Rhetorical analysis of Eryximachus and Aristophanes speeches

Date (28 Feb, 2013)

The definition of “Love” is very controversial, because people define love according to their own perspectives. Likewise Plato has also defined love in various ways in his Symposium. He described love according to different ideologies of philosophers of that time.  For the accomplishment of his purpose he has used different rhetorical strategies like a variety of diction, different syntax and specific tone in Eryximachus and Aristophanes speeches.

Indeed, the diction chosen in Eryximachus and Aristophanes speeches is different from each other, but the purpose of both speeches is same. Diction means “the words the writer chooses to convey a particular meaning and diction depends on subject, purpose, occasion, and audience” (How to write). Plato used special diction for articulation of philosophers’ ideas about love in both speeches. For instance, Eryximachus define two types of love; healthy love and diseased love and for verification of his arguments he used the scientific and musical terminologies. Scientific terms like, “concerning medicine,” “two species of love,” “accomplished physician” (470). Selection of such diction reveals that been a doctor he defined love according to his own understanding. As interested in music he also blended music and medicine to fortify his argument. For example “music, like medicine,” “music… love on rhythm and harmony” (471). Here he finalized his argument, like medicine music also creates harmony among people and he called this harmony as a love.  On the other hand Aristophanes been a comedy writer define love by comical myth and selected humorous diction throughout the speech. For instance, he describe early human as “shape of human… completely round…two faces… four ears…eight limbs…” (473) from this funny description of human he explains the origin of love like “he [god] cut those [early] human beings,” “Love… for our desire to complete” (474). Here he validates his argument that early human was cut into two halves and love is the desire to amalgamate with that lost part of human. Though selection of diction in both speeches is different but their purpose, subject, occasion and audiences are same because their purpose is persuasive, their subject is love, and they speak on same occasion for same audiences.

Furthermore, in symposium syntax is also varying from speech to speech. Syntax means “the way words are arrange within sentences” (How to write).  Syntax also refer to the structure of the sentences and the used of punctuations in writing (How to write). If we compare the sentence scheme of both speeches they both are quiet similar; in both speeches we don’t see any parallelism. Plato mostly didn’t follow the “subject-verb-object” (How to write) method in both speeches. The length of sentence in both speeches is quite different from each other. Like in Eryximachus speech he used long and complex sentences to explain his argument and most of sentences have colons to further explain the related ideas about same thought.  We can see only one interrogative sentence in his speech e.g. “Which are those elements?”(470)  On the other hand in Aristophanes’ speech length of sentences is quiet variable. In addition to this we can also spot many interrogative sentence e.g. “Is this what you mean?”(477) We can also see dialogues in this speech like e.g. “‘that is true,” he said” (477). The use of punctuations in both speeches is very effective. We can see many colons, semicolons and dashes in both speeches.

Truly, tone of both speeches is different from each other but both are persuasive. Tone means “the writer’s attitude or feeling about the subject of his text” (How to write). Such as the tone of Eryximachus is very professional, he used many scientific terms to proof his arguments. Whereas Aristophanes’ tone is humorous, he used comic myth and comical words to proof his arguments. Though their tone is different but the purpose of both is to persuade the audience. 

Finally, Symposium is pretty different from most of the writings and the usage of language is also different from most of the modern prose. It is quite difficult to figure out every rhetorical strategies from each speech. However we can see some prominent rhetorical strategies in each speech which help us to analyze them.

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