7 Key Insights into Aristophanes’ Perspective on Love in Plato’s Symposium


Plato’s Symposium, a seminal philosophical work from the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, is lauded in classical literature for its profound discourse on love and beauty. Among the various speeches in this literary masterpiece, Aristophanes’ speech stands out. As a celebrated comic playwright of ancient Athens, Aristophanes presents a unique viewpoint on love. This article provides a comprehensive study of Aristophanes’ perspective on love in the Symposium, enriching our grasp of Platonic philosophy and ancient Greek culture.

The Role of Aristophanes in the Symposium

Aristophanes, one of the interlocutors in the Symposium, provides an intriguing and creative interpretation of love that stands apart from the rest. He spins an allegorical story explaining the genesis of human longing and the quest for completeness. This section delves into Aristophanes’ distinct role in the Symposium and his contribution to its philosophical depth.

Aristophanes' perspective on love

The Genesis of Love: Aristophanes’ Mythical Interpretation

The essence of Aristophanes’ speech is his mythical account of love’s inception. He narrates an allegory of primordial creatures who were spherical, having two faces and bodies back to back. These beings were bifurcated by Zeus, sparking a relentless search for their lost halves. This section unpacks this mythical tale and its impact on our comprehension of love and desire.

Love as a Quest for Completeness: Aristophanes’ Theory

Aristophanes conveys love as a quest for completeness, a concept deeply embedded in his myth. He suggests that love is an inherent yearning to rediscover our missing half and attain wholeness. This viewpoint offers a refreshing lens to understand human relationships and feelings. This section delves further into Aristophanes’ portrayal of love as a quest for completeness.

Contrasting Views: Aristophanes versus Other Speakers

The viewpoint of Aristophanes on love significantly deviates from other participants in the Symposium, including Socrates and Alcibiades. While Socrates perceives love as a pathway to wisdom and beauty, Aristophanes underscores the quest for wholeness and fulfillment. A comparative analysis between these views deepens our understanding of Platonic philosophy.

Contemporary Relevance of Aristophanes’ Speech

Despite its age, Aristophanes’ speech in the Symposium remains pertinent in modern debates on love and relationships. His notion of seeking completeness through love is echoed in various psychological theories and therapeutic practices today. This section examines how Aristophanes’ speech maintains its influence on contemporary philosophical discussions.


Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium offers a creative yet profound exploration of love that continues to resonate with readers today. By portraying love as a quest for completeness, Aristophanes provides a unique lens that enhances our understanding of human emotions and relationships.

Through an in-depth analysis of Aristophanes’ speech, this article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of his mythical view on love, its contrast with other speakers in the Symposium, and its relevance in contemporary discourse. Aristophanes’ contribution to the Symposium adds not only an imaginative touch to the philosophical text but also enriches our understanding of love and human nature. Find more about Plato and the final days of Socrates: a profound exploration of philosophy and life on our website.

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