The Symposium

by

Plato

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The Symposium Characters

Socrates

Socrates (c. 470 B.C.–399 B.C.) was Plato’s teacher and appears as a main character in many of Plato’s dialogues, including Symposium. Though he left no writings of his own, he is considered the founder… read analysis of Socrates

Alcibiades

Alcibiades is a notorious figure, both historically and within Symposium. Historically, Alcibiades betrayed Athens more than once and was exiled, then recalled from exile in 407 B.C. because he was the only person thought… read analysis of Alcibiades

Diotima of Mantinea

Diotima is a fictitious prophetess whom Socrates invents in his speech at the symposium. He portrays her as having initiated him into the higher mysteries of Eros through a dialectical discussion. Through the metaphor of… read analysis of Diotima of Mantinea

Aristophanes

Aristophanes was considered to be the most accomplished writer of comedies in the ancient world. In Symposium, his speech is an exercise in myth-making, explaining that sexual attraction came about when Zeus cut humans… read analysis of Aristophanes

Agathon

The historical Agathon was a writer of tragedies, none of which have survived. In Symposium, he is described as a good-looking man in his mid-thirties at the time of the dinner party, which takes… read analysis of Agathon
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Pausanias

Pausanias is an older man who is in a long-term relationship with Agathon in Symposium, though little is known about him as a historical figure. In his speech, he distinguishes between “common” and “heavenly”… read analysis of Pausanias

Aristodemus of Cydathenaeum

Aristodemus is the one who told Apollodorus what happened at the symposium, so it’s really his perspective that makes up most of Symposium, albeit narrated by Apollodorus. He’s described as “a little man who… read analysis of Aristodemus of Cydathenaeum

Apollodorus

Apollodorus is the narrator of Symposium who describes the speeches of the symposium to his unnamed companion, although he wasn’t there himself. He heard about the speeches from Aristodemus, and he shared the details… read analysis of Apollodorus
Minor Characters
Eryximachus
Eryximachus is an Athenian physician. He suggests the topic of love for the symposium speeches. His speech connects love to his practice of medicine and to harmonies observed throughout the natural world.
Phaedrus
Phaedrus is a young man and a student of rhetoric. He delivers the shortest speech in Symposium, focusing on Love’s antiquity and the way that it can bestow courage on lovers and boyfriends.
Glaucon
Glaucon is Apollodorus’s friend who caught up with him on the way to Athens at the beginning of the dialogue, requesting a more exact account of what was discussed at the symposium.