Throughout history Love has been a topic of conversation. As the topic to the Symposium Socrates and his intellectual partners discuss what Love is and twist it's meaning in every possible way. Each attendee of the dinner is given an opportunity to express his feelings and ideas about Love. Love can be molded to fit many styles, shapes, and types.
Of those who were attending the Symposium, the majority of the men were homosexual or like Socrates bi-sexual. In this era, men commonly befriended young boys and taught them about Love. In exchange for sharing their knowledge, the older men gained sexual satisfaction. This started a cycle, when the young boys grew old they passed their knowledge on. The young boys in which were taught showed their appreciation by performing sexual acts. Love occurred in several ways.
Physical and emotional attractions were the two main sources of Love. Love based on a single physical feature is just as possible as love of a person's entire body and physical beauty. As talked about in the class discussion, Love of a person can be based on the Love of a physical feature. An individual can fall in Love with another even if he or she is not attracted to the other person's mind.
Opposite personalities can fall in Love with each other and do not need to base their Love on compatibility. Others base their Love on an emotional connection. This type of Love is the type thought to be most accepted by society, especially by women. In the class discussion, the females seemed to accept Love based on emotion and not based on physical beauty. It is hard to believe that Love can be formed solely on physical attraction and not on a spiritual connection. Emotional Love differs from physical Love due to the reason that no matter how much the person being loved changes physically, he or she will still be accepted and loved.
Emotionally based Love can change according to the personality change of the loved one. If the person being loved no longer acts in a manner that is attracting to the person doing the loving then it is possible to fall out of Love that is emotionally based. Those who attended the symposium believed that there were two types of Love, Common Love and Heavenly Love. Heavenly Love is represented through the older man giving knowledge to the young boy in exchange for sexual gratification. This type of Love can exist even when the sexual participation is removed from the relationship.
According to Diotima, men could and should receive gratification from knowing that they have passed knowledge on to the young boys. Even though it is genetically impossible for two males to reproduce, they can symbolically reproduce through the sharing of education. Common Love is based through lust and desire. Common Love has the goal of reproduction sexually and not educationally.
Common Love takes place between a male and a female. Diotima values the Love of two males who express their ideas and exchange their knowledge over the heterosexual couple who lustfully attempt to reproduce. The distinction between Heavenly Love and Common Love becomes one between reproduction of the mind and reproduction of individuals. It is possible to Love aspects about a person but not love the person. Socrates stated that a person could be in Love with someone and not like them. This cannot be true.
A person can Love a feature about someone, but not Love him or her. Loving a feature differs from Loving in that it is more of an infatuation with the person who is the object of affection. The only time it is possible to Love a feature of a person and still Love the person is when the mind is what is being Loved. No matter how someone's appearance is, if someone loves another person's mind then Love exists. Love is a complicating matter. Some people have never experienced being in Love (like myself) but, have experience in Loving others.
Loving someone and being in Love are totally different. For example, some people have never had feelings so strong that they would die for another person whom they are not related to but would do so for a parent or sibling. Love in ancient Greece created just as much wondering as it does today. Back then as well as now, many people have similar ideas about what Love is, because everyone has experienced-or in some situations not experienced- what Love is. Love is a phenomenon that strikes at any time. People have said that Love was found only after the attempt to find it was abandoned.
Love is powerful and can cause people to perform psychotic acts. Too often Love is blamed for someone snapping and harming the person that they Love. Evidence of Love causing explosive behavior was evident in the Symposium. When Alcibiades entered the symposium he enters a jealous rage and cries out in protest of Socrates sharing a couch with Aga thon. The jealousy of Alcibiades causes Socrates to ask for protection for the man he loves.
Love is powerful and mysterious. Love can be based upon physical attraction and through mental stimulation. The latter of the two is the preferred type of women; since more then men, they seek an emotional attachment over a physical attachment. Heavenly Love is the type of Love that is most sought after, it is based upon the emotional and spiritual attachment. This type of love most likely lasts longer and has a greater chance of growth.