The After Party

The Lost Final Scene of Plato’s Symposium

Aristodemus: One more thing, Glaucon. Apollodorus further recounted that in the morning while Socrates, Agathon and Aristophanes conversed about comedy and drama, he overheard another set of speakers. Apparently on the other side of the dining hall, a flute-girl entered with some commotion, attracting the attention of a slave who just refilled the water krater. The final exchange is as followed.

Slave: Ah, finally, the sweet scent of your freshly spiced pea-soup. Sad, only now, at the end of our master’s celebrations that someone put their ladle in your broth. 

Flute-girl: (Turning back to him): It was a paltry sauce, really, and now I must, like you, clean my leaky pot. (Flute-girl raises her tunic, grabs a cloth from the basin and cleans her vagina) Truly, though, an unsatisfying ending to your symposium.

Slave: I see you make reference to my master’s coy humor, granting us the right to host the party just before the men dismissed you. Well, I take no blame for their lack of taste, choosing to glut themselves on words rather than you and your colleagues’ cakes and figs.

Flute-girl: Thank thundering Zeus that wretch Alcibiades arrived and put an end to their buggering nonsense.

Slave: It was a lot of clap-trap. 

Flute-girl: Imagine those spoiled rots knowing anything of Eros. That snub-nosed prick being the worst of them, a thief of my mistress’ own yarn… I can’t wait to tell her what he did tonight, hiding in her wool like Odysseus, making her golden sheep into some nobody’s – oh, what did he call her? – stillborn lambs. 

Slave: I believe it was something like god-honored. Diotima, yes?

Flute-girl: That’s right. What a farce. God-honored. What’s wrong, philosopher? Can’t admit your torch was lit by a whore’s hearth? What a strange puppet, that Socrates, and my lady, a powerful ventriloquist, throwing her honey all the way across town, so that those useless asses could lick it up. (Sitting down to count her coin.) Wasted, this evenings efforts were, on words.

Slave: (Pouring the two of them a drought of wine) Well, at least you avoided Alcibiades’ sausages. I had to clean them all through his tirade, stinking of drink and farting something unholy. Now, he sleeps in the garden, having stumbled there to take a piss, already dirty again with mud between his toes and wet moss in his hair.

Flute-girl: Stupid prig. (Leaning in to whisper.) The girls say his torch is split and won’t light so he is always stumbling in the dark, sometimes needing slaves to bring him and the girls home. Damn shame, that crooked cock. 

(The two toast and sip just before the noise of the streets begins to louden. In the background Aristophanes and Agathon fall asleep, leaving Socrates to sit by himself.) 

Flute-girl: (Setting her drink down and collecting her coin.) Well, another cock crows and I am off to the market to deliver the goods to my lady.

(Flute-girl tosses a tip to the slave before sauntering toward the exit. In the background, Socrates gets up from the newly sleeping Agathon and Aristophanes so that the flute-girl and the philosopher meet in the doorway. The latter appears to offer the former escort.)

Flute-girl: Well, walking alongside is better than having you behind me. But, let’s set things straight, you codger. What were you on about, belaboring that faulty image of my lady last night.

Socrates: Yes, I agree, I may have mesmerized the men with your Calypso’s enchanting songs and, so, to purify myself from her magic, we should begin again. If we are going to, as you say it, ‘set things straight,’ ought we first to define the straight? Otherwise, we may perchance discuss the curved, taking a round-about route to the issue rather than the straight. In order to avoid this wayward pathway, do you not think it is necessary my sweet and gentle nightingale, to give me a definition of the straight? Be careful not to just tell me this is straight or that is straight, gesturing to every instance of the straight that you, in your work, must come across. Rather, give me a definition which makes clear what is straight in all appearances of the straight? Flute-girl: Oh, for fucks sake, just walk, I’ll have none of your billy goat’s breakfast.

By Danielle A. Layne

Philosophy professor and, egads, actual philosopher! Mother and wife and excellent home baker!

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