In the Symposium, Apollodorus makes a relation to an unidentified companion story, which he had learned about a dinner party, or a symposium from Aristodemus. The symposium is given to honor the tragedian Agathon. Here, Socrates is lost in thought on the neighboring balcony, and arrives at the party late. Eryximachus accepts Phaedrus suggestion after they have finished eating that, every person should make a speech praising the god of love. After a consensus, Phaedrus starts by referring to love as one of the oldest of gods. He adds that love promotes the most of the virtue in people. Pausanias draws the difference between common love and heavenly love. He describes Common Love as involving simple and mindless desire and the latter as always taking place between a man and a boy. In his description of the latter, Pausanias asserts that the boy sexually gratifies the man in exchange for education in virtue and wisdom. Eryximachus is the next to speak. The doctor suggests that good love promotes moderation and orderliness. He asserts that love does not restrict itself to human interaction – it can also be found in medicine, music, and several other things. The comic poet, Aristophanes draws an engaging myth in his speech suggesting that we were once all twice the people we are now, but Zeus cut us into half for our threat to the gods. Looking for our other half makes us complete. They make the speeches in turns and Socrates is the last to give his speech questioning Agathon’s speech, claiming that the latter spoke about the object of love as opposed to love itself. The party soon descends into drinking and chaos.
Aristophanes’ speech resonates for me. He imagines a time when men were twice what they were now. He asserts that during this time, each person had two faces with double features on the head, which was facing opposite directions. They also had two legs, two arms and two sets of genitals, also facing opposite directions. He also indicates in his speech that there were three genders; all females (two sets of females), all males (two sets of males), and hermaphrodite (one set of each of the above genders). He indicates that these genders came from the earth, the sun, and the moon respectively. These men overreached themselves and attacked the gods. Therefore, Zeus decided to reduce their power, and proposed that they should be cut into halves. The resultant individuals had one face, two legs and two arms as well as a pair of head features such as the eye, and the ears.
This speech resonates for me because comic poet draws an engaging myth, which seems relevant to the current love relationships witnessed in the society. He seems convincing on the fact that men could have been more powerful than they currently are. Additionally, his explanation for seeking a love partner and the sexual orientations (homosexuals, lesbians, and heterosexuals) define the current situations in love. He successfully engages the audience with his mythical representation of facts and one would be convinced that this could have actually happened, or it is just an imagination, which justifies the current situation.
Aristophanes says that, after the divisions, people went about seeking their other halves. Those who were separated from all males looked for male partners, and those from all females looked for other female partners, which explain the current relationships of homosexuals and lesbians respectively. However, those separated from the hermaphrodites looked for partners of the opposite sex, which explains the adulterers and prostitutes. However, when people meet their actual other half, they form intense lifelong partnership. This can be seen today in the society following the census revelations of the number of the different aforementioned sexual orientations. Man-man, woman-woman, and man-woman relationships occur in the society today. There are considerable populations of each of these sexual orientations. For instance, different states in America have legalized same sex marriages and given them equal rights to heterosexual marriages as institutions of marriage.
According to the chosen internet source, 17 states have legalized gay marriages and 33 other states have banned same sex marriages. This internet source gives the dates and types of legislations that either permitted or outlawed the same sex marriages in different states as indicated below. Six states including California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and New Jersey permitted same sex marriages through court decisions. Eight others including Illinois, Delaware, Minnesota, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, and Vermont, allowed the same with state legislations. Three others such as Maryland, Maine, and Washington allowed same sex marriages by popular vote. The states that banned same sex marriages in the United States include Nebraska, Oregon, and Nevada, which banned it based on constitutional amendments only. Four other states such as Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wyoming, and West Virginia outlawed same sex marriages by state law only. However, the rest 26 states banned same sex marriages both by constitutional amendments and by state laws. This can be translated that, in most states, there are more of the hermaphrodite pairs than the other male or female only individuals, which makes most people to incline in favor of the heterosexual couples. Evidently, human beings are born from heterosexual families and not same sex marriages. The latter can only raise children.
After reading Aristophanes’ speech, I am not sure whether I should believe him or not. He seems convincing in his reasoning. However, the fact there I have never read about other literature with similar assertions make me wonder if these assertions are really true about love. The question that I keep asking myself is the fact that some people are married for long, but are unhappy in their marriages. What does this imply, if marriage or lifetime partners means finding the actual half? Could there be other conflicting forces within the self resulting in these conflicts?
This essay has helped me understand the basis of love relationships. I now understand the reasons behind support or opposition for same sex marriages in the society. I have learned that, since people are born from the families with hermaphrodite ancestry, they will be reluctant to accept same sex love relationships. The audience of this essay will learn about the causes of love relationships such as same sex partners such as homosexuals and lesbians, and prostitutes and adulteresses. The speech discussed herein has changed my thinking about sexual orientations in the world today. The data used from the internet source has also explained the basis of love relationships consistent with Aristophanes speech in the symposium. I have also enjoyed the comic poet’s speech.
Plato. “Symposium”. Trans. Seth Benardete. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2001. Print.
Gay Marriage. 17 States with Legal Gay Marriage and 33 States with Same-Sex Marriage Bans. ProCon.org. web 3/24/2014 http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004857