Role of Diotima in Plato's Symposium

Topics: Symposium, Gender, Plato Pages: 2 (481 words) Published: June 15, 2012
Short Paper #1 Diotima

Plato’s Symposium presents an ironic twist of society’s respect towards individuals on the basis of gender and intellect. The dialogue opens with the gathering of respected men over the discussion of Eros at a symposium. The overall tone exuded by the male figures throughout the dialogue displayed a sign of superiority over females through certain mediums in their encomium. Such is not the case with the speech delivered by the upmost respected scholar of his time, Socrates. Socrates, a trusted figure in regards to wisdom and intellect, proceeds to credit his knowledge of Eros to a woman, priestess Diotima. The knowledge given to Socrates by Diotima becomes complicated in the sense that it does not share equal comprehension with the other dialogue in the minds of the overly masculine men. The reasoning behind the comprehension problem by males is because the teachings are juxtaposed with feminine activity. Thus, the teaching and the content of Diotima’s wisdom do not work together with the maleness exerted by the symposium’s audience, because they are two separate planes of thought.

The amount of respect given to Diotima by Socrates shown within his tone and dialogue of his experience with the priestess surprises the audiences of his time. It was considered a fact during the time of Socrates that males were innately superior in every way imaginable. Furthermore, Socrates being reputable in the upper echelon of intellects at the time meant that his praise of Diotima was reliable. The irony is delivered when Socrates and Agathon have an exchange of words. Socrates shares that he once, too, held the same view as Agathon, but Diotima persuaded him otherwise. Claimed by his fellow scholars to be a man who is inarguably impossible to refute was convinced to change his thought of Eros by a priestess. What is more ironic is that the content of Diotima’s persuasive teachings to Socrates was told with feminine metaphors relating to pregnancy...
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