Изображения страниц

counterpart,” literally "symbol." grow together, so that being two, The ancient “symbol," or guage of you shall become one, and while friendship, was some object cut you live, live a common life, as if you in twain, one-half being preserved were a single man, and after your by each of the two partakers in the death in the world below still be one bond, which served as a memorial departed soul instead of two-I ask of their relation, and sign or pass whether this is what you lovingly of recognition.

desire, and whether you are satisReturning to Jowett's version, fied to attain this ?’ there is not we read :-"When one of them a man among them when he heard finds his other half ... the pair this who would deny, or who would are lost in an amazement of love, not acknowledge that this meeting and friendship, and intimacy, and and melting in one another's arms, one will not be out of the other's this becoming one instead of two, sight, as I may say, even for a was the very expression of his moment; these are they who pass

ancient need. And the reason is their lives with one another; yet that human nature was originally they could not explain what they one and we were a whole, and the desire of one another. For the desire and pursuit of the whole is intense yearning which each of called love." Or in Shelley's words them has towards the other does “The cause of this desire is, that not appear to be the desire of according to our original nature, intercourse, but of something else we were once entire. The desire which the soul desires and cannot and the pursuit of integrity and tell, and of which she has only a union is that which we call* love. dark and doubtful presentiment.” First, as I said, we were entire, [Or, as we may paraphrase from but now we have been dwindled Shelley :—"The soul of each manis through our own weakness." festly thirsts for, from the other, After another bit of comedy something which there are about the danger of the second words to describe, and divines that split, and a basso-relievo order of which it seeks, and traces obscurely humanity, slit down the nose and the footsteps of its obscure desire."] body and making a tally one slice “ Suppose Hephaestus, with his to the other; the great dramatist is instruments, to come to the pair, represented by Plato as yielding to who are lying side by side, and say thoughts more sober and proto them, What do you people found :-“Wherefore let us exhort want of one another?' they would all men to piety, that we may be unable to explain. And sup- avoid the evil and obtain the good, pose, further, that when he saw of which love is the lord and their perplexity, he said: “Do leader; and let no one oppose him you desire to be wholly one ; -he is the enemy of the

gods who always, day and night, to be in one opposes him. For if we are friends another's company?' L" Do you not

of God and reconciled to him we desire the closest union and single shall find our own true loves, ness to exist between you, so that which rarely happens in this you may never be divided night or world.” This sounds like Plato's day?" "Shelley's version.] For if hope, else Aristophanes, when he this is what you desire, I am ready had put off the comedian, was a to melt you into one, and let you religious man underneath. “I


All love," in Shelley's text as printed, but an evident misprint.

am serious,” he says, “and there- not exist in isolation; he must be fore I must beg Eryximachus not re-united if he is to be perfected; to make fun . . . . My words secondly, that love is the mediator

a wider application—they and reconciler of poor, divided include men and women every human nature; thirdly, that the where; and I believe that if all of loves of this world are an indistinct us obtained our love, and each one anticipation of an ideal union had his particular beloved, thus which is not yet realised.” returning to his original nature, The friends of Aristophanes do then our race would be happy. not mock at him, but after some And if this would be best of all, commonplace conversation relievthat which would be best under ing the tensity of the mind drawn present circumstances would be up into its more ideal heights and the nearest approach to such into a field so important to all an union; and that will be the conscious of immortal life, one of attainment of a congenial love. the banqueters turns to discourse Therefore we shall do well to of the divine attributes of love, praise the god Love, who is the followed by discussion and author of this gift, and who is also anecdotes. “What then is love ?' our greatest benefactor, leading he asks, reproducing a former us in this life back to our own conversation. • Is he mortal ?' nature, and giving us high hopes 'No.' · What then?' ... 'Ho for the future, that if we are pious is neither mortal nor immortal, he will restore us to our original but in a mean between them.' state, and heal us and make us • What is he then?' He is a happy and blessed.* This, Eryxi- great spirit, and like all that machus, is my discourse of love, is spiritual he is intermediate which, although different from between the divine and the yours, I must beg you to leave mortal.' 'And what is the nature unassailed by the shafts of your of this spiritual power?' • This ridicule.”

is the power which interprets and Aristophanes manifests a ner- conveys to the gods the prayers. vousness, with which we can fully and sacrifices of men, and to sympathise to-day, at disclosing men the commands and rewards of the soul or making any real re- the gods; and this power spans vealment of its spiritual depths. the chasm which divides them, and We have omitted much of the in this all are bound together, and bouncing revel of comedy in which through this the arts of the prohe covers himself. Jowett com- phet and the priest, their sacrifices, ments upon his utterance thus: and mysteries, and charms, and

“Nothing in Aristophanes is all prophecy and incantation, find more truly Aristophanic than the

For God mingles description of the human monster not with man; and through whirling round on four arms and this power all the intercourse and four legs, eight in all, with in- speech of God with man, whether credible rapidity. Yet there is a awake or asleep, is carried on. mixture of earnestness in this jest; The wisdom which understands, three serious principles seem to be this is spiritual; all other wisdom, insinuated :-First, that man can- such as thatof arts and handicrafts,

their way.

"Come and let us return to the Lord : for he hath torn and he will heal us-he: hath smitten and he will bind us up." Hosea vi. 1.

is mean and vulgar. Now these generally as the love of the everspirits or intermediate powers are lasting possession of the good ?' many and divine, and one of them • That is most true,' I said." is love.'

In her transcendentalism she There is a great truth that somewhat refines away, as too scientific discoveries have brought intellectual a woman would be apt in, but which is little realised as to do, the definite though confused yet, that through the love of Nature legend of Aristophanes, refusing to -her large revelations and her regard the unifying instinct as a minute communications alike, there law antecedent to the ambition is an opening for an expansion of after that precarious immortality the soul, and a growth of powers which is gained by baving founded at once transcendent and realistic, a family or dynasty, or as a light an acquisition that Plato might on the way towards a true creafairly have called spiritual. tiveness and immortality of soul:

The theory of the absolute re- “Men whose bodies only are junction with the other half is too creative, betake themselves to definite and personal for it to be women and beget children—this is liked by some minds, and an a

absent the character of their love; their friend of Socrates is repre- offspring, as they hope, will presented as having discussed the serve their memory and give them matter with him,-Diotima, who the blessedness and immortality looks upon the soul as yearning for which they desire in the future. intellect rather than for reunion, But creative souls—for there are Socrates represents her as having men who are more creative in their said in converse with himself : souls than in their bodies-conceive -""You hear people say that that which is proper for the soul lovers are seeking for the half to conceive or retain. And what of themselves, but I say that are these conceptions ?-wisdom they are seeking neither forthe half and virtue in general. And such nor for the whole, unless the half creators are all poets and other or the whole be also a good. And artists who may be said to have they will cut off theirown hands and invention." We cite these pasfeet and cast them away, if they sages as specimens of that favourite are evil; for they love them not kind of transcendentalism that tries because they are their own, but to reach heaven through some because they are good, and dislike other way than the real gate of them, not because they are another's practical life entrusted to us. She but because they are evil. There would climb towards the absolute, is nothing which men love but the and in the grand passion of good. Do you think that there ideality discard the slow pro

Indeed,' I answered, I cesses of completion, such as old should say not.' Then,' she said, revelations told of. But the ! the conclusion of the whole matter following, especially in the referis, that men love the good.' 'Yes,' ence to the beauties of earth as I said. • To which may be added steps leading upwards, has much that they love the possession of of noble conception. the good ?' Yes, that may be "He who has been instructed added.' And not only the thus far in the things of love, and possession, but the everlasting who has learned to see the beautipossession of the good ?' "That ful in due order and succession, may be added too.' Then love,' when he comes toward the end she said, 'may be described

will suddenly perceive a nature of

is ?'

wondrous beauty absolute, and be immortal, if mortal man separate, simple, and everlasting, may. Would that be an ignoble which without diminution, and life?'" without increase, or any change, Aristophanes was about beginis imparted to the ever growing ning a reply, probably more rudely and perishing beauties of all other philosophical and suggestive than things. He who under the in- smoothly transcendental, for the fuence of true love rising upward account of Socrates of Diotima's from these begins to see that conversation had included a referbeauty, is not far from the end. ence to the very legend of the other (Consummation, fulness, comple- half which the poet had himself tion.) And the true order of introduced. But as, instead of going or being led by another to merely joining in with the praises the things of love, is to use the of the others, he was endeavouring beauties of earth as steps along to speak, there burst into the room, which he mounts upward for the so Plato represents, a crowd of sake of that other beauty, going revellers, and though a speech from one to two, and from two to follows from Alcibiades, who enall fair forms, and from fair forms tered, somewhat the worse for to fair actions, and from fair wine, yet Aristophanes loses his actions to fair notions, until from' opportunity. fair notions he arrives at the From the Phædrus may be notion of absolute beauty, and at taken a passage to complete the last knows what the essence of train of thought suggested by beauty is. This, my dear So- Aristopbanes. crates,' said the

stranger of

It is of the soul, pre-existent to Mantineia, “is that life above all incarnation, or the fall, and Plato others which man should live, in speaks (through the mouth of the contemplation of beauty ab- Socrates) in a parable, as the most solute; a beauty which if you fitting medium :-"Her form is a once behold, you would see not to theme of divine and large disbe after the measure of gold, course ; human language may, and garments, and fair boys and however, speak of this briefly, and youths. But what if man in a figure. Let our figure be of had eyes to see the true beauty- a composite nature—a pair of the divine beauty, I mean, pure winged horses and a charioteer.” and clear and unalloyed, not One of these horses is well clogged with the pollutions of conditioned,

and well mortality, and all the colours and formed; he has a lofty neck and vanities of human life-thither an aquiline nose, and his colour is looking, and holding converse with white, and he has dark eyes and the true beauty divine and simple, is a lover of honour and modesty

bringing into being and and temperance, and the follower educating true creations of virtue of true glory; he needs not the and not idols only. Do you not touch of the whip, but is guided see that in that communion only, by word and admonition only. beholding beauty with the eye of Whereas the other is a large misthe mind, he will be enabled to shapen animal, put together anybring forth, not images of beauty, how; he has a strong, short neck; but realities; for he has hold not he is flat-faced and of a dark of an image but of a reality, and colour, grey-eyed and bloodshot, bringing forth and educating true the mate of insolence and pride, virtue to become the friend of God shag-eared, deaf, hardly yielding

« erect


[ocr errors]

to blow or spur." Jowett, in his world, are rapt in amazement; but introduction to Phædrus, very they are ignorant of what this fairly submits that “the charioteer means, because they have no clear represents the reason, or that the perceptions." Socrates might have black horse is the symbol of the instanced sleep here as an equal sensual or concupiscent element of instance of such forgetfulness; human nature. The white horse into the physically expressible also represents rational impulse comes no whisper from the memo

.. the two steeds really corre- ries of the soul in the openings of spond in a figure more nearly to the the deepest sleep. At last the appetitive and moral or semi- return comes to that state of divine rational soul of Aristotle."

beauty whence have stolen such This soul, then, according to our stray “misgivings":-"At last they text, is sometimes unable to follow

pass out .... for those who have the vision of absolute truth and once begun the heavenward pilbeauty of which she is in quest; grimage may not go down again to and, through some ill-hap, sinks darkness and the journey beneath beneath the load of forgetfulness the earth, but they live in light and vice. She then falls to earth always ; happy companions in with draggled wings, and mingling their pilgrimage, and when the therewith passes into man.

Dif- time comes at which they receive ferent is her earthly condition ac- their wings they have the same cording to her degree in the vision plumage because of their love." of truth. Philosopher, trader, An exquisite picture, not realised prophet, poet, artisan, sophist, as Diotima would have it, by an tyrant, and others,

" all these are intellectual agony after the beaustates of probation, in which he tiful, but by living on till " the who lives righteously improves, time comes." A Frenchman (Gusand he who lives unrighteously tave Droz) has wisely observed, deteriorates his lot." There is a "In trying to fabricate angels one period, foolishly made definite by runs a great risk of crippling

philosophic friends and people, and of only producing reckoned in mundane time, before monsters, madmen, or victims. the soul can grow again the wonder Like all else of life we know of, of her wings; she may cling in angels are not manufactured, they recollection to those things in

grow. But the logical mind which God abides, desirous to fly might naturally

naturally rejoin,

We upwards, but yet unable. “Every have but just been told that soul of man has beheld true being; we were angels once, and have this was the condition of her pass- fallen to be but separate, incomplete ing into the form of man. But all halves. Can these conflictions be men do not easily recall the things reconciled ? As that reconcilement of the other world ; they may have involves the appreciation of the seen them for a short time only, or whole secret of creation, which we they may have been unfortunate do not pretend to be in possession when they fell to earth, and may of, we can only in reverent specuhave lost the memory of the holy lation contribute towards it. The things which they saw there new born unfallen angel, fresh through some evil and corrupting from God's hand and living from association. Few there are who His heart, is one by love, but that retain the remembrance of them love is baby love, trusting but unsufficiently; and they, when they tried. As the child of earth leaving behold any image of that other its mother gains knowledge and


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »