Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Plato's The Symposium. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Symposium: Introduction
The Symposium: Plot Summary
The Symposium: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Symposium: Themes
The Symposium: Quotes
The Symposium: Characters
The Symposium: Terms
The Symposium: Symbols
The Symposium: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Plato
Historical Context of The Symposium
Other Books Related to The Symposium
- Full Title: The Symposium
- When Written: c. 385-370 B.C.
- Where Written: Athens, Greece
- When Published: c. 385-370 B.C.
- Literary Period: Classical Greek
- Genre: Platonic dialogue
- Setting: Agathon’s house in Athens, Greece, in 416 B.C.
- Climax: Socrates’s description of Diotima’s “ladder of love”
- Antagonist: Alcibiades, and the other party guests to various extents
- Point of View: Third-person
Extra Credit for The Symposium
More than Friendship. Even though the concept of “Platonic Love” is often thought to have its origin in Symposium, the term doesn’t appear there. The colloquial understanding of the concept—which contrasts it with romantic love—actually has more in common with ideas found in Plato’s dialogue Phaedrus. In Symposium Plato sees love as needing to transcend attachment to particular bodies and souls altogether, seeking union with eternal goodness and beauty.
The Invisible Plato. Although Plato portrays his teacher, Socrates, as well as many of his historical contemporaries as characters in many of his dialogues, Plato himself never appears in any of these texts—even at events at which he probably was present, such as the death of Socrates, which he describes in the dialogue Phaedo.