Stamnos. A Symposium.
GREEK RED-FIGURE Anonymous
5th c BCE Greek Attic red-figure Ceramics
(active c. 530 BCE - c. 250 BCE)
c. 450 BCE
5th c BCE
Munich. Staatliche Antikensammlungen.
In one of the early Dialogues Plato tells of one of the most famous banquets in history in which Socrates explained his ideas about love which involved the transmutation of human love into divine understanding.
The discussion took place at a banquet known as a symposium, which probably looked much like the one you see represented here. The guests were men of Athens, some of whom were most likely attended by beautiful youths like the one you see on the right. After a relatively meager dinner, Socrates sent away the flute girls, and probably ordered the servants to go slow on the wine.
Socrates explained that one began by first being attracted to the beauty of one individual body, but when one considers how the beauty of that body is similar to the beauty of other bodies then one must become the lover of every lovely body. Next, the lover must grasp the fact that the beauties of the body are as nothing when compared to the beauties of the soul. Consequently, it is necessary to love such beauty even if it is encased in an ugly body. From this one would be led to contemplate the beauty of laws and institutions, then the beauty of knowledge. One finally comes to the realization that all manifestations of beauty are really the same, and there bursts upon one the vision of "beauty's very self-unsullied, unalloyed, and freed from the mortal taint that haunts the frailer loveliness of flesh and blood." This vision also brings the awareness of true virtue, and, in Socrates words: "When he has brought forth and reared this perfect virtue, he shall be called the friend of God, and if it is given to man to put on immortality, it shall be given to him."
RED-FIGURE | Stamnos. A Symposium. | c. 450 BCE | Greek | Classic