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An international online journal of the classics and the humanities

The Platonic sage in love

John Dillon


This article explores the nature of the erotic impulse set forth in Diotima's speech in Plato's Symposium, and in the myth of the Phaedrus, with a view to deciding how far Plato intends it to be a purely selfish process. After all, in the 'ladder of ascent' to the Beautiful Itself in Symp. 210-12, the individual beloved seems to be left behind, and even disdained, and Plato has been criticised for this, by such authorities as Gregory Vlastos. I argue that this cannot really have been Plato's intention, and adduce the later Platonist discussion about the proper form that a philosophic love-affair should take.

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