“Imagine that Hephaestus came with his tools and stood over them as they were lying together, and asked, ‘What is it you humans want from each other?’ And when they were unable to reply, suppose he asked them instead, ‘Do you want to be so thoroughly together that you’re never at any time apart? If that’s what you want, I’d be glad to weld you together, to fuse you into a single person, instead of being two separate people, so that during your lifetime as a single person the two of you share a single life; and then, when you die, you die as a single person, not as two separate people, and you share a single death there in Hades. Think about it: is this your heart’s desire?” (29; 192e).
Plato’s Symposium is a curious text: a philosophical treatise on love, a play about a dinner party in classical Athens where the guests are all flirty and catty, and a story-within-a-story that goes at least five layers deep. Suzanne and Chris consider what it means to get intellectually pregnant, to philosophically crash a party, and to find your missing half.
The Symposium by Plato, Robin Waterfield’s translation.
Aristophanes’ myth of the origin of love inspired a striking song in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
When Alcibiades stumbles into the party, drunk and beautiful with flowers in his hair, he probably looks a little like Dionysius, the god of wine.
We do have depictions of Silenus as the (significantly older) tutor of Dionysus, however.
Next episode: The Metamorphoses by Ovid. (Use whatever translation you can find.)