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Symposium, II

March 12, 2012


You’re always the same, Apollodous. You’re always maligning yourself and others, and it seems to me that you think that everyone but Socrates is schizophrenic [althios], starting with yourself! And I certainly don’t know where you picked up that nickname, “Softy” [malakos/manikos]! You’re always like this in your speeches, baiting yourself and others—everyone but Socrates


My dearest friend, since I do design [dianoeomai] thus, both concerning myself and concerning you—it’s quite clear that I am indeed raging, and that my wits are touched [parapaio].


It’s not worth it to get heating up over this now, Apollodorus, but we beg of you, please, just take us through the speeches!


Alright then, they were something like this — rather, I’ll take it from the top for you. I’ll try to tell it like Aristodemus told it:

Aristodemus said that Socrates bumped into him, bathed and wearing shoes—which Socrates seldom did—so he asked him where he was going all prettied up like that.

“To dinner at Agathon’s,” Socrates said, “I avoided him at the victory feasts the other day, because I feared the crowd. But I agreed to show up [paresesthai] today. That’s why I got myself all prettied up: to be a pretty boy going to a pretty boy. But you,” he said, “how would you feel about coming to dinner uninvited?”

“And I,” Aristodemus told me, “said, ‘I’m down for whatever you command.’ ”

“Then follow me, so that we may corrupt that old adage and change it to say: ‘Good men go to the feasts of the good automatically!’ Of course, Homer risks not only corrupting that adage, but also totally disrespecting it (hubrizein), because after making Agamemnon a distinctively good man in affairs of war and Menelaus a pussy-footsoldier, he had Manelaos go—uninvited—to Agamomnon’s feast and had Agamemnon do the wining and dining; so there’s a worse man going to the feast of his better.”

Aristodemus said that upon hearing that he said, “But likewise will I be taking a risk, Socrates, though not as you say, but rather according to Homer: a poor bloke like me going uninvited to a clever man’s feast! So since you’re leading me, make sure you apologize to Agathon for it, because I won’t corroborate having come uninvited—I was invited by you.”

“Well, as Diomedes said to Nestor: two heads are better than one. We’ll deliberate over this as we go, but let’s hit the road.”

So they discussed it as they went. But Aristodemus said that soon Socrates began to lag behind, carrying himself away as he drew his mind somehow to himself. And when Aristodemus waited up for him, Socrates commanded him to go on ahead.

But when Aristodemus got to Agathon’s house and found the door wide open, he was put in a funny position. Straightaway a boy from inside came to meet him and led him in (the others were already reclining) and he found them just about to have dinner.

As soon as Agathon saw him he said, “Aristodemus! Beautiful, your having come to dine with us! —And if you’re here for some other reason, put it off, because I was looking for you just the other day to invite you, but I couldn’t lay my eyes on you. But where’s Socrates?”

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