Plato sets the action at a party hosted by the poet Agathon to celebrate his first victory in a dramatic competition, the Dionysia of 416 BCE. There a discussion develops between the guests on the theme of love. Aristodemus, who was present, reported the conversation to Phoinix and Apollodorus. Phoinix told it to another, unnamed person; meanwhile Apollodorus checked it with Socrates, who was present. The unnamed person has told it to Glaucon (Plato's brother, an interlocutor in the Republic), but has given him an unreliable version and has left him uncertain how long ago the discussion took place. Glaucon has now obtained a better version from Apollodorus, who is thus primed to tell the story again to a friend. From this point on, he will be quoting Aristodemus (172a–174a). The dramatic date of the frame conversation, in which Apollodorus speaks to his unnamed friend, is estimated to be between 401 BCE (fifteen years after Agathon won his prize) and the time when Socrates was tried and executed in 399 BCE.
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