Aristophanes’ Speech on Love

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In this paper I will discuss Aristophanes' speech on love found in Plato's Symposium. I will summarize his speech and explain the characteristics of love as Aristophanes thinks of it. I will also explain Aristophanes' definition of love, and whether or not love is an admirable or good thing. And finally, I will critically discuss the plausibility and implausibility of Aristophanes' view of love.

Aristophanes, being a comic poet, offers an engaging and mythological perspective on the topic of love. Aristophanes' speech begins by explaining the nature of man and what has become of it. Aristophanes suggests that long ago, the nature of the original human being was very much different from what it is today. He proposes that human beings once were comprised of two halves; that is to say, they were twice the people they are today. According to Aristophanes, this original primeval man had a round body, his back and sides formed into a circle from which two pairs of arms and legs protruded, he had two faces, and most importantly, two sets of genitalia.

Aristophanes goes on to say that there were three different kinds of these original human beings, all of which were differentiated by their gender. Not only were there a female and a male, but a third, a unified androgynous creature that possessed both female and male genitalia. Symbolically, these beings were said to be the children of the sun, earth and the moon. The male was the child of the sun, the female of the earth, and the unified androgynous creature was a child of the moon.

These beings were extremely powerful, so powerful that at one point they even decided to challenge the gods. The Gods fought back, but fearing that a total annihilation of these beings would leave the world barren with no one to worship them, instead, decided to sever these creatures in half with a bold of lightning. Upon being severed, these beings became obsessed with unifyi... Continue Reading