“Agathon” Wieland in summary

The action takes place in Ancient Greece. We meet with the main character at a difficult moment in his life: exiled from his native city – Athens, Agathon is sent to the Middle East. Hobbling in the mountains of Thrace, he accidentally falls on the holiday of Bacchus, celebrated by noble women in this region. Cilician pirates suddenly attack the participants of the celebrations and take them into slavery. Among the prisoners is Agathon. On the ship he meets with the girl Psyche, in which he was in love, when he was still living in Delphi, and with whom he was forcibly separated. She manages to tell him how she was sent to Sicily. There, after learning that Agathon in Athens, disguised in a man’s dress, she runs, but on the way falls into the hands of pirates, who now her as well as Agathon, will sell into slavery.

In the market of slaves in Smyrna, a handsome educated young man is bought by the rich sophist Gippias, who is going to make his disciple and philosophical

follower out of him. Kallias, he calls Agathon, is an adherent of the philosophical teachings of Plato. He is strangers to the desire for refined pleasures, he feels uncomfortable in the house of Hippias with his far-fetched morality. In long dialogues and monologues, Gippias tries to convince the youth that the main thing in life is the satisfaction of one’s needs. The art of being rich is built on the ability to subjugate the property of others, and so that it looks like a voluntary act on the part of these people.

All the efforts of Hippias lead to nothing, then he introduces his stubborn slave to the charming Hetaera Danae, expecting that she will be able to persuade Agathon with his love for him. At first, the beautiful hetaera only plays a virtuous and sympathetic mistress out of herself, but gradually the sincerity of the young man, his devotion, gives birth and in her real reciprocal feeling.

Danae Agathon tells the story of his life. He grew up in Delphi at the temple of Apollo, he was destined for the fate of the priest. He sincerely believed his mentor Theogiton, but he deceived him. Once

he played Agathon, presented to him in the grotto of Nymph in the image of Apollo, when the student opened the fraud, he began to explain that “everything that was said about gods was a cunning invention.” A terrible disappointment is comprehended by Agathon, but he manages not to lose his final faith in the “highest spirit.” His own reasoning on philosophical themes gives him strength. So he reaches the age of eighteen when the elderly priestess Pythia falls in love with him. She solicits his love, Agathon at first naively does not understand her intentions. One of the slaves of the priestess was Psyche, a girl, who at the age of six was kidnapped from Corinth by robbers and sold into slavery in Delphi. Agathon falls in love with Psyche, their kindred souls are drawn to each other, they begin to meet secretly at night near the city in the grove of Diana. But the girl’s jealous mistress finds out about the young people’s inclination towards each other, she comes on a date instead of Psyche. The young man rejects the love of Pythia, and then the humiliated priestess sends the slave to Sicily.

Agathon runs from Delph in search of Psyche. In Corinth, he meets his father, who recognizes a young man on the streets of the city on the lines of resemblance to his deceased mother. Stratonik, that’s the name of Agathon’s father, turns out to be one of the most famous inhabitants of Athens. Since Agathon, like his younger sister later, was born out of wedlock, he sent him to Delphi, so that at the temple of Apollo he could receive a decent upbringing and education. Where his younger sister is now, he does not know.

Together with his father, Agathon settles in Athens and becomes a legitimate citizen of the republic. The father soon dies, leaving his son the only legitimate heir. Agathon studies in the philosophical school of Plato. He stands up for his unjustly accused friend, which brings the discontent of some wealthy Athenians. The young man seeks to destroy in the republic the differences between rich and poor, advocating the return of the “golden age”. Gradually, by his activities, he makes enemies for himself, who declare Agathon a state criminal and expel them from Greece. So he ends up in the house of Hippias.

The love of Danae and Agathon is not included in the plans of the calculating sophist, and he destroys the idyll, telling Kallias about the dubious past of Danae. In desperation, Agathon flees from Smyrna, he goes to Syracuse, where, according to rumors, the young tyrant Dionysius became an enthusiastic disciple of Plato, the young man hopes to find there use of his forces.

After a detailed description of the relationship at court in Syracuse, the author returns to the story of his hero. Agathon meets in the city a philosopher from Cyrene, Aristippa. His worldview combines a cheerful disposition with peace of mind. This wise man represents Agathon at the court of Dionysius. Soon the educated youth becomes the first adviser of the tyrant. Two years Agathon softens all available to him the oppression of Dionysius on the people. He condones the minor weaknesses of the tyrant in order to overcome his much more serious shortcomings. The people of Syracuse venerate Agathon as their patron, but, on the other hand, he makes enemies among the courtiers. He is hated by the dismissed former Minister of Philistus and the former favorite Timokrat. In addition, Agathon turns out to be involved in the court intrigue smart, the beautiful and power-hungry wife of Philistus Cleonissa, whose love he rejects, while Dionysius harasses her. Foreseeing a fateful outcome, Aristippus advises Agathon to leave, but the maelstrom of events captures a passionate young man. He becomes part of the conspiracy of the exiled brother-in-law Dionysius, Dion. The Philistus reveals the plot, and Agathon is arrested.

In prison, the philosophical views of the hero, the champion of virtue and the people’s intercessor, are ready to turn into an angry man-hater. The unexpected arrival of Hippias in Syracuse is sobering Agathon. He again refuses to accept the offer of the sophist to become his follower in Smyrane and finally decides to always wish people only good and do only good. The famous statesman, philosopher and commander Archite of Tarentes liberates Agathon.

In Tarenta, the hero finds his new home. The Archite, who knew Stratonica well, replaces his father. Here, Agathon finds his beloved Psyche, who became the wife of Archithus’ son, Critolaus, and learns that she really is his own sister.

Agathon in Tarentum deepens in the study of sciences, especially natural sciences. One day during the hunt, he finds himself in a secluded farmhouse, where he meets Danai, who calls himself Hariklei. A story-confession about her life, she acquires a faithful friend in the person of Agathon. Psyche becomes her friend.

Archite with his wisdom of life, as it were, crowns the spiritual becoming of the main hero of the novel. The political successes of the practical philosophy of the Tarentian figure make a strong impression on Agathon. During the thirty years of the reign of Archite, the inhabitants of Tarenta have become so accustomed to the wise laws of their ruler that they do not perceive them otherwise than as something natural and common.

After traveling around the world in order to learn as much as possible about the life of other peoples, Agathon devotes himself in Tarenta social activities. He now sees the meaning of his life in achieving the prosperity of this small state with its good people.

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“Agathon” Wieland in summary