Book Review, Plato – Friendship (Lysis)

Socrates, attends the invitation of a group of young people he meets on the road and chats with them. As the subject of the conversation, Socrates examines the concept of "friendship".
Plato – Symposion and Lysis

In this edition of the book that I’ve read, two separate texts of Plato are given together, since their subjects are similar, although not the same. The original names of Symposium and Friendship are Symposion and Lysis.

It is written in the form of dialogues, as in Plato’s other writings. The main character of both stories is Socrates. The topic discussed is “love” in general.

This article is written as a follow-up to Symposium book review.

In this article, I will talk about the Lysis.

Friendship (Lysis)

Socrates, just left the Akademia, was walking towards Lykaion. Along the way, he meets two young men, Hippothales and Ctesippos, whom invites Socrates to a new training place where they chat and play sports. Sports and music education of young people was particularly in the Ancient Greece.

Hippothales who just encountered with Socrates, is in love with a boy named Lysis. Socrates chats with the boys about love, and when they arrive at the training ground, they chat with Lysis and his friend Meneksenos about friendship.

Progression of the Dialogue

In Friendship, which is a relatively short dialogue, Plato does not bring the matter into conclusion. As generally seen in Plato’s early dialogues, Socrates examines the subject but cannot reach a specific conclusion.

It is said that early dialogues written in this way were generally intended to describe Socrates’ character to people, rather than reaching a specific conclusion.

My personal opinion: I think that in this work, Plato does not intend to tell us what friendship is, but intends to tell us what it is not. Perhaps, as Socrates asked his audience, Plato is asking us: Friendship is not what we just said, but then what is it? Maybe he wants us to think; don’t we really know what and who is the Friend?

As an important detail, Socrates tells the boys that he sees them as his friends. Who knows, maybe friendship is something that we all know deep down but something we cannot be express verbally?

I think Plato wants us to ask ourselves: Who is a friend, what is friendship?

Emin Ali Ertenü
Emin Ali Ertenü
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