The Symposium By Plato

The exact nature of what love is has been debated since the time of the ancient Greek philosophers and is described in 'The Symposium' by Plato.

The exact nature of what love is has been debated since the time of the ancient Greek philosophers. The Greek's debate is described in Plato's "Symposium." Plato's "Symposium" recreates a philosophic discussion amongst ancient Greece's top philosophers. The men gathered to discuss the meaning of love. The abstract nature of Love makes it difficult to define. The Greeks believed there were two types of love, Common Love and the Love driven by virtue, Noble Love.

Pausanias discusses two kind of love. Pausanias says Phaedrus""who spoke just before Pausanias""should have differentiated between the heavenly love and the earthly love. He claims there are two loves just like there are two Aphrodites. The first love has an honorable purpose, and enjoys the intelligence of man's nature. The first love is ever faithful and shows no sign of desire for other's and lust. The second is the rougher kind of love, which is the love of the physical body, not the soul. The second kind of love is just as likely to be the love of women and boys as well as man.

Plato says their performance determines whether the Love is Common or Heavenly. This differs greatly from the materialistic society we live in today. Today people are more concerned with Common Love than Heavenly Love. They judge people and see beauty by its external appearance not its intrinsic inner beauty. They dwell in Common Love which leads to divorce, and unhappiness. They desire Heavenly Love, but fail to recognize that Pausanias was correct. There are two kinds of loves. The love that attracts the eye, and lust; and the love that moves the heart, the love that is judged not by physical beauty, but by internal beauty. This love finds physical beauty without internal, Heavenly beauty, ugly.

The Common Love is for those with weak hearts and the inability to see past the physical to the inner beauty. This is also the Love most experience in the latter half of the twentieth Century. We know longer fall in love with a person because of who they are inside, and what the stand for in life. Today, we fall in love for what people are, what they look like, and what kind of job they have. This is Common Love, if we would search for Heavenly Love inside those around us, we would be much happier. Heavenly Love is the love of those with high virtue. Virtue, honor and goodness are the most beautiful qualities of mankind. The person who deserves your love is those who treat you kindly, with the most honor, virtue, and goodness. Common Love is the love of young boys and women. It is the Love of lust, and the vulgar love of the physical body. It is the love of wealth and power and is fleeting. Noble Love, the Love of the older Aphrodite is lasting. Common Love causes man to act irrationally, emotionally. It is this type of love that causes jealousy and anger in mates.

This does not mean love should not be gratifying. True love is gratifying and should be so. It means that there is more to love than just self-gratification. Love that has only self-gratification is common, and without virtue. However, Love that is gratifying and at the same time exhibits virtue is the truest form of love. Beauty that does not gratify the beloved is Common ugly love, because it is not the love that comes from the mind and soul. There is nothing wrong with physical attraction, but the soul can not be ruled by this Common Love alone.

Pausanias discusses different kinds of Common Love. He says that if a person marries for money and gratifies his lover, this is Common ugly love. The wealthy person's love is not, because he was deceived. The deceiver still maintains Virtue. Pausanius says the same is true of the older Aphrodite's Love. The deceived maintains virtue as long as their intentions were seeded in virtue. For Pausanias virtue is the key to love. Love without virtue is inferior, Common Love.

The Greeks recognized that there were two kinds of love, Common Love and Noble Love. The combination of these two loves will make for an everlasting love. It is the love of mind, body, and soul, not the foolish love of youth, or the love of intellect a person develops later in life. It is the same today. People who wish to have true everlasting love should look through the shell of their potential mate, and discover what is on the inside. Potential lover's should know each other's inner most feelings thoughts, and intellect, not just the exterior shell. Physical beauty is deceiving. It blinds the mind to the workings of the real person. The old saying "beauty is only skin deep" is an idea that more people should accept. There is virtue in beauty, but attraction due to beauty itself, and only beauty has no virtue, and is not everlasting. Combining physical love with the love of the person's intellect is the best way to ensure a happy healthy relationship. This is the true love, and finds its roots in virtue not in beauty. Virtue is the higher form of love, and Common Love is the lowest form. The ideal form of love combines virtue with the physical attraction of Common Love.

There are many things to learn from Plato's "Symposium" on love. Love must come from the heart not from lust and wantonness. This is real love. We have all experienced puppy love or what the Greeks called Common Love, and we have all been disappointed at the end results. Love based on physical beauty alone is not strong enough to last. Attraction to physical beauty helps, but it is not real love. It is only the puppy love of adolescence. Adults need more than puppy love to feel satisfied. They need the Love of the older Aphrodite. Love that is based on Virtue, honor, and attraction to another's intellect. This is real love, true love, the other is common and as Pausanias says, inferior.

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