The Holes In The Myth Essay

1310 words - 5 pages

The Holes in the MythFlora ReneauIn The Symposium, written by Plato, there are several speeches made, all of which focus on the concept of love. Among the men who spoke was Aristophanes. Instead of professing his opinions in the previous styles, he chose to use a myth. He used the myth of how human beings came to be the way they are and, because of the how, he describes why we love. While Aristophanes' speech had many redeeming qualities, there were several aspects that detracted from the credibility of what he had to say.Aristophanes chose to speak about the myth about how people are the way they are. He began by informing his audience that there was, at one time, 3 genders of people. There were the males, the females, and the androgynous (who have both male and female sexual organs). His speech went on to say that the gods became displeased by the acts of aggression by these early humans and decided to cut them in half. This is what formed the ideas of sexual orientation; the males and females who were cut in half were the people who are homosexual and the androgynous became the people who are heterosexual.It is only after this point that Aristophanes begins to discuss the why of love. The myth continues on to explain that people search, as Aristophanes puts it, for their "other half". It is only when they find their other half that they become happier and more content and, most importantly, this is when we fall in love.Using the myth is an excellent starting point, with a few detractors. It allowed Aristophanes to branch out from the previously used methods and make his speech more memorable. It is also a very hopeful and cheerful method to refer to love, which is always a welcome thought among people. Unfortunately, because it used the "happily ever after" motif, it also is a problem. His speech focuses to much on the idea that love is people's main goal in life and without it they are lost and miserable. Aristophanes emphasized this point when he said, "Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature." This sentence is flawed since it makes it sound like the purpose of life is to find love, to find your other half, when in fact not all people need love, or need that companionship to feel whole. Aristophanes does not allow for the people who feel whole through the use of other vices: pursuit of education, pursuit of politics, traveling, etc.There is also a bit of conflict in his sentiments. Aristophanes said that people were split in half because the gods were displeased with their attempts to threaten them as "whole" people. This is then followed up with the idea that people are constantly trying to find their other halves, to become whole, in attempts to please the gods. Aristophanes showed this point when he wrote, "'Love" is the name for our pursuit of wholeness...Love is our guide and our commander...Whoever opposes Love is...

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