Plato uses the dialogue to expound various theories of love. Each participant by means of very personal contributions, which in some instances are thought to be parodies of the speaker, adds something towards an exposition of love that at the end receives its conclusion from Socrates. The love to which the participants refer is mostly homosexual love between men, reflecting a social reality in classical Greece.
In order to understand Plato more clearly, it is useful to bear in mind his theory of Forms, according to which all the phenomena perceived by the senses are imitations of eternal and perfect Forms that alone have reality. Beauty belongs to this category of Forms.