"And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is.
--Diotima of Mantinea (as quoted by Socrates in Plato's Symposium).
Men of Athens, you did not invite
A woman to sup with you that night.
Agathon shared his cups among men:
Not with children, or slaves or women.
(All of your speeches regarding love
Were overseen by a senior sage:
He had the hands of a stone-cutter,
And for wisdom's sake, he drank hemlock.)
I tell you this as the Pythia.
For as a teacher of Socrates,
I led him on beauty's uphill path:
Love's ladder, child of plenty and lack.
(I will not remind you of your loss:
Your run-away chariots, per Phaedrus.
I'll return to my cave, in dissent,
Alone with my bright Phoebus, descend.)
I'll pass a carving of Socrates
And smile at the familiar phrases
Recorded in history by man,