At each point in the text of the Symposium corresponding to a musical note, Plato included a passage with a special structure. To maintain a balance between concealment and communication, he varied the content of these passages. If they were all the same or obviously similar, the underlying musical structure would be too apparent.
The scheme for varying the passages accords well with Platonism. Generally speaking, a Platonic form is recognised when a similarity between different particulars is recognised. A red hat and a red ball share a similarity, and this shared element is the ‘form’ of their colour. In the dialogues, the passages marking the notes have different contents but are also similar. Recognising the similarity of the disparate passages, and thus the regular pattern which forms the musical scale, requires grasping their common form. In short, the notes are marked by passages containing concepts that are many species of an over-arching genus.
All the genuine dialogues and some of the so-called spuria use the same musical scale and the same scheme for varying the marking passages, but the genus differs from dialogue to dialogue. To take a hypothetical example, it is as if a dialogue mentioned roses at one-twelfth, lilies at two-twelfths, violets at three-twelfths, and so on. Recognising the musical scale depends upon observing that the species of the genus ‘flower’ are mentioned at regular intervals.
'To think of all this bustle about such trifles, and not a single man ever essaying till this day to make a fitting hymn [7/8] to Love! So great a god, and so neglected! [SHAME] Now I think Phaedrus’s protest a very proper one. Accordingly I am not only desirous of obliging him with a contribution of my own, but I also pronounce the present to be a fitting occasion for us here assembled to honor the god. [177d] So if you on your part approve, we might pass the time (diatribe) [NOTE 1.1] well enough in speeches; [HARMONY: KRASIS RESTORES VIRTUE] for my opinion is that we ought each of us to make a speech in turn, from left to right, singing praises to Love as beautifully as he can. Phaedrus shall open first; for he has the topmost place at table, and besides is father of our debate.’ ‘No one, Eryximachus,’ said Socrates, ‘will vote against you: [HARMONY: ORDER, AGREEMENT] [1/8] I do not see how I could myself decline, [177e] when I set up to understand nothing but erotics; nor could Agathon and Pausanias either, nor yet Aristophanes, who divides his time between Dionysus and Aphrodite; nor could any other of the persons I see before me.'
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