By: Plato (428/427 BC - 348/347 BC)
“For there is no light of justice or temperance, or any of the higher ideas which are precious to souls, in the earthly copies of them: they are seen through a glass, dimly…”
Socrates and his earnest friend Phaedrus, enjoying the Athenian equivalent of a lunchtime stroll in the park, exchange views on love and on the power of words, spoken and written.
Phaedrus is the most enchanting of Plato’s Erotic dialogues (capitalised in honour of the god). The barefoot philosopher urges an eager young acquaintance – who has allowed his lover’s oratorical skills to impress him overmuch – to re-examine the text of Lysias’s speech in the light of his own exalted (and Platonic) vision of Love.
Not long ago this early example of literary dismantling was itself deconstructed by a contemporary sage - Jacques Derrida.
The present reader tries to present Socrates as he conceivably was: the chortling, pot-bellied ex-soldier, a flirtatious yet charismatic talker with a serious passion for Truth. (Introduction by Martin Geeson)
Translated by Benjamin Jowett
The Phaedrus is closely connected with the Symposium, and may be
regarded either as introducing or following it. The two Dialogues
together contain the whole philosophy of Plato on the nature of love,
which in the Republic and in the later writings of Plato is only
introduced playfully or as a figure of speech. But in the Phaedrus and
Symposium love and philosophy join hands, and one is an aspect of the
other. The spiritual and emotional part is elevated into the ideal, to
which in the Symposium mankind are described as looking forward, and
which in the Phaedrus, as well as in the Phaedo, they are seeking to
recover from a former state of existence. Whether the subject of the
Dialogue is love or rhetoric, or the union of the two, or the relation
of philosophy to love and to art in general, and to the human soul, will
be hereafter considered. And perhaps we may arrive at some conclusion
such as the following that the dialogue is not strictly confined to a
single subject, but passes from one to another with the natural freedom
of conversation... Continue reading book >>