Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Erotic & Magical Greek Lesson: "What then can Love be?" "A great Demon, O Socrates"

The text for today's lesson is Plato's Symposium. If you wish to follow along at home (or wherever you are), please refer to the Stephanus numbering given below.

First, the warm-up . . . .

[Diotima:] 'you have admitted that Eros, from lack of good and beautiful things, desires these very things that he lacks.’
[Socrates:] ‘Yes, I have.’
[Diotima:] ‘How then can he be a God, if he is devoid of things beautiful and good?’
[Socrates:] ‘By no means, it appears.’
[Diotima:] ‘So you see, you are a person who does not consider Eros to be a God.’
[Socrates:] ‘What then,’ I asked, ‘can Love be? A mortal?’
[Diotima:] ‘Anything but that.’
[Socrates:] 'Well, what?'

. . . . and then the main attraction:

ὥσπερ τὰ πρότερα, ἔφη, μεταξὺ θνητοῦ καὶ ἀθανάτου.
As I previously suggested, between a mortal and an immortal.

τί οὖν, ὦ Διοτίμα;
And what is that, O Diotima?

δαίμων μέγας, ὦ Σώκρατες: καὶ γὰρ πᾶν τὸ δαιμόνιον
A great Demon, O Socrates: and all of the Demonic realm

[202ε] μεταξύ ἐστι θεοῦ τε καὶ θνητοῦ.
is between the immortal and the mortal.

τίνα, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ, δύναμιν ἔχον;
having what power? [asks Socrates]

ἑρμηνεῦον καὶ διαπορθμεῦον θεοῖς τὰ παρ᾽ ἀνθρώπων καὶ ἀνθρώποις τὰ παρὰ θεῶν,
[Diotima answers:] Interpreting and transporting [ἑρμηνεῦον καὶ διαπορθμεῦον] human things to the Gods and Divine things to humans;

τῶν μὲν τὰς δεήσεις καὶ θυσίας,
entreaties [δεήσεις] and sacrifices [θυσίας] from below,

τῶν δὲ τὰς ἐπιτάξεις τε καὶ ἀμοιβὰς τῶν θυσιῶν,
and ordinances [ἐπιτάξεις] and requitals [ἀμοιβὰς] from above:

ἐν μέσῳ δὲ ὂν ἀμφοτέρων συμπληροῖ, ὥστε τὸ πᾶν αὐτὸ αὑτῷ συνδεδέσθαι.
being midway between, it makes each to supplement the other, so that the whole [πᾶν] is combined in one.

διὰ τούτου καὶ ἡ μαντικὴ πᾶσα χωρεῖ καὶ ἡ τῶν ἱερέων τέχνη τῶν τε περὶ τὰς θυσίας καὶ τελετὰς
Through it are conveyed all divination [μαντικὴ] and priestcraft [ἱερέων τέχνη] concerning sacrifice [θυσίας] and ritual [τελετὰς]

[203α] καὶ τὰς ἐπῳδὰς καὶ τὴν μαντείαν πᾶσαν καὶ γοητείαν.
and incantations [ἐπῳδὰς], and all soothsaying [μαντείαν] and sorcery [γοητείαν].

θεὸς δὲ ἀνθρώπῳ οὐ μείγνυται,
The Divine with mortals does not mingle:

ἀλλὰ διὰ τούτου πᾶσά ἐστιν ἡ ὁμιλία καὶ ἡ διάλεκτος θεοῖς πρὸς ἀνθρώπους, καὶ ἐγρηγορόσι καὶ καθεύδουσι:
but the Demonic is the means of all society and converse [ἡ ὁμιλία καὶ ἡ διάλεκτος] of humans with Gods and of Gods with humans, whether waking or asleep.

καὶ ὁ μὲν περὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα σοφὸς δαιμόνιος ἀνήρ, ὁ δὲ ἄλλο τι σοφὸς ὢν ἢ περὶ τέχνας ἢ χειρουργίας τινὰς βάναυσος. οὗτοι δὴ οἱ δαίμονες πολλοὶ καὶ παντοδαποί εἰσιν, εἷς δὲ τούτων ἐστὶ καὶ ὁ Ἔρως.
Whosoever has skill in these affairs is a spiritual person [δαιμόνιος ἀνήρ], to have it in other matters, as in common arts and crafts, is for the mechanical. Many and multifarious are these Demons, and one of them is Love.’

[A little further on [203d], Socrates adds the following by way of summing up the nature of Eros]:

κατὰ δὲ αὖ τὸν πατέρα ἐπίβουλός ἐστι τοῖς καλοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς,
he takes after his father in scheming [ἐπίβουλός] for all that is beautiful [καλοῖς] and good [ἀγαθοῖς];

ἀνδρεῖος ὢν καὶ ἴτης καὶ σύντονος,
for he is brave, strenuous and high-strung

θηρευτὴς δεινός, ἀεί τινας πλέκων μηχανάς,
a famous hunter, always weaving some stratagem;

καὶ φρονήσεως ἐπιθυμητὴς καὶ πόριμος, φιλοσοφῶν διὰ παντὸς τοῦ βίου,
desirous and competent of wisdom, throughout life ensuing the truth;

δεινὸς γόης καὶ φαρμακεὺς καὶ σοφιστής:
a master of sorcery [γόης], witchcraft [φαρμακεὺς], and sophistry [σοφιστής].


The Greek and the English translation are both taken from Perseus. Here is a direct link. The translation is from Fowler (1925), but I have taken certain liberties.

To recap: all of the following are attributed to Eros and the Demonic realm:
  1. Interpreting and transporting [ἑρμηνεῦον καὶ διαπορθμεῦον] human things to the Gods and Divine things to humanity
  2. communicating prayers [δεήσεις] and sacrifices [θυσίας] from us to the Gods
  3. communicating injunctions [ἐπιτάξεις] and requitals [ἀμοιβὰς] from the Gods to us
  4. filling in all the space between humans and the Gods, so that everything [πᾶν] is bound to everything else [ἐν μέσῳ δὲ ὂν ἀμφοτέρων συμπληροῖ, ὥστε τὸ πᾶν αὐτὸ αὑτῷ συνδεδέσθαι.]
  5. divination [μαντικὴ]
  6. priestcraft [ἱερέων τέχνη] concerning sacrifice [θυσίας] and ritual [τελετὰς]
  7. incantations [ἐπῳδὰς]
  8. soothsaying [μαντείαν]
  9. sorcery [γοητείαν]
  10. all society and converse [ἡ ὁμιλία καὶ ἡ διάλεκτος] of humans with Gods and of Gods with humans, whether waking or asleep
  11. the ability to be a true spiritual person [δαιμόνιος ἀνήρ] (or is that a truly Demonic person?)
  12. In general, all interaction, of any kind, between the Divine and mortals must be by way of the intermediary realm of the Demons. Otherwise, the Divine and mortals do not mingle directly [θεὸς δὲ ἀνθρώπῳ οὐ μείγνυται].

J.K. Rowling Announces "Pottermore"

(Here is a direct link to Pottermore. Scroll down for press release ....)

From the official press release (full text available at the DailyGrail.Com):
J.K. Rowling today, Thursday 23rd June, answered mounting speculation about the nature of her new project and announced Pottermore, a unique and free-to-use website which builds an exciting online experience around the reading of her hugely successful Harry Potter books, and is partnered by Sony.

The announcement today was heralded by the revealing of the website’s name via an online search for its letters, and a ‘coming soon’ holding page which received over a million visits within 36 hours of launching.

For this groundbreaking collaborative project, J.K. Rowling has written extensive new material about the characters, places and objects in the much-loved stories, which will inform, inspire and entertain readers as they journey through the storylines of the books. Pottermore will later incorporate an online shop where people can purchase exclusively the long-awaited Harry Potter eBooks, in partnership with J K Rowling’s publishers worldwide, and is ultimately intended to become an online reading experience, extending the relevance of Harry Potter to new generations of readers, while still appealing to existing fans. As the Pottermore Shop develops, it is intended that it should include further products designed specifically for Harry Potter fans, offering a potential outlet for Sony products and services related to Pottermore. In keeping with Harry Potter’s international appeal, the site will launch in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, with more languages to follow.

Geert Wilders: "The Dutch are still allowed to speak critically about islam, and resistance against islamisation is not a crime."

A major victory for freedom of speech has occurred. Here is what Geert Wilders was told by the judges presiding over his trial for "hate speech" against Islam:
"You are being acquitted on all the charges that were put against you. The bench finds that your statements are acceptable within the context of the public debate."

And here is a round-up of world headlines on the acquittal of Geert Wilders:

Geert Wilders acquitted of hate speech against Muslims

Radio Netherlands:
Positive reactions to Wilders' acquittal

Geert Wilders acquitted on hate speech charges

Dutch Court Acquits Freedom Party Leader Geert Wilders of Defaming Muslims

Al Jazeera:
Dutch MP acquitted in 'hate' trial

Agence France-Presse (via yahoo news):
Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Wilders acquitted

Deutsche Welle:
Dutch court acquits Geert Wilders in hate speech trial

Jerusalem Post:
Dutch court acquits Geert Wilders in hate speech case

Dutch court acquits lawmaker Geert Wilders of Muslim hate speech charges

Geert Wilders cleared of hate charges by Dutch court

New York Times:
Dutch Court Acquits Anti-Islam Politician

RTÉ News:
Geert Wilders acquitted of inciting hatred