Diotima – 08 Eros, and the desire for immortality
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Symposium – Plato [Translator: B. Jowett]
I was astonished at her words, and said: 'Is this really true, O thou wise Diotima?'
And she answered with all the authority of an accomplished sophist: 'Of that, Socrates, you may be assured;--think only of the ambition of men, and you will wonder at the senselessness of their ways, unless you consider how they are stirred by the love of an immortality of fame. They are ready to run all risks greater far than they would have run for their children, and to spend money and undergo any sort of toil, and even to die, for the sake of leaving behind them a name which shall be eternal. Do you imagine that Alcestis would have died to save Admetus, or Achilles to avenge Patroclus, or your own Codrus in order to preserve the kingdom for his sons, if they had not imagined that the memory of their virtues, which still survives among us, would be immortal?
Nay,' she said, 'I am persuaded that all men do all things, and the better they are the more they do them, in hope of the glorious fame of immortal virtue; for they desire the immortal.
'Those who are pregnant in the body only, betake themselves to women and beget children--this is the character of their love; their offspring, as they hope, will preserve their memory and giving them the blessedness and immortality which they desire in the future.
But souls which are pregnant--for there certainly are men who are more creative in their souls than in their bodies--conceive that which is proper for the soul to conceive or contain. And what are these conceptions?--wisdom and virtue in general. And such creators are poets and all artists who are deserving of the name inventor.