VII. (57) Now of the banquets among the Greeks the two most celebrated and most remarkable are those at which Socrates also was present, the one in the house of Callias, when, after Autolycus had gained the crown of victory, he gave a feast in honour of the event, and the other in the house of Agathon, which was thought worthy of being commemorated by men who were imbued with the true spirit of philosophy both in their dispositions and in their discourses, Plato and Xenophon, for they recorded them as events worthy to be had in perpetual recollection, looking upon it that future generations would take them as models for a well managed arrangement of future banquets; (58) but nevertheless even these, if compared with the banquets of the men of our time who have embraced the contemplative system of life, will appear ridiculous. Each description, indeed, has its own pleasures, but the recorded by Xenophon is the one the delights of which are most in accordance with human nature, for female harp-players, and dancers, and conjurors, and jugglers, and men who do ridiculous things, who pride themselves much on their powers of jesting and of amusing others, and many other species of more cheerful relaxation, are brought forward at it. (59) But the entertainment recorded by Plato is almost entirely connected with love; not that of men madly desirous or fond of women, or of women furiously in love with men, for these desires are accomplished in accordance with a law of nature, but with that love which is felt by men for one another, differing only in respect of age; for if there is anything in the account of that banquet elegantly said in praise of genuine love and heavenly Venus, it is introduced merely for the sake of making a neat speech; (60) for the greater part of the book is occupied by common, vulgar, promiscuous love, which takes away from the soul courage, that which is the most serviceable of all virtues both in war and in peace, and which engenders in it instead the female disease, and renders men men-women, though they ought rather to be carefully trained in all the practices likely to give men valour. (61) And having corrupted the age of boys, and having metamorphosed them and removed them into the classification and character of women, it has injured their lovers also in the most important particulars, their bodies, their souls, and their properties; for it follows of necessity that the mind of a lover of boys must be kept on the stretch towards the objects of his affection, and must have no acuteness of vision for any other object, but must be blinded by its desire as to all other objects private or common, and must so be wasted away, more especially if it fails in its objects. Moreover, the man’s property must be diminished on two accounts, both from the owner’s neglect and from his expenses for the beloved object. (62) There is also another greater evil which affects the whole people, and which grows up alongside of the other, for men who give into such passions produce solitude in cities, and a scarcity of the best kind of men, and barrenness, and unproductiveness, inasmuch as they are imitating those farmers who are unskilful in agriculture, and who, instead of the deep-soiled champaign country, sow briny marshes, or stony and rugged districts, which are not calculated to produce crops of any kind, and which only destroy the seed which is put into them. (63) I pass over in silence the different fabulous fictions, and the stories of persons with two bodies, who having originally been stuck to one another by amatory influences, are subsequently separated like portions which have been brought together and are disjoined again, the harmony having been dissolved by which they were held together; for all these things are very attractive, being able by novelty of their imagination to allure the ears, but they are despised by the disciples of Moses, who in the abundance of their wisdom have learnt from their earliest infancy to love truth, and also continue to the end of their lives impossible to be deceived.