The Symposium (Greek: Συμπόσιον) is a Socratic dialogue written by Xenophon in the late 360's B.C. In it, Socrates and a few of his companions attend a symposium (a lighthearted dinner party at which Greek aristocrats could have discussions and enjoy entertainment) hosted by Kallias for the young man Autolykos. Xenophon claims that he was present at the symposium, although this is disputed because he would have been too young to attend. The dramatic date for the Symposium is 422 B.C.
Entertainment at the dinner is provided by the Syracusan and his three performers. Their feats of skill thrill the attendants and serve as points of conversation throughout the dialogue. Much of the discussion centers on what each guest is most proud of. All their answers are playful or paradoxical: Socrates, for one, prides himself on his knowledge of the art of match-making.
Major themes of the work include beauty and desire, wisdom, virtue, and laughter which is evoked by Philippos the jester and the jocular discourse of the dinner guests. Xenophon demonstrates clever use of playfulness (paidia παιδία) and seriousness (spoude σπουδή) to manipulate the discussion of the above-mentioned themes in a manner appropriate to a symposium.
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