Quoted from the Editos's "Introduction to the Banquet."
"Ir the beauty of a dialogue of PIato is to be estimated by the number of separate Editions to which it has given rise, and by the quantity of Annotations written upon it, the Banquet would be fairly deemed to be second only to the Phaedo, if not superior to it. For during the last seventy-four years it has been edited by Fischer, Wolf, Ast, Sommer, Dindorf, Reynders, Ruckert, Hommel, twice by Stalbaum and the triumvirate of the Scholars at Zurich; and it has been commented upon by Wyttenbach, Schutz, Bast, Heusde, Thiersch, Orelli, Creuzer, and Voegelin: and to these must be added the pamphlets of Hartmann and C. F . Hermann, (of which I know nothing but the titles,) together with the Academical Dissertations of different Professors and embryo Critics in Germany, and the articles written in various periodicals of that country, devoted wholly or in part to classical literature.
Nor is this all; for during the same period the dialogue has been translated twice into English, thrice into German, and once into French. But even here it has been the misfortune of the philosopher to have his ideas travestied, rather than transferred to modern tongues. Such at least is the case in the miscalled versions of Sydenham and Shelley; the latter of whom has never looked beyond the Latin of Ficinus, reprinted by Bekker from the original edition; while the former, disdaining to follow as closely a generally faithful guide, has given a paraphrase rather than a translation; and this to such an extent, that more than a third of what he has put down is the mere coinage of his own brain, and not a vestige of it is to be found in the original Greek.
Nor is it amongst the moderns alone that this dialogue has met with a marked attention . For it seems to have been no less a favourite with the Moral Philosophers of the Pagan world, and the Fathers of the Christian Church, and of those too, who, like the Neo-Platonists, occupied the neutral ground between the rising and decaying forms of faith. Of this the edition of Reynders affords abundant proof; who has either collected himself, or found in the
notes of Wyttenbach, perhaps all the references to this dialogue to be met with in the series of authors alluded to; and after their united labours in this field, a very scanty gleaning has been left, I suspect, for such as may be disposed to go over the same ground. Far different, however, is the case as regards the verbal difficulties of the text. For there, after all the labours of the learned, I have found not a little to exercise my own ingenuity; and where I have
failed, others will, I hope, be led to try their hands; for it is only by such continued efforts that we can expect to recover what has been lost, or to correct what has become corrupted, in one of the most fanciful, and, despite a portion of its matter, happily abhorrent from our finer feelings, one of the most beautiful dialogues of Plato.
With regard to the object which Plato had in view in writing the Banquet, they who are desirous of seeing the conflicting and equally untenable notions of some of the scholars of Germany, must turn to Stalbaum's Prolegomena, p. 35-39, where they will find a sensible
rejection of the theory of Schleiermacher; who with a perversity of judgment for which it is difficult to account, considered the Banquet as being closely connected with the Sophist and Statesman, with which it has not an atom in common, instead of being rather a companion
to the Phaedrus, but written if not in a more chaste, at least a more chastened, style, than that misunderstood rhapsody."