Love in Plato’s Symposium and Aristophanes’s Lysistrata

The main theme of the dialogue Symposium by Plato and Aristophanes’s Lysistrata is love. Love is interpreted in many different aspects and beliefs in both stories. In Symposium, most people in the speech believe that love is a god and something good thing, “Love is a great god, wonderful in many ways to gods and men, and most marvelous of all is the way he came into being” (872, Plato). Pausanias brings a point that love has two types: Common and Heavenly love. Common love is the satisfaction of sexual desire and Heavenly love is the connection of souls by praising. Common love could be immoral because it leads to the strong desire of sexual attraction instead of soul. In Aristophanes’s Lysistrata, the protagonist Lysistrata uses the sexual desire to achieve her goal which is to bring a peace. She and her followers refuse to have sex until their husbands end the war. It indicates that Lysistrata uses “common love” to increase men’s desire of sexual attraction which lead men to do what women want. It shows that how people love each other involves in sexual desire, not the soul. Diotima in Symposium supports the idea of common love because the purpose of love is reproduction. She believes physical contact is necessary in love. In final, Socrates argues that love is neither beautiful nor ugliness; neither moral nor immoral. According to him, love cannot be beautiful because it leads to the desire of keeping what is beautiful.

One thought on “Love in Plato’s Symposium and Aristophanes’s Lysistrata

  1. I agree with Diotima. I don’t think common love is immoral since physical desire is very natural. In Lysistrata, both women and men desire sex. For instance, women want men come back from war because they feel lonely. Men eventually reach truce because they have suffered from women’s sex strike. I would say the love that men had on women in Lysistrata is common love because they are they are reckless and ignorance of the women’s concerns. Once women started their sexual strike, they got freaked out and they eventually participated in truce because they can’t live without women’s “common love”. However, women had heavenly love on men because they want their husband back safely, which contains responsibility, concerns and elements beyond sexual desire.

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