How to Cite Plato's 'The Symposium'

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Plato wrote “The Symposium” about the ancient Athenian cultural tradition in which men would drink, discuss philosophical subjects, compose speeches and sing songs. The text has been credited with influencing how Western literature portrays and interprets love and beauty. Cite the work as you would a book in the style that is required of your assignment.

APA Style

Use the American Psychological Association, or APA, style for papers associated with the social sciences.

Cite “The Symposium” in the bibliography by listing the author, the year it was translated, the title, location and publisher. You do not need to cite the original publication date as it is unknown. The title below would be in italics.

Plato. (1989) The Symposium. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.

Use the author name and translation date for an in-text citation. For example:

Apollodorus said that Aristodemus told him about the party (Plato, trans. 1989).

MLA Style

Use the Modern Language Association, or MLA, style for papers in the liberal arts and humanities.

Cite Plato’s “The Symposium” in the bibliography by listing the author, title, translator, city, publisher, year of publication and medium. The title in this example would be in italics:

Plato. The Symposium. Trans. Alexander Nehamas and Pay Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1989. Print.

Use additional information when citing excerpts from the “The Symposium” in the text, as many different editions of the classic text are in circulation. MLA always requires a page number, but translations can vary greatly and cause inconsistencies. Use the page number and the lines of the speech. For example:

Apollodorus said that Aristodemus told him about the party (2; 173B).

Things Needed

  • Translated copy of Plato's "The Symposium"


About the Author

Caroline Baldwin, a corporate communications director located in South Carolina, began writing in 1998. Her work has been published in publications across the United States and Canada including Rolling Stone, Boating Life, Waterski and Wakeboarding magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from The College of Charleston.

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