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 interest throughout his life for the sake of the Athenians virtue. Doubtlessly, denying or depriving self of fulfilling own selfish desires is difficult as human live for own selfish ends. Also, these selfish desires seems built-in to humans. Humans have natural tendencies to act according to what he or she desires, in spite of it being selfish and sometimes evil.
In the Athenian society, which Socrates describes as a “big thoroughbred horse” (Plato 518) due to its riches, wealth, and greatness, it can be inferred that some of its citizens posses this riches and wealth, and for those who do not may have great desires for earning such wealth and power to, again, meet own selfish ends. However, Socrates differs from this in this that he never craved for wealth and richness, which makes him extraordinary and approve his claim as sent by the god to the Athenians.
And, this confirms he embodies eros as the intermediary between god and men. Moreover, Plato also defines eros through eros’ inheritance of his father’s, god of plenty, characteristics (Needleman 16). These characteristics include eros being bold, being “terrible as an enchanter”, who interlace interest or curiosity, “keen in pursuit of wisdom”, and a “philosopher at all times” (Needleman 16). Socrates in “The Apology” displays these characteristics in many ways. Socrates’ boldness emanated from his audacious and specific address towards the Athenian citizens and officials.
He sought out other well known citizens of great power and are known to have “highest reputation” (Plato 508) and cross-examined them to measure their wisdom. In particular, he approached poets and concluded that “no wisdom enabled them to compose” (Plato 508) and they resemble diviners and oracles by not “understanding anything of what they say” (Plato 508). As a poet whose passion is literature and is known for eloquence, creativity, and gift of poetic thoughts, for Socrates to make a claim of a poet’s void composition renders great offense on the poet’s part, and all the more proves Socrates’ boldness.
Moreover, Socrates claims he cannot be damaged by either Meletos or Anytos’ proposed death punishment to Socrates for he thought “the eternal law forbids a better man to be hurt by worse” (Plato 518). By this, he referred the better man as himself and the worse as either Meletos or Anytos. Apparently, these men have some power as they represent those people who may have been offended by Socrates. Yet Socrates boldly acknowledges them as worse than himself. Other than this, Socrates honestly claims that he exposes and hinders “the many unjust and illegal doings” (Plato 519) of the Athenian state.
Certainly, the Athenians would totally dislike Socrates for admitting these deeds of his yet he carelessly and publicly declares this during the trial. Beside this, Socrates fully declares that the Athens’ lives are wrong (Plato 528) and ending his life would not stop any reproach to come upon them. His confidence on this matter can also stir up more irritation among the crowd but he still bravely announced this. From each examples Socrates gave during his trial, he was aware of the risks yet due to his audacity, he was able to get across his message to the Athenians.
Other than his boldness, Socrates also embodies eros as someone who is “terrible as an enchanter” and who interlace the curiosity and interest of his audience (Needleman 16). He achieves this through his talent of clever wordings and phrases to connect to and capture attention of the Athenians. Socrates often used phrases such as “I beg and pray you most earnestly” (Plato 503), “I appeal to most of you to bear me out” (Plato 505), “don’t make an uproar, gentlemen, remain quiet as I begged you, hear me without uproar at what I have to say” (Plato 507) and many others.
Through these, he can captivate their attention and hinder a possible uproar among them so he can clearly deliver his message to them. For a crowd of 501 people, it will be difficult to counteract uproar if it arises. But it turns out that Socrates had the situation under control while he delivered his speech on his trial day. This reflects his strong enchanting abilities, just like eros. Socrates also has a talent of stirring up interest of those that he speaks to.
Although some citizens of Athens have been offended by Socrates’ conviction, some of them were actually “delighted to hear people being cross-examined” (Plato 509) and that some of them chose to imitate Socrates’ ways of making people, who thinks they have wisdom, realize that they have no wisdom at all. Furthermore, Socrates embodies eros through their resemblance in “keen pursuit of wisdom” and being a “philosopher at all times” (Needleman 16). As he was going about cross-examining people, he “approached the craftsmen” (Plato 508). He has no knowledge of being crafty.
But since he loves gaining knowledge, whatever it may be, he continued his talk with them since he knew he would learn something that has “much of real value” (Plato 508). Going further his trial, Socrates assures the citizens that he will “never cease being a philosopher” (Plato 517) and that he will continue giving advice and cross-examining and testing those who think they possess wisdom. Even if this costs him his life on the line, Socrates will insist in doing these to anyone he comes across with. After the jury finally approves his death punishment, Socrates found the decision favorable because he will have the hance to cross-examine and investigate those who have deceased, including Troy, Odysseus, and Sisyphos, of whether they are wise or not (Plato 530). Socrates perceives this as his “infinity of happiness” (Plato 530) if he does meet these great men and other numerous men and women because in the second life, he believes he will gain immortality, and he can infinitely live as a philosopher there. Surely, Socrates has strong desires for gaining knowledge and for living all his life as a philosopher. In conclusion, although there are many ways in which love can be defined, Plato’s definition of eros has been utilized.
The definition for this eros love refers to eros being a poor being, eros being the mediator between god and men, and eros being a resemblance of the god of Plenty’s characteristics. In analyzing Socrates of “The Apology”, we can see how he embodies Plato’s definition of eros and the reasons for this embodiment in many ways. Definitely, Socrates’ personify eros of Plato. Works Cited Page Needleman, Jacob. The Heart of Philosophy. 1st ed. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2003. 15-17. Print. Plato, . “The Apology. ” Trans. W. H. D. Rouse Great Dialogues Of Plato. New York: Signet Classics, 2008. 502-531. Print.
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