A couple of days ago in an Oxfam shop I picked up a second-hand copy of a beautiful parallel text of the Symposium, with a racy and highly readable translation by Tom Griffith and wonderfully evocative wood engravings by Peter Forster. It’s a fun read (though I found the experience tinged with regret at the more or less total loss of my Greek).
But is it still philosophically important? Philosophical interest is not a timeless feature of a text, it seems. No doubt the Symposium is a great source for those looking for clues about the mores of ancient Athens (and that is a fascinating subject: put James Davidson’s Courtesans and Fishcakes on your reading list if you don’t know that terrific exploration). But does the Symposium really tell you anything serious about its ostensible subject, love? Indeed, how do you ‘philosophize’ about that? Read the English poets instead!