Xenophon, creator; , Xenophon Memorabilia, Oeconomicus Symposium, Apology; Todd, O. J. (Otis Johnson), translator; Marchant, E. C. (Edgar Cardew), 1864-1960, editor; Todd, O. J. (Otis Johnson), editor, translator

So the Syracusan withdrew amid applause. Socrates now opened up another new topic for discussion. Gentlemen, said he, it is to be expected of us, is it not, when in the presence of a mighty deity that is coeval with the eternal gods, yet youngest of them all in appearance, in magnitude encompassing the universe, but enthroned in the heart of man,—I mean Love,—that we should not be unmindful of him, particularly in view of the fact that we are all of his following?

For I cannot name a time when I was not in love with some one, and I know that Charmides here has gained many lovers and has in some instances felt the passion himself; and Critobulus, though even yet the object of love, is already beginning to feel this passion for others.

Nay, Niceratus too, so I am told, is in love with his wife and finds his love reciprocated. And as for Hermogenes, who of us does not know that he is pining away with love for nobility of character, whatever that may be? Do you not observe how serious his brows are, how calm his gaze, how modest his words, how gentle his voice, how genial his demeanour? That though he enjoys the friendship of the most august gods, yet he does not disdain us mortals? Are you the only person, Antisthenes, in love with no one?

No, by Heaven! replied he; I am madly in love—with you. And Socrates, banteringly, pretending to be coquettish, said: Don’t pester me just now; I am engaged in other business, as you see.

How transparent you are, sir procurer of your own charms, Antisthenes rejoined, in always doing something like this; at one time you refuse me audience on the pretext of your divine sign,[*](See footnote on page 494 of the Defence.) at another time because you have some other purpose in mind.

In Heaven’s name, Antisthenes, implored Socrates, only refrain from beating me; any other manifestation of your bad temper I am wont to endure, and shall continue to do so, in a friendly spirit. But, he went on, let us keep your love a secret, because it is founded not on my spirit but on my physical beauty.

But as for you, Callias, all the city knows that you are in love with Autolycus, and so, I think, do a great many men from abroad. The reason for this is the fact that you are both sons of distinguished fathers and are yourselves in the public eye.

Now, I have always felt an admiration for your character, but at the present time I feel a much keener one, for I see that you are in love with a person who is not marked by dainty elegance nor wanton effeminacy, but shows to the world physical strength and stamina, virile courage and sobriety. Setting one’s heart on such traits gives an insight into the lover’s character.

Now, whether there is one Aphrodite or two, Heavenly and Vulgar, I do not know; for even Zeus, though considered one and the same, yet has many by-names. I do know, however, that in the case of Aphrodite there are separate altars and temples for the two, and also rituals, those of the Vulgar Aphrodite excelling in looseness, those of the Heavenly in chastity.

One might conjecture, also, that different types of love come from the different sources, carnal love from the Vulgar Aphrodite, and from the Heavenly spiritual love, love of friendship and of noble conduct. That is the sort of love, Callias, that seems to have you in its grip.

I infer this from the noble nature of the one you love and because I see that you include his father in your meetings with him. For the virtuous lover does not make any of these matters a secret from the father of his beloved.

Marry, quoth Hermogenes, you arouse my admiration in numerous ways, Socrates, but now more than ever, because in the very act of flattering Callias you are in fact educating him to conform to the ideal. True, he replied; and to add to his pleasure, I wish to bear testimony to him that spiritual love is far superior to carnal.

For we all know that there is no converse worth the mention that does not comprise affection. Now affection on the part of those who feel admiration for character is commonly termed a pleasant and willing constraint; whereas many of those who have a merely physical concupiscence reprehend and detest the ways of those they love.

But suppose they are satisfied on both scores; yet the bloom of youth soon passes its prime, and as this disappears, affection also inevitably fades away as fast; but the soul becomes more and more lovable the longer it progresses toward wisdom.

Besides, in the enjoyment of physical beauty there is a point of surfeit, so that one cannot help feeling toward his favourite the same effect that he gets toward food by gratification of the appetite. But affection for the soul, being pure, is also less liable to satiety, though it does not follow, as one might suppose, that it is also less rich in the graces of Aphrodite; on the contrary, our prayer that the goddess will bestow her grace on our words and deeds is manifestly answered.

Now, no further argument is necessary to show that a soul verdant with the beauty of freeborn men and with a disposition that is reverent and noble, a soul that from the very first displays its leadership among its own fellows and is kindly withal, feels an admiration and an affection for the object of its love; but I will go on to prove the reasonableness of the position that such a lover will have his affection returned.

First, who could feel dislike for one by whom he knew himself to be regarded as the pattern of nobleness, and, in the next place, saw that he made his favourite’s honour of more account than his own pleasure, and beside this felt assured that this affection would not be lessened under any circumstances, no matter whether he suffered some reverse or lost his comeliness through the ravages of illness?

Moreover, must not those who enjoy a mutual affection unavoidably take pleasure in looking into each other’s faces, converse in amity, and trust and be trusted, and not only take thought each for the other but also take a common joy in prosperity and feel a common distress if some ill fortune befall, and live in happiness when their society is attended by sound health, but be much more constantly together if one or the other become ill, and be even more solicitous, each for the other, when absent than when present? Are not all these things marked by Aphrodite’s grace? It is by conducting themselves thus that men continue mutually to love friendship and enjoy it clear down to old age.

But what is there to induce a favourite to make a return of affection to a lover who bases his feeling solely on the flesh? Would it be the consideration that the lover allots to himself the joys he desires but gives the favourite only what excites the deepest contempt? Or that he conceals, as best he can, from the favourite’s relatives the ends that he is bent on attaining?

As for his using entreaty rather than coercion, that is all the stronger reason for detestation. For any one who applies force merely discovers his rascality, but he who uses persuasion corrupts the soul of the one upon whom he prevails.