An Excerpt From ‘The Symposium’ ~ By Plato

This was my reading that I gave at my friend Jason’s wedding last year. I recently found it again and thought it would make a lovely post

“Humans have never understood the power of Love, for if they had they would surely have built noble temples and altars and offered solemn sacrifices; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to be done, since Love is our best friend, our helper, and the healer of the ills which prevent us from being happy.

To understand the power of Love, we must understand that our original nature was not like it is now, but different. Human beings each had two sets of arms, two sets of legs, and two faces looking in opposite directions.

Now these creatures were so powerful and lofty in their notions that they even conspired against the gods. Thereat Zeus and the other gods were perplexed; for they felt they could not slay them, nor could they endure such sinful rioting. So Finally Zeus in all of his wisdom said “Methinks I can contrive that men shall give over their iniquity through a lessening of their strength.” and so saying, he sliced each human being in two.

Now when our first form had been cut in two, each half longed for its fellow to come to it again; to fling their arms about each other and in mutual embrace yearn to be grafted together as once they were. Thus anciently is mutual love ingrained in mankind.

Well, when one happens on their own particular half, the two of them are wondrously thrilled with affection, intimacy, and love, and are hardly to be induced to leave each other’s side for a single moment. These are they who continue together throughout life. No one could imagine this to be the mere amorous connection: obviously the soul of each is wishing for something else that it cannot express. Suppose that Hephaestus should ask “Do you desire to be joined in the closest possible union, that so long as you live, the pair of you, being as one, may share a single life?” Each would unreservedly deem that he had been offered just what he was yearning for all the time.

The craving and pursuit of that entirety is called Love. If we make friends with the gods and are reconciled, we shall have the fortune that falls to few in our day of discovering our proper favorites. Love brings this about; it restores us to our ancient life, and heals and helps us into the happiness of the blessed.”

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