect beautiful and in another ugly, nor so affected by position as to seem beautiful to some and ugly to others.
"'Nor again will our initiate find the beautiful presented to him in the guise of a face or of hands or any other portion of the body, nor as a particular description or piece of knowledge, nor as existing somewhere in another substance, such as an animal or bthe earth or sky or any other thing; but existing ever in singularity of form independent by itself, while all the multitude of beautiful things partake of it in such wise that, though all of them are coming to be and perishing, it grows neither greater nor less, and is affected by nothing. So when a man by the right method of boy-loving ascends from these particulars and begins to descry that beauty, he is almost able to lay hold of the final secret. Such is the right approach cor induction to love-matters.
"'Beginning from obvious beauties he must for the sake of that highest beauty be ever climbing aloft, as on the rungs of a ladder, from one to two, and from two to all beautiful bodies; from personal beauty he proceeds to beautiful observances, from observance to beautiful learning, and from learning at last to that particular study which is concerned with the beautiful itself and that alone; so that in the end he comes to know dthe very essence of beauty.
"'In that state of life above all others, my dear Socrates,' said the Mantinean woman, 'a man finds it truly worth while to live, as he contemplates essential beauty. This, when once beheld, will outshine your gold and your vesture, your beautiful boys and striplings, whose aspect now so astounds you and makes you and many another, at the sight and constant society of your darlings, ready to do without either food or drink if that were any way possible, and only gaze upon them and have their company.
"'eBut tell me, what would happen if one of you had the fortune to look upon essential beauty entire, pure and unalloyed; not infected with the flesh and color of humanity, and ever so much more of mortal trash? What if he could behold the divine beauty itself, in its unique form? 212aDo you call it a pitiful life for a man to lead - looking that way, observing that vision by the proper means, and having it ever with him? Do but consider,' she said, 'that there only will it befall him, as he sees the beautiful through that which makes it visible, to breed not illusions but true examples of virtue, since his contact is not with illusion but with truth. So when he has begotten a true virtue and has reared it up he is destined to win the friendship of Heaven; he, above all men, is immortal.' b"This, Phaedrus and you others, is what Diotima told me, and I am persuaded of it; in which persuasion I pursue my neighbors, to persuade them in turn that towards this acquisition the best helper that our human nature can hope to find is Love. Wherefore I tell you now that every man should honor Love, as I myself do honor all love-matters with especial devotion, and exhort all other men to do the same; both now and always do I glorify Love's power and valor cas far as I am able. So I ask you, Phaedrus, to be so good as to consider this account as a eulogy bestowed on Love, or else to call it by any name that pleases your fancy."