Symposium was written around 384 BC, and many would regard it as Plato's finest dialogue, from an artistic point of view, and the most enjoyable to read or listen to. There are many reasons for this, including the keyhole glimpse it gives us of Athenian society; the role played in the dialogue by Socrates; the description of what has come to be known as Platonic love; and the characterization of the speakers.
David Shaw-Parker as Socrates
Tim Bentinck as Apollodorus/Alcibiades
Andrew Branch as Aristodemus
Daniel Flynn as Agathon
Gordon Griffin as Pausanias/Friend
Hayward Morse as Phaedrus
Christopher Scott as Eryximachus/Servant
Susan Sheridan as Diotima
David Timson as Aristophanes
Daniel Flynn as Presenter
(P)2005 Naxos Audiobooks
I have read the Symposium 4 or 5 times previously, but the excellent cast brought this to life in an entirely new way for me. I learned new things and laughed out loud at places. The dialogue starts off a little slow, warms up with Aristophanes' speech, and then kicks into high gear when Socrates speaks with Diotima (both are excellent). And Alcibiades steals the show, just as is intended. A great performance. Brilliant stuff. I will listen to this many more times, and I hope that this cast can be assembled to perform some of Plato's other dialogues (Gorgias, Meno, Phaedo, Republic). This is one of my favorite audiobooks of all time.
This production does a great job on throwing some life into Greek Philosophy. You'll be able put personalities with recognizable greek names, and the discussion is definately easier to follow with the full cast. But this is still pretty heavy stuff. If you're hoping for Greek Philosophy ala "Xena: Warrior Princess ", you're in the wrong selection.
You'll be listening in as these highbrow Athenias philosphers open a few bottles of wine and debate the pros and cons of Eros, the god of Love. (Remember that these intellectuals considered heterosexual love a cheap imitation of the more noble homosexual love - this is one of the few points they seem to agree on). The program revolves around philosophy, there's not any plot or action. But the dramatization helps you understand which opinions are coming from doctors, warriors, actors, etc. - thus making each perspective easier to follow. The fact that this debate took place because everyone had hangovers leaves you gaping at what regular debates had to be like back then!
This audio book was perfect. When it is Socrates' turn to speak, he makes reference to a conversation he had with a woman. The audio production actually brings in a female narrator (who is just as effective as the main narrator) to take over this section. So you really get a "feel" for the ideas being conveyed as the Greeks at the time would have been considering them. Ad a side note, it is amazing how open this culture was to homosexuality. Judging from this classic of western philosophy it was the norm in 5th/6th century Athens.
A delightful reading of what is probably Plato's most popular dialogue. Worth it just to hear Aristophanes' famous, witty description of spheroid, hermaphroditic humans before Zeus split us into two genders. Note that if you are a raging homophobe, you had better pass on this classic (and on much of Western Civilization).
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