Symposium by Plato

Symposium by Plato Glossary

all of a sudden

exaiphnes; reversal, whether of the mood, in the atmosphere, etc.


the third sex in Aristophanes’ speech, where essentially a woman and a man were one person


the pursued in an affair; in ancient Greece, usually referred to a young boy

Common Love

love striking whenever it gets the chance, felt by the vulgar; attraction to the body; more common among heterosexual


andreia; the ability to win a contest


a being who is neither mortal nor immortal, or a “spirit”


particularly intense attachment and desire in general; most commonly applied to passionate love and desire, usually sexual; also refers to the god who personifies this state


whole of well-being and the good life; there is no English translation to completely capture it, so translated as happiness

Heavenly Love

finding pleasure in what is by nature stronger and more intelligent; purely homosexual love


no English translation, but its instances are translated as “fine,” “good,” “beautiful,” “noble,” and “honorable” depending on the usage


the pursuer in a relationship or affair; in ancient Greece, usually an older, wise man

lover of wisdom

philosophon; one who pursues philosophy (i.e. a philosopher)


sophrosune; this word can also be translated as “temperance” or more literally “sound-mindedness”; it is a virtue with self-control

Moral character

arete; excellence; the four cardinal virtues of Justice, Moderation, Bravery, and Wisdom


way to achieve immortality for mortals; in body through childbirth or in soul through politics or poetry

pursuit of wholeness

search for other half, trying to achieve original nature before the splitting of humans by the gods


wisdom or skill, depending on the usage of the speaker; Agathon’s usage equates to techne, which refers to the ability to produce things, translated as skill or art.


It literally means “drinking together,” but at these gatherings, food was always served and entertainment provided as well.


translated from aischros, which is also translated as “bad” and “shameful”