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Most would agree that love is the greatest gift that we can ever hope to give or to receive - But how does one know what love really is, and how can one exploit the significance of love and desire to construct a happy median in life?

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Jennifer Petersen Most would agree that love is the greatest gift that we can ever hope to give or to receive. But how does one know what love really is, and how can one exploit the significance of love and desire to construct a happy median in life? The ancient Greeks asked themselves these same questions thousands of years ago, and two very central scholars took the time to share their wisdom. In the Symposium, ancient scholar and philosopher Plato speaks through his literary characters and ultimately through Socrates, revealing to the reader that as a teacher, he wants us to make an ascent of increasing generality and transcend the material, corruptible, earthly love to connect with the pure, unified, heavenly love-the love of the gods. In book one and book two of the Satires, however, poet and philosopher Horace instructs his readers on love and desire by communicating to his readers that the good human life should be filled with healthy desires and pleasures, not with extreme pleasures, and that humans must value these pleasures in moderation to live life well. In the dialogues of his Symposium, Plato enlightens his readers on the different meanings of love by writing through distinguished characters such as Eryximachus, the educated doctor, and Agathon, the entertainer and sophist. ...read more.


(Plato, 211 B). This love for a beautiful soul can be, for example, in the form of love of a teacher for a student (Martin, 2003). For the teacher to be able to create beautiful thoughts, or even to arouse beautiful thoughts in the mind of the student, shows the teacher's ability to use this Beautiful love in a virtuous and worthy manner. Diotima concludes her instruction on love by informing Plato that "the love of the gods belongs to anyone who has given birth to true virtue and nourished it, and if any human being could become immortal, it would be he" (Plato, 212 B). Horace insinuates a very different view on love and desire in his collection of Satires. Throughout book one and book two of his Satires, Horace stresses the need for a life of growth through contentment. By relying on real-life examples, Horace instructs his readers to settle all human desires so that they can step back from the stressfulness of those desires and enjoy life. In "book 1" for example, Horace describes the lifestyle of a greedy miser: "But a raging sword wouldn't make you cleave less money. Nor would winter, fire, the sea, and swords...How does it help a fearful soul like you to be cunning and hide an immense weight of gold and silver in the earth...what's the value of such a high-piled heap?" ...read more.


II. 4. 88). Horace is, in reality, is questioning Catius' motives by drawing Catius' attention to his pointless and excessive love and desire for perfection in food. In essence, Plato exemplifies to the reader the true meaning of love in its most sacred form: Beauty. In the dialogue that he presents though the use of accredited characters making speeches on the meaning of love, he builds up to his final character, Diotima, who in the end explains that love ultimately stems from Beauty, and that which an individual should really desire is God and the essence of heavenly Beauty (Martin, 2003). Horace takes on a very different view from Plato, however. He recognizes that human beings tend to want and desire what they can't have, but they also create an unhealthy imbalance among the things that they do have. Diotima would say, "Rise above these desires and transcend to higher things." Horace, in response, would argue that one could try and follow Diotima's way of life and transcend his desires, but if the point of human life is to enjoy oneself, then one should concentrate on forming a healthy balance between life's desires and live life well. Literature Cited Plato. Symposium. (Trans. Nehamas, Alexander and Paul Woodruff.) Hackett Publishing Company. Indianapolis, IN. 1989 Horace. Horace's Satires and Epistles. (Trans. Fuchs, Jacob). W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York, NY. 1977 Martin, Dr. Terence. Introduction to Philosophy Class. Saint Mary's College. Notre Dame, IN. 2003 ...read more.

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