Socrates as "Eros"

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Esther Rodulfa
PHL-1010H-LD01
09/18/12

Socrates as eros?
Truly, love takes on many different forms. Love, for many centuries, has been given many different names. It also serves different functions. To distinguish a specific type of love, one of them is called eros. How love as eros can be defined is based upon the utilization of a specific writer’s perspective. Numerous published written works may account for the definition of eros. In this Essay, Plato’s perception of love as eros will be described. Furthermore, how and why Socrates, of “The Apology” by Plato, embodies Plato’s definition of eros will be shown. This embodiment will be based off Plato’s eros as poor being, eros as an intermediary between God and men, and eros as resemblance of the “god of Plenty”, eros’ father (Needleman 15 – 17).

According to Plato’s “Symposium”, eros has always been in need or poor (Needleman 16). Socrates embodiment of this description of eros can be seen in Plato’s “The Apology”, where Socrates “remain in infinite poverty” (Plato 509) as a result of his commitment to his god through convicting Athenians of the condition of their souls and lives. Most of his time, Socrates converses with people and asks them questions pertaining their lifestyle. Due to this he does not have enough time to make earnings for himself. In return, some of his listeners put in time to hear him out and take on his advices (Plato 509). This even more takes time off from Socrates. Although others perceive this as Socrates teaching the Athenians with a charge, not one witness testified of Socrates’ activity of charging fees from anyone (Plato 519), which proves his disinterest in obtaining monetary wealth that contributes to his impoverishment. It can be suggested that Socrates does not spend great deal of time in obtaining monetary wealth or pleasure (Plato 519) due to this commitment. He places more priority on his care for Athenians than tending for his own health. His full dedication and sacrifice for others’ good sake contribute to his condition of being poor. Other than this, after Socrates was charged guilty, he had to offer an alternative penalty for himself. However, he said “I have no money to pay” (Plato 526) if ever his alternative penalty was to pay a fine. It can be implied from this Socrates’ deep poverty condition due to his inability to pay his freedom from the unjust guilty charges pressed against him. Since the death punishment upon him is too great, Socrates would need so much money to annul this punishment; but as he said, he does not have any means of doing so due to his poverty.

Another definition of eros, as Plato defines it, is an intermediary between God and men. By intermediary, it means that eros “interprets…between gods and men” (Needleman 15). He also delivers “to men the commands of the gods” (Needleman 15). Thus he brings connection between god and men. Socrates in “The Apology” embodies these characteristics in few ways. During Socrates trial, he admits that he has been “commanded by god” (Plato 521) to rebuke the Athenians of their foolish ways and reach an epiphany of their lives wasted on money and fulfilling selfish evil desires. He also says that he occasionally receives “signal from God” (Plato 529) whenever a wrong impulse is about move him. Since all he desires is fulfilling the right and just actions, he fully depends on the divine voice he claims to hear so the message of god will definitely reach the Athenians. In doing so, he will accomplish the god’s commanded upon him. However, it seems that the Athenians do not desire moral living as commanded by the god Socrates’ follows. Nevertheless, Socrates stays on his task and does not give into discouragement as he serves his intermediary role. Moreover, Socrates emphasizes to the Athenians that “I am really the one given to you by God” (Plato 519). How he affirmed this is through his denial of self; denial of own pleasures, denial of health, and denial of own...
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