Symposium by Plato

"Pregnant in Body and in Mind": Reproduction and Immortality in Platonic Love

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home.

- William Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, 62-65

Though Plato died nearly 2500 years ago, the English language still keeps his definition of love in common usage. To keep a relationship "platonic" means to eliminate its romantic aspect, restricting the partners to intellectual stimulation alone. Modern minds may think that this love is not as fertile as heterosexual romantic love and even consider this asexual affection something other than love, as it bears no children. Plato would respond that intellectual association leads to the creation of timeless ideas, and is therefore a greater love than the physical love which creates children. Plato explores and defends his view of love in the Symposium, specifically in the dialogue between Socrates and Diotima (Symposium, 204e 209e). Plato first defines love by examining the lover, then uses this definition to build an abstract function and purpose of love which places intellectual men above childbearing women.

Diotima teaches Socrates that the lover of good things wants to possess them so that he might...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1551 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10604 literature essays, 2667 sample college application essays, 583 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in