Symposium by Plato

The Symposium as a response to Aristophanes

In The Frogs, Aristophanes attacks the new tragedy of Agathon and Euripides, opposing it to the old tragedy of Aeschylus. In Aristophanes’ comedy, Dionysus, the god of theatre and wine, descends into Hades and observes a heated dispute between Aeschylus and Euripides over who is the best in tragedy. Dionysus is engaged to be the judge, and decides the outcome, not based on the merits of the two tragedians, but based on their political stance regarding the political figure, Alcibiades. Since Aeschylus prefers Alcibiades, Dionysus declares Aeschylus the winner. That contest provides the basic structure on which the Symposium is modeled as a kind of sequel: In the Symposium Agathon has just celebrated a victory the day before, and is now hosting another kind of debate, this time it is between a tragedian, a comic poet, and Socrates. At the beginning of the Symposium Agathon asserts that “Dionysus will be the judge”, and Dionysus is, though Alcibiades performs as surrogate for the god. So the character, Alcibiades, who was the deciding factor in the debate in The Frogs, becomes the judge in the Symposium, and he now rules in favor of Socrates, who had been attacked by Aristophanes in The Clouds. The Symposium is a response to The Frogs, and shows Socrates winning not only over Aristophanes, who was the author of both The Frogs, and "The Clouds," but also over the tragic poet who was portrayed in that comedy as the victor.[15][16][17]


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