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Plato’s Symposium dates circa 385-370 BC and it is viewed as one of Plato’s major works, both for the philosophy it expounds and its literary merit.

The symposium takes place at a party in the home of the poet Agathon, in Athens in 416 BC, at which honorable Athenian intellectuals –including the philosopher Socrates, the comic playwright Aristophanes, the general Alcibiades and many others– each deliver a short speech in praise of Eros, the god of love and desire. A collection of different perspectives on love is presented by the participants including that Eros is able to inspire men to unimaginable heights of courage, righteous acts and nobility in the face of death.

The sequence of these speeches culminates in Socrates, who, through the words of the wise priestess Diotima, expresses his views on love. She told Socrates that Eros, rather than being a god, is a spirit. Love is the desire for beauty and wisdom. The greatest knowledge is knowledge of the “form of beauty”, which humans must try to achieve. Love is viewed as the gradual ascent toward the absolute Beauty.



Heraclitus (c. 535 BC), son of Bloson of Ephesus, probably came of royal blood, was a pre-Socratic Ionian Greek philosopher. Known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe and for the establishing the term Logos in Western philosophy, is recorded as having written a single book On Nature, divided into three discourses, one on the universe, another on politics and a third on theology. The book was deposited in the great Temple of Artemis in Ephesus and made available to visitors for several centuries after Heraclitus’ death. However, his writings only survive today in fragments quoted by other later authors. He was known as “the Obscure” (or “the Dark”) for the deliberate difficulty and unclearness of his teachings. Many subsequent philosophers have claimed to have been influenced by the ideas of Heraclitus.



Set before the start of the First World War, this moving fable sees a young English writer set out to Crete to claim a small inheritance. But when he arrives, he meets Alexis Zorba, a middle-aged Greek man with a zest for life. Zorba has had a family and many lovers, has fought in the Balkan wars, has lived and loved – he is a simple but deep man who lives every moment fully and without shame. As their friendship develops, the Englishman is gradually won over, transformed and inspired along with the reader.

Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis’ most popular and enduring novel, has its origins in the author’s own experiences in the Peleponnesus in the 1920s. His swashbuckling hero has legions of fans across the world and his adventures are as exhilarating now as they were on first publication in the 1950s.