Xenophon's Symposium is an account of a traditional male dinner (ch. 1) and drinking party (chs. 2-9), at which Xenophon was present.  The form of the work follows the pattern of the party: it begins when the party begins; it ends when the party ends.  In between, the movement follows the somewhat random movement of the conversation and the entertainment.  There are, however, some discernible sequences: chs. 1-2; 3-4 (two circles of speeches); 7-9 (the concluding entertainment; Socrates' great speech on love).

Dramatic date: 422 B.C.E.

The guests at this party fall into groups.  Some of them you have already met or will meet later in this course.

* Callias son of Hipponicus. There is a "c.v." at 8.39-41.  Of the deme Alopece, like Socrates and Crito.  Politician and bon vivant.  Known for extravagant lifestyle.  Mentioned in Pl. Apol. 20a-c, and appears in some of the dialogues.
* Autolycus, the beloved of Callias.  The son of Socrates' accuser Lycon.  His victory in the pancration (boxing and wrestling) is the occasion for the party.  His victory, and thus the party, can be dated to 422 B.C.E.  Executed by the Thirty.
* Lycon, father of Autolycus (mentioned 2.4 by name for first time).  He is referred to in Pl. Apol. but nowhere else in Pl. or Xen. except here.  Note that he praises Socrates here (9.1).
* Niceratus son of Nicias.  Will appear again in Pl. Laches.  His depiction here as a newly wed is an anachronism.  He was too young in 422 B.C.E. to be married.

* Socrates
* Critobulus son of Crito.  Cf. Pl. Apol. 33e, 38b; Phaedo 59b.  Present at the trial and at the death of Socrates.  A member of the inner circle of Socrates' associates.
* Hermogenes, paternal half-brother of Callias.  Present at the death of Socrates (Phaedo 59b7).  Xen.'s source for his Apology.  Appears several times in Xen. Mem.
* Antisthenes.  Xen. Mem. 3.11.17: Socrates' constant companion.  Present at the death (Phaedo 59b; but mentioned nowhere else in Plato).  Wrote dialogues.  In Xen. Mem. 2.5.1-3, 3.11.17.
* Charmides.  The great beauty of his age group: Pl. Charmides init.  In 415 B.C.E., when he was about thirty-one, he was accused, with Alcibiades, Adeimantus, and Axiochus, of profaning the Eleusinian mysteries (an initiatory ceremony related to the cult of Demeter at Eleusis).  All had links to Socrates.

* Xenophon.  Which group was he with?  In a sense, neither A. nor B.  His presence is anachronistic.  He would have been a toddler in 422 B.C.E.

o Philip the buffoon or clown.  Only appearance in Pl. and Xen.  Not mentioned again until much later in antiquity.


1. Intro.; situation; time; beauty of Autolycus; Philip and his profession.
2. Arrival of man from Syracuse with entertainers; entertainment.  There are five divisions; a discussion is linked to each of them.
3. First circle of speeches: everyone answers the question "Of what are you proudest?"
4. Second circle of speeches: everyone has to show why it is valuable.
5. Beauty contest between Critobulos and Socrates (cf. 4.18-20)
6. Silence of Hermogenes as paroinia ("convivial unpleasantness").  Syracusan's abuse of Socrates.
7. Socrates sings a song. Syracusan's girl prepares to perform a stunt.  Socrates proposes an alternative; Syracusan agrees.
8. Socrates' speech on love.
9. Syracusan's girl and boy dance "Ariadne and Dionysus."  The party breaks up.