Essay title: The Framing Narrative as a Guide to the Text
Symposium opens with an unnamed individual approaching a character named Apollodorus, and inquiring about the speeches given during a "symposium," or drinking party, which he believes occurred recently.Apollodorus, who had heard the story from individuals present that night, corrects the unnamed character and informs him that the party actually happened roughly fifteen years ago.Then, Apollodorus proceeds to tell him the events that unfolded, which takes shape as the subsequent discourses on love.The unnamed character's confusion in regards to even the most general details of the symposium demonstrates the influence which oral storytelling has had on ancient Greek culture.
This distortion, which is most likely due to the fact that the story was told forth-hand, exemplifies the confusion which can occasionally occur in cultures that have strong oral storytelling traditions.Therefore, the introduction creates a structure which attempts to textually express the impact of this spoken custom.In other words, this narrative works to not only create an easy transition to the later speeches on love, but also to make the dialogue more palatable to contemporaneous Greeks, many of whom would have been accustomed to hearing stories rather than reading them due to the low literacy rate. Furthermore, the framing narrative also establishes a degree of uncertainty with respect to the speeches that follow.Similar to the experience of the unnamed character, readers approach the story not knowing what to believe, and more importantly, not knowing whose perspective on love is right.Thus, they are forced to abandon preconceived notions and must approach Symposium with an open mind, allowing themselves to absorb each character's thoughts and perspectives while still being compelled to synthesize their own ideas.If one presumes that this technique was intended to provoke thought in ancient Greece, then it remains.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar