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phaedrus   



preferred, let us first of all agree in defining the nature and

power of love, and then, keeping our eyes upon the definition and to

this appealing, let us further enquire whether love brings advantage

or disadvantage.

"Every one sees that love is a desire, and we know also that

non-lovers desire the beautiful and good. Now in what way is the lover

to be distinguished from the non-lover? Let us note that in every

one of us there are two guiding and ruling principles which lead us

whither they will; one is the natural desire of pleasure, the other is

an acquired opinion which aspires after the best; and these two are

sometimes in harmony and then again at war, and sometimes the one,

sometimes the other conquers. When opinion by the help of reason leads

us to the best, the conquering principle is called temperance; but

when desire, which is devoid of reason, rules in us and drags us to

pleasure, that power of misrule is called excess. Now excess has

many names, and many members, and many forms, and any of these forms

when very marked gives a name, neither honourable nor creditable, to

the bearer of the name. The desire of eating, for example, which

gets the better of the higher reason and the other desires, is

called gluttony, and he who is possessed by it is called a glutton-I

the tyrannical desire of drink, which inclines the possessor of the

desire to drink, has a name which is only too obvious, and there can

be as little doubt by what name any other appetite of the same

family would be called;-it will be the name of that which happens to

be eluminant. And now I think that you will perceive the drift of my

discourse; but as every spoken word is in a manner plainer than the

unspoken, I had better say further that the irrational desire which

overcomes the tendency of opinion towards right, and is led away to

the enjoyment of beauty, and especially of personal beauty, by the

desires which are her own kindred-that supreme desire, I say, which by

leading conquers and by the force of passion is reinforced, from

this very force, receiving a name, is called love."

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