The Symposium



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The Symposium: 194a-198a Summary & Analysis

When Agathon starts his speech, he says that he will depart from his predecessors by speaking not only about Love’s gifts, but also about the nature of Love himself. He says that Love is the happiest, most beautiful, and best of the gods and is drawn to what is like himself, especially the young. He is also just, moderate, courageous, and wise.
There is a tone of superior eloquence and rhetorical skill in Agathon’s speech from the start—and also, perhaps, a touch of arrogance. His picture of love as youthful directly contradicts Phaedrus’s claim of love’s antiquity, and Agathon doesn’t really offer evidence for his assertions.
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In short, Agathon concludes, Love is “himself supreme in beauty and excellence” and brings about the same qualities in others. He is the most beautiful and best leader of gods and humans, all of whom should sing his praise. When Agathon finishes his speech, there are “shouts of admiration from everyone present.”
In Agathon’s view, love already possesses and dispenses all good things—in contrast to Socrates’s view, soon to come. The crowd’s immediate, enthusiastic approval suggests both that Agathon’s rhetoric is superficially attractive and that his argument lines up with what is conventionally accepted.
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