Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Male homoeroticism in Platos Symposium and the Greek lyric poets: Comp
Male homoeroticism in Plato's Symposium and the Greek lyric poets: Complimentary or contradictory? Works Cited Missing Images of male homosocial and homoerotic relations pervade Athenian culture. From plays to poetry and jugs to the justice system one can find these relations represented pictorially and in words. But do all these images align with each other or are there irreconcilable differences between them? To look at this question we will take two small pieces of culture, a philosophical treatise, Plato's Symposium and the lyric poetry of Theognis and Anacreon. Homoerotics are mentioned in several speeches in Plato's Symposium but I will focus on those statements made by Phaedras and Pausanias. The reason for the use of these two sources is to elucidate the numerous representations of homoerotics in Athenian Greece. Phaedras begins by stating that everyone can agree that, the greatest benefit, to my mind, that a young man can come by in his youth is a virtuous lover, and a virtuous boyfriend is just as good for a lover too. (Plato, 178c) This is a value that the modern world can easily grasp, a young man (the object of love) is well served by a virtuous older man (erastes) who will honor his superior position and treat the young man well and teach him what he can. In turn, the the erastes is better off with a virtuous boyfriend (eromenos) who will stay loyal to him. After all, the older man is the lover to which Phaedras refers and so a young boyfriend who was not faithful could be quite injurious to the older man?s heart and reputation. So does this image fit with that of the lyric poets? Indeed, Phaedras? representation of male homoerotics aligns quite easily with that of the lyric poets. Theognis speaks often... ...ric poets. Love for boys is a wonderful thing, especially if both parties are virtuous and loyal. Also, Theognis and Anacreon, likely along with Pausanias, attribute more loyalty to men than to women, resulting in a deeper commitment to ?relationships.? Phaedras disagrees saying that women can, in fact feel equal loyalty. There is general agreement that a love for boys based purely on beauty is a common thing, and not a good one. It leads to having stupid eromenai, which is not desirable. The lyric poets do seem to maintain that while intelligence is important, young boys are still better material for love than older men. Pausanias disagrees, arguing for lifelong homosocial relationships. So while there are a few differences between the lyric poets and these speakers of the Syposium they seem to be based more on choice of lifestyle than true differences of paradigm.