Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Tragedy of Alcibiades in Platos Symposium Essay -- Philosophy Religio
The Tragedy of Alcibiades in Plato's Symposium In Symposium, a selection from The Dialogues of Plato, Plato uses historical allusions to demonstrate AlcibiadesÃ¢â¬â¢ frustration with both social expectations for the phallus and his inability to meet these expectations. AlcibiadesÃ¢â¬â¢ inability to have a productive sexual relationship effectively castrates him and demonstrates the impotence caused by an overemphasis on eroticism. The tragedy of Alcibiades is that he realizes he is unable to gain virtue through sexual relationships and will therefore be forced to remain mortal, yet he is unable to alter his condition. Symposium is set during a festival for Dionysus, the goddess of fertility; this setting emphasizes the sexual expectations of society that Alcibiades must confront. During fertility festivals, "the Athenians would carry phalluses around the city in ribald celebration" (Rudall 5);1 the phallus in Athens was a symbol of both fertility and eroticism. The Athenians, concerned with the potential extinction of the human race, performed rituals during these festivals that celebrated the phallus as the means of the reproduction of human life. Thus, heterosexual relationships were justified by the creation of children, and the focus of the celebration of the phallus was its productive nature. This focus on productivity created a social expectation that sexual relationships should be productive. Thus, the partygoers in Symposium have gathered during a festival celebrating the fertility and productivity of heterosexual relationship to attempt to justify their homosexual relationships by eulogizing Eros. Since heterosexual relationships were justified by the production of children, a justification of homosexual relationships woul... ...s was married to Hipparete, daughter of Hipponicus, and had at least one son by her; however, the couple lived separately for most of their wedded life and Hipparete even attempted to divorce Alcibiades. Alcibiades also unsuccessfully attempted to have a productive sexual relationship by impregnating Timaea, the wife of Agis, so that his descendants would become kings of the Lacedaemonians, but Agis realized that the son was not his and subsequently refused the royal succession. (Gregory R. Crane (ed.), The Perseus Project: Plutarch, http://www.perseus.tufts. edu/cgi-bin/text?lookup=plut.+alc.+8.1&vers=english;loeb&browse=1, December 1999). 5. While the exact relation of the dates of these two events is unknown, it is also unimportant. What is relevant is the relationship that Plato perceived them as having, and he likely believed them to have occurred within days.