Male homoeroticism in Plato's Symposium and the Greek lyric poets: Complimentary or contradictory?

1727 Words 7 Pages
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
…show more content…
(Theognis, 1267-1270) and again, ?Boy, you?re like those adrift in risks, / your mood now friendly to some, now others.? (Theognis, 1257-1258) Theognis speaks clearly of an erastes who?s virtuous behavior has been repaid with infidelity and ?slutting around.? The erastes feels betrayed and regretful that this boy he cares for appears headed for dangerous risks implying htta he expects honorable behavior. But this is not the end of Phaedras? praise for homoerotic relations.

Phaedras continues on and speaks of the things that Love can inspire men to. Though he does not confine these benefits to homosocial interactions, he does specifically include them. After stating that older men are more prone to die than be humiliated in the sight of their eromenos, he goes on to say that, ??as for abandoning his boyfriend or not helping him when danger threatens ? well, possession by love would infuse even utter cowards with courage. ? Moreover, only lovers are prepared to sacrifice themselves ? and this goes for women as well as men.? (Phaedras, 179a)

Phaedras claims, similarly to modern poets that love will drive one to the brink or even over the edge of death. It is hardly surprising, then, to find a similar image again in the poetry of Theognis, ?Boy, as long as your cheek is smooth, I?ll never / stop praising you, not even if I have to die.? (Theognis, 1327-1334) On the inclusion of women, however, Theognis disagrees with
Open Document