Reading the fragments in Classics

As I was kissing Agathon, I had to hold back my soul on my lips,
for the poor thing had come in the hopes of crossing over.

—————————————————

Just a very quick post, a small quote that I simply had to share it was so beautiful. If anyone has any information about this fragment I would love to know! I stumbled across it unsourced while reading, and I haven’t been able to find much about it other than that it is a fragment in Greek whose author is unknown, although it was traditionally attributed to Plato who refers to the Athenian playwright Agathon in his Symposium.

We had a dissertation presentation day last month, and one girl gave a brilliant talk on her ideas about fragments. She was looking at how our fragmented reception of Classics affects our perspective of the ancient world. She spoke about how fragments are mysterious and teasing, and in this way they add to the lure of the ancient world by hinting at hidden secrets of great beauty. I think this fragment is a perfect example. We (as far as I am aware!) do not really know where it comes from or who wrote it. It is an unknown passion whispered down to us, recalling a love long since silent, and yet still intensely moving. In this way I think the fragmentary nature of classics can be beautiful.

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4 thoughts on “Reading the fragments in Classics

  1. When I write, my books come to me in different fragments. For example maybe I’m 30,000 words in but a scene from near the end of the book will arrive and I’ll think now what the hell do I do with you! The thing that keeps me going is the challenge of pulling the whole thing together. Of course some of these scenes may get discarded but the vivid ones stick. They are ‘mysterious and teasing’ and keep me going to the end.

    Liked by 1 person

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