Eros in Ancient Greece [online ed.]
 9780199605507, 0199605505

Citation preview

Title Pages

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Title Pages (p.i) Erôs in Ancient Greece (p.ii) (p.iii) Erôs in Ancient Greece

(p.iv) Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP, United Kingdom Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries © Oxford University Press 2013 The moral rights of the authors have been asserted First Edition published in 2013 Impression: 1 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the Page 1 of 2

 

Title Pages prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by licence or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Data available ISBN 978–0–19–960550–7 Printed in Great Britain by MPG Books Group, Bodmin and King’s Lynn

Page 2 of 2

 

Preface

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.v) Preface This volume, arising out of a conference at University College London in 2009, examines erôs as an emotion in ancient Greek culture. It considers the phenomenology, psychology, and physiology of erôs; its associated language, metaphors, and imagery; the overlap of erôs with other emotions (jealousy, madness, philia, pothos); its role in political society; and the relationship between the human emotion and Eros the god. These topics build on recent advances in understanding of ancient Greek homo- and heterosexual customs and practices, visual and textual erotica, and philosophical approaches to erôs as manageable appetite or passion. However, the principal aim of the volume is to apply to erôs the theoretical insights offered by the rapidly expanding field of emotion studies, both in ancient cultures and elsewhere in the humanities and social sciences, thus maintaining throughout the focus on erôs as emotion. The volume covers a very broad range of sources and theoretical approaches, both in the chronological and the generic sense: all important thinking about the nature of erôs is considered, spanning the entire period from Hesiod to the Second Sophistic, including the input offered by figurative arts. Generically the volume ranges from Archaic epic and lyric poetry, through tragedy and comedy, to philosophical and technical treatises and more, and includes contributions from many scholars well published in the field of ancient Greek emotions—thus marking an important addition to this field. We hope this collection will be welcomed by those studying emotions in a range of fields—e.g. philosophy, psychology and psychoanalysis, sociologists and anthropologists, and historians of other periods—as well as by ancient historians and Classical philologists.

Page 1 of 1

 

Acknowledgements

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.vi) Acknowledgements This volume arose out of a conference held at UCL on 28–31 March 2009. It is accordingly appropriate that we thank UCL for providing the space and facilities for the conference, and the British Academy, the Institute of Classical Studies, and the UCL Graduate School for their generous financial support. Of all the many people who helped to ensure the conference ran smoothly, we must single out Amanda Cater for the time and organizational work she put in on our behalf. The conference was characterized by a noted colloquial atmosphere, with a large number of speakers and other attendees joining in discussions after individual papers and completed panels. We should like to thank all these people for making the conference such a success, and steering the shaping of this subsequent volume. At risk of being somewhat iniquitous, we feel we should particularly like to mention Betty Belfiore, Douglas Cairns, Christopher Gill, David Konstan, Glenn Most, and Ralph Rosen for their tireless contributions to these debates. As the volume has progressed, we have received extremely helpful advice from Hilary O’Shea, the Classics editor at Oxford University Press, and the anonymous readers of our proposal, who helped us shape the resulting volume. David Konstan and Douglas Cairns have also been generous with their advice, both in this regard and also in commenting on certain parts of the text. We should like to thank all the above for helping this volume come into being. Finally, we thank the following for their kind permission to reproduce images: Museo Archeologico di Firenze; British School at Athens; Soprintendenza per i beni archeologici dell’Etruria Meridionale; Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek München; Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Bibliothèque nationale de France; Americal School of Classical Studies at Athens; Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe; Trustees of Page 1 of 2

 

Acknowledgements the British Museum; Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism Archaeological Receipts Fund; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Page 2 of 2

 

Abbreviations

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.ix) Abbreviations Bernabé A. Bernabé (ed.) (1996) Poetarum epicorum Graecorum: Testimonia et fragmenta (Leipzig, 2nd edn) D-K H. Diels and W. Kranz (eds) (1961) Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (Berlin, 10th edn, 2 vols) EGM R. L. Fowler (ed.) (2000) Early Greek mythography, i: The texts (Oxford) FGrH F. Jacoby (ed.) (1876–1959) Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (Leiden, 3 vols) Gow A. S. F. Gow (ed.) (1952) Theocritus (Cambridge, 2 vols) GPh A. S. F. Gow and D. L. Page (eds) (1968) The Greek Anthology: The Garland of Philip and some contemporary epigrams (Cambridge, 2 vols) HE A. S. F. Gow and D. L. Page (eds) (1965) The Greek Anthology: Hellenistic epigrams (Cambridge, 2 vols) Helmreich G. Helmreich (ed.) (1907–9) De usu partium corporis humani (Leipzig, 2 vols) Heylbut Heylbut, G. (1889) Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca, xix: Aspasii in Ethica Nicomachea quae supersunt commentaria (Berlin) Kannicht Page 1 of 3

 

Abbreviations R. Kannicht (ed.) (2004) Tragicorum Graecorum fragmenta, v.1–2: Euripides (Göttingen) Kock T. Kock (ed.) (1880–8) Comicorum Atticorum fragmenta (Leipzig, 3 vols) Kühn C. G. Kühn (ed.) (1964–5) Claudii Galeni opera omnia (Hildesheim, 20 vols) Lewis & Short C. T. Lewis and C. Short (1879) A Latin dictionary (Oxford) LIMC [Various] (1981–99) Lexicon iconographicum mythologiae classicae (Zurich, 8 vols) LJ-P H. Lloyd-Jones and P. Parsons (eds) (1983) Supplementum Hellenisticum (Berlin) L-P E. Lobel and D. L. Page (eds) (1955) Poetarum Lesbiorum fragmenta (Oxford) L-S A. A. Long and D. N. Sedley (1987) The Hellenistic philosophers (Cambridge, 2 vols) LSJ H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, and H. S. Jones (1940 and suppl.) A Greek– English lexicon (Oxford) (p.x) M-W R. Merkelbach and M. L. West (eds) (1967) Fragmenta Hesiodea (Oxford) NA Aelian, De natura animalium Nauck A. Nauck (ed.) (1889) Tragicorum Graecorum fragmenta (Leipzig) OCD S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth (eds) (2003) Oxford classical dictionary (Oxford, 3rd edn) PCG R. Kassel and C. Austin (1983–2001) Poetae comici Graeci (Berlin) Pfeiffer R. Pfeiffer (ed.) (1953) Callimachus (Oxford, 2 vols) PGM K. Preisendanz et al. (eds) (1928–31) Papyri Graecae magicae: Die Griechischen Zauberpapyri (Leipzig, 2 vols) PHP Galen, On the opinions of Plato and Hippocrates Page 2 of 3

 

Abbreviations PMG D. L. Page (ed.) (1962) Poetae melici Graeci (Oxford) PMGF M. Davies (ed.) (1991) Poetarum melicorum Graecorum fragmenta (Oxford)  Radt S. Radt (ed.) (1977–85) Tragicorum Graecorum fragmenta, iii: Aeschylus; iv: Sophocles (Göttingen) Rose V. Rose (ed.) (1886/1967) Aristotelis qui ferebantur librorum fragmenta (Leipzig, repr. Stuttgart) S-M H. Maehler (ed.) (1975) (post B. Snell) Pindari carmina cum fragmentis (Leipzig, 4th edn, 2 vols) SVF H. Von Arnim (ed.) (1903–5, repr. 2004) Stoicorum veterum fragmenta (Leipzig, repr. Munich, 4 vols) Usener H. Usener (ed.) (1887) Epicurea (Leipzig) TGF B. Snell, R. Kannicht, and S. Radt (eds) (1971[19862]-2004) Tragicorum Graecorum fragmenta (Göttingen, 6 vols) West M. L. West (ed.) (1989–92) Iambi et elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum cantata (Oxford, 2nd edn, 2 vols)

Page 3 of 3

 

Notes

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.xi) Notes 1. Throughout the volume we use ‘erôs’ to refer to the feeling and ‘Eros’ for the god, in accordance with standard practice in transliterating Greek common words and proper nouns. There are of course instances where Greek texts are (deliberately or unintentionally) ambiguous as to which they refer, and this is generally brought out by providing a similarly ambiguous translation, or explicitly discussed. 2. We follow the usual practice of Latinizing Greek names, except where the Greek form is more familiar.

Page 1 of 1

 

Contributors

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.xii) Contributors Douglas Cairns is Professor of Classics in the University of Edinburgh. He is author of Aidôs: The psychology and ethics of honour and shame in ancient Greek literature (Oxford 1993),  Bacchylides: Five epinician odes (Cambridge 2010), and of numerous articles on ancient Greek emotion. He has recently completed a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship on ‘Language, emotion, and society in Classical Greece’, the results of which have appeared or will shortly appear in article and monograph form. Vanessa Cazzato is a post-doctoral researcher on the Bibliotheca Academica Translationum project at the Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford. She is currently converting her doctorate on ‘Imaginative worlds in Greek lyric poetry’ into a monograph, and is embarking on a new project tracing the metaliterary reception of Odysseus in the classical tradition. She is also co-editing two volumes, one of collected papers on sympotic poetry, and the other a commentary on Herodotus books 5–9. Armand D’Angour is Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Jesus College, Oxford. He is the author of a recent monograph entitled The Greeks and the new: Novelty in ancient Greek imagination and experience (Cambridge 2011). The focus of ongoing research is ancient Greek music and metre, and following his Pindaric Ode for the Athens Olympics (2004) he was commissioned to compose a Greek ode for the Olympic Games in 2012. Andreas Fountoulakis is Associate Professor of Greek Literature and Drama and Director of the Drama and Visual Arts Laboratory of the University of Crete. His research interests include Greek tragedy and comedy, Hellenistic poetry, and the reception of antiquity in Modern Greek literature. Among other published work he is the Page 1 of 4

 

Contributors author of In search of the didactic Menander: An approach to Menander’s comedy and an exploration of the Samia (Athens 2004), and co-editor of Thoughtful adaptations: Cross-cultural and didactic aspects of Cavafy’s poetry (Rethymno 2007)—both in Greek. Christopher Gill is Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter. His work is centred on psychology and ethics in Greek and Roman thought. A current focus is on Stoic philosophy and its significance in the contemporary context. He is the author of Personality in Greek epic, tragedy, and philosophy: The self in dialogue (Oxford 1996), The structured self in Hellenistic and Roman thought (Oxford 2006), and Naturalistic psychology in Galen and Stoicism (Oxford 2010). (p.xiii) Maria Kanellou is a doctoral student at UCL, Department of Greek and Latin, and a research associate of the Waterloo Institute for Hellenistic Studies. Her Ph.D. thesis is (provisionally) entitled ‘Erotic epigram: Archetypal motifs driving the poetic process’, and focuses on the erotic epigrams included in the Greek Anthology. Two chapters of her thesis explore the presence of the gods of love, Aphrodite and Eros, within these epigrams. David Konstan is Professor of Classics at New York University, and Professor Emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature at Brown University. He is currently working on a book on the ancient Greek conception of beauty. His publications include Sexual symmetry: Love in the ancient novel and related genres (Princeton, 1994); Friendship in the Classical world (Cambridge 1997); The emotions of the ancient Greeks (Toronto 2006); and Before forgiveness: The origins of a moral idea (Cambridge 2010). Eleni Leontsini is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Ioannina. She works chiefly in ethics and political philosophy and the history of these subjects, particularly Aristotle and neoAristotelianism. She is the author of The appropriation of Aristotle in the liberal-communitarian debate (Athens 2007). She is currently editing a volume of collected papers on Friendship in society: The idea of friendship in the age of the Enlightenment and completing a monograph on Aristotle’s notion of civic friendship. Michele A. Lucchesi is a D.Phil. student in Classical Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford, and sessional lecturer at the Classics Department of the University of Reading. The title of his doctoral thesis is ‘Plutarch on Sparta: Cultural identity and political models in the Plutarchan macrotext’. His research mainly focuses on Plutarch’s Lives and on the reception of Sparta in post-Classical Greek historiography. Glenn W. Most is Professor of Greek Philology at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, and a visiting professor at the University Page 2 of 4

 

Contributors of Chicago. He has published numerous books and articles on a wide range of topics, including ancient and modern literature and philosophy, and the history of religion. Most recently he has edited a two-volume Loeb of Hesiod (Cambridge, MA 2006–7), and co-edited The Classical tradition (Cambridge, MA 2010). He is currently coediting a four-volume Loeb on the Presocratics, and co-editing and cotranslating the ancient and medieval commentaries to Hesiod’s Theogony. Olivier Renaut is Maître de conferences (Assistant Professor) at Université Paris Ouest–Nanterre-La Défense, in the department of Philosophy. His main area of research is the History of Ancient Philosophy. His research focuses on psychology and ethics in Plato’s Dialogues, and also includes psychological and ethical aspects of Homer, Presocratics, Socrates and Socratics, and Aristotle. He also works on the contemporary reception of ancient ethical theory. (p.xiv) His forthcoming monograph is entitled Platon: La médiation des émotions (Paris). James Robson is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at the Open University. His research interests include Greek comedy (especially its translation and humour), and Greek sex and sexuality. He is the author of Humour and obscenity in Aristophanes (Tübingen 2006), Aristophanes: An introduction (London 2009), and the forthcoming Sex and sexuality in Classical Athens (Edinburgh). Ralph M. Rosen is Rose Family Endowed Term Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published widely on ancient Greek literature (especially comic genres), philosophy, and ancient medicine. His most recent book was Making mockery: The poetics of ancient satire (Oxford 2007). He is also co-founder and coorganizer of the Penn-Leiden Colloquium series on Ancient Values, and co-editor of the volumes in that series, published by Brill. Ed Sanders is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London. His research focuses on emotions in ancient Greece, especially in the literature of the Classical period, and his current project funded by The Leverhulme Trust is on ‘Arousal of audience emotions in Classical Greek oratory’. His forthcoming monograph is entitled Envy and jealousy in Classical Athens: A sociopsychological approach (New York). Steven D. Smith is Associate Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Hofstra University. His research focuses on the Greek literature of the Roman empire, especially the novel. He is the author of Greek identity and the Athenian past in Chariton: The romance of empire (Eelde and Groningen 2007) and he is at present completing a monograph titled Claudius Aelianus: Man and animal in Severan Rome. Page 3 of 4

 

Contributors Emma Stafford is Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Leeds. Her research interests lie in Greek cultural history, especially religion, myth, and art. She is author of Worshipping virtues: Personification and the divine in ancient Greece (Swansea and London 2000), Life, myth, and art in ancient Greece (London 2004), and Herakles (London 2011). Chiara Thumiger is a Research Associate at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. She is part of the project ‘Medicine of the mind, philosophy of the body: Discourses of health and well-being in the ancient world’, funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Her present research focuses on mental insanity and its ancient representations in the Hippocratic texts and other literary sources. She has also worked on Greek tragedy and on animals in ancient literature, and is the author of Hidden paths: Self and characterization in Greek tragedy: Euripides’ Bacchae (London 2007).

Page 4 of 4

 

Introduction

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Introduction Ed Sanders Chiara Thumiger

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0001

Abstract and Keywords This introductory chapter first sets out the book's purpose, which is to contribute to research on the question — What is erôs? — by offering an altogether new approach: a keen focus on the ancient emotion, as opposed to the mythological or philological item. It then reviews recent scholarship on erôs, followed by a description of the book's organization and structure. The chapters in this volume analyze and problematize the ancient emotion of which the literary (and occasionally figurative) representation is a medium, mindful of the theoretical challenges and caveats that such enterprises notoriously entail. In order to do this, they cover a broad range of sources and theoretical approaches, both in the chronological and the generic sense, but firmly located in the context of ancient Greek culture. Keywords:   ancient emotion, Eros, erôs, Greek culture, literary representation

‘What is erôs?’ One might wonder whether this question is still in need of being addressed, with several studies on the topic available, and more generally with the degree of scholarly attention that Greek erôs (the emotion) and Eros (the god) have attracted in the past. The present collection, which arose out of a conference on ‘Erôs in ancient Greece’ (University College London, March 2009),1 aims to contribute to this strand of research by offering an altogether new approach: a keen focus on the ancient emotion, as opposed to the mythological or philological item. Eros (the god) and erôs (the emotion), as we are well aware, cannot be simplistically isolated from one another: as the internal organization of the volume will show, the mythological, literary, and Page 1 of 9

 

Introduction visual representations are the very flesh and bones of the emotion we set out to explore. The primary aim of these essays, however, is to analyse and problematize the ancient emotion of which the literary (and occasionally figurative) representation is a medium, mindful of the theoretical challenges and caveats that such enterprises notoriously entail. In order to do this, we have succeeded in covering very broad ranges of sources and theoretical approaches, both in the chronological and the generic sense, but firmly located in the context of ancient Greek culture. All important thinking about the nature of erôs across the entire span from Hesiod to the Second Sophistic is considered, including the input offered by figurative arts; in this sense, this volume is surely an unprecedented contribution.2 Scholarship on erôs has burgeoned in the last few decades. It is useful to offer a panoramic view of this large corpus of material, which can generally be (p.2) divided into the categories below. This is a working division, of course— boundaries are often crossed, and interconnections are essential: 1. Erôs and homosexuality. This first group displays an intense, almost salacious, focus on (primarily, but not exclusively male) homosexual customs, desires, and practices. The path was opened by Kenneth Dover’s seminal work on the Greeks, and Michel Foucault’s very different and hugely influential studies.3 2. While Foucault himself devoted his book to both homo- and heterosexual practices (the latter, at any rate, within marriage), the spate of further scholarship on homosexual practices has been somewhat to the detriment of heterosexual. However majoritarian scholarship on homosexuality might be, though, heterosexuality—especially sex within marriage, concubinage, and prostitution—has received its share of attention, especially in studies which analyse erôs in its social environment (family, gender roles, institutions, law, etc.).4 3. The next two strands of study might loosely be termed ‘erotica’—visual and textual. ‘Visual erotica’ includes erotic images, frequently on sympotic pottery, intended to arouse or depicting sexual practices. It also includes objects with erotic connotations, whether statues or smaller objects such as phalloi.5 4. ‘Textual erotica’ refers to erotic passages or ‘motifs’, so to speak, which aim to titillate or arouse the reader/listener, or describe sexual arousal or acts. These occur in a wide variety of poetic genres: lyric poetry (including sympotic), epigrams, Old Comedy, etc. We can also include sexual and vulgar vocabulary in this category.6 5. A fifth area of recent interest is erotic (or more precisely romantic) fiction, in which erôs is embedded as a fundamental shaping force of (p. 3) the narrative, at the heart of dramatic events. We should mention primarily the ancient novel, but also earlier literature such as Menander’s

Page 2 of 9

 

Introduction comedies, Apollonius’ Argonautica, Herodas’ Mimes, Theocritus’ Idylls, etc.7 6. Finally, we have the important bulk of scholarship on philosophical attitudes to erôs, particularly as something inherently problematic due to erôs’ primary focus on physical pleasure. From Plato onwards, erôs poses a philosophical problem that cannot be avoided, in antiquity but also, one might say with some hyperbole, in the entire Western tradition.8 The essays in this volume cannot—and will not—ignore these issues, and the many contributions made by previous scholarship; they are integral to any investigation into erôs. However, the focus of this book, as discussed in the opening paragraph, will be on erôs as an emotion. The phenomenology, psychology, and physiology of erôs; its associated language, metaphors, and imagery; the overlap of erôs with other emotions (e.g. sexual jealousy, madness, philia, pothos); its role in political society; the relationship between the human emotion and Eros the god: all these topics build on the specific achievements of the six strands of research we have outlined above, but the chapters also scrutinize the emotion using the theoretical instruments offered by the expanding field of the study of emotions in ancient cultures and elsewhere. The recent multi-disciplinary explosion of research in emotion studies,9 especially studies by Classicists and historians of other periods,10 necessitates a (p.4) new outlook on this topic, new arguments, and more sophisticated answers. The first, and central, issue that newcomers to this field must face is the fallacy of trans-historical and cross-cultural assessments:11 as has been argued frequently, not least in the Classics world by David Konstan and Douglas Cairns (both contributors to this volume), emotions—by which is meant emotional experience and expression—vary across societies and periods in a number of ways. These include such aspects as the socio-psychological conditions and situations that give rise to the emotional arousal,12 the social acceptability of the emotion and its expression, the way the emotion is perceived by the patient, how it is depicted to others (including through metaphor and imagery as well as straightforward language), the physiological and psychological symptoms associated with the emotion, and—last but far from least—the overlap of terminology between different languages.13 While there may be major differences in these aspects, other cultures’ emotions are usually identifiable, and relatable to our own emotions.14 Erôs’ closest English‐language equivalents are the emotions of romantic love and sexual desire. These are separate emotions for us because we think of them in different ways—although they may both be triggered simultaneously in an individual by one cognitive trigger (e.g. spotting one’s girlfriend). Thus on some occasions on which we feel what we think of as love or sexual desire, an ancient Greek would have felt erôs, and many aspects of erotic experience in ancient Greece will be shared by these two modern emotions. However, erôs is not Page 3 of 9

 

Introduction directly equivalent to either English emotion. For example, while erôs usually involves a desire for sexual gratification, it cannot be equated to our sexual desire as it may also include romantic feelings. Similarly, the English word love can include feelings for close friends and family, which in ancient Greek would not normally be expressed by the word erôs (with the rare exception of love for spouses), but rather by terms such as philia or storgê. Similarly, to offer a contemporary example, in Italian the verb amare would never be used in addressing directly anyone other than one’s sexual partner (p.5) (although the use is tolerated when speaking of a third person’s feelings for friends or siblings); in a direct address, other, ‘milder’ expressions would be preferred (e.g. volere bene). Moving beyond purely lexical issues to the experience itself, we should note that erôs does not even un-problematically come under the category of emotion:15 some consider it an appetite, on a par with hunger or thirst.16 However, erôs is not the only feeling whose satisfaction brings pleasure (‘revenge is sweet’ we say, for example, and Aristotle seems to concur),17 and erôs involves psychological and physiological symptoms,18 not dissimilar in kind to those aroused by other emotions.19 It is thus close enough to an emotion that we can comfortably approach it with the scholarly tools used to examine other ones. This volume has thus two important aims: on the one hand, to maintain a solid awareness of the trans-historical problems posed by emotions and the theoretical advancements in the study of this part of human experience; and on the other, to offer a philologically rigorous study of the Greek sources that allow us insight into this most intriguing of Greek concepts. Our choice as editors has been to shape the internal organization of the volume into sections and chapters in a way that broadly reflects a movement from a more theoretical attention to erôs as emotion and philosophical item (Parts I and II ) to a focus on mythological and literary instantiations (Parts III and IV). This narrative follows thematic criteria, and within those criteria the contributions are either ordered chronologically or grouped by genre, in whichever way we felt would best encourage dialogue between the various voices in the (p.6) collection. Further discussion of the relationships between chapters can be found in the introductions to each Part, but a very brief overview will be helpful here. Part I, on the ‘Phenomenology and Psychology of Erôs’, deals with such issues as psychology and symptomatology of erôs, and its relationship with other emotions such as jealousy and mania (madness). The first chapter by Konstan orients the discussion by assessing the ambiguity of erôs in ancient thought, located as it is in between elementary desire and emotion endowed with a cognitive component. The main ancient philosophical schools deny animals this emotion by virtue of its cognitive aspect. Erôs as double and contradictory is explored in the following chapter by Thumiger, who focuses on tragedy and on the specifics of erôs in the genre. The emotion is presented as negative experience for the individual, linked Page 4 of 9

 

Introduction to madness and loss of self, and a metaphor for destructive drives. Sanders’s chapter follows, narrowing down the focus onto a particular tragic example, Euripides’ Medea and the emotion of erotic jealousy. Sanders argues, against others, first for the existence of a sexual jealousy-type emotion in Classical Greece, and second for the relevance of erotic jealousy in interpreting Medea’s feelings for her errant husband, due to the close connections between her situation, speech, and actions, and those of modern psychological theories of jealousy. With D’Angour’s chapter on Sappho we move to a close study of the famous fragment 31, with a new interpretation of the imagery of war, and Homeric suggestions used by the poetess to represent her experience of erôs as violent clash. Both gender perspective and literary irony play a role here, which an analysis of the reception of Sappho’s poetics in Catullus helps to illumine further. The section opens with animals in opposition to man in respect of erôs, and returns to animals in the last chapter: Smith’s piece on reciprocal erôs in Aelian’s De natura animalium. Looking beyond the ludic quality of this unusual text this chapter assesses the tension between a Platonic view of pure love and one of monstrous sexual drive, spelled out in the grey area between man and animal. Part II, ‘Defining Erôs: Philosophy and Science’, brings together four chapters on philosophy/science and erôs. The first author, Renaut, uses Plato’s tripartite soul—divided between reason (logos), appetite (epithumia), and spirit (thumos)— as a framework to explore that philosopher’s views on erôs. Plato agrees with Archaic poetry’s link between erôs and thumos, but for different conceptual reasons, based on his novel interpretation of both. Rosen shows how Galen responds to Platonic erôs. Though he accepts Platonic psychology, as a doctor Galen is relatively uninterested in Plato’s psychological explanations of erôs. Instead he concerns himself with Plato’s physiological siting of erôs within the liver, exploring what that entails for the nutritive forces of the body, and the person’s moral development. With Leontsini we move towards Stoic philosophy, as she considers the development of (p.7) Stoicism’s interpretation of erôs from Platonic and Aristotelian predecessors. Where they were most interested in erôs’ internal psychological, physical, or educative roles, Stoicism sees it turning outwards towards friendship and, thus, a political role within the virtuous city. Gill too is interested in the Stoics, emphasizing how they do not reject erôs as having no place in their intellectualist approach to life, but rather appreciate its role in their holistic ideal of psychology, politics, and ethics. Part III focuses on different ideas of the god Eros in relation to, or distinction from, human erotic passion. In Most’s appraisal of Hesiod’s coherent treatment in his Theogony and Works and days, Eros emerges both as cosmic principle and agent of human sexuality, structuring both divine and human history, and governing the relations between gods and men. Stafford examines Eros in a more concrete way in her chapter on images of the god in figurative art. She analyses iconographical representations of the god and shows, against a dual Page 5 of 9

 

Introduction cultic background whereby both a homosexual and a heterosexual erôs are celebrated in Athens, an emergence of a preference for heterosexual Eros in Attic red-figure vases. Lucchesi closes this section by considering the roles of Eros the god, and erôs as passion, in Plutarch’s Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades. Arguing against Hellenistic predecessors, Plutarch sees erôs as a risk in public political life, and returns to a more Platonic tradition that sees Eros driving humans towards virtue and moral improvement. The textual expressions of erôs become the object of enquiry in Part IV, on ‘Imagery and Language of Erôs’. This section includes a variety of contributions on different motifs and stylistic features linked to erôs. Cairns starts with Plato’s presentation of erôs in the Phaedrus, and his use of metaphor as a way of constructing a new psychological concept. In particular, key traditional images are analysed (such as the image of the chariot, the winged psuchê, the eyes as conduits for emotion, the body as a container for the emotions; erôs as a gymnic or hippic contest; and so on) in order to assess the relationship between the Platonic texts and its models, and highlight the conception of erôs that emerges. Robson focuses on the language of erôs in Aristophanic comedy. The chapter analyses the vocabulary of erotic emotions (such as erôs, philia, and pothos) in the playwright’s work, and the underlying erotic energies of the plays, to argue that each play tends to have its own distinct erotic landscape, so that different ‘erotic’ worlds are set from play to play. Cazzato’s chapter looks at the imagery of erôs in Ibycus fragment 286 under a new light, by contrasting competing imagery of two ‘worlds’ of erôs that participate in the poem: the amorous and the sympotic,‘possible worlds’ that are separate, and yet related to each other in interesting ways. Kanellou maintains the focus on poetic imagery, moving to Greek epigram and choosing one of the most characteristic elements of erotic imagery, the ‘lamp’. The lamp as object, witness to the encounter as well as source of light, may reify one or the other lover’s (p.8) emotion, and sometimes even act as chaperone or confidant. Fountoulakis’s chapter, finally, remains in the epigrammatic context, but sets out to offer a panoramic survey of the range of imagery in the epigrams of the twelfth book of the Greek Anthology. In particular, the chosen approach connects homosexual erôs and the ‘male pederastic gaze’ that constitutes the emotional and intellectual lens through which erôs takes form in these texts. Notes:

(1) Four papers from the conference not included in this volume, which take a historicizing approach to erôs and the polis in the Archaic and Classical periods, are to be published in Sanders (2013). (2) The recent collection edited by Düsing and Klein (2009) explores concepts of erôs and agapê, but across the whole of Western cultural history, without a specific focus on the ancient world.

Page 6 of 9

 

Introduction (3) Dover (1989); Foucault (1992). On male homosexuality see also: Buffière (1980); Cartledge (1981); Koch-Harnack (1983); Sergent (1986a) and (1986b); Dover (1988); Halperin (1990); Winkler (1990) 45–70; Bremmer (1990); Cohen (1991) 171–202; Ogden (1996); Percy (1996); Konstan (1997a) 24–52; Davidson (2001); Halperin (2002a); Leitao (2002); Hubbard (2003b); Davidson (2007). On female homosexuality see e.g.: Winkler (1990) 162–87; Williamson (1995); Brooten (1996); Dover (2002); Halperin (2002b). On sexuality in general, see also Halperin et al. (1990); Golden and Toohey (2011). (4) See e.g.: Winkler (1990) 71–126; Cohen (1990) 147–66 and (1991) 98–170; Konstan (1994); Goldhill (1995); Davidson (1997) 73–136; Calame (1997) and (1999); Kaimio (2002); Halliwell (2002). (5) See e.g.: Johns (1982); Hupperts (1988); Koch-Harnack (1989); Dierichs (1993); Kilmer (1993); Keuls (1993); Stähli (1999); Yiakoumis and Bonato (2005); Kampen (2006); Lear and Cantarella (2008). (6) Erotic lyrics, e.g.: Garrison (1978); Tarán (1985); Kelly (1986); Bing and Cohen (1991); Bertman (2005). Sexual words, e.g.: Henderson (1991); Bain (1991). (7) On erotic fiction see e.g.: Anderson (1982); Konstan (1994); Goldhill (1995); Nilsson (2009). On earlier literature, see e.g.: Heiserman (1977); Anderson (1982) 1–12; Konstan (1994) 139–86; Anagnousta-Laoutides (2005); Payne (2007). (8) The literature on Platonic erôs is vast, but recent scholarship includes e.g.: Price (1989) 1–102, 207–35; Ruprecht (1999); Palumbo (2001) 44–59; Geier (2002); Rhodes (2003); Sheffield (2006). On other philosophers on erôs, see e.g.: Price (1989) 103–205, 236–49; Nussbaum (1994a) 140–91 and (2002); Price (2002); Sihvola (2002); Graver (2007) 185–9; Düsing and Klein (2009) for a wider historical perspective. (9) Since the mid-1970s particularly, there has been a large amount of research into both specific emotions and the nature of emotion in general across a wide variety of disciplines, including cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, physiology, philosophy, economics, sociology, anthropology, literature, and history. Rorty (1980), Lewis and Haviland-Jones (2000), and Solomon (2004) are excellent edited volumes that demonstrate a variety of disciplinary approaches to the emotions. P. E. Griffiths (1997) provides a useful critique of what the major schools have to offer before (less persuasively) attempting a synthesis. (10) Major monographs and collections on Greek (or Greek and Roman) emotions include: Cairns (1993); Nussbaum (1994a) and (2001); Sihvola and EngbergPedersen (1998); Nussbaum and Sihvola (2002); Konstan (1997a), (2001), and Page 7 of 9

 

Introduction (2006); Harris (2001); Konstan and Rutter (2003); Braund and Most (2003); Knuuttila (2004); Sternberg (2005); Fitzgerald (2007); Graver (2007); Konstan (2010c); Munteanu (2011a) and (2011b); Chaniotis (2012). On Roman emotions see also Braund and Gill (1997); Kaster (2005). The literature on emotions in other historical periods is too large to go into here, but some important methodological studies by historians of other periods include Stearns and Stearns (1985); Reddy (2001) and (2009); Rosenwein (2002) and (2006); Oatley (2004); Plamper (2010); Matt (2011). (11) Not to mention the more radical (and potentially insuperable) problem of intra-subjectivity: to what extent we can ever be confident that our feelings or thoughts are communicable to others to an acceptable degree of truthfulness. See Harris (2010). (12) Following the ‘cognitivist’ view—held in different versions by many, if not most, emotionologists—that an emotion stems from a sensory perception evaluated by our brains (i.e. ‘cognition’) that automatically arouses certain physiological and psychological responses. Set against the cognitivists are ‘neoDarwinists’, who are most interested in the physiological and neurobiological effects of an emotion; their approach dates back to Darwin (1872) and James (1884), who argue that physiological changes are the initial emotional response, and thinking comes later. (13) See Cairns (2003a) 11–20 and (2008); Konstan (2006) 7–27. (14) For instance, ancient Greek orgê is clearly related to English anger, and aidôs to English shame, even if the boundaries of these ancient Greek terms are not co-terminous with their English equivalents. (15) Interestingly, erôs (or equivalent) is generally strikingly absent from modern theories of emotion, as pointed out by Frijda (2007): see 227–57 for a treatment of the topic within his discussion of the ‘laws of emotion’. (16) e.g. Arist. Rh. 1.11, 1370a21–4; Eth. Nic. 3.9, 1118b8–11. The closest Greek equivalent to our word emotion is pathos (pl. pathê), and the closest to appetite is epithumia (pl. epithumiai). It is not unknown for Greeks to include epithumia within the pathê, as e.g. Aristotle does at Eth. Nic. 2.5, 1105b21–3 (though not in the list of emotions discussed in Rh. 2.2–11—see Leighton (1996) 223–30 on this in-/exclusion). Soble (2008) 37 criticizes the comparison of sexual desire with hunger and thirst, as we die without food or water but can live without sex (as individuals, if not as a species); drawing attention to Freud’s distinction between aim and object, he argues that while the sex drive and hunger both aim to be gratified, the object is only necessary for the latter: we can masturbate while imagining a sexual object, but cannot sate our hunger by eating a photo of a hamburger.

Page 8 of 9

 

Introduction (17) Arist. Rh. 2.2, 1378a30-b2: ‘Anger is a desire, accompanied by pain (lupê), for a perceived revenge in return for a perceived and unjustified slight against oneself or those close to one…; and a certain pleasure (hêdonê) follows all anger, that of the hope of obtaining revenge.’ One presumes that the revenge itself is more pleasurable still. (18) For instance, when Plato describes Hippothales’ erôs for the boy Lysis, his symptoms and actions include blushing, talking incessantly about Lysis, composing poems and prose to him, singing about him, hiding from his beloved, and being in an agony of confusion that he might be discovered (Lys. 204c2-d8, 207b4–6, 210e5–7). For another example of the symptomatology of erôs, consider Sappho fr. 31—see D’Angour (this volume). (19) See e.g. Cairns (2003a) 24–5 on the symptoms Homer attributes to rage.

Page 9 of 9

 

Part I Phenomenology and Psychology of Erôs

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.9) Part I Phenomenology and Psychology of Erôs Chiara Thumiger

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.011.0001 Keywords:   erôs , love, desire, animal instinct, emotion Keywords:   tragedy, violence, madness, metaphor, duplicity Keywords:   sexual jealousy, erôs , Medea , psychology, emotion episodes, woman, wife, bedmate, bearer of children, remarriage Keywords:   Sappho Fr. 31, Homeric, battlefield, Catullus C. 11, reconstruction, danger, prize Keywords:   Aelian, animals, erôs , second Sophistic, Plato, miscellany, pederasty, dolphins

We begin our exploration of ancient Greek erôs with its most basic manifestation, the subjectivity of the individuals involved—both in its physiological and behavioural aspects (‘phenomenology’, broadly understood), and in its psychology (with all the social, philosophical, evaluative, and eudaimonistic implications that entails). These first chapters offer relatively theoretical reflections on the way erôs is conceptualized and described, both in the ancient world and in contemporary scholarly interpretations, from a variety of angles. At the same time, they assess ancient erotic experience against various critical frames, ancient and modern: from the ancient philosophers’ descriptions of erôs to Freudian schemata, or more recent developments in the theory of emotions. David Konstan (‘Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs?’) opens this journey with a fitting start to both the section and the whole collection. The questions he poses on the definition of Greek erôs in ancient literary and philosophical sources touch a crucial point: the divide between Page 1 of 4

 

Part I Phenomenology and Psychology of Erôs animal and human in Greek philosophical thought and literature with respect to rationality and the ability to feel emotions. As a result, Konstan offers a reflection on the social and cognitive ‘constructedness’ of ancient erôs. The assessment of the highly conceptual status of erôs as a feature of both human and animal psychology, and its essentially ambiguous status, allow Konstan to explore the history of erôs and its exploitation in the service of various ideals in ancient culture. With the term erôs, he argues, the Greeks marked off a peculiar kind of sentiment—one that was sometimes classified as an emotion or pathos (for example by the Stoics), but was equally likely to be seen rather as an appetite or elementary desire (epithumia). In particular, erôs was not usually ascribed to animals, no doubt because the notion presupposed some degree of rationality or logos, which was denied to animals by most (p.10) philosophical schools (so too, in English one does not typically speak of animals as ‘being in love’). The following chapters bring the perspective down to the more concrete level of literary representations, focusing first on tragedy as genre (Thumiger) and then narrowing down the focus onto specific texts (Sanders, D’Angour, and Smith). Literary representation is a core element of these essays, but the readings are at the same time strongly indebted to theoretical reflection. Chiara Thumiger discusses ‘Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy’, addressing the question of why tragic erôs is inescapably negative. Her starting point is ancient imagery and phenomenology of madness as markers of erôs in this genre. Ancient madness is, among other things, a way to signpost a critical relationship between the individual and the expectations or pressures imposed by one’s surroundings, an instance in which human agency responds to an external challenge or an unsettling experience in an exceptional and unexpected way. On these premisses, the chapter analyses different tragic instances of erôs in intersection with the broader category of madness. The aim is to highlight the specifics of erotic mania in this genre beyond the particulars of each dramatic context: in tragedy, in fact, when relevant to the development of dramatic events, erotic passion tends to be represented as a negative and destructive experience regardless of whether it is marital love or an illicit sexual desire. The second part of the chapter analyses the converse fact, that in tragic representation other monstrous drives are eroticized and conveyed through the terminology of mad erôs. To illustrate this, Thumiger looks at the representation of the bloodthirsty urge to kill in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon—from the Greek army’s erôs for destruction, to Agamemnon’s excessive lust for the blood of his own daughter (orga periorgôi…epithumein)—and other comparable examples. The chapter concludes by proposing an interpretation for this one-sided representation in terms of the genre’s interest in a public, rather than private, response to crisis and of its concern with the risks posed by strong and uncontrolled emotions.

Page 2 of 4

 

Part I Phenomenology and Psychology of Erôs The next chapter remains within the realm of tragedy, but with a firm focus on the characterizations and ethics of one play, Euripides’ Medea. In ‘Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea’, Ed Sanders challenges recent interpretations of the heroine’s motivation, which tend to discount sexual jealousy in favour of heroic pride and/or rage, on the grounds that Medea expresses herself in the language of these emotions rather than that of jealousy. While not rejecting either pride or rage (Medea being a complex character, and her motivations similarly complex), Sanders argues that sexual jealousy has been unjustly neglected and should be rehabilitated to understand fully Medea’s emotional motivation. Medea argues that as both a woman and an individual she has suffered enormously for her husband, and having severed herself from the other ties a woman would normally have in the Greek world (those with her father, brother, and community of origin as a whole), her entire (p.11) selfconception is now formed by her triple roles as Jason’s wife: bedmate, homemaker, and bearer of children. Jason’s remarriage threatens her in all three roles. Her reaction can be categorized in many respects as one of jealousy: Sanders uses modern psychological theory to demonstrate that Medea’s speech and behaviour show a striking affinity with the phenomenology of jealousy episodes (the antecedent conditions, emotional affects, verbal expression, and resulting action). Though Medea, and contemporary Greek, had no single word for sexual jealousy—some modern scholars even question its existence in ancient Greece—the chapter shows that the phenomenology is unmistakable and closely tied to Medea’s erôs for her husband. From tragedy we move to Archaic lyric and its intertextuality, with Armand D’Angour’s chapter on Sappho’s celebrated fragment 31 (‘Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31’). D’Angour’s starting point is Sappho’s adoption of Homeric vocabulary and imagery of war to render her own representation of erôs as battlefield, a notion which will take different forms in ancient poetry (the most evident one being the militia amoris of Latin elegiac poets of the first century BCE). In Sappho’s surviving oeuvre, erôs is presented as the site of passionate conflict akin to that faced by Homeric heroes; D’Angour proposes that Sappho’s famous fragment 31, ‘He seems just like the gods’, was composed with this in view, while gender perspective and literary irony also play a role. Following the previous reconstruction of a coda for fr. 31 using Catullus’ Latin version (poem 51) as evidence, it is here argued that several more stanzas must have followed the surviving poem. A careful reconsideration of the words with which fr. 31 breaks off is combined with overlooked clues drawn from Catullus’ only other poem in Sapphics (Catull. 11) to trace out a possible trajectory for the lost ending. The resulting reconstruction depicts erôs as offering the prospect, as does battle, of facing and resisting anguish and mortal danger so as to obtain the much-desired prize of love.

Page 3 of 4

 

Part I Phenomenology and Psychology of Erôs Poetic and philosophical self-consciousness characterizes erôs in the last chapter, in which Steven Smith discusses a later author and a more unusual text, Aelian’s third-century CE miscellany De natura animalium (‘Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium’ (NA)). The tone is lighter here, to suit the declaredly ludic character of the text. Smith shows how the separation between the worlds of animal and human is not so clearly demarcated as most might expect when it comes to sexual desire. Several instances of human/animal erôs in the NA receive in fact some of the most elaborate narrative treatments in the whole of the collection (2.6, 3.46, 6.15, 6.17, 6.42, 6.44). Not easily schematized, such human/ animal erôs can be either problematic or idealized, physical or spiritual, symmetrical or otherwise. This chapter examines this ambiguity of the erotic emotion in three aspects. First, Smith explores how episodes of explicit sexual behaviour are broadly conceived in negative terms within the NA. Next, (p.12) some human/animal romances are considered in which erôs (or, more precisely, anterôs) is instead idealized. Finally, an analysis is offered of various erotic narratives involving the boy Nerites; this passage is revealed as Aelian’s most intricate attempt to describe through myth the ambiguous nature of erôs, and it demonstrates most subtly the analytical sophistication he requires from his readers. For Aelian, the difference between animal and human in the erotic realm resides in the style in which one responds to erôs. Aelian appears to uphold the classical Platonic paradigm of a chaste, heavenly erôs, yet his allusive prose offers the reader opportunities to peek behind that façade, teasing us with alternative possibilities. This ludic quality of the discussion of human and animal with respect to erôs closes the Part re-proposing, under a different light, the themes with which Konstan opened the collection: the nature of the erotic emotion and its relationship to human faculties.

Page 4 of 4

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs?

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? David Konstan

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0002

Abstract and Keywords This chapter investigates the Greek notion of erôs, and more particularly, its psychological status: whether it is an instinctive urge, an emotion that requires some measure of reason, or something in between. To answer this question, Konstan considers whether and to what extent the Greeks ascribed erôs to animals: since animals were generally considered to lack logos, or “reason” in the fully human sense, this is a good test of the status of erôs – whether simply an appetite or a more sophisticated sentiment involving judgment. Keywords:   erôs, love, desire, animal instinct, emotion

The question I wish to pose is: what is erôs? Of course, we know a great deal about erôs, thanks to the contributions of numerous scholars. We know its symptoms, for example: dry tongue, a hot flame in the marrow, ringing ears, clouded vision. Sappho’s description of the syndrome, which is that of erôs, not of jealousy, set the pattern for all of Greek and Latin literature.1 We know too, in a general way, what stimulates it: it is beauty, which is perceived through the eyes; as Aristotle says, the beginning of erôs (more precisely, to eran) is the pleasure that comes through sight (opsis: Eth. Nic. 1167a3–4; cf. 1171b29–31).2 The subject of erôs is generally conceived of as being adult males, especially in Classical literature, though women too can experience it. Its object is, typically, either women and girls, or young men—indeed, when women are represented as afflicted by erôs, it is characteristically inspired by a youth or at least a relatively effeminate or pretty man (like Paris in the Iliad) rather than the tall, dark, and Page 1 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? handsome type.3 Erôs is frequently perceived to be dangerous, since it is intense and tends to excess (Pl. Leg. 837a6–9), and it is often represented as transgressive, insofar as it tends to fixate on an object without regard for law or custom, for example on foreigners ineligible for marriage, as so often in New Comedy, or incestuously on members of one’s own family.4 All this is true, or largely true (exceptions abound), and well (p.14) known. But what is erôs? What I mean is: is it a kind of reproductive drive, like the urge for sex? Is it an appetite, like that for food? Is it instinctive? Or is it rather an emotion, like Aristotle’s pathê, and characteristic specifically of human beings—and if this is the case, why so? What is it that prevents other animals from experiencing erôs, if indeed they are incapable of it, according to ancient Greek conceptions of this passion?5 Classical Greek has a rich variety of words that may be translated as ‘love’, ranging from ta aphrodisia (well, ‘love’ in a limited sense, perhaps), to epithumia, himeros, pothos, storgê, philia, and erôs, and no doubt others that I have failed to mention (agapê is post-Classical, though the verb agapan is early). Although these terms are not always interchangeable, their meaning often depends on the context, and two or more of them may be treated as equivalent. Thus, at one point in Plato’s Lysis, Socrates affirms that ‘erôs and philia and epithumia are for [or aim at] what is their own’ (221e3–4), clearly taking all three as broadly synonymous.6 Now, Plato has a peculiar view of erôs, and in my view he is here preparing the ground for the analysis of erôs as a kind of transcendent desire that he will develop in the Symposium.7 But if we cannot trust Plato’s account—and his is the most profound and extensive treatment of this passion—where shall we turn in order to gain some insight into the specific nature of erôs? Aristotle has very little to say about erôs.8 Epicurus thought that the wise man would not fall in love (erasthêsesthai) and that sex (sunousia) never did anyone any good (Diog. Laert. 10.118 = frr. 574 and 62 Usener); and while the early Stoics seemed to approve of it as a basis for civic solidarity (Ath. 561c = SVF i. 263), we have only tantalizing fragments of (p.15) their analyses. Zeno, for instance, held (according to Diog. Laert. 7.113) that it was a desire that did not pertain to serious or virtuous people (spoudaioi), and defined it as an ‘effort at making friends [philopoiia] on account of visible beauty’. The Stoic Andronicus, in his Peri pathôn, lists erôs as a pathos under the category of epithumia or ‘desire’, and offers three different definitions of it: ‘(1) it is a desire for bodily intercourse; (2) it is a desire for philia; and (3) it is a service for the gods aiming at the embellishment of youths, which they call an effort at making friends on account of visible beauty’ (Andronicus also rather pedantically defines himeros as ‘a desire for the company of an absent friend’, and pothos as ‘an erotic [kata erôta] desire for one who is absent’). The first definition might apply to animals, though the second and certainly the third would seem to be human sentiments. But none of this, I think, is especially helpful in providing us with a

Page 2 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? clear understanding of the standing of erôs as a psychological faculty— assuming, of course, that the Greeks conceived of it as such, even implicitly.9 One of the ways of getting at the mental world of the Greeks is to enquire, as I intimated above, whether or not they thought of certain traits or qualities as pertaining uniquely to human beings, or as shared between human beings and other animals. In the case that animals have no part in them, one may go on to consider the reasons why. Now, things are never so simple when it comes to psychological categories. We may take the example of philia as a case in point. As a kind of affection based on regard for another’s virtue, which Aristotle and others deemed the highest form of friendship (Eth. Nic. 8.3, 1156b6–11; cf. Cic. Amic. 6.20 on friendship as ‘the agreement over all things divine and human along with good will and affection’), or even as based on the lower motives of pleasure or utility, philia would appear to be a specifically human capacity. And yet many texts do speak of animals having philia, among other things, for their young. I believe that we can account for this apparent inconsistency, and will return to this shortly, when I attempt to situate erôs in relation to philia and other terms of affection and desire, in particular epithumia. But first, I wish to illustrate a similar discrepancy in the uses of erôs itself. Consider, then, this passage from Aristotle’s History of Animals 8.48.631a8–11: ‘Of sea creatures, numerous indications are reported concerning the gentleness and tameness of dolphins, and in particular their erôtes and epithumiai towards boys, in the area around Tarentum and Caria and other locales.’10 The pairing of erôs and epithumia here is telltale. Aristotle goes on to relate (p.16) how a bunch of dolphins once gathered in a harbour where one of their number had been caught and injured, and waited until the fisherman released it, along with other tales of mutual assistance; but these latter stories, though interesting, are not about erôs. The dolphin continues to feature as a lover of youths in later literature.11 Thus, Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (9.24), records that in the time of Augustus’ principate, a dolphin ‘loved with an extraordinary love’ (miro amore dilexit) a boy who regularly fed him, and it carried the boy to school on his back; Pliny invokes the names of several writers who vouch for the truth of the story. The word diligere, however, suggests a familial kind of affection rather than an erotic passion, and since the Latin amor is ambiguous in respect to the Greek, which distinguishes between erôs, storgê (designating principally parental fondness), and philia, the import of the passage for our purposes is unclear.12 Aulus Gellius (6.8) provides firmer evidence in identifying dolphins as ‘loving and passionate’ (venerios et amasios), and records tales of how they loved (amaverunt) handsome boys they had seen and ‘were ablaze for them in wonderful and human ways’ (miris et humanis modis arserunt); he cites a certain Apion, a Greek writer, who witnessed a dolphin aflutter with pothoi for a boy. Aelian, writing in Greek, leaves no room for doubt about the erôs a dolphin experienced for a handsome boy long ago in Iasos (he also describes the passion as philia ischura or ‘strong philia’), and he mentions a second famous instance of Page 3 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? such a passion on the part of a dolphin in Alexandria (NA 6.15; cf. 2.6).13 Plutarch (De soll. an. 36.984E), referring to the same episode in Iasos, is more cautious, affirming that ‘the goodwill [eunoia] and affection [philia] on the part of the dolphin towards the boy from Iasos seemed like erôs because of their intensity [di’ huperbolên]’. Similarly, Xenophon, in his treatise on hunting, speaks of certain tracking dogs as being motivated by to philanthrôpon (3.9; cf. 6.25), and Arrian (Cyn. 5.2) says that the Celtic species is philanthrôpotatê, and he describes a friend’s dog as sharing his table and greeting him on his return by pressing his lips against his master’s as though kissing him (hôs philousa, 5.5; for a dog’s exceptional affection, cf. 9.1).14 There are also reports of elephants (Plin. HN 8.13), geese (Plin. HN 10.51; Plut. De soll. an. 18.972F: paiderastounta; Ael. NA 5.29: êrasthêsan), rams (Plut. De soll. an. 18.972F: epithumêsanta, for a female cithara player; Ael. NA 5.29: êrasthêsan), dogs, birds, and even snakes (Ael. NA 8.11: êrasthênai) in (p.17) love. As Aelian says (NA 8.11), ‘If a ram could be smitten (hêttêto) by Glauce the cithara player, and a dolphin by the youth in Iasos, what prevents a snake from being in love [erasthênai] with a pretty shepherd?’ Far be it from me to stand in the way of reptilian passion, but several things stand out in these reports. First, with one possible exception (Ael. NA 4.56: a seal in love with an ugly spongediver), the tales are all of male animals enamoured either of women or of boys. Second, while the writers make an effort, as Craig Williams has observed (in a personal communication to me), to lend credence to these stories by citing sources and localizing the incidents, they are clearly exceptional cases, in which, if not per impossibile then at least mirabile dictu, an animal has experienced a kind of passion that is normally associated exclusively with human beings. Third, in no case, I believe, is a sexual relationship insinuated between the beast and the human being—and just as well, not least in the case of the elephant; rather, all are presented as instances of faithful devotion. Indeed, Plutarch, in an essay which, to be sure, has a markedly comic tone, puts into the mouth of a speaking pig the following claim (Bruta animalia ratione uti 990F–91A): Men have copulated with she-goats, sows, and mares, and women have run mad after male beasts; and from such copulations sprang the Minotaurs and Silvans, and, as I am apt to believe, the Sphinxes and Centaurs. It is true that sometimes, constrained by hunger, a dog or a bird has fed upon human flesh, but never yet did any beast attempt to couple with human kind: but men constrain and force the beasts to these and many other unlawful pleasures.15 And fourth, these are all cross-species enamourments: I have not yet discovered a case of an animal in love with a young male of its own race.16

Page 4 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? There are testimonies, however, to male and female animals being attracted to each other erotically for the sake of reproduction. Oppian, in the Halieutica (4.10–12), apostrophizes the god: ‘Wicked Eros, crafty of counsel, of all gods fairest to the eyes, most painful when you descend unexpected and vex the heart.’17 Oppian goes on to enumerate the effects of erôs in the form of tears, an inflamed heart, pallor, and a mind driven to madness, and affirms that not just gods and mortals, but all the beasts of the earth, air, and sea feel its (p.18) power.18 But this passion is directed entirely towards procreation. It is a stinging urge, like the oistros or gadfly (cf. 1.497–501). Similar in spirit is the proem to the De rerum natura, where Lucretius affirms that, thanks to the power of Venus, ‘every race of animals is conceived and emerges to see the light of the sun’ (1.4–5); herd animals are driven to swim raging rivers in order to propagate. Even the earth feels her effect and pushes forth flowers, and the sea is calmed (1.7–9). Just this extension of love’s influence from animals to nature itself, however, reveals the provenance of the conceit: we can trace it back to Plato’s Symposium, in which Eryximachus affirms that erôs has a double character: ‘It is not only in the souls of human beings and directed towards those who are beautiful, but also towards many other things and in other things: it is in the bodies of all animals and in the things that grow in the earth, and in a word, in all the things that are’ (186a). This cosmic sense of erôs is picked up again by Diotima, who asks Socrates: ‘What is the reason, do you suppose, for this erôs and epithumia? Don’t you see how fierce all animals are when they desire to procreate, whether hooved or winged, and how they are all sick and erotically disposed, first to have intercourse with each other, then for the care of their offspring?’ (207a–b). Diotima explains that the reason for this passion is the longing for immortality, which is achieved through reproduction. In Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe (2.7.1–4) the herdsman Philetas tells the young couple that ‘Eros is a god, young and handsome and winged’, who ‘rules the elements, rules the stars, rules gods like himself…All flowers are the product of Eros, these plants are his creation, thanks to him rivers flow and winds blow. I have seen a bull in love [erasthenta], bellowing as though stricken by a gadfly, and a billygoat loving [philêsanta] a nanny and following her everywhere. I myself, when I was young, was in love [êrasthên] with Amaryllis.’19 This kind of attraction, characteristic of animals in heat, is more like an elementary sexual drive: it is equated naturally enough with epithumia, which belongs as much to animals as to human beings, since, according to Plato, it is located in the body (Pl. Phd. 66c, 81b; Cra. 404a); hunger and thirst are varieties of epithumia (Phlb. 34e; Lysis 221a; Arist. De an. 414b12). As Aristotle puts it: ‘In the rational part of the soul there is wishing [boulêsis], and in the non-rational epithumia and thumos’ (De an. 432b5–6; cf. Gen. an. 717a24, 774a5–6; Hist. an. 571b8–10, 581b21; Part. an. 661a6–8). Epithumia has more or less the same meaning as the English ‘desire’: it is any form of appetition, and while in human beings it may aim at higher or more abstract things (honour or money), we share Page 5 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? with animals the more basic urges which (p.19) also come under the heading of epithumia. Yet Philetas’ passion for Amaryllis is not simply reducible to epithumia: he is in love with her, and while in one sense elevating erôs to the level of a cosmic or universal force may be thought to ennoble it, it also turns it into something so elemental as to deprive it of any personal dimension. Philetas is enamoured of Amaryllis; he is not driven by an indiscriminate urge to breed children. In the fragmentary romance Parthenope and Metiochus, Metiochus (it seems) offers a definition of erôs as ‘a motion [or disturbance: kinêma] of thought [dianoia] that occurs because of beauty and increases with familiarity [sunêtheia]’.20 The factor of dianoia, ‘thought’, distinguishes erôs from instinctive behaviour, such as a mating urge. In this respect, it seems more like a pathos as Aristotle defines the term in the Rhetoric (2.1, 1378a20–3), that is, a reaction, generally to the behaviour of others, that is accompanied by pain and pleasure and has the effect of altering our judgements or kriseis, and in turn, as is clear from Aristotle’s descriptions of particular emotions, involving a substantial cognitive component.21 Surely this is a characteristically human kind of response. The effect of erôs on judgement, indeed, is a commonplace of ancient amatory discourse: one need only think of Lucretius’ ironic diatribe at the end of book 4 of De rerum natura, in which he satirizes the tendency of lovers to exalt as virtues the defects of the beloved: One man derides another and advises him to appease Venus because he is cursed with a vile passion, often failing to see, poor fool, that his own plight is far worse. To such men a swarthy skin is ‘honey-gold’, a slovenly slut ‘beauty unadorned’, the gray-eyed ‘a miniature Athena’, a wiry and woody wench ‘a gazelle’, a dumpy and dwarfish ‘one of the Graces, the quintessence of all charms’, etc. (4.1157–62)22 No animal other than human beings is capable of making such mistakes of judgement. Perhaps relevant here is a Hellenistic epigram, ascribed to Alcaeus, in which the poet declares (Anth. Pal. 5.10): ‘I detest Eros. For why doesn’t he attack wild animals, if he is so grievous, but rather fires his arrows at my heart?’ (cf. Anth. Pal. 7.703, by Myrinus, where the danger is that Eros himself will be prey to wild animals). Aristotle does not include erôs among the pathê that he analyses in the Rhetoric, I expect because he was uncertain whether it could be properly classified as one, although it may be that it was not one of the passions that an orator frequently sought to arouse or quell. If one were to manipulate a jury by stimulating an erotic response, perhaps the best technique was simply to exhibit a beautiful woman, and thereby appeal directly to the eyes rather than indirectly, by way of narrative: such was, apparently, the strategy of Hyperides, (p.20) when he bared the breast of the courtesan Phryne while arguing in her Page 6 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? defence.23 But even if it is the case that erôs is elicited principally by the sight of beauty, as ancient authorities agree, it may still be viewed as analogous, at least, to philia or love, which Aristotle did treat as a pathos in the Rhetoric. In the Rhetoric, Aristotle defines philia, or rather to philein, as follows: ‘Let to philein be wishing for someone the things that he deems [oietai] good, for the sake of that person and not oneself, and the accomplishment of these things to the best of one’s ability.’ Cope (1877, 2.42) renders the phrase as ‘whatever we think good’, but it is more natural, I think, to take the syntax as I have done; it is also more in the spirit of love or friendship, in which the values of the other are respected. But either way, love or loving involves some understanding of what the good is; and this endows it with that intellectual quality or dianoia that is characteristic of the emotions or pathê generally, as Aristotle conceives them. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle defines philia as follows: They say that one must wish good things for a friend for his sake, and they call those who wish good things in this way well-disposed [eunous], even if the same does not arise on the part of the other; for good will in those who feel it mutually is philia. We must add that it must not escape notice, for many are well-disposed toward people they have not seen, but believe that they are decent and worthy, and one of them might feel the same thing toward him…It is necessary, then, that they be well-disposed toward one another and wish good things, not escaping [the other’s] notice, in regard to some one of the abovementioned kinds [i.e. usefulness, pleasure, or goodness]. (Eth. Nic. 8.2, 1155b31–56a5) This two-way relation is what we call friendship, and here again, this two-way philia, which corresponds to the English ‘friendship’, involves a significant cognitive element: one must have beliefs about another that give rise to and justify the positive disposition, and must also be conscious of the other’s attitude towards oneself. The fact that erôs arises not from an awareness of the other’s virtues, nor again the pleasure or utility that derives from him or her, but from a more direct kind of perception or aisthêsis does not necessarily disqualify it for membership in the class of pathê. Aristotle admits, after all, of other bases for affection than the three principal ones he discusses in his treatment of friendship in book 8 of the Nicomachean Ethics, that is, virtue, pleasure, and utility. To take one example, he allows that philia arises as a result of kinship or sungeneia. Just how aisthêsis may have worked to arouse erôs is not clear, but if it is to be unique to human beings, it will be necessary to identify something beyond mere perception or sensation as its basis, since aisthêsis is a faculty common to animals and mankind. Plutarch, in his treatise De soll. an. (961A), cites Strato, a disciple of Aristotle, for the view that aisthêsis is impossible (p.21) without intelligence (tou noein), a view adopted by Plutarch, via his interlocutors, in this dialogue: animals have a share in dianoia and logismos (960A).24 Aristotle too allowed that Page 7 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? animals possess a certain degree of phronêsis (cf. Hist. an. 9.5, on deer), which is not necessarily inconsistent with the description of them as alogon; but I shall not pursue further here the issue of animal reason.25 Merely assimilating erôs to philia, however, will not advance our analysis very far, since Aristotle and other authorities often ascribe philia to animals. Take this passage from Gen. an. (3.2, 753a7–14):26 Nature seems to wish to implant in animals a sense of care [aisthêsis epimelêtikê] for their young: in the inferior animals this lasts only to the moment of giving birth; in others it continues till they are perfect; in all that are more intelligent [phronimôtera], during the bringing up of the young also. In those which have the greatest portion in intelligence [tois malista koinônois phronêseôs] we find familiarity [sunêtheia] and love [philia] shown also towards the young when perfected, as with men and some quadrupeds. So too, Aristotle remarks that horses are by nature most philostorgon (Hist. an. 9.4, 611a10–12), since they will even nurse the offspring of another mare, should one die. Oppian (Halieutika 1.473–6) describes how, ‘in spring, there is the sweet gadfly of inescapable Aphrodite, and marriages flourish and loves [philotêtes] for one another among all creatures, as many as circulate upon the (p.22) lifegiving earth or the recesses of the sky or in the roaring sea’ (my trans.). In the Republic (375e), Plato famously describes how the character (êthos) of noble dogs is naturally (phusei) disposed to being gentle towards those whom they know, and the reverse towards strangers, and he jokingly alleges that this is a sign of their native philosophical temperament. Plutarch, in his treatise On love for offspring, argues that philosophers appeal to the example of animals when they disagree on human matters, since animals preserve their nature unmixed and uncontaminated: for ‘irrational animals follow nature more than rational ones’ (493C). He calls in witness the behaviour of animals in regard to marriage and sex, noting that they have intercourse only for the purpose of procreation, and insists above all on their tendance of their young, providing several illustrations, including the fact that dogs and snakes will flee danger to themselves, but fight to protect their offspring (494F). The term of art that Plutarch, like Aristotle, employs is to philostorgon, a word that specifically designates affection for one’s young, but he also applies the verb philein to animals, by analogy with human beings (495A). I believe that the apparent contradiction in accounts of philia, by which it is on the one hand a form of friendship specific to human beings and on the other a capacity shared by other animals as well, may be explained by positing two forms of philia. Shortly after giving the definition of philia cited above, Aristotle

Page 8 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? takes up the question of whether philia resides more in loving than in being loved, and he defends the former option with the following illustration: Some [mothers] give out their own children to be raised, and they love [philousi] and know them, but they do not seek to be loved in return [antiphileisthai], if both [loving and being loved] are not possible; but it seems to them to suffice if they see them [i.e. their children] doing well, and they love them even if they, as a result of their ignorance, provide in return none of the things that are due a mother. (Eth. Nic. 8, 1159a28–33) This case of maternal love would seem not to fit the earlier definition of philia as a reciprocal relation, and Aspasius, the earliest surviving Greek commentator on Aristotle, sought to resolve the puzzle as follows: [Aristotle] has assumed not philia, but rather philêsis [the feeling of love]. For philia is in those who love mutually [antiphilein]. But nevertheless the [love] of parents for their children is a trace of philia. I say ‘a trace’, because sometimes sons do not love in return. But it strongly resembles philia, because parents wish good things for their sons for their sakes. (179.28–180.5 Heylbut) I had at one time suggested that Aspasius had failed to notice that Aristotle’s definition pertained to philia in the sense of ‘friendship’, that is, a mutual relationship between friends or philoi, whereas in the example of maternal philia he was using the term in the broader sense of love per se, without the (p.23) requirement of reciprocity.27 And indeed, the Greek term philia is ambiguous in this respect, and Aspasius was, I think, being too finicky. Yet I now think that there may be a different solution. For Aristotle affirms at the very beginning of his analysis of philia: [Philia] seems to inhere naturally [phusei] in a parent [tôi gennêsanti] toward a child [to gegennêmenon], not only among human beings but also among birds and most animals, and also in those of the same species [homoethnesi] toward one another, and this above all in human beings. This is why we praise those who are friendly toward all [philanthrôpous]. One may see when travelling how every human being is related [oikeion] and dear [philon] to every other. (Eth. Nic. 8.1, 1155a16–22) This naturally inhering parental love, which pertains to animals as well as to human beings, is evidently different from the philia that obtains among friends, not so much because it is not reciprocal—in fact, here Aristotle indicates that it is felt by both parents and offspring—but because it is not based on an appraisal of the virtue, utility, or even pleasure that derives from the other, as anyone who has had a colicky baby will confirm. Aristotle is speaking here of an innate affection, a sense that phusei often bears, that does not require reason. The case is similar to what Aristotle calls natural (phusikê) virtue versus virtue proper Page 9 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? (kuria): all people have something like the several virtuous characters (êthê) from birth, that is, they are just, moderate, brave, and the rest, but not in the strict sense (kuriôs); for these natural dispositions (phusikai hexeis) inhere in children and animals as well, and yet these may be harmful since they act mindlessly (1144b1–12). So too Cicero affirms (Fin. 3.62) that, according to the Stoics, children are naturally loved by their parents, and he compares this instinctive response to the natural avoidance of pain.28 There are, as I indicated earlier, some texts that do ascribe erôs to animals, and not just as extraordinary examples of animal behaviour, as in the cases of dolphins and other creatures enamoured of human beings, nor again solely as manifestations of a cosmic principle of attraction that governs all of nature. These examples might be explained, or explained away, by arguing that erôs too, like philia, has two senses, one natural or instinctive, the other specifically human. Yet I do not believe that this move is necessary, and, as a consequence, we can continue to regard erôs, or being in love, as properly a human passion. Take the following passage from Menander Rhetor (third century CE), in which he gives an illustration of how to write an epithalamium: ‘Marriage subdues to his rite even the savage and horribly roaring lion, and yokes him to the law of Aphrodite; he does the same to wild leopards and all such beasts’ (402.4–7).29 But Menander goes on to affirm that trees too ‘are not (p.24) without their part in marriage’, and he recommends that the orator also show how the river Alpheus is in love with (erâi) the spring Arethusa, ‘like a passionate bridegroom’ (numphios erôtikos, 401.31), and he gives other examples from nature. So too, the fourth-century orator Himerius, who served as secretary to the emperor Julian, affirms in his epithalamium to Severus (9.85–92): ‘Marriage has rendered plants unto plants, and rivers to springs, and hail and rain to the earth, and the Nile to Egypt, and in a word all that is masculine in nature to that which is feminine’ (my trans.). In the novel by Achilles Tatius, Satyrus enquires: ‘Is Eros so powerful that he makes his fire felt even by the birds?’ To which Clitopho replies: ‘You are wrong to say, “even by the birds”, but say rather, “even by reptiles and plants”, and if you ask my opinion, even by the stones.’ He goes on to describe how palm trees are particularly moved by erôs, then adds the example of Alpheus and Arethusa, and finally declares: ‘There is among reptiles another sacred mystery of love [erôtos mustêrion]’, in which the viper, though a land snake, lusts (oistrei) for the eel (Achilles Tatius 1.17.1–18.3).30 In all these cases, erôs is indeed treated as a universal power, but it is harnessed to the ideal of marriage. Instead of reducing human erôs to a natural force, as Plato does in the Symposium, nature is treated as anthropomorphic, and the passion that binds plants and animals is analogized to the human institution of wedlock. I have argued elsewhere that the novels introduced, or are representative of, a new conception of marriage based on mutual erôs between a man and a woman.31 We can see this notion at work already in Musonius Rufus, who, in the Page 10 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? first century CE, sought to vindicate marriage within the context of Stoic doctrine: That marriage is a great thing and worthy of serious effort is clear from the following—for great gods are in charge of it, according to what is believed among human beings: first Hera, and for this reason we address her as ‘protectress of marriage’ [zugia]; then Eros, and next Aphrodite: for we suppose that all these perform the function of bringing husband and wife together for the procreation of children. For where would Eros more justly be present than in the lawful association of husband and wife? Where Hera? Where Aphrodite? When could one more opportunely pray to these gods than when entering upon marriage? What might we more properly call ‘the work of Aphrodite’ [ergon aphrodision] than the union of a married woman with him who married her? Why then would one say that such great gods superintend and are in (p.25) charge of marriage and procreation, but that these things were not suitable for a human being?32 All of nature may be subject to erôs, but the object of these disquisitions is to affirm the value of a specifically human practice, and the ‘marriages’ that are ascribed to animals, plants, and even rivers are manifestly figurative.33 What, then, was erôs? I believe that, throughout antiquity, it was conceived of as a peculiarly human passion, much like ‘being in love’ or infatuation is today. We love our children, for example, but do not normally speak of being in love with them. What is more, it is often supposed that animals such as dogs are capable of love, whether maternal love or affection for their masters, but we do not typically think of dogs as being in love or infatuated with one another. Being in love is also distinct from a mere sexual drive, though it is often supposed that it includes some sexual component. Here again, we ascribe sexual drives to many creatures, including human beings, without supposing that this necessarily implies either love or being in love. If erôs has its source in perception, which is common to mankind and other animals, it nevertheless involves elements of belief, and hence possibilities of error or misinterpretation, that are specific to human beings. Just how to define the psychological status of this complex passion remains a challenge, but I hope to have shed some light on the nature of the problem by this brief account of why it would be wrong to suppose that it was normally ascribed to animals in ancient Greece. (p.26) Notes:

(1) On Sappho 31, see Furley (2000); Konstan (2006) 240–1; D’Angour (this volume). On the symptoms of lovesickness, Nisbet and Hubbard (1970) 173 on Hor. Ode 1.13.5. (2) On sight, cf. Pind. fr. 123.10–12 S-M; Eur. Tro. 891–2 and Hipp. 27–8; Gorg. Hel. 15–18; Pl. Phdr. 251b–c. There are numerous examples in the Greek Page 11 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? Anthology; see also Heliod. Aeth. 2.25.1, 7.7.5. More generally, see Bartsch (2006) 67–83. (3) See Konstan (2002). (4) On the negative aspects of erôs, see especially Thornton (1997), though Thornton’s claim that erôs signifies ‘sexual attraction’ rather than ‘love’ misrepresents the complex nature of the sentiment. (5) Erôs is often described as an enigmatic passion, but this is usually because of its contradictory effects, symbolized by the deity’s nature; thus a character in Alexis’ Phaedrus (fr. 247 PCG) intones: ‘As I was coming from the Peiraeus, it occurred to me to philosophize about my troubles and confusion. They seem ignorant to me, in short, these artists of Eros, when they make images of this god. It’s neither female nor male, nor again god or human, neither stupid nor wise, but put together from everywhere, supporting many forms in one shape. It has the courage of a man, but a woman’s timidity, the confusion of madness, but the logic of sense, a beast’s violence, but the endurance of steel, and a divine pride. And these things—by Athena and the gods! I don’t know exactly what it is, but nonetheless it’s something like this, and I’m close to naming it’ (trans. Rusten (2011) 553). (6) On the conflation of these different terms for affection cf. Cummins (1981); D. Robinson (1986) 74–5. Note Stob. 2.66, who cites the Stoics for the view that ‘erôs is not epithumia nor any passion for a base action’. For erôs as a pathos of the soul, as opposed to the body, see, e.g., Heliod. Aeth. 4.7.5–7, with a parody of medical language. (7) On Plato’s peculiar treatment of erôs, especially in the Phdr., and the way it partially overlaps with conventional views (and so renders his own conception more plausible), see Cairns (this volume). (8) In Top. 146a9–10, Aristotle argues that erôs cannot simply be a desire for sexual intercourse, for ‘a person who feels more erôs does not necessarily desire intercourse more’; but this is a negative definition. In An. Pr. 68b4, Aristotle affirms that ‘erôs pertains more to philia than to intercourse’. Note however the equation of erôs with epithumia at Arist. Rh. 2.7, 1385a21–4 and 2.19, 1392a22– 3. (9) See Gill (this volume) for further discussion of Stoic definitions (e.g. at Diog. Laert. 7.129–30), and on the sympathetic Stoic attitude towards sex (e.g. Stob. 2.115); on erôs as a pederastic bond that favours solidarity in the community of the wise, see Schofield (1991) 32–46. (10) I am grateful to Mariska Leeunissen and Craig Williams for bringing this passage to my attention. Page 12 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? (11) My special thanks to Craig Williams, who is currently investigating the topic of animals enamoured of human beings and very generously sent me a collection of texts. (12) For storgê in amatory contexts, see Konstan (2010a). (13) On Aelian’s stories about erôs in animals see Smith (this volume). (14) Herrlinger (1930), a study of laments for dead animals in ancient poetry, records a four-verse inscription found in Rome but written in Greek (IG 14.1647 = #40 in Herrlinger’s arrangement) in memory of a hunting dog named Theia: the animal is characterized as bearing goodwill and affection (eunoia, storgê) for its mistress (v. 2; cf. IG 12.2.459 = #43 Herrlinger). (15) On this essay by Plutarch, also entitled Gryllus, see Konstan (2011); also Li Causi (2008) and (2009). (16) Strato has a charming epigram (Anth. Pal. 12.245) in which he affirms that ‘All irrational animals merely screw [binei]. But we rational beings have this over other animals, that we have discovered buggery [pugizein]. Those who are dominated by women, however, have nothing over irrational animals’; the idea is that heterosexual coupling among animals is instinctive, whereas homosexual coupling is a sign of rational affection. At Anth. Pal. 12.238, however, Strato says that male animals derive mutual pleasure from penetrating the other or being penetrated (to dran kai to pathein). Anth. Pal., here and elsehwere in this chapter, is cited according to Beckby (1965–8). (17) Trans. based on Mair (1928), much modified. (18) I am grateful to Phillip Mitsis for this reference. (19) Cf. Soph. fr. 941 Radt, on the many aspects of Aphrodite, who enters fish and four-legged creatures and winged birds; also Eur. fr. 890 Nauck; partially quoted (lines 9–13) in fr. 898a Kannicht (cit. Stob. 1.9.1). (20) See Stephens and Winkler (1994) col. II, lines 60–2. (21) For discussion, see Konstan (2006), esp. ch. 1. (22) Trans. M. F. Smith (2001). (23) Cf. Ath. 13.590d–e; [Plut.] X orat. 849D–E; on the speech, see C. Cooper (1995). (24) Cf. Newmyer (1992) and (2006). Modern researchers are divided on whether to ascribe reason to animals; for an extreme position which nevertheless resembles that of the classical thinkers, cf. Hauser (2009) 44–6: ‘Charles Darwin argued in his 1871 book The Descent of Man that the difference between human Page 13 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? and nonhuman minds is “one of degree and not of kind.” Scholars have long upheld that view, pointing in recent years to genetic evidence showing that we share some 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees. But if our shared genetic heritage can explain the evolutionary origin of the human mind, then why isn’t a chimpanzee writing this essay, or singing back up for the Rolling Stones or making a soufflé? Indeed, mounting evidence indicates that, in contrast to Darwin’s theory of a continuity of mind between humans and other species, a profound gap separates our intellect from the animal kind.’ For discussion and further bibliography on modern approaches, see Sorabji (1993) 208–19; Newmyer (2006) 10–17. (25) See further Konstan (2011). Ganson (2009) argues that according to Pl. Resp. 10.602–3, the non-rational part of the soul is capable of holding beliefs, which can be in contradiction to those entertained by the rational part. These non-rational beliefs consist in ‘uncritical responses to appearances’ (182); but are these really beliefs, even if ‘belief comes in degrees’ (183)? As Ganson notes, ‘In thinking about our non-rational side Plato takes as a model the psychology of animals and small children, who lack the cognitive sophistication required to be aiming at truth and goodness’ (185–6); and he adds: ‘is it at all plausible to ascribe beliefs to a creature that lacks the concept of truth?’ (186). Ganson affirms that ‘sensory appearances of sense-perceptions…have an assertoric character’ (186; cf. 195, etc.), but assertion in the absence of the ability to formulate a proposition seems dubious to me. When Plato speaks of contrary doxai (603d), it is perhaps better to render doxa here as ‘impressions’ or ‘seemings’, by which the non-rational part of the soul can be led. Further bibliography in Ganson. (26) I am again grateful to Mariska Leeunissen for this reference. (27) See Konstan (1997a) 68–71. (28) Cf. Graver (2007) 36; cf. also Xen. Mem. 2.2.5 and 8, and the entire passage 1–14. (29) Trans. Russell and Wilson (1981). (30) Trans. Winkler (1989); I am indebted to Cecilia Nobili for the preceding three examples, which she distributed in the handout to her talk ‘“Similar to Artemis or to the Golden Aphrodite”: Topoi of nuptial poetry and rhetoric in the Greek novel’, delivered on 21 July 2008 at the ICAN IV conference held in Lisbon; her paper will be published in the proceedings of that conference. (31) Konstan (1994). (32) Muson. Diatribe 14; my trans., in Ramelli (2009) 113.

Page 14 of 15

 

Between Appetite and Emotion, or Why Can’t Animals Have Erôs? (33) In Men. Dys., Sostratus professes his passion for the girl he has seen (erô, 302), in justifying himself to her brother, but promises to ‘feel affection for her forever’ (diatelein stergôn, 308–9).

Page 15 of 15

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy Chiara Thumiger

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0003

Abstract and Keywords This chapter analyzes tragic instances in which we can observe an intersection between the erotic emotion as unsettling and disruptive and the broader category of madness, in order to highlight the specifics of erotic mania in this genre. In tragedy erotic passion, whether marital love or illicit sexual desire, tends to be represented as a negative and destructive experience. This is evident in the symmetrical examples of Aeschylus' Supplices and Sophocles' Trachiniae. Conversely, in tragic presentation other monstrous drives are ‘erotized’ and conveyed through reference to a metaphorical, mad erôs, here illustrated by the representation of the bloodthirsty urge to kill in Aeschylus' Agamemnon. The chapter concludes by proposing an interpretation for this one-sided representation of erôs in tragedy in terms of the genre’s interest in a public, rather than private response to crisis and of its concern with the risks posed by strong and uncontrolled emotions. Keywords:   tragedy, violence, madness, metaphor, duplicity

ἐρέω τε δηὖτε κοὐκ ἐρέωκαὶ μαίνομαι κοὐ μαίνομαι I love and I don’t love, I am mad and I am not (Anacreon 428) Everyone can recognize the cliché that superimposes strong emotions and madness. In several modern languages madness and love in particular are

Page 1 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy idiomatically associated, with madness used metaphorically to convey intensification and inability to control oneself. It is thus not surprising to find this largely conventional combination in tragedy. The tragic phenomenology of erôs, with its many points of contact with that of madness (in both symptoms include e.g. sleeplessness, restlessness, pain, obsession, delirium, hallucination and fantasy, and physical distress),1 indeed appropriates pre-existing poetics of the erotic emotion. As Calame points out, ‘from the point of view of the physiology of love the great tragic texts have nothing particularly new to offer’.2 This is true; at closer scrutiny, however, the tragic idiom appears to be re-elaborating the cliché, in order to focus on one side of the erotic experience only, and use erôs as catalyst for wider conflicts and ethical issues, as well as an image for the dangers posed (p.28) to the self by external challenges. The erotic emotion is one of the most codified in tragedy. While others are granted a variety of nuances and outcomes, sexual passion is remarkable for being univocally associated with instances of loss of self, destructiveness and disorder, and systematically implicated with madness. It is precisely this association that makes erôs relevant to tragic action, becoming its own identifying marker in the genre. It is not, however, the madness of unreason and abandonment to passion of lyrical self-confession, but a madness that has catastrophic consequences for the subject and the wider community. I propose that in this instance (like elsewhere) tragedy exploits associations which are traditional in other genres (in particular, lyric poetry) to further its own specific concerns. In tragedy erôs in action appears to be limited to a range of circumstances: mostly female,3 deviant, and located outside the norm or, if within marriage, instantiated as a form of ‘institutionalized violence’ (e.g. in Aeschylus’ Suppliant Women),4 or as a locus of conflict and challenge, not a harmonious establishment (e.g. in Trachiniae, Hippolytus). Sacrifice and what used to be described as a ‘failed rite of passage’ also appear to be among its recurring ciphers: ‘the tragic poets are prone to represent the destinies of girls who fail to achieve their projected marriages’ (as in Iphigenia Aulidensis, or Antigone).5 Contexts for erotic experiences in tragedy (as, of course, in ancient life) can obviously be more varied than this: the possibility of positive erôs is contemplated.6 Erôs can be a positive state of affairs, a positive background the events depart from (as in Alcestis), or aim at returning to (as in Helen). But when erôs is in action, when it determines the central episode in the plot, it is negative and can only lead to misfortune. The negativity is qualified by the mark of madness. The comparison with comedy makes the specificity of tragedy stand out. The distinction in terms of ‘register’ between tragic and comic erôs is overt: the (p. 29) avoidance of realism or explicit sexual references in the former versus a Page 2 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy complacence with bodily detail and scurrility in the latter are most evident. At closer look, however, as Craik puts it, erôs does not appear to be ‘specifically less physical or not-sexual in tragedy’ either, once we allow for the two genres’ different elevation in tone and idiom.7 The crucial difference is rather the more substantial one: ‘in comedy, erotic desire is superficial and unspecific, often directed at some random passing object, consummated, forgotten, ephemeral, enjoyable, uninhibited…; whereas in tragedy erotic passion is specific and in some way festering or damaging—excessive, repressed, unrequited, exclusive, intense, obsessive, lasting.’8

Madness and erôs As we address the erotic emotion starting from its qualification as ‘madness’ we risk complicating matters further. Madness is a tricky concept to define, in ancient as much as in modern cultures. It is both a subjectively perceived phenomenon, and something ascribed to the subject by others—that is, it has to do with the self-conscious experience of the individual, but it is also social and dependent upon external assessment. Madness is to an important degree a matter of ‘roles’ played within a social setting.9 It is medical in nature, a disease, but within the specifics of Greek culture it can be also a religious experience, a mark of excellence, or the execution of a divine punishment:10 the implications of madness are not only negative, but can also be enriching and empowering. (p.30) If madness is a twofold experience, a similar bivalence is found in ancient erôs, as tragedy confirms.11 Aphrodite can bring man ‘the greatest delights and the greatest pains’ (τῃ̑ δ᾿ ᾿Αφροδίτη πόλλ᾿ ἔνεστι ποικίλα· τέρπει τε γὰρ μάλιστα καὶ λυπεῖ βροτούς—Eur. Aeolus fr. 26 Kannicht);12 one wishes himself ‘a love that does not turn me towards folly, or to Cypris’ (μ᾿ ἔρως ἕλοι ποτέ οὐκ εἰς τὸ μῶρον οὐδέ μ᾿ εἰς Κύπριν τρέπων—Eur. Dictys fr. 331 Kannicht); in Eur. Sthenoboea fr. 661 Kannicht there are two types of erôs (22: διπλοῖ γὰρ ἔρωτες), one ‘most inimical, leads to Hades’ (23: ἔχθιστος εἰς Ἅιδην φέρει), and one ‘which leads towards morality and virtue’ (24: εἰς τὸ σῶφρον ἐπ᾿ ἀρετήν).13 On the positive side, erôs can be linked to self-improvement, it can be a παίδευμα in ‘lovely wisdom’ (σοφίας ἐρατῆς—Eur. unattributed fr. 897 Kannicht); on the negative, it is dangerous to resist as well as to yield to (‘Cypris relents when not admonished at all; if you force her, on the other hand, she usually presses harder, and then generates conflict’—Eur. Dictys fr. 340 Kannicht).14 In sum, the very analogy between erôs and madness is rooted in their irreducible duplicity.15 Nussbaum describes this as a ‘cultural dilemma’: there is a tension visible in the philosophical representation (and arguably in life too) between a good, nurturing, caring erôs and a predatory, debasing, selfish one.16 This duplicity is variously dealt with by ancient philosophers, and reverberates in literature and culture overall. Erôs is necessary to human life; it can be a blessing and a most fulfilling experience, but also negative and impoverishing. So can madness: as Nussbaum maintains, in Plato madness appears to be a Page 3 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy necessary risk to run when undergoing erotic experience as positive, deepreaching, and beneficial to both lovers.17 (p.31) In tragedy only one side of the experience of erôs and madness is allowed to act; there is a selection which concentrates exclusively on madness as negative and destructive (and often a form of punishment: Orestes in the Oresteia, Ajax, Heracles in HF, to give an example from each playwright), and on erôs as danger and failure. A positive potential of madness is never commented on, with the exception of Euripides’ Bacchae—only an apparent exception, arguably, as the positivity of Dionysiac mania is hardly a firm achievement in the drama. Likewise, erotic possession never shows its positive side. We now turn to two textual examples: Aeschylus’ Supplices and Sophocles’ Trachiniae. These are symmetrical in a number of ways. The first foregrounds erôs as an aggressive force, from the point of view of its object—the Danaids— while the second focuses on erôs as an emotion felt by the subjects—Heracles and Deianira. The Aeschylean play presents a tension between maidenhood and marital status, while the second deals with marital (and extramarital) dynamics within an established couple. While in Supplices irrationality and instinct dominate both the moves of the aggressors and the reaction of the prey, in Trachiniae a reflexive, pondered quality characterizes Deianira’s erotic stance. Even though these are two very different types of erôs (and experienced from different viewpoints) in both examples they emerge as a negative force, and are affiliated to madness as cause of annihilation and loss. Most relevantly to our point, in both madness is ‘contagious’ and ‘diffuse’ in its being attributed to different sides of human relationships, and influencing multiple levels of the dramatic events: the pursuer and the pursued, the one who resists and the one who yields, the young and the old, the married and the maiden, and so on. With madness and erôs, warriors are turned into women, the old become young, and the good and strong find their destruction; the boundaries of the self are undermined and the limits of individual agency and responsibility are questioned.

Two types of mad erôs at play: Aeschylus’ Supplices and Sophocles’ Trachiniae We have said that the association between madness and erôs that tragedy offers is a re-elaboration and an exploitation of a poetic cliché, especially that of lyric poetry. This re-elaboration is most notable in the fact that the assimilation of topoi and language of madness to erotic exchanges applies to both predators and victims, and is ultimately objectified in a disastrous outcome. Madness and destruction appear to be inseparable from the action of erôs in the objectivity of facts, as well as in the subjectivity of the individuals involved. (p.32) Aeschylus’ Supplices is unique among surviving tragedies for its focus on the point of view of the object, rather than the subject experiencing the Page 4 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy emotion. The Egyptian suitors remain a mute horde of aggressors, while the attention turns to the fleeing maidens and their horror for the marriage the suitors want to impose on them.18 The aggressive sexual drive on the men’s part is described as a form of madness and loss of control, repeatedly qualified as hubris—impiety, audacity, shamelessness, and the whole range of flaws that communicate lack of measure and denied respect for the gods:19 at 10 (with the suggested reading παράνοιαν); at 107, in the girls’ condemnation of the men’s ‘maddened thoughts’ (107–8: διάνοιαν μαινόλιν κέντρον…ἄφυκτον); at 229, as they are guilty of ‘impious folly’ (ματαίων αἰτίας); at 741, where they are called a ‘mad race’ (μάργον…γένος); at 757–9, ‘maddened beasts’ (περίφρονες δ᾿ ἄγαν ἀνιερῷ μένει μεμαργωμένοι); and at 762–3, ‘wanton, impious beasts’ (ματαίων ἀνοσίων τε κνωδάλων ὀργὰς ἐχόντων). As we noticed above, in the play the characters struck by erôs, the men, are given no voice. Even after their arrival, it is the herald who speaks on their behalf. The catastrophic development is conveyed entirely through the point of view of the preyed-on maidens. Conversely, the madness of the men has nothing to share with the stock erotic mania of lyric poetry; it is not a personal, psychological fact; it is inherent in the type of erôs the genre subscribes to, not a convenient (and conventional) metaphor for the subject perceiving the strong emotion. Moreover, the reluctance of the maidens to accept marriage is also qualified as an insane demand, an ‘urge that blinds the mind’ (in the words of the herald; 851–2: ἴχαρ φρενί…ἄτη): a maddened desire to resist what should not be resisted. Thus, the attribution of madness works both ways, marking the disjuncture between two mutually exclusive worlds and shaping the erotic emotion in the play as objectified force, rather than (p.33) describing, in psychological terms, the loss of self and disorientation that erotic love stirs in conventional representations. The objectified negativity of erôs in action is made to stand out even more when another erôs is mentioned in the play: a divine, gentle one, contemplated as alternative or counterpart to the violence the maidens have to undergo, but that must remain a utopian escape, allowed in their longing and there only. In their ‘spontaneous aversion to marriage’ (9: αὐτογενεῖ φυξανορίᾳ) the virgins repeatedly refer to the loves of Io and Zeus (cf. Supp. 15–17, 40–6, 291–315, 524–37, 575–89, 1062–7).20 The Olympian is repeatedly evoked as model for gentle and righteous sexual contact, through the mythological re-evocation of Io’s fate and the birth of Epaphos, the offspring Zeus engendered through a ‘gentle touch’, a ‘breath’ (ἐφάπτω; cf. 45–6: ἐξ ἐπιπνοίας Ζηνός), not rape or violence. At 85–7 Zeus is invoked as the warden of justice, who ought to protect the women from unwanted marriage; the passage is concluded by a longing for death by hanging, if freedom cannot be granted (154–61), a typical (and sexually allusive, some have argued21) female death. The yearning for protection is Page 5 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy superimposed on what appears to be almost a desire for the god. The maidens see in their own destiny an analogy with the revenge of Hera over her husband’s mistress (161–6), and they identify with Zeus’ lover and her own rights. This tension culminates in the virgins’ longing for flight and annihilation, later on (779–83), for becoming ‘similar to the clouds of Zeus’, by dissolving in black smoke—an obvious image of death, but also a yearning for the higher dimension that is presided over by the god. Below, at 792–4, they repeat, ‘if only I could have a seat in the heavens, up above, where snow is produced by the moist clouds’, again an image pervaded by a desire for Zeus: there is an allusion to the impregnating power of Zeus’ rain, the mythological topos most overtly expressed in Danae’s myth.22 As Zeitlin explored, the language used by the maiden to address the god is, on the whole, sexually charged;23 as suggestive is the insistence on the loves between the god and Io, somehow misplaced in the mouths of a group of virgins. The instantiation of positive, placid erôs is only an escapist fantasy, which makes even more evident how the only erôs possible (and unavoidable) in the play is negative, marked by violence, oppression, chasing, and fear. So much so that this erôs further becomes the catalyst for different clashes: that between barbarian and Greek, brute force and democratic deliberation (embodied by Pelasgus), respect for the gods and impious violation of a group of suppliants.24 Symbolic in this sense is the journey of the Egyptians towards Argo, (p.34) a move of aggression and cultural opposition, where the terminology of nautical technicality and sexual allusion are superimposed. In particular at 713–18, in Danaos’ words and with graphic details: ‘I can see the boat. It is unmistakable. I cannot fail to observe the ship’s sailing gear, its side-screens, and the prow which scans the way ahead with eyes, obeying all too well the guiding helm at the very stern of the ship, as if unfriendly to us.’25 In Sophocles’ Trachiniae we find two parallel instances of erôs: erôs as extramarital, centrifugal experience that moved Heracles to the conquest of Oechalia for the sake of Iole, in the antecedents to the drama; and erôs within his marriage to Deianira. In the facts of the play it is not the extramarital, noninstitutionalized emotion that leads to destruction, but the love of Deianira and her unwitting attempt to win back the attention of her husband. Still, deeper similarities emerge between the two.26 Heracles’ passion for Iole is responsible for his deed of arms and the destruction of the city of Oechalia (at 354–5: Ερως δέ νιν μόνος θεῶν θέλξειεν αἰχμάσαι τάδε; and 432–3: κοὐχ ἡ Λύδια πέρσειεν αὐτήν, ἀλλ᾿ ὁ τῆσδ᾿ ἔρως φανείς). What prevails here is loss of control and irrationality: the hero who tamed beasts and endured the labours had to give in to a woman (488–9). Deianira’s erôs, initially, appears exactly antithetical to that of her husband for the young princess: matured through the years, reflective, controlled. All the same, it is this erôs, and not Heracles’ irrational passion, that triggers dramatic catastrophe. At the Page 6 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy end of the play, the consequences will be revealed as equally destructive, almost echoing one another in their outcome. At 1062–3, in his agony, Heracles will lament that ‘a woman, only, has destroyed him’ (here Deianira, not Iole, echoing 488–9: ‘Heracles, who triumphed over everything with the strength of his hands, had to yield entirely to the love of this woman [Iole]’). Deianira’s actions on Heracles are as destructive as his military conquests. In the final scene, the poisoned tunic devours his towering (p.35) body, until he is finally placed on the pyre. The physical dissolution of the hero’s body parallels that of Oechalia given to the flames.27 The foregrounded experience of erôs in the play is that of the older woman. This erôs is not felt in the present tense, as a devouring passion, but as part of the institution of marriage, which has to be safeguarded. Deianira attempts to rationalize and protect her position within the household, admitting to the overpowering influence of erôs and indirectly excusing her husband for what he has done (436–69). Erôs ‘rules even the gods just as he pleases, and he rules me’ (443–4). And, ‘if I blame my husband for being taken by this sickness, I am surely mad, or if I blame this woman’ (445–6: κάρτα μαίνομαι). Again, resistance to erôs is as insane as the abandonment to it—just as in Supplices the maiden’s reluctance was deemed ‘insane’ (851–2). The outcome, however, will be no different from tragic instances in which characters yield to erotic passion. Erôs emerges once again through destruction, no matter how the individual reacts: Deianira is no Medea, and her position and needs are altogether different.28 Deianira’s strategy appears to be a wise and commendable one: as she points out, ‘whoever stands up to Erôs like a boxer is a fool’ (441–2: οὐ καλῶς φρονεῖ); her feelings towards Iole are the furthest from Medea’s hatred for Glauce (at 459–67 Deianira feels pity, equates the younger rival to the many lovers Heracles has had in the past, and has no harsh words for her). Notwithstanding this, Deianira will be ruined and so will all those around her. Signs of madness as a marker of erôs are scattered everywhere. The luxurious hands of the centaur Nexus, and his violent approach to Deianira years ago, are remembered at 562–5 (ματαίαις χερσίν); Heracles’ passion for Iole; finally, the futile rationality itself of the older woman. Even the long description of Heracles’ agony and fury at the end of the play (1046–111) has much to share with the standard phenomenology of erôs (1054–5: βέβρωκε σάρκας, πλεύμονός τ̓ ἀρτηρίας ῥοφεῖ ξυνοικοῦν), the ‘bite’ and the drying out. The analogy is confirmed, as Heracles feels as if pain ‘has turned him into a woman’ (irrational abandonment to erotic passion being typically female in tragedy, as we have seen—1075: θῆλυς ἥυρημαι τάλας). This scene closes the ring with Deianira’s own restless sleep at the onset, when she wondered in her anguish where her husband might be (106–7: ἀδακρύτων βλεφάρων πόθον; 110: τρύχεσθαι)—a perfect illustration of the deadly element within the very institution of marriage: two separate beds, as if were, on which to lie in pain.

Page 7 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy (p.36) Erôs as metaphor Complementary to the negative action of erôs is the use of erôs and cognate terms as metaphor for strong desires or drives, especially with reference to bloody and deviant objects. If erôs is mad and violent, with a semantic reversal madness and violence, we may say, are also erotic in the language of tragedy. Instantiations of erôs as desire (more widely understood) are typical of comedy too. The strong Machtwille (‘will power’) that comic heroes display is often substantiated as a form of erôs,29 in line with the emotional extremism of the genre. In tragedy, ‘metaphorical erôs’ applies in the vast majority of cases to annihilating and deadly drives:30 Medea’s ‘erôs’ to receive the good news from her children, for instance, that the bride is dead, news which will set into motion the second part of her plan, the killing of the children themselves (Med. 976); the erôs for life of Admetus’ father, at Alcestis 715, an excessive, unnatural, and even monstrous attachment to life, which leads him to sacrifice his own son.31 Such metaphorical erôs is developed to a much greater extent in two plays in particular, Agamemnon and Antigone. Here we find an area of superimposition between erôs as paroxysm of uncontrolled feelings and madness that work both ways: not only is the lover ‘mad’—possessed by strong emotions—but the mad, or the wrong, are passionately in love with their wrong object of desire. We will here concentrate on the Agamemnon, where erôs has received less scrutiny than, notably, in the Sophoclean play. The representation of (p.37) Antigone’s stance as an erôs for death has received much attention from scholarship, especially from psychoanalytical quarters; I would like to show, however, that this metaphorical nature of erôs is not unique to Antigone but consonant with general tragic representation.32 In Agamemnon erôs and madness are intermingled, in imagery and in the storyline more widely. There are several ‘wrong’ and deviant forms of erôs: that of Helen and Paris; that of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon; that of Clytemnestra and Aegysthus. Also, deviant erôs becomes the catalyser of other evils at the core of the events, with an eroticization of injustice, frenzy, and crime. This metaphorical, sadistic, and mad erôs is everywhere in the text, marking the reemergence of Agamemnon’s crime against his own daughter and the escalation of Clytemnestra’s revenge; ultimately, this erôs will bring to convergence the hubris of the winning army and the demands of the alastor of the house of Pelops. And so, at 215, in the famous deliberation passage that will lead to the sacrifice of Iphigenia described by the Chorus (211–17), we have the ἐπιθυμεῖν παρθενίου…αἵματος ὀργᾷ περιοργῷ of Agamemnon. His choice becomes, has to become, lust for the sacrifice: ‘to desire the blood of the young maiden with rage beyond rage’.33

Page 8 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy (p.38) The sexualization of the murderous act towards a daughter will be reprised by Clytemnestra later on, after she has avenged precisely that murder. While still holding the knife of the killing, she triumphantly recalls Agamemnon’s death with these words: ‘he forced out his own soul, and he coughed up a sharp spurt of blood and hit me with a black shower of gory dew, at which I rejoiced no less than the growing corn rejoices in the liquid blessing granted by Zeus’ (1389–92). The fertility image of the fecundating rain of Zeus, a common sexual image for marriage union and procreation, is here inverted in the morbid image of fecundation through blood, and the gratification (1391: χαιροῦσαν) of the female which becomes a cry of revenge. Helen’s role in the wider events offers the reverse of this eroticized drive to kill: ‘flower of erôs that bites your heart’ is the oxymoron used by the Chorus to describe the first impression she makes at Troy (743: δεξίθυμον ἔρωτος ἄνθος). Here, again, a tragedian is re-elaborating on a pre-existing cliché, that of dangerous erôs and destructive passion, to describe the (very precise and concrete) menace brought by the woman to Troy and to the life of Greeks and Trojans alike. Helen herself is also equated to an Erinus at 749, ‘a fury who makes brides weep’, i.e. a killer of men and a bringer of emotional and mental turmoil. This violent, metaphorical erôs had appeared before to qualify the action of the Greek army: the Chorus recommends that ‘no desire, erôs, may fall upon the army to plunder what they should not, overcome by the prospect of gain’ (341). A similar bloodthirsty erôs emerges at 1478, the ‘erôs of licking wounds’ of the alastor which drove Clytemnestra’s hand in the killing of her husband (αἱματολοιχός). The connection will be taken up by Sophocles in his Electra at 193–200, where an unqualified ‘passion’ is ‘the killer’ in the Chorus’ description of Agamemnon’s murder (ἔρος ὁ κτένας). It is not clear if this erôs is the passion joining the queen and Aegysthus, or the desire for revenge, metaphorically, or the lust for power that had Iphigenia as its first victim. Sophocles picks on this ambiguity, placing the erôs of the Aeschylean Clytemnestra at the centre of the murder.

Conclusion When emotions provide comfort to tragic misfortune, they do not belong to the sphere of erôs: we find Oedipus’ love for his daughter (OT 1617: τὸ φιλεῖν); the friendship Theseus offers to Heracles (HF 1403: ζεῦγος φίλιον); the compassion towards the dead hero expressed by a former opponent (Ajax 1332–69, and already at 121: ἐποικτίρω). We do not find, instead, the return to the embrace of a lover, or the accomplishment of an erotic desire as the (p.39) soothing solution to the drama.34 In general, reciprocal erotic love is not even a positive aspiration, however hindered by misfortune, in the surviving plays: there are no romantic heroes striving to be united, but only solitary agents left to deal with a

Page 9 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy unilateral, bewildering emotion that threatens the boundaries of their identity and endangers the community. In addition to this, in tragedy the intensification inherent to erôs tends to attract other experiences into its sphere, as we have seen: violent and illegitimate desire, the lust for violence, revenge. This quality of tragic erôs is significant in its own terms: both as reference, and as vehicle of a metaphorical description, erôs in tragedy remains a marker of unbalance and wrongdoing, connected with violence and mental insanity. What are the reasons for this specificity of erotic emotion in tragedy? A first answer is obvious: the events of tragedy are by convention critical and challenging. Tragedy depicts a catastrophe, a downfall, a negative change. Erôs is a force of intensification and extremes, which cannot help but fill the scene; and a focus on an erôs which ends positively would contradict the dramatic requirement of tragedy itself, transforming it, effectively, into a Menandrean comedy. Second, in tragedy strong unmediated emotions are a territory of danger, not of positive characterization. Erôs, as the most powerful of them, is no exception. Tragedy is the locus in which the emotions of the individual are confronted by the requirements of a communal stance—which can be family, or the city, or the group of friends and peers—and exposed in their dangerousness. Solutions are brought by deliberation and debate, not by yielding to emotions, or by a simplistic, romantic ‘following one’s heart’. Of all emotions, erôs is the one which allows the least for rationalizing and taming. It defies debate and resists sublimation or catharsis—not least, because it is inextricably linked to a desire and function of the body. Erôs can only play the part of an interlocutor in opposition to the community, and in tragedy this means the irreducible antagonist to conciliation and compromise. (p.40) This takes us to an even more cogent reason. Erôs has a strong quality of exclusivity and individuality; it is a strictly one-to-one emotion. Likewise, madness is an experience of the subject in isolation. Tragedy gives prominence to the risks of acting out one’s individual desires and responsibilities without contemplating the wider context. It is not emotions in themselves, arguably, which bring danger to the individual (the exclusion of emotions appears to be equally destructive),35 but the dominance of a particular emotion that excludes reflection or compromise, and sets the individual irreparably apart from the rest of the community. Erôs cannot be shared, communicated, compromised, and channelled in diverse, less harmful directions. It is not surprising that it should become the catalyst both of the isolation of the individual from the rest of the community, and of the destructiveness of other paroxysms of self-affirmation.

Page 10 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy While being strictly an experience of the individual, erotic passion also poses a threat to the very boundaries of control and reasoning of the individual. The superimposition with madness points at exactly this. Under the influence of erôs the subject is exposed to the danger of losing itself and the balance in his or her relationship with the world outside. Erotic sickness and mania display very similar phenomenologies, and erôs-determined deaths also share with mania the representation as siege and defeat at the hand of an outside force. Many have noticed how in tragedy personal individuality, in the sense of identity, is idiomatically foregrounded—what Silk called the name.36 Erôs promotes fusion and blurring of identities, and in its negative version, destruction of identity altogether. There is no survivor of erôs, no tragic ἄρτι μανθάνω that can be pronounced by a destroyed lover: erôs destroys ‘the name’,37 the very sense of individual subjectivity. This is an outcome that tragedy could ultimately not accommodate or accept, but counteracted through a unilateral, instrumental, and stylized representation of the erotic emotion. Notes:

I would like to thank the Humboldt Foundation which generously provided funding for my research during the final stages of my work on this chapter and on the whole volume. (1) On tragic imagery of erôs see Durup (1997) 149, who analyses especially the arrow as erotic image in connection with the visual level—representing the ‘aggressive’ gaze of the lover and associated with the idea of ‘sting’ or ‘goad’ (madness too is often qualified as οἶστρος or κέντρον). She also mentions the notion of φάρμακον as cause of an erôs which is a νόσος, explicitly in the case of Heracles and Deianira in Trachiniae, but underlying other metaphorical expressions where erôs is conceived as a liquid philtre (most clearly at Hippolytus 525–7; Ἔρος, ὃ κατ᾿ ὀμμάτων στάζεις πόθον, εἰσάγων γλυκεῖαν ψυχᾶ χάριν). (2) Calame (1999) 141. (3) Calame (1999) 148: ‘the female victims of Aphrodite are all women in the grip of possession.’ In addition Calame (1999) 130–50 proposes a genre-based distinction between the ‘masculine’ and often homosexual erôs of comedy, and the erôs ‘who assails women of tragedy’ (141). Stanford (1983) also notices how erôs seems to affect women more strongly in tragedy. These distinctions of gender need to be taken cautiously—consider Heracles in Trachiniae, discussed below. Perhaps it would be better to say that ‘female’ erôs is characteristic of tragedy as a token for irrationality, danger, excessiveness, and threat to the community, rather than offering a genuine reflection on gendered emotions. (4) Calame (1999) 145. In a significant scene, marriage is ‘mocked’ by a possessed woman, Cassandra, in her parody of a marriage hymn at Trojan Page 11 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy Women (308–41): Cassandra enters in a frenzy (307: μαινάς), and delivers a Bacchic hymenaeus (326) to her own union with Agamemnon, through which she plans to kill him and destroy his family (359–60). On the wedding as subverted ritual in tragedy, see Seaford (1987). See Durup (1997) 152–3 on the connections between gamos and polemos. (5) Calame (1999) 142. (6) e.g. see Kaimio (2002) on examples of female sexual desire within marital erôs in tragedy not necessarily leading to destruction. (7) In Hippolytus, Helen, or Troades sexually explicit images are used; however, the sexual innuendo is less direct than it is in comedy. See Craik (1990) and (1993), esp. 259, 261: symbolisms used include rowing and a variety of double entendres from the nautical domain. Cf. Stanford (1983) 155–6 on sexual images in the Agamemnon, at 1431–47: e.g. at 1435 (‘fire-kindling’, for Aegysthus), 1443 (‘mast rubber’ (ἱστοτρίβης), with reference to Cassandra), and 1446–7 (‘spice for my bed’, for Cassandra). (8) Craik (1993) 253. (9) A view initiated by Foucault’s seminal studies on the use of confinement in Europe from the seventeenth century onwards and his general critique on the concept of ‘insanity’ in his History of Madness (Foucault (2008) ). See B. Simon (1978) chapters 1–2 for an introduction to these topics and their relevance to a study of ancient madness. (10) Three models or discourses can be used to qualify madness, as summarized by Herschkowitz (1998) 1–5. (1) A medical model: madness is a dysfunction of the brain or the nervous system and related chemical balances. (2) A social model: madness is a social construct. (3) A psychoanalytical model: madness is a disturbance rooted in the development of the individual self, intertwined with the experiences of the individual, his or her childhood development, and his or her subconscious drives. (11) Even if romance as such is never at the centre of tragic plots, erotic love is a recurrent dramatic trigger, and reflections of a theoretical kind on the emotion (and the divinities personifying it) are often found. Such gnomic statements are numerous in fragments—not surprisingly since the definition of emotions or the qualification of divine figures generally invites fragmentary survival. Here and below, for the translation of tragic fragments I have used Sommerstein (2008), Lloyd-Jones (1996), and Collard and Cropp (2008). (12) Erôs is opposed to Cypris again in Eur. Theseus fr. 388 Kannicht, where ‘another kind of love amongst mortals’ is envisaged, ‘belonging to a soul which is

Page 12 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy temperate and good’, while it is advisable to leave ‘Cypris well alone’; cf. Hipp. 347–8. (13) Likewise, cf. Eur. Andr. fr. 136 Kannicht, on Eros as capable of inspiring opposite behaviours and effects that can make him ‘honoured by mortals’ (5) or ‘deprived of honours’ (7), and the unattributed fr. 929a Kannicht, where Eros ‘breathes two kinds of breath’ (δισσὰ πνεύματα). Insistence on the duplicity of concepts is typically Greek, of course (compare Hes. Op. 11–12 on the two Erides, etc.). In the case of madness and erôs, however, this trait is made the object of substantial reflection and development. (14) Cf. also Eur. Hipp. Veiled fr. 428 Kannicht and Hipp. 443–6. (15) Evident, of course, in the famous Platonic treatment of erôs as mania: ‘love is a madness…and of madness there are two kinds; one is produced by human infirmity, the other is a divine release of the soul from the yoke of custom and convention…The divine madness is subdivided into four kinds, prophetic, initiatory, poetic, erotic, with the fourth being presided over by Aphrodite and Eros’ (Phaedrus 265a–b). (16) Nussbaum (2002). (17) Nussbaum (2002) 69–73 on erôs and ‘generous madness’. (18) It is true that in the following two plays of the trilogy, Egyptians and Danaids (from what we can reconstruct: see Garvie (1969) 163–97, Johansen and Whittle (1980) i: 23–5, Sommerstein (1996) 141–52 for discussions), a positive erôs is presented, finally leading to the accomplishment, on an individual level, of Aphrodite’s cosmic mission (Danaids fr. 44 Radt, 1–2: ἐρᾷ μὲν ἁγνὸς οὐρανὸς τρῶσαι χθόνα,’ ἔρως δὲ γαῖαν λαμβάνει γάμου τυχεῖν) through the mortal weddings celebrated in the city. Unfortunately, we do not have more than ten lines of the two plays, and we cannot divine the relevance given to the changing subjective viewpoint of the women, as they pass from rejection to acceptance of marital erôs and sexual contact. What appears sure, however, is that the core of the drama must not have been the emotion, the fulfilled ‘falling in love’ of the women, but the ransom of their crime (the killing of their husbands) and their integration within society through marriage (as well as the incorporation of the barbarian element within the Greek polis; on these aspects, see Zeitlin (1992) 203). All these elements were present in embryo in the first play of the trilogy; but erôs (as an aggressive and invasive sexual drive of which the women are mere victims) is the trigger of the action in the first play only, where its impact is destructive and negative. (19) e.g. see 10, 31, 80, 106, 426–7, 487, 750–1, 755–9, 817–18, 831, 880–1.

Page 13 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy (20) See Zeitlin (1992) 248; 230 on the two models of lover opposed, Zeus and the Egyptians. (21) See Loraux (1987) 7–30; Cantarella (1996); Zeitlin (1992) 228 with n. 9 4. (22) The motif is here shifted and almost ‘sanitized’—subconsciously, some would say: the substitution of rain for snow is an example of the mechanisms of condensation typical of dreams. (23) Zeitlin (1992) 227 with n. 85, and 226–31 for the whole treatment. (24) On this, see Zeitlin (1992) 204. (25) Compare Craik (1990) on Troades and its sexual imagery of ships, especially oars and prows (3). Craik does not mention Aeschylus’ Supplices, which seems to me an important model for this sexual symbolism. She describes how ‘the sea has contradictory aspects: anchorage… spelling safety and shelter…; storm and turbulence spelling danger and the risk of death. The motion of ships on the sea is evocative of the sexual act. Ships are ambiguous in that the image may suggest either a female or a male agent: they are hollow receptacles (decks and holds having female connotations) and also thrusting penetrators (oars, prows, and rudders having male connotations).’ In Supplices the pursuing ships are literally connected with the men’s sexual aggressiveness. (26) See Durup (1997) 151–6 on marriage as frequently bearing ‘the signs of war’ in Greek tragedy, and the two often being metaphors for one another (153). On erôs in marriage and madness, see Oedipus and Jocasta’s disgraceful union in Aesch. Sept. (756–7), described thus: ‘a disease that destroys the mind joined the two spouses’ (παράνοια συνᾶγε νυμφίους φρενώλης). There is no paranoia in the strict sense going on here. ‘Madness’ is used, again, to signpost the destructive germ within an exceptional, corrupted marriage—but archetypal of the dangers posed by all marriages and all forms of erôs. (27) See Segal (1977) 109–11. (28) Many might argue that Medea’s and Deianira’s dominating emotion is not erôs, but a form of jealousy combined, in the case of the sorceress, with a reckoning of the rights and status of a lawful wife—see Sanders (this volume). We must look here, however, at erôs as a relationship, not only simply as a subjective emotion: and in this sense, both women act within the sphere of erôs. (29) We have Dicaeopolis’ erôs for peace in Aristophanes’ Acharnians (22–3: εἰρήνης ἐρῶν…τὸν δ᾿ ἐμὸν δῆμον ποθῶν); in Clouds 1303–4 ἐρᾶν is used for Strepsiades’ desire to avoid repaying his debts; in Wasps 89 ἐρᾶν is also used for Philocleon’s love of trials—see Robson (this volume).

Page 14 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy (30) Even the exception to the rule is telling: in Ajax 693 ff., the hero’s crew realize that Ajax has changed his mind, after the deception speech: ‘I shudder with erôs’ (ἔφριξ᾿ ἔρωτι), an intensely charged expression for joy and surprise. D. L. Cairns (forthcoming) describes the expression as conveying ‘joy at Ajax’s apparent salvation, a joy that they hyperbolically describe as the intense, passionate, and sexual emotion of ρως’. This is associated with the god Pan, Cairns notes, which might also explain the intense connotation. The audience knows, however, that this joy will be betrayed by the subsequent facts. The use of φρίσσω, ‘I shudder’, usually connected with negative feelings, betrays the ambiguity of this momentary (and ill-judged) sense of relief, with an oxymoronic effect between the joyous huporchema just started (693–718) and the suicidal aims the hero’s words had subtly evoked, which will be fulfilled. Jebb (1967) 109 ad loc. also remarks on the exceptionality of this use of erôs. An antecedent to this line is Aesch. unattributed fr. 387 Radt, ‘I shudder with erôs at this mystic rite’ (ἔφριξ’ ἔρωτι δὲ τοῦ δε μυστικοῦ τέλους), where the awe at mysteric secrets is being described (a difficult and corrupt text; for a commentary, and also on the suggestion of a possible link between the Aeschylean and the Sophoclean lines, see Radt (1985) 433–4, who prints ἐρῶ δὲ). (31) Fr. 66 Radt from Sophocles’ Acrisius uses ἐράω to make the same point, τοῦ ζῆν γὰρ οὐδεὶς ὡς ὁ γηράσκων ἐρᾷ, ‘no-one loves life so much as he who is growing old’: again, an excessive lust for life in an old person which has potentially deadly consequences, as (we may infer) it leads Acrisius to the exposure of her daughter and grandson. (32) On the interpretation of erôs in this play much has been written over the past decades. The crucial starting point was famously Lacan’s seminar VII— Lacan (1997). For Lacan, Antigone’s erôs is explained in terms of a death drive, an exploration of the ‘limit’ which is the heroine’s real atê. Antigone incarnates desire as desire for death pure and simple. This explains the striking superimposition of madness and erotic imagery in the play, for a character that is surely not erotic in the conventional sense. Antigone is said to be ‘in love with the impossible’ (990); she is anous in her love (99–100); she performs the actions of a moros in desiring death, erasthai (220); thoughtless, empty erôtes are indicated as the consequence of vain hope (615–17). Her fierce passion for her endeavour is qualified in strongly sexualized terms, her drive towards her brother and the duty of burial are passionately desired, with incestuous overtones, as she longs for her brother’s embrace (73–4). This erotic tension (univocal and misplaced) culminates in the famous ode to erôs, just after the death sentence has been sanctioned (781–801). The play closes on a maddened character, Haemon, and his frenzied attack on his father. This is also an eroticized death scene, as the youth dies embracing Antigone, panting and spurting blood onto her cheek, with a grim evocation of the sexual act (1238; compare Ag. 1389–92, and my remarks below). Perhaps one can detect the influence of the Sophoclean take on the two young characters in the line from Page 15 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy the Euripidean Antigone (a play that otherwise, in the agreement of most scholars, ended happily: see Collard and Cropp (2008) 163), on fr. 161 Kannicht: ἤρων· τὸ μαίνεσθαι δ’ ἄρ’ ἦν ἔρως βροτοῖς, ‘I was (or they were?) in love: (and that showed that) erôs is madness for mortals.’ In this play Haemon shared in Antigone’s infraction of Creon’s edict, and their love is identified with their ‘mad crime’. (33) The sexual overtones in the violence towards Iphigenia were noted by Stanford (1983) 129–31 in his comments about the girl’s act of slipping off her robe in an extreme attempt to win mercy before the sacrifice (241). The ‘colour symbolism’ of the robe ‘trailing on the earth her robe of saffron dye’ may be, among the possible connections, an evocation of the colour of blood and an anticipation of the red carpet later reserved to the king. See also Lebeck (1971) 90–1 on the surprising description of the maiden as ἀταύρωτος (245), ‘untouched by the bull’, an explicit reference to sexuality which is less than expected in the context. (34) The formalism of set marriages at the closure of Euripidean plays (e.g. Orestes, or Andromache) is obviously not an exception. The Helen and the Alcestis are false exceptions too. In the Helen—admittedly a special case of tragedy, at the borders of comedy in many respects (as scholarship has debated at length)—the final reunion of the loving couple and the deceit of Theoclymenus are a melodramatic façade covering the central theme of the reliability of knowledge, not a celebration of erôs as positive emotion. At 625–74 we have a scene of charged, erotic marital anagnorisis that is completely unconventional for tragedy—this unconventionality, in fact, attracts the attention towards the play’s real concerns. The audience would have found this topic strikingly ‘untragic’. Equally, it is no coincidence that in the moving scene at Alcestis 1040– 79 (another play situated at the limit of the generic definition of tragedy), where husband and wife face one another and Admetus tells out loud of his eternal love for the woman he has lost, Alcestis is still veiled, he does not know her real identity, and there is no mutual erotic exchange. Generally speaking, tragedy does not accommodate instances of happy, reciprocated erôs. (35) On which see the extensive argument in Nussbaum (1986/2001). (36) Silk (1996) 470, discussing Shakespeare and Greek tragedy: ‘[the] compulsions and [the] excesses [of tragic characters] are integral to the striving individuals’ identity; and their identity is particularly strong…we tend to feel that in a very special sense they are, as Hegel said, “that which they will and accomplish…they are that which they are”.’ Telling is the famous exchange in Romeo and Juliet, in which identity wants to surrender to love: ‘I take thee at thy word: | Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized; | Henceforth I never will be Romeo.’ The outcome of the Shakespearian story is well known; if such a scene is inconceivable for Greek tragedy, where no whisper in the ear, no voyeuristic Page 16 of 17

 

Mad Erôs and Eroticized Madness in Tragedy gaze from the public onto a private involvement, is allowed, the impossibility for the tragic individual to survive total erotic experience is the same. (37) See Durup (1997) 156–7 on how erôs ‘is mixed with the gaze from the start’ and ‘in the desire the “loving subject” and the “loved object” tend to become confused, [which]…has serious consequences for the representation of characters, which aims at being durable’.

Page 17 of 17

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea Ed Sanders

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0004

Abstract and Keywords Recent research has argued that sexual jealousy did not exist in Classical Greece. However, modern psychological research into sexual jealousy demonstrates striking affinities to a wide variety of Classical Greek texts. Through a close reading of Euripides' Medea, this chapter demonstrates that sexual jealousy did exist, and was closely tied to erôs. Medea argues that as a woman and an individual she has suffered enormously for her husband. Having severed herself from a woman’s usual ties, her self-conception now centres on her triple roles as Jason’s wife: bedmate, home-maker, and bearer of children. His remarriage threatens all three roles. Medea’s situation, verbal expression, and actions are typical of Greek sexual jealousy scenarios in a wide variety of texts. While not rejecting recent readings of Medea as motivated by pride or rage, Sanders argues that sexual jealousy has been unjustly neglected, and should be rehabilitated to understand fully Medea’s emotional motivation. Keywords:   sexual jealousy, erôs, Medea, psychology, emotion episodes, woman, wife, bedmate, bearer of children, remarriage

Introduction It has recently been argued, by David Konstan, that sexual jealousy did not exist in Classical Greece—his argument being based partly on the lack of Greek terminology for this emotion, and partly on a supposed absence of certain aspects of modern sexual jealousy (primarily, affection).1 That sexual jealousy is not a universal emotion has been argued by some psychologists too.2 For instance, Ralph Hupka believes that sexual jealousy is more properly a type of anger, distinguished by the situations in which it occurs, these situations being Page 1 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea culturally determined; thus when societies do not value romantic or monogamous attachments, and when the group is more important than the family or known paternity, sexual jealousy is not observed.3 However, other scholars disagree, arguing that an emotion may not be commonly observed in a society simply because that society lacks a convenient label for it; it does not necessarily follow that similar psychological and behavioural traits cannot be observed.4 (p.42) In this chapter, I use recent psychological research to demonstrate that sexual jealousy did exist in Classical Greece, and that there are, in fact, striking affinities between the ancient Greek and modern variants of this emotion. While we cannot, of course, simply transfer our own emotional concepts to Greek culture, there is a considerable extent to which sexual jealousy experience is cross-cultural, and in ancient Greece closely tied to erôs. To demonstrate this connection—and the efficacy of the methodological approach—most effectively, I have chosen to explore it through a close reading of a play in which Classicists usually deny the presence of the emotion: Euripides’ Medea. This tragedy’s plot involves a woman, abandoned by her husband for another woman, who revenges herself by killing her rival, the latter’s father (who arranged the match), and her own children by her ex-husband. To laypersons this would seem a straightforward tale of sexual jealousy, and a few scholars agree it is an important part of the plot.5 However, this is a minority view. The major current school of thought sees Medea as a Sophoclean, or even epic hero: she is driven by heroic pride.6 Others see her as acting from a terrible wrath, that (in Konstan’s words) has nothing of ‘petty jealousy’ in it.7 I do not intend to argue against pride or wrath as motivations. Medea is clearly enraged—anger words abound in the play; and arguments for her heroic pride can point to repeated claims that she has been dishonoured, a repeated insistence that she cannot allow her enemies to laugh at her, and her clearly articulated choice to allow her passion to overrule her reason.8 However, people can respond to situations with more than one emotion. Euripides depicts his Medea as an immensely complex character, and I believe that reducing her emotional state to a monolithic pride or anger is too simplistic. Using the insights of modern psychology into prototypical jealousy episodes, I wish to rehabilitate sexual jealousy as a significant element in her motivation. I shall begin by outlining the modern theoretical scholarship on which I draw, before turning to the words and actions of Medea herself and others in the play. Finally, I shall look at the Greek vocabulary of jealousy, assisted by Aristotle.

(p.43) Psychological approaches to sexual jealousy Psychologists have noted that it often makes more sense to speak of an emotional episode or scenario than an emotion per se.9 Emotional episodes begin with cognitions—perceptions of, or thoughts about, a situation—and our interpretations of them, frequently called the ‘antecedent conditions’.10 These Page 2 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea arouse psychological and physiological feelings, the ‘emotion’ itself. Attempts at self-regulation may follow; then verbal expressions and/or physical actions resulting from the emotion; and eventually resolution.11 Sexual jealousy, according to psychologists such as Gerrod Parrott or Jerome Neu, has three antecedent perceptions: (1) I have an exclusive relationship with someone; (2) I am in danger of losing that exclusivity or the entire relationship; (3) because I have a rival for his/her affection.12 Jealousy is an unusual emotion in that it necessarily involves three people.13 It is predicated on personal rivalry and fear of loss. It involves a unique, exclusive, and affectionate bond with a unique individual, and a rupture of that exclusivity through imagined or actual alienation of the partner’s affection.14 Parrott argues that the partner becomes formative to our own self-conception, and this is what makes jealousy possible: what we fear to lose is not so much the beloved partner, as a part of ourselves.15 The psychological feeling of jealousy is complex, and is generally considered a blend of simpler affects. These usually include anger, covetousness or envy, fear of (or grief at) loss, a blow to one’s self-esteem or pride, and hatred of the rival.16 Love is rarely included; possibly it is taken for granted, but perhaps it is simply not necessary: what matters is not that I love the person, but that (s)he is mine.17 (p.44) Jealousy is considered socially disruptive, even taboo, and therefore tends to be ‘veiled’ or ‘masked’. Jon Elster says that the difference between a ‘veil’ and a ‘mask’ is ‘between hiding an emotion one feels and showing an emotion one does not feel’, though ‘a mask can also serve as a veil’.18 Elster calls this process either ‘misrepresentation’, which hides an emotion from others, or ‘transmutation’, which hides it from oneself as well.19 This is enormously important to a scholarly exploration of jealousy, because it requires the speech and behaviour of a jealous person to be examined well beyond the surface level. Observers do this subconsciously, through a cultural internalization of the jealousy prototype. However Parrott notes that, while an outside person would perceive jealousy, the patient themselves will most likely experience, or believe they are experiencing, anxious insecurity before the partner leaves them, or indignant anger afterwards.20 This may lead to revenge against either the partner (if love turns to hatred) or the rival (especially if there is a strong admixture of envy). In the absence of such closure, a natural path would be a period of recrimination, followed by some measure of acceptance.21

Euripides’ Medea: situational antecedents and consequent actions The Nurse informs us in the prologue that Medea lived with Jason as her husband, bearing everything with him jointly (11–13)22—an unusually close, and equal, partnership in the Greek world.23 But Jason has left Medea and married (18–19: γάμοις…εὐνάζεται, γήμας) Creon’s daughter, Glauce.24 By line 19 we know we have an abandoned woman, her ex-partner, and a rival. Page 3 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea (p.45) The Nurse tells us too about the strength of their relationship: from the first moment Medea met Jason, her heart was struck with erôs for him (8: ἔρωτι θυμὸν ἐκπλαγεῖσ’). The Chorus too is well aware of the strength, and violence, of Medea’s passion for Jason. From the time she fled Iolkos with him, she had mad passion in her heart (433: μαινομένᾳ κραδίᾳ). Following her first confrontation with Jason, they talk of erôs that comes too excessively (627‑8: ἔρωτες ὑπὲρ μὲν ἄγαν ἐλθόντες) and sing not one, but two hymns to the power of Aphrodite (627–42, 824–45).25 Jason too asserts that Medea feels erôs for him (530: ὡς Ἔρως σ’ ἠνάγκασε), though Medea herself only speaks of it in the abstract (330: βροτοῖς ἔρωτες ὡς κακὸν μέγα). We are never explicitly told that Jason felt erôs for her in return.26 However we do know that their relationship had a strong sexual element, and this is made clear by the extraordinary frequency of Greek words for the bed: lechos, lektron, eunê, or koitê occur twenty times as a euphemism for their old relationship, and twelve for his new one.27 Indeed Medea has the highest number of bed words (at thirty-six) of any extant tragedy.28 In Greek ‘the bed’ can be a euphemism for sex (and again Medea has by far the highest number with this meaning),29 or marriage. The bed motif is first introduced by the Nurse and Tutor in the prologue, and the Chorus in the parodos, where it appears several times referring to Jason’s new marriage (18: ἐυνάζεται, 88: εὐνῆς, 140: λέκτρα, 156: λέχη).30 Medea is at this point said merely to have erôs for the bed of death (151–2: τᾶς ἀπλάτου κοίτας ἔρος), since Jason has betrayed their marriage (207: ἐν λέχει προδόταν). The bed is here placed at (p.46) the centre of their marriage,31 and it is the bed as concrete symbol (rather than e.g. the abstract γάμος) that Jason betrays. However, the bed is not just a metonym for their marriage, but also for what is performed on it—i.e. sex.32 Medea first draws attention to this herself, when she talks about going into the palace to kill Jason and his new bride as they lie on their bed (380: ἵν’ ἔστρωται λέχος). The Chorus says Medea has lost her marriage since her bed is manless (435‑6: τᾶς ἀνάνδρου κοίτας ὀλέσασα λέκτρον), and another queen now rules over her marriage-bed (443: τῶν τε λέκτρων ἄλλα βασίλεια κρείσσων δόμοισιν ἐπέστα)—both comments having strong sexual overtones. In the agôn Medea complains Jason has made a new marriage (489: καινὰ δ’ ἐκτήσω λέχη): if she had been barren, then she could understand him feeling erôs for someone else’s bed (491: τοῦδ’ ἐρασθῆναι λέχους); as things are, he has betrayed the oaths they swore.33 In response, Jason draws attention to her erôs, saying it would be invidious to point out that Medea is besotted with him (529‑30: ἐπίφθονος λόγος διελθεῖν ὡς Ἔρως σ’ ἠνάγκασε), but doing it anyway. Jason constantly alludes to the sexual use of the marriage-bed: he says he did not leave her because he hated having sex with her, nor through longing for a new bride (555–6: οὐχ…σὸν μὲν ἐχθαίρων λέχος, καινῆς δὲ νύμφης ἱμέρῳ Page 4 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea πεπληγμένος). Himeros means sexual desire, and its juxtaposition to lechos indicates we should read the latter as sex, not bed or marriage; numphê also draws attention to Medea and Glauce’s relative ages, a reason for Glauce’s greater sexual attractiveness. Jason argues that it is Medea who is chafed by matters sexual: ‘Honestly’, he says, ‘all you women care about is sex. If sex is going well, you think you have everything; if there’s a problem with your sex life, even the finest things are totally wrong’ (568‑73: οὐδ’ ἂν σὺ φαίης, εἴ σε μὴ κνίζοι λέχος. ἀλλ’ ἐς τοσοῦτον ἥκεθ’ ὥστ’ ὀρθουμένης εὐνῆς γυναῖκες πάντ’ ἔχειν νομίζετε, ἢν δ’ αὖ γένηται χυμφορά τις ἐς λέχος, τὰ λῷστα καὶ κάλλιστα πολεμιώτατα τίθεσθε). He exits, and the Chorus sing a hymn to Aphrodite (the goddess of sexual love— as usual in tragedy called Cypris for metrical reasons), primly wishing for a happy marriage.34 In words recalling Medea’s falling for Jason, they pray (p.47) that Cypris may not strike them likewise with desire for other beds (639: θυμὸν ἐκπλήξασ’ ἑτέροις ἐπὶ λέκτροις; cf. 8)—bed words occurring three times in as many lines (639: λέκτροις; 640: εὐνάς; 641: λέχη). When Medea is telling Aigeus about Jason leaving her, he asks whether it was because of erôs for another woman or because his sexual union with Medea grew hateful (697: ἐρασθεὶς ἢ σὸν ἐχθαίρων λέχος)—again the juxtaposition of sexual desire and lechos indicates how we should translate the latter. Medea replies that it was a great erôs (698: μέγαν γ’ ἔρωτα). Despite Jason’s avoidance of the word, Euripides makes very clear the extraordinary role of sexual passion, and the sex act itself, in their marriage. Medea’s womanhood, and her wifely duties for Jason, also loom large in her rhetoric. In her opening speech she says that everything in the world for her, as Jason himself knew, was embodied in one person: her husband (228–9: ἐν ᾧ γὰρ ἦν μοι πάντα, γιγνώσκει καλῶς,…οὑμὸς πόσις). This point is crucial. She goes on to lament the female lot (230–51): a woman must pay a dowry, take a husband (233: πόσιν), and provide him with sex—he becomes a master to her inheritance, her house, and her body (233). Women must leave aside their own habits and customs (238), and work hard at taking on those of their husband (240: ξυνευνέτῃ). She says that men have life easy: the hardest thing they must do is fight in battle, but that is more than three times preferable to the pain of childbirth (250–1).35 Having established how much wives must suffer—as women, as home-makers, and as mothers—Medea tells how she has suffered even more than other women as Jason’s wife. Unlike her audience (the Chorus of Greek women), she has nowhere else to turn: she has no city, no father, no friends, no mother, no brother, no relatives (252–8). This is because of all the things she did in her passion for Jason when she was first struck with erôs (8), before he took her from her home: she betrayed her father and her homeland, murdered her brother, and killed Jason’s uncle, Pelias (32, 483, 503, 1332).36 In forging their Page 5 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea partnership she cut herself off from, and made enemies of, all those who should naturally be her philoi, and now she has nowhere to turn. In bloodily severing herself from her roles as daughter, sister, citizen, and princess, she has made being Jason’s wife, mistress of his house, and mother of his children even more formative to her self-conception than is normal in ancient Greek society.37 Abandoned for another woman, and on the verge of having (p.48) her children taken away from her, Medea has at a stroke lost everything in her life. Her entire self-conception is now formed by being a wife and a mother, and losing it all in this way creates exactly the antecedent situational conditions for a sexual jealousy scenario. It is for these reasons that Jason’s behaviour has been such an outrage (255–6: ὑβρίζομαι πρὸς ἀνδρός), and Medea feels fully justified in seeking revenge, or justice, against her husband (261: πόσιν δίκην τῶνδ’ ἀντιτείσασθαι κακῶν).38 She concludes her introductory speech: ‘Whenever a woman is wronged in the marriage-bed, then no other heart is more murderous’ (265‑6: ὅταν δ’ ἐς εὐνὴν ἠδικημένη κυρῇ, οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλη φρὴν μιαιφονωτέρα). It is hard to overstate the importance of this statement. This is Medea speaking, not others attempting to understand her. To the obvious objection that Medea manipulates and deceives everyone she encounters in the play, I reply first that the context is one in which she is explicitly expressing her intention to take revenge (though the full extent of that revenge is at this stage unclear), and second that she does not conceal her motives from the Chorus anywhere else. There is therefore no reason not to take this passage seriously. Though it would be a mistake to regard it as the clue to her psychology, it is an important indicator of just how we should understand the rest of the play. In her opening speech, Medea tells us it is as a wife and woman that she feels wronged, and the rest of the play must be read with this in mind. ‘Jason has abandoned me,’ she is saying, ‘and in doing so he has hit me where it hurts most, in our marriage, in our bed, in our sex-life, in the thing that makes us women more murderous than any other; and I will take revenge on my husband.’ This revenge, then, is an organic development from Medea’s abandonment as a wife and a woman, in favour of another. From the beginning she says she will seek revenge, and from rumours that have reached Creon, this will be against him and the newly-weds (288). But later she conceives a worse punishment for Jason. She talks successively with three men (Creon, Jason, and Aigeus), and each one mentions the importance of children to him. Creon orders Medea out of the country, lest she do some evil to his daughter (282–3). He continually mentions how he loves his family, how his child is more dear to him than his country (327, 329), and how much he fears for her (282, 317, 356). At this stage Medea still intends her revenge to be to kill the newly-weds and those who arranged the alliance (366‑7), thus tying it firmly to Jason’s remarriage, and she reconfirms Creon, Glauce, and Jason as her targets (374–5).39 Page 6 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea However, repeatedly expressed concern with children changes her (p.49) mind. In her first scene with Jason, he says his abandonment of her was because a new marriage would bring advantages to their children, through alliance with the royal family and influential brothers (549–50). Finally, Aigeus explains he is on his way home from Delphi, where he went for advice to relieve his childlessness (670–1). By this point Medea has fully grasped the importance men place on having children.40 In begging Aigeus’ help, she says she will cure his childlessness. With dramatic irony for her intended revenge, she says she will help Aigeus go from being childless (apais) to having paides—a journey she will first make Jason take in reverse—before mentioning her potions (717–18)— which, in death- rather than life-giving form, she will first use on Glauce. When Aigeus leaves the stage she spells out her revised revenge: she will use her paides to kill the pais of the king, and then she will kill her own children, thus destroying Jason’s entire (past and future) house (774–94)—something she had impotently wished for in the prologue (112–14), before attaining the means to bring it about.41 Jason will neither see his paides alive again, she says, nor have more from his newly yoked bride (803–6). She will kill not just Glauce, but her own children too, as that is the best way for her husband to be hurt (817). The Chorus reminds us that Medea is seeking revenge for the sake of her bridal bed (999: νυμφιδίων ἔνεκεν λεχέων) and because her husband abandoned her to make an oikos with another bedfellow (1001: ἄλλᾳ ξυνοικεῖ πόσις συνεύνῳ), and this foreshadows the final scene. After exacting her revenge, Medea has a showdown with Jason, and once again bed words and Medea’s role as wife and woman recur repeatedly, with both the marriage and her revenge linked directly to sex. Jason says that after their marriage (1336: νυμφευθεῖσα—when she was a sexually ripe νύμφη) Medea bore him children, but now has killed them because of sex and the marriage-bed (1338: εὐνῆς ἕκατι καὶ λέχους σφ’ ἀπώλεσας). Medea responds that she could not allow him to dishonour her marriage-bed (1354: σὺ δ’ οὐκ ἔμελλες τἄμ’ ἀτιμάσας λέχη); she killed them because of his hubris and because of his newly built marriage (1366), and to bring him pain (1370) and grief (1398). Jason cannot believe she did all this because of his re-marriage (1367: λέχους… οὕνεκα), but Medea says that such a disaster is no small thing for a woman (1368). For her that is all the answer needed, and takes us back to the end of her first speech, that ‘Whenever a woman is wronged in the marriage-bed, then no other heart is more murderous’ (265–6).

(p.50) Medea’s psychological affects I now turn to the emotions aroused in Medea by Jason’s betrayal. The first introduced is grief, and again it is the Nurse who first informs us that Medea lies in bed, not eating, surrendering her body to tears (24–5). Mastronarde notes that: ‘loss of appetite and inactivity, such as staying in bed, are signs of severe psychic turmoil (from grief or love).’42 Medea’s grief is hammered home to us, as Page 7 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea the Chorus, the Nurse, and Medea herself use a plethora of suffering and grieving words: cries (132, 135: βοάν); wretched (133, 149: δυστάνου/ος); griefs (136: ἄλγεσιν); she pines (141: τάκει); alas (146: φεῦ φεῦ); wail (149: ἀχάν); grieving (159: δυρομένα); I suffer (161: πάσχω); sorrow (184: πένθος); and finally, ‘I heard the loud-groaning wail of her mourning, as she cries her wailing and wretched griefs’ (205–6: ἀχὰν ἄιον πολύστονον γόων, λιγυρὰ δ’ἄχεα μογερὰ βοᾷ). Two other strong emotions that Medea expresses are anger and hatred. Again from the Nurse we first learn that Medea’s love has turned to hatred (16: ἐχθρά). Her eyes glare bull-like (92), and her rage (94: χόλου) will last till she rushes down on someone (93–4).43 She is stirring up her heart and her wrath (99: κινεῖ κραδίαν, κινεῖ δὲ χόλον),44 and the children should be on guard against her wild character and hating nature (102‑3: φυλσσεσθ’ ἄγριον ἦθος στυγεράν τε φύσιν); her thumos is enlarged (108: μείζονι θυμῷ), and her spleen is hard to check (109: μεγαλόσπλαγχνος δυσκατάπαυστος). The Nurse says Medea will only give over her anger with difficulty (121: χαλεπῶς ὀργὰς μεταβάλλουσιν). The Chorus tells Medea not to sharpen her anger (157: μὴ χαράσσου), despite injustice from Jason and Glauce, as it is wearing her down; she should put aside the orgê in the depths of her thumos, and the temper in her breast (176‑7: βαρύθυμον ὀργὰν καὶ λῆμα φρενῶν).45 Creon acknowledges Medea’s thumos is roused at her husband (271: πόσει θυμουμένην). She will be feeling lupê (pain, distress, grief) at being robbed of her husband’s bed (286: λέκτρων ἀνδρὸς).46 He has heard she has made threats against the newly-weds and against himself. Medea dissembles: Creon has (p. 51) done nothing wrong, she says; it is merely her husband she hates (310–11: ἀλλ’ ἐμὸν πόσιν μισῶ); she does not begrudge (312: οὐ φθονῶ) Creon’s good fortune. Jason, after some general comments about people who feel orgê, turns specifically to Medea: she hates him (463: στυγεῖς), he says; Medea agrees (467: ἔχθιστος). The Chorus observe that orgê is terrible (520: δεινή τις ὀργὴ) whenever philoi join in strife (521: ἔριν).47 Jason continues to refer to her anger: the great cholos in her heart (590), her orgê (615), and her inability to let it go (621: αὐθαδίᾳ, cf. 103–4). In all, Medea’s anger is referred to twenty-one times throughout the play (orgê: 121, 176, 447, 520, 615, 870, 909; cholos: 94, 99, 172, 590, 898, 1266; thumos: 108, 176, 271, 865, 879, 883, 1056, 1079), and her hatred is referred to twelve times (misos: 311; stygos: 36, 103, 113, 463, 1374; echthos: 117, 290, 467, 1374; echthra: 16, 45). These feelings are almost invariably aimed at Jason, though in the prologue a few times at their children (36, 103, 113, 117), whose presence or existence brings home what she has lost. In addition, Creon and Glauce are referred to on no fewer than thirteen occasions as Medea’s enemies (echthroi:

Page 8 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea 45, 95, 278, 374, 383, 744, 750, 765, 767, 809, 897, 1050, 1060; and she theirs twice—734, 875), though she does not use other hating words about them. A fourth emotion expressed regularly, if less frequently, is pride. This is behind Medea’s claims that Jason dishonoured her (696, 1354; the Nurse agrees: 20, 33) and that he committed hubris against her (255, 603, 1366).48 Her pride is further shown by her concern, expressed six times, that her enemies might laugh at her (383, 404, 797, 1049, 1355, 1362): she could not bear to be an object of ridicule to them.49 The laughter of her enemies would be intolerable (797; cf. 383, 404), she says; no one must think her low, feeble, or meek (807‑8); rather she wants supreme kleos (810; heroic renown). It is for such reasons that Medea is often portrayed as acting from heroic pride, but this pride is not unconnected to her jealousy. She will be mocked by the people who have taken away what defined her in life: her husband. And it is her husband himself who first begins to mock her by belittling her feelings—he says she is merely chafed (555: κνίζῃ) that he left her for reasons entirely unconnected with her, merely irked (568: κνίζοι) by feelings of sexual (p.52) inconsequentiality—reducing even this sexual motive to the level of a physical itch. Medea fears her enemies will not take her seriously, and will just laugh at and degrade her; and here Jason, the very person who should respect her most, is the one leading the way in belittling her. Medea’s expressed emotions—her anger, hatred, grief, and wounded pride—are not just stand-alone, but at least some of them are also part of a jealousy complex,50 since they are tied up with the destruction of Medea’s marriage by Jason’s abandonment of her, by his forsaking of her bed and her sexual favours for the bed and favours of a rival, and (more generally) by his scorning and belittling her as a wife and a woman. Modern psychologists tell us that those who feel jealous typically talk about anger and betrayal, and try to take some measure of revenge. In English we do not expect a jilted woman to say ‘I am so jealous’ to her husband; rather she might scream ‘I can’t believe you cheated on me’, and run a nail down the side of his car. Medea essentially does the same, though this being Greek tragedy her revenge is more murderous (266: μιαιφονωτέρα). The form and extent of her revenge make us aware that a fifth emotion pervades the play, and this is phthonos, or begrudging envy.51 This phthonos lacks the frequent expression of the other four emotions, but there is a reason for this. Modern scholarship notes that envy is even more taboo than jealousy, and is directly claimed even less frequently.52 The taboo seems to have been equally present in ancient Greece: phthonos is such a damning emotion that, while appearing frequently in accusation, it is almost never claimed for oneself.53 Just as modern theory tells us that the jealousy of someone abandoned can involve envy for their rival, so it does for Medea.

Page 9 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea Envy’s most salient characteristic is a malicious hostility and ill-will, which drives acts of deep destructiveness, and it is characterized by a stronger desire for the other person not to enjoy something that the patient does not have, than a desire to obtain it too.54 According to Aristotle, this is equally the case (p.53) for phthonos.55 It is characteristic of envy that, due to the taboo nature of the emotion, it is frequently misrepresented as, or transmuted into, righteous indignation.56 Similarly in Greek culture, Aristotle talks about how easily phthonos can be confused with indignation (which he calls to nemesan).57 And this is what we see here: Medea talks many times about being wronged, and even more often about justice (dikê: 165, 219, 221, 261, 265, 309, 314, 580, 582, 692, 764, 767, 802), almost from her very first words.58 This emotion is valid (the Nurse and Chorus agree she has been wronged—26, 158, 208, 267, 411, 578, 1232); but Medea’s genuine and justified indignation comes inseparably bound with transmuted envy.59 She has been deprived of her marriage, and is to be deprived likewise of her children. Begrudging envy, aroused by jealousy, ensures she will not let Jason keep them. It is this that drives her destructiveness against Jason’s new marriage, and against his children.

Medea’s emotional vocabulary The Greek word normally translated as (sexual) jealousy is zêlotupia,60 but the earliest surviving uses of the word date from the early 380s BCE (Ar. Plut. 1016; Pl. Symp. 213d2), while Medea was written more than forty years earlier (431 BCE). The primary word used for Medea’s passion is erôs. This is more than a desire to acquire a sexual object; for instance Thucydides writes that the Athenians felt erôs for embarking on the conquest of Sicily (Thuc. 6.24.3)—here it implies a desire to acquire, enjoy, and retain—though Thucydides is of course employing a metaphor for sexual yearning. This is certainly applicable (p.54) to Medea, whose erôs for Jason demands exclusive possession,61 but it cannot be the whole story as, after her revenge and destruction of the rival, Medea is happy to end the play without possessing her husband. Our best evidence for ancient Greek emotions in the Classical period comes from Aristotle’s Rhetoric,62 but Aristotle ignores both erôs and zêlotupia. He does deal with zêlos, etymologically the parent emotion, but that is merely emulation for goods and qualities we do not possess (Arist. Rh. 2.11, 1388a32–5). Phthonos is more relevant: although it is principally felt when we lack something we want (English envy), it also applies when we wish to hold on to something we see as ours (English jealousy).63 This is most clearly seen when phthonos is directed at someone who has something we have lost (Rh. 2.10, 1388a21–2: [φθονοῦσιν] τοῖς ἢ ἔχουσι ταῦτα ἢ κεκτημένοις ὅσα αὐτοῖς…ἐκέκτηντό ποτε). Aristotle is not speaking here of sexual jealousy, rather of possessive jealousy more generally;64 but he goes on to note that, among other cases, we feel phthonos most especially against our rivals in love (Rh. 2.10, 1388a15–16: πρὸς τοὺς…ἀντεραστὰς…,

Page 10 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea ἀνάγκη μάλιστα τούτοις φθονεῖν). It is clear therefore that Medea’s emotions can at least partly be described as phthonos. However, there are two other emotions we must consider: orgê (anger) and misos (hatred). Orgê, according to Aristotle, is a desire for revenge in return for a belittlement (Rh. 2.2, 1378a30–2). It is necessary to actually perceive that you have been belittled, and similarly for the belittler to perceive the revenge. Aristotle mentions three types of belittlement: kataphronêsis, epêreasmos, and hubris (1378b14–15). Kataphronêsis is contempt, showing you believe the other person to be of no importance (1378b15–17); epêreasmos is a disinterested slighting, thwarting someone’s wishes with no benefit to yourself (1378b18–20); hubris involves taking pleasure in shaming someone (1378b23–5)—it is an insult, an insolent arrogance. Medea several times says that Jason has treated her with hubris (255, 603, 1366); she does not include Glauce and Creon—however, they are certainly included in the list of people (p.55) who might laugh at her, behaviour Aristotle considers hubris (1379a30–2).65 It is also fairly clear that Jason has considered Medea of no account (i.e. he is contemptuous of her) in assuming he can pension her off at will, and in persistently belittling her emotions. It is clear then that orgê has an important part to play. Misos differs from orgê. In Greek terms, it is the emotion one feels for one’s echthroi (personal enemies), people who harm you without provocation. Creon is in this position: he is peripheral to the jealousy triangle, but has abetted Medea’s abandonment; but although he has harmed her, he has not belittled her —on the contrary, he wants her out of the country precisely because he fears how formidable an echthros she might be. Medea’s feelings towards Creon are thus well‐labelled misos. Her feelings towards Glauce are best described as hostile envy, a blend of misos and phthonos, both of which can lead to destruction of their target. In the Greek value system, Medea cannot admit to phthonos, so she can but talk of her hatred. Self-presentationally, she avoids the charge of phthonos by lumping Glauce in with Creon as jointly ‘my echthroi’, and she does so frequently. Although she could potentially feel orgê for them if they were to mock her, this has not yet happened. The appropriate action towards one’s echthroi is to cause them harm—Aristotle describes misos (which he also refers to as to misein and echthra) as a desire to harm (Rh. 2.4, 1382a8)—and killing someone is the most harm you can do them. Medea’s feelings for Jason, however, are best described as a mixture of phthonos, not so much with misos (which, though present, is less important), but rather with orgê. Since once again Greek cultural taboos ensure that phthonos cannot be admitted, all that is left for Medea to talk about is her response to her belittlement and her injury by Jason: her orgê. David Konstan argues that:

Page 11 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea The object of anger…is to cause pain to the other. A slight makes one feel small, and the only way to get even is to induce a similar feeling in the other. It follows that, for an angry person to get revenge, the original offender must be aware of it (aisthesthai), since there is no such thing as unperceived pain (hence the stipulation in the definition of anger that the revenge, like the slight itself, must be perceived), whereas to one who hates it is a matter of indifference whether an enemy is aware or not of the damage done to him. That is why we may wish that people whom we hate should die, but when we are angry, what we desire is that the other person feel in return (antipathein) the kind of diminishment that provoked our anger in the first place (2.4, 1382a14–15). The death of the other would render that impossible.66 (p.56) Creon and Glauce wantonly inflicted harm on Medea; it is for this reason she wants them dead. At first, she believes this is what she wants for Jason too (hence misos is present); however, as she reflects, she realizes that is not sufficient punishment: his was not the injuring of an echthros, but a deeply painful belittling; her anger is stronger than her hatred, and accordingly Jason must remain alive to perceive her revenge. This is why Medea, having determined that her revenge will be to kill Jason alongside Creon and Glauce (373–5), eventually changes her mind: Creon and Glauce will still die, but Jason must be left alive to know that his children are dead because of his treatment of Medea (774–96).

Conclusion Sexual jealousy has suffered in the interpretation of this play partly because, like phthonos, its expression was taboo to the Greeks, but partly also because it does not have a convenient prototypical label in Greek, such as our word jealousy. The scenario was familiar to the Greeks—in this play, the Nurse, the Tutor, the Chorus of Corinthian Women, and Jason all recognize it, even if Medea does not,67 and the inference must be that the audience recognize it too.68 However, labelling the emotion is more difficult. Semantically, it appears that sexual jealousy falls somewhere between erôs, phthonos, misos, and orgê.69 We can also note that Medea emphasizes certain elements of the jealousy prototype more than we might expect from (p.57) modern psychological research, especially the blow to her pride (the hubris and the potential mocking laughter), her rage, and her hatred. It is possible that the status-conscious Greeks were more sensitive to these aspects of the jealousy complex than we,70 and therefore their vocabulary was better adapted to express these, rather than the complex as a whole. (p.58) Notes:

I should like to thank Chris Carey for his extremely detailed comments on earlier drafts of this chapter, and Douglas Cairns, Nick Lowe, and David Konstan, whose comments—at the Erôs conference or on subsequent review of the chapter— Page 12 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea have also been greatly appreciated. I should also like to thank the Leverhulme Trust, who funded me during the latter part of my work on this volume. (1) Konstan (2006) 219–43. (2) There has been a lively debate for some decades over the universality or cultural specificity of emotions in general, a debate whose principal strands are summarized by Konstan (2006) 7–27; see also D. L. Cairns (2008). Among nonClassical scholarship, P. E. Griffiths (1997) and Reddy (2001) 3–62 provide useful summaries and critiques. See also the bibliography mentioned in Sanders and Thumiger (this volume) n. 9. (3) Hupka (1991) and (1981); see also Sharpsteen (1991) 34 and Salovey (1991) 280. (4) Elster (1999) 412; Kristjánsson (2002) 21. (5) Friedrich (1993); Burnett (1998) 194; Mastronarde (2002) 16; McHardy (2008) 61–2; D. L. Cairns (2008) 53–6. (6) Easterling (1977a) 178; Knox (1977) 196, 207; Gabriel (1992) 353; Mastronarde (2002) 8–9; Goldhill (2003) 166–7; Holland (2003) 270. (7) Konstan (2006) 57–9; Mastronarde (2002) 17–18; Goldhill (2003) 166–7; Harris (2003) 140–1. See Allen (2003) 90 on the connection between orgê and erôs, a connection denied by Harris (2003) 122. (8) Eur. Med. 1078–80: καὶ μανθάνω μὲν οἷα δρᾶν μέλλω κακά, θυμὸς δὲ κρείσσων τῶν ἐμῶν βουλευμάτων, ὅσπερ μεγίστων αἴτιος κακῶν βροτοῖς. (9) e.g. Parrott (1991) 4: ‘an emotional episode is the story of an emotional event, and it seems a natural unit of analysis for understanding human emotions.’ (10) e.g. Sharpsteen (1991) 37 defines antecedent conditions as ‘the elements physically or objectively present in a situation, along with the perceptions, interpretations, and appraisals of them’. (11) See also Elster (1999) 244–83 and Ben-Ze’ev (2000) 49–78, whose analyses differ in some details. (12) Parrott (1991) 15–16; Neu (1980) 432–3; see Wierzbicka (1999) 99 for a slightly different formulation. These perceptions are generally phrased so as to encompass possessive as well as sexual jealousy, and Ben-Ze’ev (2000) 289–90 and Parrott (1991) 15–16 explicitly see sexual jealousy as the prototypical jealousy scenario; see Salovey and Rodin (1986) and Kristjánsson (2002) 155 ff. for contrary views. Page 13 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea (13) Klein (1957/1975) 181; Ben-Ze’ev (2000) 289–90; Kristjánsson (2002) 139– 40. (14) Ben-Ze’ev (2000) 289–90; Parrott (1991) 15–16. (15) Parrott (1991) 16–17; cf. Tov-Ruach (1980) 466–8. (16) For various formulations see: Freud (1922) 223; Shengold (1994) 619; Spielman (1971) 78–9; Sharpsteen (1991) 31, 36; Planalp (1999) 174; Parrott (1991) 4; Neu (1980) 433; Kristjánsson (2002) 141–4, (2006) 17–18; Ben-Ze’ev (2000) 301. (17) Wurmser and Jarass (2008b) 15–19 discuss the conflict between love and jealousy: love is theoretically unconditional and about the individuality and unconditional acceptance of the other, while jealousy is about my sexual desires, my loss, my humiliation, my aggression; however, love seems almost inherently to contain the capacity to be overpowered by jealousy when sexual desire is frustrated. (18) Elster (1999) 96–7. This masking effect is more commonly recognized for envy—see n. 56 below. (19) Elster (1999) 341–402 for a detailed discussion of transmutation and misrepresentation (of all emotions). (20) Parrott (1991) 5–6, who states: ‘It is easy to imagine situations in which an envious or jealous person is the last person to know that envy or jealousy motivates his or her actions’ (6). (21) Hupka (1991) 255–6; Sharpsteen (1991) 43–5. (22) All line numbers refer to Eur. Med. unless otherwise stated. (23) Page (1938/2001) believes equality would require the prefix be homo- rather than xum-. Mastronarde (2002) 165 comments that this leaves some ambiguity as to whether she is equal or subordinate to Jason, but elsewhere (9, 167–8) states that their partnership is one of equals. (24) Jason’s new wife is not named in the play, but for convenience I adopt the name most usually given her. Page (1938/2001) xxv n. 4 and E. E. Griffiths (2006) 8 note the alternative name Creousa. (25) Mastronarde (2002) 16. (26) Medea says she knows Jason now feels erôs elsewhere (491), though to Aigeus (698, perhaps dissembling to avoid showing her true feelings) she says

Page 14 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea his erôs is for political advancement, not for her rival Glauce. The only other time the word is used is of Aigeus’ desire for children (714). (27) Medea and Jason’s relationship (lechos 41, 207, 555, 568, 571, 591, 641, 697, 999, 1338, 1354; lektron 286, 436, 443, 639; eunê 265, 570, 640, 1338; koitê 436); Jason and Glauce’s (lechos 156, 380, 489, 491, 887, 1367; lektron 140, 594, 1348; eunê 18, 88, 1027); here and in nn. 28, 29 I exclude cognates that always mean spouse/bed-sharer—e.g. xuneunetês, akoitis). Bed words particularly abound during Medea’s first and final scenes with Jason (446–626, 1317–1414). (28) Large numbers of bed words also occur in several other Euripides plays: 33 in Helen, 28 in Andromache, and 23 in Hippolytus. Aeschylus’ highest is 17 in Agamemnon, and Sophocles’ is 19 in Trachiniae. All these plays’ plots involve rivals for a legitimate spouse. (29) Greek bed words (lechos, lektron, eunê, and koitê) are always potentially euphemisms for sex—though they can also mean bed, bedding, sleep, death, marriage, or spouse. For instance in Hom. Od. 23 (concerning Odysseus’ marriage with Penelope, centred round a physical bed) bed words are used 21 times, 15 meaning bed/bedding (ten lech-/lektr-, five eun-), three meaning sex (219, 254, 346; two eun-, one lektr-), and three implying both (257, 294, 354; two eun-, one lech-); in Od. 10 (concerning Odysseus’ sexual relationship with Circe) there are ten bed words, two meaning bed (both lech-), and eight meaning sex (all eun-). This suggests that eun-, at least in origin, has a stronger implication of sex than lech-/lektr-; we should also note that the latter roots only give us an object (lechos, lektron), while the former gives us both an object (eunê) and an activity (eunazô). (30) Medea’s bed is also referred to in the Nurse’s opening speech (41: λέχος), but this line is almost certainly an interpolation, copied from 380—see Page (1938/2001) 68. (31) Cf. D. L. Cairns (2008) 54–5. (32) Burnett (1998) 194–5 denies that the stress on Medea’s bed has anything to do with her sexual pleasure, but a focus on pleasure misses the point: for Medea, sex with her husband is both an end in itself, and also a sign of the continuing health of her marriage, in which is bound up everything she holds dear (see below). (33) Presumably marriage oaths. Easterling (1977a) 180–1, Allan (2002) 50–1 for the argument that Jason and Medea were legitimately married, despite her being a barbarian, and the Corinthian Women agree (267, 578).

Page 15 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea (34) De Wet (1983) 218–19 notes that by the fourth century Aphrodite had replaced Hera as the goddess of marriage, and contemporaneously it was being accepted that sexual desire had an important part to play in marriage: ‘[Euripides] is very much at the beginning of this new thinking, openly recognizing the emotional needs and rights of a woman as an individual in the partnership of marriage where passionate love is transcending the traditional role of the wife as mistress of the home. He recognizes that not only the man but also the woman has emotional needs and the right to seek sexual satisfaction in marriage.’ (35) See Goldhill (1986) 115–17 on the engagement of this speech with Athenian ideology. (36) The murder of the brother, part of the Medea mythology (E. E. Griffiths (2006) 7), is elided by Euripides. (37) Friedrich (1993) 227; see also Gabriel (1992) 351–2. Burnett (1998) 195 also notes that Medea’s marriage-bed symbolizes these three roles: Jason’s wife, mother of Jason’s genos, mistress of Jason’s oikos. (38) I agree with Page (1938/2001) that line 262, in which Medea extends her planned revenge to Glauce and Creon, must for narrative reasons be an interpolation. (39) Mastronarde (2002) 233 says she continues to maintain the illusion for the audience (and Chorus) that she intends to kill Jason rather than the children. I disagree: I do not believe she has yet decided to kill the children. (40) Cf. McHardy (2008) 63. (41) Cf. Mastronarde (2002) 184. (42) Mastronarde (2002) 168—these are symptoms of betrayed erôs. (43) The word used here, kataskêpsai, is generally used of storms or divine wrath (LSJ). (44) Note the active voice of kinei: this is not something that is just happening to Medea, she is actively perpetuating it. (45) Arist. Rh. 2.2.1378a30–2: orgê is a desire for revenge for an injury. Jason and Glauce committed the original injury, hence their action was unjust. Konstan (2006) 61–5 argues that in Trojan Women Hecuba unwillingly accepts the Greeks’ slaying of her daughter, since revenge is impossible; however when Polymester slays her son she has a means of revenge, so feels cholos. By analogy, in Medea the Chorus believe she (a foreign woman) must just accept the injury;

Page 16 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea revenge is out of the question, so anger is pointless; however, Medea knows she can take revenge, so she spurs on (99: κινεῖ) her rage. (46) Lupê is the word Aristotle uses, in conjunction with a desire for revenge, to describe the emotion orgê (Rh. 2.2.1378a30: ὀργή ὄρεξις μετὰ λύπης τιμωρίας). (47) The word eris is used repeatedly to characterize the relationship between Neoptolemos’ wife Hermione and his putative concubine Andromache, and the jealousy of the former for the latter, in Euripides’ Andromache (directly: 122, 490, 573, 960; metaphorically or indirectly: 279, 362, 467, 477, 644). (48) Arist. Rh. 2.2.1378b14–15 gives hubris as one of the three causes of orgê (see below)—Medea’s pride and rage are not isolated or competing motivations, but intimately bound up with each other. (49) In the end she avoids her misfortunes giving her enemies pleasure, and takes pleasure in their own misfortunes herself (1133–5); Allan (2002) 74–5, 83– 4, 93 notes that she wishes to feel Schadenfreude so they cannot. (50) Contra Konstan (2003) 23–4: ‘we must allow for the possibility that where we perceive the emotion jealousy, the Greeks may have felt distinct sentiments, including anger, envy, sadness and emulousness, without assembling these several responses into a single compound.’ D. L. Cairns (2008) 53–6 also disputes Konstan’s rejection of sexual jealousy as a motivation for Medea. NB I am not arguing that anger and pride are not genuine motivations for Medea in their own right—I think they are; but anger, too, can also express a socially acceptable aspect of a less creditable response. (51) See Leuzinger-Bohleber (2001) 332 on Medea’s envy of Glauce. (52) Ben-Ze’ev (2000) 321–2. For the taboo on claiming envy see also Schoeck (1966/1969) 14, Elster (1999) 164, R. H. Smith (1991) 85. (53) Phthonos is claimed only twice in all surviving Archaic and Classical Greek texts, interestingly both times in Euripides (Bacch. 820; fr. 334.1 Kannicht). (54) Elster (1999) 171; Wurmser and Jarass (2008a) xii; Rawls (1999) 466–7, 469; Ben-Ze’ev (2000) 283; G. Foster (1972) 172; Wolf (1955) 460. (55) Arist. Rh. 2.9.1386b20–1: τὸ δὲ μὴ ὅτι αὐτῷ τι συμβήσεται ἕτερον, ἀλλὰ δι’ αὐτὸν τὸν πλησίον, ἅπασιν ὁμοίως δεῖ ὑπάρχειν; 2.11.1388a37–8: ὁ δὲ τὸν πλησίον μὴ ἔχειν διὰ τὸν φθόνον. (56) Elster (1999) 98, 169; Parrott (1991) 5–6; Etchegoyen et al. (1987) 50; R. H. Smith (2004). (57) Arist. Rh. 2.9.1386b17: ὡς σύνεγγυς ὢν καὶ ταὐτὸν τῷ νεμεσᾶν. Page 17 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea (58) Gentili (1972) and (2000) and Giacomoni (2000) argue that Jason’s injustice is in not sharing his wife’s bed. Medea wants him in her bed not because she is sexually insatiable, but because that is the proper place for a Greek husband to be: he should be fulfilling his conjugal duties. (59) It is possible to read Greeks rationalizing jealous revenge through the language of justice, honour, and anger all the way back to Menelaus in the Iliad —see Bonanno (1973) on the relationship between the language of injustice (adikia) and the broken expectations of reciprocal amorous relationships; Pizzocaro (1994) 21–5 on Menelaus’ jealousy. Goldhill (2003) 167 has argued, in the context of Medea, that: ‘The language of phthonos (which is sometimes translated as “jealousy”) is linked, and subordinate, to the language of “honour” (timê) and “wrong” (adikein).’ (60) Konstan (2006) 222–32 argues against this translation in the Classical period, and I broadly agree with his arguments. (61) She does not require fidelity, or at least does not say so (and indeed in Greece it would have been unusual if she had—see Kovacs (1980) 15–16), but she does not accept Jason having any other wife but her. (62) Aristotle is not of course commenting specifically on Eur. Med., and his treatise was written nearly a century later; likewise Euripides is not a philosopher, and is not bound to be consistent in his terms as would a philosopher. But (as will be seen) the remarkable degree to which Aristotle’s thinking explains Medea’s language is a testament to how well both men understood the psychology of Greek emotions. (63) On the distinctions between envy and jealousy, see Sanders (forthcoming) ch. 2, Parrott (1991) 23–7, Ben-Ze’ev (2000) 281–2, Klein (1957/1975) 181–2, Neu (1980) 432–5. (64) Another instance Aristotle gives where phthonos involves possessive jealousy is people who do great deeds and have good fortune (including those honoured for a distinction, especially wisdom or happiness), as they think others will try to take something away from them (Rh. 2.10, 1387b28–31). Other examples from the Classical period where phthonos implies possessive jealousy include: Ar. Eq. 880; Xen. Mem. 4.2.33.11; Pl. Leg. 730e5, Spur. 376d5, Spur. 376d8; Isoc. 4.29.4. (65) She also believes Glauce and Creon would treat her children with hubris if she left them behind (782), and the Corinthians would too after the children were made complicit in the royal deaths (1061, 1380). (66) Konstan (2006) 47.

Page 18 of 19

 

Sexual Jealousy and Erôs in Euripides’ Medea (67) Cf. D. L. Cairns (2008) 55. Parrott (1991) 6 notes: ‘it is easy to imagine situations in which an envious or jealous person is the last person to know that envy or jealousy motivates his or her actions.’ (68) The scenario of rival for legitimate wife also occurs in Soph. Trach. and Eur. Andr., and many aspects of Medea’s sexual jealousy scenario recur in all three plays: legitimate wives (actually or potentially) abandoned for a rival; roles as Greek wife (home-keeper, bedmate, bearer of legitimate children) threatened; erôs felt for partner; concern about exclusivity of position; concern with status, that the rival can give the husband something they cannot (Medea, power and status; Iole, youth and sexual allure; Andromache, male offspring); rival living under wife’s roof, or husband abandoning his oikos for the rival’s; anger felt for husband; hostility (albeit mild for Deianira) and phthonos felt for rival; distinctly expressed desire to beat rival—see Sanders (forthcoming) ch. 8 for a detailed discussion of these other tragedies, as well as a survey of, and comparison with, male jealousy in oratory and comedy. (69) D. L. Cairns (2008) 56 argues, with somewhat different emphasis, that Medea’s sexual jealousy is part of her orgê: ‘the fact that anger at insult and injustice does not invariably encompass jealousy does not mean that it may not’—cf. his similar earlier comment regarding jealousy in English: ‘Anger at a partner who prefers someone else is a perfectly good way of referring to the prototypical scenario of “jealousy”’ (54). (70) Konstan (2006) 259–61 highlights the status-consciousness and competitiveness of the entire Greek emotional lexicon.

Page 19 of 19

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 Armand D’Angour

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0005

Abstract and Keywords This chapter explores the way erôs in Sappho’s surviving oeuvre is presented as the site of passionate conflict akin to that faced by Homeric heroes, and proposes that Sappho’s famous fragment 31, ‘That man seems like the gods to me’, was composed with this in view. Following the previous reconstruction of a coda for fr. 31 using Catullus' Latin version (poem 51) as evidence, it is here argued that several more stanzas must have followed the surviving poem. A careful reconsideration of the words with which fr. 31 breaks off is combined with overlooked clues drawn from Catullus' only other poem in Sapphics (C. 11) to trace out a possible trajectory for the lost ending. The resulting reconstruction depicts erôs as offering the prospect, as does battle, of facing and resisting anguish and mortal danger, so as to obtain the much-desired prize of love. Keywords:   Sappho Fr. 31, Homeric, battlefield, Catullus C. 11, reconstruction, danger, prize

Love can be likened to an experience of heaven, but it can also feel like the site of bitter suffering and conflict, more akin to the battlefield. Sappho’s poems are the first works of ancient literature to gesture towards this notion, one that was in due course to be explicitly adopted and explored as militia amoris by Latin elegiac poets of the first century BCE such as Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid. In Archaic Greece love and its delights could naturally enough be constructed in opposition to war and its horrors, in the same way that men and women were supposed to perform their proper functions within the domains of warfare Page 1 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 (polemos) and home life (oikos) respectively. ‘My child’, Zeus reproves Aphrodite in the Iliad (5.428–9), when she flees to him for consolation after being humiliated on the battlefield by Diomedes, ‘matters of war are not your sphere. Better that you should concern yourself with joyful [ἱμερόεντα] matters of marriage.’ In the context of the Trojan War, however, the conflict at whose root were the workings of Eros and the machinations of Aphrodite, there might always be a latent irony in the assertion of such an antithesis. Sappho reveals the irony as well as the potential humour of deconstructing the surface opposition, with her implicit recognition that while the operations of love can appear to be women’s alternative to those of war, they might equally provide a counterpart to it. If women are excluded from the practical aspects of fighting in war, love for them may be experienced not just as opposed to but as analogous to what takes place on the field of battle. In this regard it is noteworthy that Sappho expresses the ambivalent feelings aroused by erôs in terms largely adopted from Homer. The self-conscious lyric exploitation of elements of the epic tradition for the purpose of thinking and speaking of erôs allows the emotional contours of love to be constructed as just as painful, violent, and potentially fatal as any martial engagement. In drawing (p.60) heavily on and adapting Homeric words and metaphors to express the intensity of both suffering and pleasure, Sappho can effectively position love as war.1 In Sappho’s fragments the pain of love is a ‘dripping wound’ (fr. 37: στάλαχμον);2 desire (fr. 48: πόθος) ‘burns’ the heart; Aphrodite ‘overpowers with pain and anguish’ (fr. 1.3), while Eros is ‘sweet-bitter’ (fr. 130.2: γλυκύπικρον) and ‘inflexible’, a ‘giver of pain’ (fr. 172) who can shake the heart like the wind shakes the trees (fr. 47). Sappho’s quandary (‘I am in two minds’, fr. 51) brings to mind the Homeric warrior’s ‘divided thoughts’;3 and her description of Eros as ‘loosener of limbs’ (fr. 130.1: λυσιμέλης), following the use of the epithet by the more overtly martial Archilochus, recalls Homer’s use of ‘loosening of limbs’ to describe death in combat.4 Fearful anxiety and death itself are repeatedly in the frame of her thoughts (e.g. frr. 1.26, 23.9). ‘Honestly I wish I were dead’ is the heartfelt exclamation that precedes her speaking of the departure of a beloved friend (fr. 94.1). Elsewhere she expresses her desperation by declaring ‘a longing to die grips me’ (fr. 95.11). In the only poem by Sappho that is preserved more or less complete (poem 1), when the poet prays for Aphrodite’s help to win the goal of her desire, the goddess’s response evokes the to and fro of battle with its pattern of alternating flight and pursuit: τίνα δηὖτε πείθω ..]σάγην ἐς σὰν φιλότατα; τίς σ᾽, ὦ Ψάπφ᾽, ἀδίκηει; καὶ γὰρ αἰ φεύγει, ταχέως διώξει…5 Who is it this time I must induce Page 2 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 to love you again? Who, Sappho, is doing you an injustice? Look, though she flees you, soon she will chase you…

The final word of this poem unveils the battle metaphor explicitly, as Sappho beseeches the goddess: ὄσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι θῦμος ἰμμέρρει τέλεσον, σὺ δ᾽ αὔτα σύμμαχος ἔσσο.6 Fulfil all that my heart longs to accomplish, and you yourself be my fellow-fighter.

This is not, then, merely a defensive alliance: Sappho asks to be ‘totally fulfilled’, to achieve complete victory in love. Elsewhere Sappho bids her divine ally to (p. 61) ensure the defeat of a potential rival who would otherwise, like a Homeric warrior, be in a position to vaunt her superiority over a vanquished foe: Κύπρι, κα[ί σ]ε πι[κροτάτ]αν ἐπεύ[ροι μη]δὲ καυχάς[α]ιτο τόδ᾽ ἐννέποισα Δ]ωρίχα, τὸ δεύ[τ]ερον ὠς πόθε[ννον εἰς] ἔρον ἦλθε.7 […]Cypris, and may (s)he find you harsh(er), and let Dorikha not boast and tell how he came a second time to love her as she desired.

When the connection between war and love is raised in fr. 16, it highlights the contrast between the two spheres. The poem begins with a priamel in which the poet suggests that the delight felt at the sight of the love-object surpasses that afforded by the sight of massed forces of war: ο]ἰ μὲν ἰππήων στρότον οἰ δὲ πέσδων, οἰ δὲ νάων φαῖσ᾽ ἐπὶ γᾶν μέλαιναν ἔ]μμεναι κάλλιστον, ἔγω δὲ κῆν᾽ ὄττω τὶς ἔραται.8 Some say that a troop of horses, others of soldiers, some a fleet of ships, is the finest sight on the dark earth, but I say whatever it is that one loves.

Sappho proceeds to instantiate the generalization by referring to the way Helen succumbed to love: Helen abandoned Menelaus ‘the best of husbands’ (fr. 16.7– 8: ἄνδρα πανάριστον) and sailed with Paris to Troy, ‘and thought not at all of her child and dear parents’ (10–11). This brief but vivid allusion to the scenario that triggered the Achaean expedition to Troy leads Sappho to name the woman

Page 3 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 whom, in sharp contrast to the accoutrements of war, is the thing she herself loves. The fifth stanza evokes a loving image of the absent Anactoria: τᾶ]ς κε βολλοίμαν ἔρατόν τε βᾶμα κ]αμάρυχμα λάμπρον ἴδην προσώπω ἢ τὰ Λύδων ἄρματα κἀν ὄπλοισι πεσδομ]άχεντας.9 I would rather see her lovely walk and the bright sparkle of her face than the chariots of the Lydians and their infantry at arms.

If the feelings roused by love, then, can be represented by Sappho both in parallel and contrast to war and its effects, one might wonder whether (p.62) Sappho’s most famous and vexed poem of love, fr. 31, is in some way susceptible to interpretation on either of these lines: φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θέοισιν ἔμμεν’ ὤνηρ, ὄττις ἐνάντιός τοι ἰσδάνει καὶ πλάσιον ἆδυ φονείσας ὐπακούει καὶ γελαίσας ἰμέροεν, τό μ’ ἦ μὰν καρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόαισεν· ὠς γὰρ ἔς σ’ ἴδω βρόχε’, ὤς με φώναίσ’ οὐδ’ ἒν ἔτ' εἴκει, ἀλλά κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα †ἔαγε†, λέπτον δ’ αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμηκεν, ὀππάτεσσι δ’ οὐδ’ ἒν ὄρημμ’, ἐπιρρόμβεισι δ’ ἄκουαι, κὰδ δέ ἴδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δὲ παῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας ἔμμι, τεθνάκην δ’ ὀλίγω 'πιδεύης φαίνομ’ ἔμ’ αὔτᾳ. ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον, ἐπεί[ ]καὶ πένητα He seems just like the gods in heaven, that man who sits across from you and cocks his head to listen to your lovely voice and charming laugh—which sets my heart aflutter in my breast, for when I catch the merest glimpse of you, my voice is gone, my tongue’s congealed, a subtle fire runs flickering beneath my frame, my eyes see blank, a buzzing noise assails my ears, my sweat is cold, my body’s gripped by shivers, my skin’s yellower Page 4 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 than grass, it seems as if I’m just an inch from death. But all is worth the risk since… …and serf

The first four stanzas of this poem present a more elaborate and extravagant depiction of an anguished response to feelings of love than any in Sappho’s surviving oeuvre. Its Homeric resonances have often been remarked on.10 The (p.63) poet presents herself as gazing on a man whom she describes in Homeric terms as, literally, ‘equal to gods’ (1: ἴσος θέοισιν). He appears unaffected by the sight of the woman opposite whose voice and laughter make Sappho’s heart (6: καρδίαν) literally ‘cower in her breast’ (6: ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόαισεν), but this causes her by contrast to experience physical sensations akin to those caused by terror on the battlefield—loss of voice, cold sweat, trembling, and pallor. This hyperbolic ‘list of symptoms’ reaches an extreme finale: ‘it seems as if I’m just | an inch from death’ (15–16: τεθνάκην δ' ὀλίγω ’πιδεύης | φαίνομ’ ἔμ’ αὔτᾳ). Despite these unmistakable resonances, the martial and epic overtones of the poem have rarely been considered central to its interpretation or reconstruction. The literary critic Longinus, in whose writings alone the poem is preserved as a quotation, focuses on the way contradictory emotions are expressed and brought together into a harmonious whole: ‘she both freezes and burns, is irrational and sane, is fearful and nearly dead, so that we may observe in her not a single emotion but a synthesis of feelings.’11 Interpretation has, moreover, been heavily and misleadingly influenced by Catullus’ near-translation of these stanzas in his poem 51, in which he addresses his ‘Lesbia’. This raises the spectre of the overwhelming feelings of jealous passion expressed by Catullus for ‘Lesbia’ in his other poems, feelings which some have sought to attribute to those felt by Sappho for ‘that man’. Arguably, however, such feelings have no place in the circumstances surrounding Sappho’s poem, for whom ‘that man’ is an object of admiration rather than envy; some scholars have indeed supposed that this is a ‘wedding poem’ which begins with a makarismos (complimentary praise) of the groom.12 Longinus’ quotation of the poem breaks off just as it undergoes a marked change of tone and direction with ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον. The fragmentary line with which the section following the last full stanza opens has been imagined to initiate a generalizing consolation or exhortation. Thus West has reconstructed it in Greek, as expressing a generalization on these lines: ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον, ἐπεὶ [θέος τοι καὶ πένητα [πλουσίον αἶψ ἔθηκεν· καὶ κατῆλεν αὖθι τὸν ἐξισώμενον μακάρεσσι.] But no thing is too hard to bear (p.64) for God can make the poor man rich Page 5 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 and bring to nothing heaven-high fortune.13

Despite West’s philologically expert reconstruction of the fragmentary evidence, the shift from the extreme concern with love, suffering, and even death in the previous lines to a bland commonplace about rich and poor, resembling most closely a similar expression in Theognis (662–3), seems implausibly unpoetic in this context. I have previously proposed that we should rather attempt to reconstruct a stanza in which Sappho reproaches Cypris with a personal address and seeks consolation by stressing the fact that she is wholesale and impartial in her infliction of destruction, i.e. love afflicts everyone—rich and poor, noble or serf—alike.14 Supposing that the Latin version of the poem constitutes the only independent evidence for any reconstruction of Sappho’s words, I argued that we might read the last ‘otium’ stanza of Catullus 51 with fresh eyes: otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est, otio exsultas nimiumque gestis; otium et reges prius et beatas perdidit urbes. 15 What irks you, Catullus, is idleness, in idleness you become restless and hyperactive; it is idleness that even destroyed in the past kings and blessed cities.

This stanza is usually supposed to diverge wholesale from the Greek original, but I suggested that Catullus in fact preserves the last two lines of Sappho’s lost stanza with some degree of fidelity, and does so particularly closely in the last two lines, [otium] et reges prius et beatas | perdidit urbes, ‘[idleness] even destroyed in the past kings and blessed cities’: only the fact that the admittedly alien-seeming notion of otium here is a purely Catullan insertion is signalled by his emphatic repetition of the word. Where otium, therefore, represents how Catullus personally identifies his ‘problem’ (molestum), Sappho is likely to have said that Love (Eros, Aphrodite, Cypris) was what had ‘destroyed kings and cities’. Accordingly, I previously proposed a Sapphic continuation on the following lines: ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον, ἐπεί κεν ἔσλον Κύπρι, νικάσαις ἴσα καὶ πένητα καὶ γὰρ ὤλεσάς ποτ᾽ ἄνακτας ὀλβί– αις τε πόληας.16 But all is worth the risk since, Love, you’d ruin lord and serf alike: (p.65) you who of old brought down great kings and cities proud.

However, even if a continuation on these lines might be thought to unite the various strands of literary and circumstantial evidence, this stanza alone (no less Page 6 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 than West’s proposed reconstruction) makes for an unduly abrupt conclusion to the poet’s agonized outpourings of the preceding stanzas. Moreover, while the fact that Love is impartially and universally destructive offers some consolation to the sufferer, it does not explain with sufficient amplitude why, given the extreme afflictions wrought on the lover’s mind and body, ‘all is worth the risk’. The assumption that Sappho’s poem ended after only five stanzas is open to strong challenge on different fronts. One is purely formal: the fragments of Sappho’s other poems in this metre mostly represent part of poems longer than five stanzas: fr. 1 has seven stanzas, fr. 2 and fr. 16 are likely to have had at least six, of fr. 3 five survive but there may have been more. Secondly and more decisively, a single concluding stanza could not do justice to the expectations set up by the scenario relentlessly expounded in the preceding stanzas, which end with the poet’s expression of her feeling that she is ‘on the brink of death’. However, a wholly new approach to tracing the poem’s trajectory may be opened up once we explore the consequences of the correct interpretation of the phrase ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον, to which critics and commentators have accorded virtually no attention. Although the phrase is often taken to mean ‘but all must be endured’, Hermann Fränkel long ago noted that this is a mistranslation: ‘must be endured’ would be τολμάτεον, whereas τόλματον means ‘can be endured’.17 I would go further and maintain that τολμᾶν is closer to ‘dare’ than ‘endure’: so ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον properly means something like ‘all can be dared’ (hence my translation, above, ‘all is worth the risk’).18 In other words, ‘can’ indicates possibility rather than inevitability, and ‘dare’ indicates an active attitude rather than a passive position. This reading of ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον finds a somewhat surprising source of support in a hitherto neglected piece of evidence, Catullus’ only other poem in Sapphics, Catull. 11.19 It seems reasonable to suppose that Catullus’ efforts at adapting Sappho fr. 31 would have had some impact on the composition of his only other known Sapphic verses (or in the event that Catull. 11 were an earlier (p.66) attempt at Sapphics, would have been affected by them).20 The Roman poet’s rare incursion into Sapphic metre suggests at least that some coincidence of verbal rhythm and expression might be expected.21 The expectation of some mutual influence is reinforced by the structural similarity of Catull. 11 and 51: both contain lists spanning two stanzas or more, the former detailing faraway places, the latter bodily afflictions. At the end of these lists, both poems appear to resume the initial direction of the poem, though with a marked change of tone and tempo. Thus in poem 11, following the rhetorically extravagant protasis in which Catullus specifies the ends of the earth to which his friends would go at his behest, we arrive at the words (13–14): omnia haec, quaecumque feret voluntas caelitum, temptare simul parati… All these, whatever the decision of the gods Page 7 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 will bring, (although) you are prepared to face together… The three underlined words strikingly occupy the same formal juncture of the poem as Sappho’s ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον; placed together in sequence they could have been used to render into Latin Sapphics that very phrase. The possibility thus arises that omnia haec…temptare in fact represents a residue of Catullus’ attempt to translate the last stanza of Sappho fr. 31 into Latin.22 The poet would have opted for temptare (rather than ferre or pati) as a counterpart to τολμᾶν in seeking to represent the sense of an active response to adversity (‘to venture’).23 Supposing the πάν of ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον to refer to the previous list of symptoms—all this can be ventured—Catullus might even have toyed with the metrically precise equivalent omnia haec temptanda.24 It appears that he altered the thrust of the indictment because he wanted to (p. 67) emphasize that the source of his own ruin, unlike that designated by Sappho, was otium, otium, otium; but although he then abandoned his original version of the missing stanza, his translation of ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον was available for use in almost identical form and for the same structural purpose in another Sapphic composition. The fact that Catull. 11 does not end with the stanza beginning omnia haec but carries on for a further two stanzas gives circumstantial support to the view that a longer coda than just one stanza was to be found in, and is likely to have been required for, the continuation of fr. 31. Catull. 11 is equally tinged with Homeric resonances, which become explicit in the last stanza of the poem where Catullus uses an Iliadic simile (from Il. 8.306) to compare his predicament to that of a flower cut down by a passing plough: the poet levels the blame, as does Sappho in fr. 31, on an overwhelming feminine force, but for him that force is Lesbia (amorem | qui illius culpa cecidit) rather than Cypris. However, the Iliadic resonances and the notion of blame for misdeeds in Catull. 11 recall another Greek poem in Sapphic metre which may also underlie its compositional basis. Alcaeus fr. 42 similarly designates Aphrodite/Helen as the agent of Troy’s ruin, and its first lacunose stanza speaks of the ‘bitter grief’ (πίκρον ἄχος) they inflicted on Troy’s kings and their city: ὠς λόγος, κάκων ἄ[χος ἔννεκ’ ἔργων Περράμωι καὶ παισ[ί ποτ' ἦλθε, Κύπρι, ἐκ σέθεν πίκρον, π[ύρι δ' ὤλεσε Ζεῦς Ἴλιον ἴραν.25 As the story goes, grief on account of their misdeeds once came to Priam and his sons, Cypris, bitter (grief) at your hands, and Zeus destroyed with fire holy Ilium.

Page 8 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 The πίκρον ἄχος that Alcaeus identified as an affliction on kings and cities may have triggered Catullus’ desire to insist on what, for him, was truly molestum; he then fused this notion with his implicit rejection of Sappho’s supposition that the problem was Love. That Catullus may have had Alcaeus’ poem as well as Sappho’s in mind (consciously or otherwise) when composing Catull. 11 is suggested not only by its closely related theme but by a curious verbal resonance: in the context of poetry with Trojan associations, the words that (p. 68) end Catullus’ fifth stanza create a bathetic but unmistakable echo—Ἴλιον ἴραν, ilia rumpens.26 To return to Sappho. What the translation of ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον as ‘all can be dared’ means for the resolution of fr. 31 requires careful reconsideration: on our revised understanding of the phrase, ‘all’ can hardly refer to the symptoms just listed in the foregoing stanzas. Rather, it points to the potential obstacles posed for ‘that man’ who appears in the first stanza, who ‘dares’ to gaze at his loveobject, the very thing that threatens Sappho’s near-annihilation. His actions— gazing at the beloved’s potentially lethal beauty, hearing her beguiling laugh, and facing her fatal charms—require daring worthy of a heroic individual who merits the epithet ἴσος θέοισιν, ‘equal to gods’. Such an act of daring and its consequences, we are told, can be entertained. In short, the change of tone at this point in the poem strikes a note of defiant resolve, rather than one of resignation in the face of Love’s overwhelming power. If, therefore, we seek to discover how Sappho continued the poem, rather than supposing that the suffering she describes is something that ‘must be endured’, we need to ask why the possibility of such daring behaviour, with its frighteningly hazardous consequences, is envisaged. The generalization about kings and cities is unlikely to have formed an end to Sappho’s own thoughts: such general statements are prone to be supported by specific allusions just as they are in Homeric epic (and the epic diction and imagery throughout the poem means that the Iliad is never far away). We have seen how in fr. 16 Sappho follows the generalization ‘some say X, some say Y’ with the exemplum of Helen, and how in fr. 1 the general advice offered by Aphrodite in the penultimate stanza is followed up by a specific prayer for her help. The recently discovered completion of fr. 58 also shows how Sappho might end a poem—in this case lamenting her loss of youth and consoling herself for the consequent loss of love —by illustrating her sentiments with a mythical exemplum: ῎Υμμες πεδὰ Μοίσαν ἰ]ο̣κ[ό]λ̣πων κάλα δῶρα, παῖδες, σπουδάσδετε καὶ τὰ]ν̣ φιλάοιδον λιγύραν χελύνναν· ἔμοι δ᾽ἄπαλον πρίν] π̣οτ᾽ [ἔ]ο̣ντα χρόα γῆρας ἤδη ἐπέλλαβε, λεῦκαι δ’ ἐγ]ένοντο τρίχες ἐκ μελαίναν· βάρυς δέ μ’ ὀ [θ]ῦμο̣ς̣ πεπόηται, γόνα δ’ [ο]ὐ φέροισι, τὰ δή ποτα λαίψηρ’ ἔον ὄρχησθ’ ἴσα νεβρίοισι. τὰ 〈μὲν〉 στεναχίσδω θαμέως· ἀλλὰ τί κεν ποείην; ἀγήραον ἄνθρωπον ἔοντ᾽ οὐ δύνατον γένεσθαι Page 9 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 καὶ γάρ π̣[ο]τ̣α̣ Τίθωνον ἔφαντο βροδόπαχυν Αὔων ἔρωι φ̣ . . α̣θ̣ε̣ισαν βάμεν’ εἰς ἔσχατα γᾶς φέροισα[ν, (p.69) ἔοντα̣ [κ]ά̣λ̣ο̣ν καὶ νέον, ἀλλ’ αὖτον ὔμως ἔμαρψε χρόνωι π̣ό̣λ̣ι̣ο̣ν̣ γῆρας, ἔχ[ο]ν̣τ’ ἀθανάταν ἄκοιτιν.27 [You for] the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts [be zealous,] girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre: [but my once tender] body old age now [has seized;] my hair’s turned [white] instead of dark; my heart’s grown heavy, my knees will not support me, that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns. This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to do? Not to grow old, being human, there’s no way. Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn, love-smitten, carried off to the world’s end, handsome and young then, yet in time grey age o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife.28

Bearing this kind of structure in mind, we can suppose that Sappho’s generalization about kings and cities will not have formed an end to Sappho’s thoughts in fr. 31, but that she is likely to have specified some of those individuals and locations whose destruction could be laid at Aphrodite’s door. ‘Cities’ here points to Troy par excellence, and ‘kings’ must allude to figures such as Priam, Hector, and Achilles, heroes who suit the associations of the epithet ἴσος θέοισιν in the first line. Additionally, the Homeric allusions also bring into sharper focus what is at stake in acknowledging that τόλματον means ‘can be ventured’ as the use of temptare in Catull. 11 now seems to confirm: the suffering described by the catalogue of symptoms is responded to with a call to action. The love-smitten onlooker may be only barely alive, but alive she is, to fight and love another day. Sappho is not simply exhorting herself to endure what must be endured, but saying that one can brave all love’s afflictions. If her coda demonstrated why all can be ventured for love, far from simply offering consolation for inevitable defeat it must have indicated that some measure of success might emerge from the struggle and pain. When we ask which figure might best provide the exemplar of such success, the compelling answer in relation to the tale of Troy is Menelaus.29 Having sailed to Troy for Helen’s sake and braved death in battle, he managed in due course to regain his wife and to contemplate her beauty. As mentioned earlier, (p.70) Menelaus is referred to by Sappho as Helen’s ‘most noble husband’ (fr. 16.7–8) and his example could well demonstrate why ‘all can be ventured’ in love as in war: the war at Troy, instigated at Love’s bidding, brought about the widespread destruction of men of all ranks, but in the end Menelaus regained (at Aphrodite’s bidding) his rightful spouse. If Sappho’s poem concluded, therefore, with at least two stanzas on these lines after the surviving fragment (and I would contend

Page 10 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 that more than two originally followed), one might now envisage a continuation of the poem on the following lines: ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον, ἐπεὶ [κὰτ᾽ ἔσλον, Κύπρι, δηὖτ᾽ ἄγρησθ᾽ ἄμα] καὶ πένητα· [καὶ γὰρ ὤλεσάς ποτ’ ἄνακτας ὀλβί– αις τε πόληας, ῎Ιλιόν τ᾽ ἴραν, ᾽Ελένας ἔκατι Πήλεός τ᾽ υἴον Δανάων τε λᾶον· ἀλλὰ δηὖτ᾽ αὖτος Μενέλαος ἄβραν εἶδεν ἄκοιτιν. Ἰλίω γὰρ εὐρυχόροις ἀγυίαις καλλίπων ἦχ᾽ ἰμερόεντα νόστον, καὶ τέλος ξάνθαν κεφάλαν ἔθηκ᾽ αὔτας ἐνὶ κόλπῳ. ἀλλὰ, Κύπρι, δός μ᾽ ἐπ´ ἔρον πελάσθην καλλίποισ᾽ ἄχος στονόεντά τ᾽ ἄλγεα, καὶ γὰρ αὔτικ᾽ ὄσσα πέπονθα δείξαιμ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἒν ἔοντα.] But all is worth the risk since, [Love, you ruin, now, both lord and] serf: [you who of old brought down great kings and cities proud, yes, holy Troy for Helen’s sake, and Peleus’ son, and all the Greeks; but Menelaus, he once more gazed on his wife, when once he’d left the plains of war and homeward made his sweet return, and laid his godlike head to rest on Helen’s lap. Grant, Kupris, that I’ll love again, and leave the pain of loss behind, and prove that suffering for love is not in vain.]30

(p.71) Sappho can, then, be understood in this poem to be expressing the struggle of love and passion in terms of the battlefield. But she may also have been indicating that, in the end, the struggle of love is not always a fight to the death. Both in love and war, victory is possible for those who dare; and a restored union with a beloved is possible for those who survive love’s assault. Hers is a message that can be presented both to a husband enjoying the delectable sight of a young wife, and to a bereft or lonely lover gazing on that same scene. Cras amet qui numquam amavit, quique amavit cras amet.31 (p.72) Notes:

(1) Rissmann (1983).

Page 11 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 (2) All fragments in this chapter refer to L-P. (3) e.g. those of Achilles in Il. 1.189. (4) Archil. fr. 196; lines 4.469 etc. (5) Fr. 1.18–21. (6) Fr. 1.26–8. (7) Fr. 15.9–12. (8) Fr. 16. 1–4. (9) Fr. 16.16–20. (10) e.g. Page (1979) 29. (11) Longinus Subl. 10.3; Page (1979) 27 is unduly unsympathetic to the critic’s viewpoint. (12) This once dominant interpretation, with its rather old-fashioned and unromantic overtones, has now largely fallen from favour (though Wilson (1996) 57 pronounces it a ‘not unlikely proposition’) partly thanks to Page’s scathing dismissal of the arguments of its proponents in (1979) 30–3. However, it is arguable that, given that κῆνος in line 1 can on its own indicate ‘another man’, the emphatic use of ὤνηρ in line 2 signifies ‘husband’ (cf. the use of ἄνδρα indicating Helen’s legitimate husband in fr. 16.7). (13) West (1970) 312–13. (14) D’Angour (2006). (15) Catull. 51.13–16. (16) D’Angour (2006) 300. (17) Fränkel (1975) 176; despite his insistence, he does not spell out the interpretative consequences of his observation. Hutchinson (2001) 176 downplays its importance, while rightly noting that ‘after all that has preceded, the tone of resignation is, within the poem, a striking gesture’. (18) It is noteworthy that every usage of τολμᾶν in the Iliad (8.24, 10.205, 10.232, 12.51, etc.) has the active connotation of ‘dare’ rather than ‘endure’. Sappho could readily have used a form of τλᾶν to indicate ‘must be endured’ (cf. fr. 121.3).

Page 12 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 (19) I accordingly modify my assertion (D’Angour (2006) 298) that Catull. 51 is ‘the only independent evidence for reconstructing the final stanza of Sappho fr. 31’. (20) Wilkinson (1953) 47 proposed the biographical fancy, accepted by other scholars (e.g. Kenneth Quinn, Peter Green), that Catull. 51 and 11 were respectively composed at the beginning and end of the affair with Lesbia. Although Catull. 51 seems likely to have been the earlier poem, in my view they were probably composed close in time to one another in the context of Catullus’ experimentation with Sapphic models. (21) Commentators have noted the repetition in both poems of the prosaic and intrusive word identidem (‘time and again’); I suspect that this is a sly and deliberate verbal allusion to Sappho’s similar, oft-repeated, ‘signature’ term δηὖτε (‘now again’). (22) The salience of the parallel has been partly obscured by the intervening parenthesis, quaecumque feret voluntas caelitum. This is reminiscent of the parenthetical second line of Catull. 51 (ille, si fas est, superare divos), both in what it means and in the way it constitutes an apparently idiosyncratic departure from the actual or supposed Greek original. In both cases, Catullus seems to have felt the need to interpose a rhetorical appeal to Roman piety into his poem, as if thereby stamping his own personality on the resulting verses. (23) Temptare has strong active connotations: it is also used by Horace in the context of bold venturesomeness, mental and physical (Odes 1.28.5, 3.4.31). (24) Other renderings are possible (omne temptandum tibi, omne sed temptandum, cuncta sed temptanda, etc.) but the phrase with added haec makes for a more elegant resumption. Haec points explicitly to the previous list, unlike ἀλλὰ πὰν τόλματον, but the Catullan phrase suggests that πάν would naturally be read as referring to the foregoing symptoms. (25) My reconstruction following that of Page (L-P), who provides the first line and proposes subsequent lines as follows (also printed by Campbell): Περράμωι καὶ παισ[ί ποτ' Ὦλεν', ἦλθεν | ἐκ σέθεν πίκρον, π[ύρι δ' ὤλεσε Ζεῦς | Ἴλιον ἴραν (‘bitter grief came once to Priam and his sons from you, Helen, and Zeus destroyed holy Ilium with fire’). The fact that Helen is mentioned in the final couplet in the third person (οἰ δ' ἀπώλοντ' ἀμφ' Ἐλένᾳ, Φρύγες τε | καὶ πόλις αὔτων: ‘but they, the Phrygians, and their city perished on account of Helen’) may argue for an apostrophe to Cypris in the first stanza such as I reconstruct here, rather than to Helen. (26) The ludus otiosus of Catull. 50 is after all undertaken per iocum atque vinum, and it may have struck Catullus that ilia rumpens could suggest a pun on

Page 13 of 14

 

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31 the notion of ‘sacking Ilium’ (cf. Propertius’ similar pun at 2.1.14: longas condimus Iliadas). (27) Lardinois (2009) and Edmonds (2009) both give arguments for thinking that this poem did not necessarily end with ἄκοιτιν but continued with the two fragmentary couplets in the same metre reflecting on Sappho’s personal situation and ending with the couplet stating ‘but I love delicacy […] and love has obtained for me the brightness and beauty of the sun’. (28) P. Köln 21351 (Gronewald and Daniel (2004)) with West’s (2005) reconstruction and translation. If the obscure elements in the third line from the end are correctly represented, an unusual form of φορέω (e.g. φοράθεισαν for φορεθεῖσαν, ‘borne’) might fit the traces and the space available. (29) The stolen passion of Paris also comes to mind (cf. Harrison (2001)); but Paris represents a morally dubious character for Sappho, and will have struck a false note as an exemplum of love’s daring. (30) The additional lines that may have ended fr. 58 (see n. 27 above) prompt a reconstruction that would allow Sappho here to have similarly ended with a comment reflecting on her own feelings or status as a lover. (31) ‘He will love tomorrow who has never loved, and who has loved will love again tomorrow’: the refrain of the fourth-century CE Latin poem Pervigilium Veneris, which incorporates elements found in the poems of both Catullus and Sappho.

Page 14 of 14

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium Steven D. Smith

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0006

Abstract and Keywords In Aelian’s 3rd century miscellany De natura animalium (NA), the separation between the worlds of animal and human is not clearly demarcated when it comes to sexual desire. Several instances of human/animal erôs receive elaborate narrative treatments in the collection. For Aelian, what matters is the style in which animals and humans respond to erôs. Aelian appears to uphold the classical Platonic paradigm of a chaste, heavenly erôs, yet his allusive prose offers opportunities to peek behind that mask, teasing us with alternative possibilities and hinting at the ‘monstrous’ truths lurking beneath the surface of even the purest erôs. This ludic quality, reinforced by the variegated aesthetic of the NA, is a defining characteristic of Aelian’s sophistic text. Keywords:   Aelian, animals, erôs, second Sophistic, Plato, miscellany, pederasty, dolphins

Introduction Erôs features prominently in the De natura animalium, the third-century CE Greek miscellany on animals by the Roman sophist Claudius Aelianus (more appropriately, On the character of animals, to translate its Greek title, Περὶ ζῴων ἰδιότητος).1 One would expect, of course, to read in this book the descriptions of animal mating habits typical of natural histories, whereas erôs is usually associated with the sphere of human experience.2 Nevertheless, erôs is a regular ingredient in Aelian’s scholarly compendium that spans seventeen books and comprises 792 entries.

Page 1 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium Aelian himself tells us in the work’s brief prologue that his intention throughout is to demonstrate that, contrary to all expectation, nature has endowed animals with the virtues that we mistakenly think are exclusively human. He uses the rhetoric of paradoxography (the genre that seeks to describe the weird, wonderful, and abnormal) to communicate what his considerable learning and erudition have come to discover about the variegated, variously enlightening, and entertaining animal kingdom. And though the NA is first and foremost an animal miscellany, it is also a commentary on human society, both in terms of (p. 74) how humans interact with animals and also in terms of how humans often fail to live up to the ideals modelled by animals living in harmony with nature. There is more than a touch of sophistic playfulness here, though, for while Aelian claims throughout the text to idealize the natural existence of animals which have no need for the artifice that humans laughably term ‘sophistication’, he also demonstrates elaborately that this conjured natural world is itself the product of an artful scholarly construction. In this regard Aelian subscribes to the aesthetic trend in second- and third-century CE imperial Greek literature, represented paradigmatically by Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe, wherein phusis is inextricably bound up with technê.3 But in Aelian’s De natura animalium, the traditional interplay between phusis and technê bears both an artistic as well as an ethical dimension. Aelian’s animals, in other words, privileged by their association with a nature prior to human society, offer Aelian a medium for addressing the moral deficiencies and hypocrisies of his own social and political world. Unlike the fairly straightforward morality of the Aesopic fable, however, Aelian’s animal discourses embrace ambiguity, inviting the reader’s interpretative probing to discover the text’s complex moral layering. With the human orientation of the De natura animalium in mind, it is perhaps not incredible after all (in Aelian’s own words, preface, lines 5–6: παράδοξον ἴσως οὐδέν), that an erôs more often associated with humans would play such a prominent role in Aelian’s representations of the animal world: erôs structures social behaviour, often presents ethical and philosophical problems, and, finally, titillates and entertains—a fact that should not be underestimated, as we might profitably bring to our understanding of Aelian’s erotic stories the same sophisticated interpretative strategies that we bring to the Greek novels. Aelian is clearly interested in the erôs of humans and human fascination with erôs just as much as he is interested in the putative erôs of animals. Of the 792 entries in the NA, 111 (or 14 per cent) discuss sex or erôs.4 These entries treat six general topics, with several topics sometimes overlapping in a single entry. First, Aelian is most frequently concerned with sexual continence and incontinence. Elephants, for example, have complete control over their sexual desires, while partridges, certain species of fish, and many other animals are lustful creatures whose sexual appetites cannot be curbed.5 A second (p.75) theme is the erotic fidelity of some species of animal (the aitnaios fish, pigeons, crows, and elephants again, to name but a few),6 all explicitly contrasted of Page 2 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium course with the infidelities of human marriage. Third, Aelian is interested in aphrodisiacs, love spells, and erotic suppressants, both in terms of what animals act for humans as ingredients in such concoctions and also what strategies breeders and farmers may apply in order to stimulate or prevent intercourse among members of the herd.7 Fourth, Aelian is concerned with the shame associated with certain kinds of sexual activity, especially incest.8 Fifth, there is a recurring interest in the gendering of certain sexual behaviours: within a given species male and female partners are each expected to act in certain ways, both leading up to and during sexual intercourse. Curiously, though, there are also instances in the animal world where such conventions are flouted. The ichneumon (10.47) and the hare (13.12), for example, each perform the functions of both sexes; the hyena (1.24) changes sex (from male to female, or vice versa) once or several times over the course of its lifetime; and the swallow (2.3) retains its physical sex while performing the role of the opposite gender. All of these aberrations of course assume a binary opposition between the male and female sexes, and the masculine and feminine genders.9 The sixth category of erotic discourse that I have identified in the NA, and the theme with which this chapter is primarily concerned, is the expression of sexual desire between animals of different species.10 Of the 111 entries in the NA that deal with sex or erôs, twenty-nine (or 26 per cent) deal with interspecies eroticism, and twenty-two of those discuss sexual or erotic relationships between animals and humans.11 This is surprising and certainly commands attention, for these relationships offer a direct point of contact between the two stated subjects of Aelian’s text: the world of animals and the world of humans.12 As these episodes demonstrate, the separation between worlds is not so clearly demarcated as perhaps we would like to believe when it comes to sexual desire;13 revealing the natural laws of sex as mere convention, erôs transcends and dissolves the delicate boundary between animal and human. (p.76) These human/animal erotic relationships receive a variety of treatments in the NA. Some are offered in catalogue form within a single entry: Γλαύκης ἀκούω τῆς κιθαρῳδοῦ ἐρασθῆναι κύνα· οἳ δὲ οὐ κύνα, ἀλλὰ κριόν· ἄλλοι δὲ χῆνα. καὶ ἐν Σόλοις δὲ τοῖς Κιλικίοις παιδός, ᾧ ὄνομα ἦν Ξενοφῶν, κύων ἠράσθη καὶ ἄλλου δὲ ὡραίου μειρακίου ἐν Σπάρτῃ κολοιὸς ἐπὶ τῷ εἴδει ἐνόσησεν. (1.6) I hear that a dog fell in love with the cithara-player Glauce. Some say it wasn’t a dog, but a ram. And others say it was a goose. And in Cilician Soli, a dog fell in love with a boy whose name was Xenophon, and in Sparta a jackdaw became ill at the sight of another beautiful young man.14

Page 3 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium Several instances of human/animal erôs, however, receive some of the most elaborate narrative treatments in the whole of the collection. These are the stories of two dolphin/boy pairs (2.6, 6.15), the white elephant and his Indian trainer (3.46), the Judaean woman loved by a snake (6.17), the Sybarite goatherd and his pretty she-goat (6.42), and the Athenian boy Socles and his salacious horse (6.44). As it is throughout the collection, erôs in these particular stories is complex and demands careful interpretation. Not easily schematized, the erôs between human and animal may be problematic or idealized, suspiciously physical or spiritual, asymmetrical or symmetrical. What happens, then, when erôs defines the relationship between human and animal? The results are ambiguous: some of the human partners are made bestial by their erotic association with animals, while some animals are elevated by their participation in erôs with a human partner. When it comes to erôs, Aelian seems to reinforce the old Stoic categorization whereby humans are elevated above irrational beasts.15 This distinction is suspicious in a text that otherwise idealizes animals in their natural state. I suggest, however, that for Aelian, the difference between animal and human in the realm of the erotic resides in the style in which one responds to erôs. Yielding to the sensual and indulging in the physical are morally corrupt; conversely, when it is properly stylized as spiritual and unphysical, erôs represents a philosophical ideal in Aelian’s text. So far, Aelian appears to uphold the classical Platonic paradigm of a chaste, heavenly erôs. I will also try to demonstrate, however, that the sophistic nature of the text reveals that such a physically chaste, Platonic erôs is but a façade. While the narrative voice that conjures such a façade may be taken at face value, Aelian’s allusive prose offers the reader opportunities to look askance at, beneath, and behind that façade. In his insistence that there is no trace of sexual impropriety in such an idealized romance as that between, say, a boy and his dolphin, Aelian teases us with alternative possibilities and (p.77) keeps us guessing at the ‘monstrous’ truths of sex that lurk beneath the surface of even the seemingly purest erôs. Facilitated by the text’s artfully random structure and by its luxuriant poikilia, this ludic quality becomes a defining characteristic of the NA. I first examine how suspicions of sexual behaviour arouse moral criticism in the NA. Next, I analyse some human/animal romances in which erôs (or, more precisely, anterôs) is idealized. Finally, I consider the competing erotic narratives about the boy Nerites as Aelian’s mythological manifesto on the essentially ambiguous nature of erôs and as an indication of the hermeneutic sophistication that readers must bring to Aelian’s text.

Arousal of moral criticism The humorous story of the Athenian boy Socles and his horse in book 6 is an interesting case, as it represents a relationship that has the potential to become an idealized romance, but which is aborted when public suspicion is aroused Page 4 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium about the physical nature of the relationship. Aelian begins the narrative as an excursus on the goodwill (eunoia) and friendship (philia) that horses are capable of exhibiting towards owners who act as benefactors and who show care for their creatures. Aelian even provides two historical exempla. The close relationship between Alexander the Great and his horse Bucephalus was famous enough not to require elaboration, and Aelian says that he will pass over even the third-century BCE case of Antiochus, whose horse valiantly avenged his master’s death on the battlefield. But the story of the Athenian boy Socles, he says, is less well known, and it seems at first that this story is introduced to illustrate further the eunoia and philia that horses exhibit towards masters who treat them with care. Instead, this salacious story charts erôs gone wrong. The beautiful boy, we are told, bought a horse that was itself beautiful, the narrative setting up what appears to be the symmetry of physical beauty typical of romance.16 But, Aelian says, this horse was intensely erotic and of a kind more clever than was common among other horses. This remarkable specimen of a horse accordingly conceives an acute erôs for his master. When the boy would approach, the horse used to snort and leap (6.44, p. 150, line 22: ἐφριμάττετο); when the boy would clap his hands, the horse would whinny and prance (ἐφρυάττετο); when the boy would mount, the horse readily offered himself (line 23: ἀναβαίνοντος ἑαυτὸν παρεῖχεν εὐπειθῆ); when the boy stood in front of him, the horse would look at him with melting eyes (line 24: ὑγρὸν ἑώρα). (p.78) The horse’s behaviour may seem harmless and merely charming, but Aelian’s language is suggestive of a dangerous physicality and a morally dubious disposition. First, the verb φριμάττεσθαι (‘to snort and leap’) connotes the response of sexually aroused animals. In Herodotus, for example, the verb is used of a horse after smelling the scent of a mare’s genitalia on the hand of Darius’ groom (Hdt. 3.87: τὸν δὲ αἰσθόμενον φριμάξασθαί τε καὶ χρεμετίσαι). This is also the verb used by Theocritus to describe the randy goats of the goatherd Comatas in the hyper-sexual fifth Idyll (Theoc. 5.141–2: φριμάσσεο, πᾶσα τραγίσκων | ωῦν ἀγέλα). Second, the verb φρυάττεσθαι (‘to whinny and prance’) is frequently used as a metaphor for insolent behaviour in erotic contexts (Alciphr. 3.27; Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.33; Philippus Anth. Planudea 4.215: Ἔρωτες σκῦλα φρυασσόμενοι). Third, apart from the obvious sexual innuendo in the boy’s ‘mounting’ of the horse (ἀναβαίνοντος),17 the description of the erotic horse as εὐπειθής evokes the obedient horse of the tripartite soul in Plato’s Phaedrus. In this locus classicus of erotic literature,18 the obedient horse, a metaphor for the spiritual self-control of the erastês, the older, active lover, is compelled by a sense of shame to prevent himself from leaping at the erômenos, the younger, passive beloved (Pl. Phdr. 254a: ὁ μὲν εὐπειθὴς τῷ ἡνιόχῳ τῶν ἵππων, ἀεί τε καὶ τότε αἰδοῖ βιαζόμενος, ἑαυτὸν κατέχει μὴ ἐπιπηδᾶν τῷ ἐρωμένῳ). He is contrasted, of Page 5 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium course, with his yoke-mate, who ‘has no further regard for the goads of the charioteer or for the whip, but leaping rushes violently, and causing trouble for both his yoke-mate and the charioteer compels them to advance towards the beloved and to recall the delight of sexual pleasure’ (254a: ὁ δὲ οὔτε κέντρων ἡνιοχικῶν οὔτε μάστιγος ἔτι ἐντρέπεται, σκιρτῶν δὲ βίᾳ φέρεται, καὶ πάντα πράγματα παρέχων τῷ σύζυγί τε καὶ ἡνιόχῳ ἀναγκάζει ἰέναι τε πρὸς τὰ παιδικὰ καὶ μνείαν ποιεῖσθαι τῆς τῶν ἀφροδισίων χάριτος). The charioteer of the soul is only able to rein in his team of horses when he remembers true beauty and sôphrosunê (sexual continence), and if the charioteer fails to remember true beauty and sôphrosunê, then the erastês is at risk of committing some sexual outrage upon the body of his erômenos.19 The Platonic intertext invites suspicions about this particular horse’s obliging (p.79) disposition whenever Socles wants to mount him: it remains unclear whether his obedience is motivated by sôphrosunê or by sexual pleasure. Fourth, the melting glances with which the horse looks upon Socles (ὑγρὸν ἑώρα) evoke the negative example of the corrupt Athenian youth criticized in Aristophanes’ Clouds for ‘making his voice supple towards his lover and prostituting himself with his eyes’ (Ar. Nu. 979–80: μαλακὴν φυρασάμενος τὴν φωνὴν πρὸς τὸν ἐραστὴν | αὐτὸς ἑαυτὸν προαγωγεύων τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς). Finally, the pattern of Aelian’s sentence as a whole is noteworthy: each finite verb describing the actions of the horse is juxtaposed with syntactically independent genitive participles describing the actions of the boy, a structure that mimetically reinforces the notion that, though coupled, boy and horse are by nature too different from one another to be truly conjoined.20 In the next sentence, Aelian informs us that the horse’s behaviour, though it was already erotic, nevertheless seemed delightful (6.44, p. 150, lines 24–5: καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ἐρωτικὰ ὄντα ἤδη ὅμως τερπνὰ ἐδόκει). This is the narrative hint whereby we might speculate about the erotic interests of Socles himself for his frisky horse: how far is the boy willing to go to gratify his equine erastês? Had the pair conducted themselves with more modesty in public, we might never have known about the covert sexual realities of their relationship. Their sexuality, however, cannot be concealed, for ‘the horse began to be more reckless, because he was even desiring to do something to the young man, and a rather monstrous story about the pair began to spread’ (lines 25–6: ἦν ὥς τι καὶ δρασείων εἰς τὸ μειράκιον προπετέστερος, καὶ διέρρει λόγος ὑπὲρ ἀμφοῖν ἀτοπώτερος). Socles, finding the slander unbearable, sells the horse, ‘on the grounds that he hated a lover who could not control himself’ (lines 27–8: ὡς ἐραστὴν ἀκόλαστον μισήσας). The ambiguity of this last participial phrase is striking, for in addition to conveying the grounds of belief on which Socles is acting, the particle ὡς may also convey a pretext for selling the horse. But such a pretext, generated only by the gossip of the Athenians and allowing Socles to maintain his dignity, paradoxically ends up confirming the suspicions about the sexual nature of the boy’s relationship with his horse: had it not been for the Page 6 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium rumours, Socles would have kept quiet and continued to enjoy potentially illicit pleasures with his equine companion. On this interpretation, Socles was not really opposed at all either to the erotic attentions of his horse or to the sexual activity that the horse was plotting. Socles may even have felt a reciprocal erôs for the horse. The public shame aroused by the overt sexuality of the relationship, however, compels Socles to perform for the critical Athenian public the socially sanctioned role of sôphrôn erômenos. Selling the horse and declaring that he hates a lover who cannot control himself, Socles clears (p.80) his reputation of any suspicion of sexual impropriety. One is reminded of Plutarch’s anecdote about Periander, the tyrant of Ambracia, who, when he asked his erômenos, ‘Aren’t you pregnant yet?’ was in turn killed by the humiliated young man (Amat. 768F). Until that public utterance, though, the young man had apparently been complicit in his sexual relationship with Periander and had perhaps even taken pleasure in the sexually ‘passive’ role. In the case of both Aelian’s narrative and the Plutarchan anecdote, sex is only licit when it remains unseen and unspoken. But instead of leaving us with the image of a hypocritically triumphant Socles, Aelian concludes his narrative with the tragic image of the lovesick horse: ‘incapable of enduring the separation from the beautiful boy, he set himself free from living by means of a most violent starvation’ (6.44, p. 150, lines 28–9: οὐ φέρων τὴν ἐρημίαν τὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ καλοῦ, ἑαυτὸν τοῦ ζῆν ἀπήλλαξε λιμῷ βιαιοτάτῳ). Conservative Athenian sexual morality is preserved, but Aelian is mindful of the costs.

Idealization of erôs The failed romance between Socles and his horse is to be contrasted with the idealized romances between two boys and their dolphins.21 Such stories were a commonplace in the tradition of animal lore: in addition to the famous story of Arion and the dolphin who rescued him from pirates,22 Aelian notes parallel stories from Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy II and also from Puteoli in Italy (6.15). But the stories of the boys from the Aegean island of Poroselene (2.6) and from the Carian town of Iassos (6.15) stand out in Aelian’s collection for their elaborate narrative form. In the case of the boy from Poroselene, Aelian provides the eyewitness account of Leonidas of Byzantium. An old island couple once nurtured a local dolphin in their harbour, offering it the most enticing bait, and Aelian even refers to the dolphin as their ‘foster child’ (2.6, p. 30, line 2: τρόφιμον). This couple also had a child of their own who was raised alongside the tame dolphin, and, says Aelian, ‘somehow from being brought up together both human and animal, unawares, came to have an erôs for one another, and—this indeed is what is celebrated—an exceedingly holy anterôs was honoured in the aforementioned’ (lines 5–8: καί πως ἐκ τῆς συντροφίας ἐλαθέτην ἐς ἔρωτα ἀλλήλων ὑπελθόντε ὅ τε ἄνθρωπος καὶ τὸ ζῷον, καί, τοῦτο δὴ τὸ ᾀδόμενον, ὑπέρσεμνος ἀντέρως ἐτιμᾶτο ἐν τοῖς προειρημένοις). When mature (line 11: τέλειος ὤν), the dolphin began to repay his foster parents for nurturing him, (p.81) not only by bringing back to them Page 7 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium fish from the sea, but also by performing a number of aquatic exercises with the boy, now no longer described as a mere pais (a ‘boy’ generally) but a more mature meirakion (around the age of 18). When the boy would call to him, the dolphin would cease whatever he might be doing to swim to the boy’s side, darting through the water ‘like a ship under way with a great surge of waves’ (line 22: δίκην ἐλαυνομένης νεὼς πολλῷ τῷ ῥοθίῳ). Aelian continues: καὶ πλησίον τῶν παιδικῶν γενόμενος συμπαίστης τε ἦν καὶ συνεσκίρτα, καὶ πῇ μὲν τῷ παιδὶ παρενήχετο, πῇ δὲ ὁ δελφὶς οἷα προκαλούμενος εἶτα μέντοι εἰς τὴν ἅμιλλαν τὴν εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ παιδικὰ ὑπῆγε. καὶ τὸ ἔτι θαῦμα, ἀπέστη καὶ τῆς πρώτης ποτὲ καὶ δὴ καὶ ὑπενήξατο αὐτῷ, οἷα νικώμενος ἡδέως δήπου. (p. 30, line 22–p. 31, line 1) And coming to the side of his beloved, he was his playmate and leapt together with him, and sometimes he would swim alongside the boy, and sometimes the dolphin, as though challenging, would indeed then draw his beloved into a contest with him. And this was a further wonder: the dolphin gave up the first place sometimes and indeed even swam second to him, as though being defeated with pleasure, I suppose. These performances in the harbour of Poroselene became famous, and to those who sailed there, the spectacle (p. 31, line 2: ὅραμα) was thought to be among the city’s highlights. It is also worth noting here that the dolphin’s behaviour seems to transcend erôs, as Aelian’s description is similar to that of Aristotle’s ‘perfect friend’ who thinks first and foremost of his dear companion, and of himself only second.23 The parallel story in book 6 of a dolphin and a boy from Iassos, however, though also representing an idealized erôs, takes an unexpectedly tragic turn. In fact, despite the idealized erôs that the story represents, the tragedy may be said to arise from the introduction of a more physical element into the relationship between boy and dolphin. In this sense the story from Iassos should be understood as a hybrid narrative, blending the apparently chaste, idealized erôs of boy and dolphin with the sexual imagery that characterized the relationship between Socles and his frisky horse. The physicality of this erôs is signalled first by the context out of which this relationship arose: ‘the gymnasium of the people of Iassos is situated right upon the sea, and the ephebes in fact, after their running and wrestling, go down there and wash themselves, in accordance with an ancient custom’ (6.15, p. 136, lines 21–3: τὸ γυμνάσιον τὸ τῶν Ἰασέων ἐπίκειται τῇ θαλάσσῃ, καὶ οἵ γε ἔφηβοι μετὰ τοὺς δρόμους καὶ τὰς κονίστρας κατιόντες ἐνταῦθα ἀπολούονται κατά τι ἔθος ἀρχαῖον). The image of the naked, toned bodies of the ephebes offers a context for the emergence of erôs that is totally different from that of the preceding story. In Poroselene, the erôs between boy and dolphin grew out of a family context: the pair was raised together and their erotic relationship developed (p.82) slowly over time. In Iassos, however, Page 8 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium the erôs of the dolphin is brought on instantaneously by the vision of the naked young men fresh from exercise:24 ‘with a most acute erôs, a dolphin falls in love with one remarkable for his beauty’ (lines 23–4: ἑνὸς τοῦ τὴν ὥραν ἐκπρεποῦς ἐρᾷ δελφὶς ἔρωτα δριμύτατον).25 Imagistic and linguistic echoes of the story of Socles and the Athenian horse reinforce the physicality of this scene. In describing the erôs of this dolphin, for example, Aelian uses almost exactly the same language with which he described the erôs of the horse for the boy Socles (6.44, p. 150, line 21: ἐρᾷ τοῦ δεσπότου δριμύτατα). But whereas Aelian emphasized the monstrous quality of the horse’s erôs, here he indicates that this same acute erôs had a very different outcome, for the dolphin ‘by means of their constant intercourse induced an intimacy and a powerful goodwill from the boy toward himself’ (6.15, p. 136, line 26–p. 137, line 1: τῇ συνηθείᾳ φιλίαν τινὰ καὶ ενοιαν εἰς ἑαυτὸν ἐκ τοῦ παιδὸς ἰσχυρὰν ἐπηγάγετο). These, you will remember, are the same ideal qualities shown by horses lucky enough to have owners who care for them (cf. 6.44, p. 150, lines 11–12: ἀμείβεται τὸν εὐεργέτην εὐνοί τε καὶ φιλί), ideals that the lusty horse belonging to Socles does not get the opportunity to demonstrate. Furthermore, the playful sporting wherein ‘the boy, mounting the dolphin like a rider upon a young horse, used to sit upon him splendidly while his erastês swam beneath him’ (6.15.13–15: ὁ παῖς ἀναβαίνων ὡς πῶλον ἱππότης, ὑπονηχομένου τοῦ ἐραστοῦ γαῦρος ἐφέζετο) clearly recalls the too easy mounting of the horse by Socles (6.44, p. 150, line 23: ἀναβαίνοντος ἑαυτὸν παρεῖχεν εὐπειθῆ). But whereas it is only ever implied by Aelian that Socles shared the erotic feelings of his horse, Aelian here explicitly marks the erôs between boy and dolphin as being reciprocal. It is precisely this emotional and physical reciprocity, though, that invites their own destruction: ‘not long afterwards, however, even this reciprocal/rival lover was overcome by divine envy’ (6.15, p. 137, lines 14–15: οὐ μέντοι μετὰ μακρὸν καὶ οὗτος ὁ ἀντερῶν ἡττήθη τοῦ φθόνου). I will return in the next section to the connection in Aelian’s thought between anterôs (‘reciprocal love/erotic rivalry’) and divine envy, but for the moment it is worth considering the outrageous, tragicomic conclusion of the boy’s romance with the dolphin: ἔτυχε γοῦν ὁ παῖς πλείω γυμνασάμενος, καὶ καμὼν ἑαυτὸν τῷ ὀχοῦντι κατὰ τὴν γαστέρα ἐπιβάλλει, καί πως ἔτυχεν ἡ τοῦ ζῴου ἄκανθα ἡ κατὰ τοῦ νώτου ὀρθὴ οὖσα, καὶ τῷ ὡραίῳ τὸν ὀμφαλὸν κεντεῖ. εἶτά τινες φλέβες ὑπορρήγνυνται, καὶ αἵματος ἔπειτα ῥοὴ πολλή, καὶ ὁ παῖς ἐνταῦθα ἀποθνήσκει. ὅπερ οὖν ὁ δελφὶς συναισθόμενος…καὶ θεασάμενος πορφυροῦν ἐκ τοῦ αἵματος τὸ πέλαγος, τὸ πραχθὲν συνῆκε καὶ ἐπιβιῶναι (p.83) τοῖς παιδικοῖς οὐκ ἐτόλμησε. πολλῇ τοίνυν τῇ ῥώμῃ χρησάμενος, ὥσπερ οὖν ῥοθίῳ σκάφος, εἶτα ἑαυτὸν εἰς τοὺς αἰγιαλοὺς ἑλκὼν ἐξέβρασε,

Page 9 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium καὶ τὸν νεκρὸν συνεξήνεγκε, καὶ ἔκειντο ἄμφω ὃ μὲν τεθνεώς, ὃ δὲ ψυχορραγῶν. (6.15, p. 137, lines 15–26) The boy at any rate happened to exercise too much in the gymnasium, and, worn out, he threw himself belly downwards upon his carrier, and somehow the spiny thorn on the creature’s back happened to be erect, and it pierced the beautiful boy’s navel. Accordingly, some arteries were cut from beneath and there was then a great flow of blood, and the boy died there. The dolphin, therefore, when he became aware of it…and seeing the sea growing purple from the blood, he understood what had been done and he did not have the courage to survive his beloved. Then using much strength, like a ship against dashing waves, then he dragged and cast himself upon the shore, and he brought the boy’s corpse out of the water with himself, and they both lay there, the one already dead, the other letting his soul break loose from life. Unlike the exceedingly holy and consequently benign anterôs of the boy and dolphin couple from Poroselene, the anterôs binding the pair from Iassos has a greater narrative intensity because of its injection of horsy sexuality. As I mentioned above, Aelian’s account intermingles elements from both comedy and tragedy. The outrageous image, for example, of the boy’s piercing by the dolphin’s erect dorsal spine is described with the word κεντεῖν, a verb whose sexual innuendo was established by the poets of Athenian comedy.26 But the comedy is offset, if not enhanced, by the solemn narrative tone and by the tragic diction of a Euripidean verb like ψυχορραγεῖν, describing the dying dolphin (cf. Alc. 20, HF 324). However much idealized, this erôs between boy and dolphin connotes also an excessive care for the body (6.15, p. 137, line 15: πλείω γυμνασάμενος) that simultaneously evokes the coarse humour of comedy and finds its ultimate consummation in tragic death. The scene’s literary association with tragedy becomes explicit when Aelian compares the dolphin of Iassos with the lover from Euripides’ play Chrysippus and apostrophizes his favourite classical poet directly: ‘but, noble Euripides, Laius did not do this for Chrysippus, even though, as you yourself say and as common report teaches, he was the very first of the Greeks to introduce the erôs for males’ (6.15, p. 137, lines 26–9: Λάϊος δὲ ἐπὶ Χρυσίππῳ, ὦ καλὲ Εὐριπίδη, τοῦτο οὐκ ἔδρασε, καίτοι τοῦ τῶν ἀρρένων ἔρωτος, ὡς λέγεις αὐτὸς καὶ ἡ φήμη διδάσκει, Ἑλλήνων πρώτιστος ἄρξας).27 In his compelling reconstruction of Euripides’ lost play, William Poole has suggested that the Chorus may have advocated ‘fertility and marriage as a higher goal than the sterile and violent passion of Laius’, concluding that the play ‘contained the earliest example known to us in Greek literature of a debate between exponents of heterosexual and homosexual values’.28 More recently, James Davidson has proposed that the myth of Chrysippus may reflect ‘Athenian homosexual (p.84) anxieties about the proximity of Striplings and Boys in the gymnasium’.29 Both Poole and Page 10 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium Davidson therefore see Euripides’ Chrysippus as responding to fifth-century BCE concerns about the morality of non-procreative sexual desire and in particular of casting the free-born boy in the role of sexual object. Aelian’s tale, however, speaks to a different anxiety. On the one hand, and in contrast with the dangerous sexuality between Socles and his horse, the anterôs between boy and dolphin is here given a lavish narrative eulogy, and their public activity was enviable (6.15, p. 137, line 5: ἀξιόζηλον) to the people of Iassos and to foreigners alike. The story’s tragic conclusion on the other hand represents an anxiety, abiding into the Roman imperial period, about the seemingly boundless capacity of boys to reciprocate the intense erôs of even the most unlikely of lovers.

Anterôs and the myth of Nerites The problematic sexuality of anterôs is given further elaboration in a crucial mythological narrative in book 14 of the NA. Aelian’s subject is the spiral-shaped shellfish known as the nêritês, and about the origins of this shellfish there are two accounts in circulation, both of which receive full narrative treatment.30 Curiously, Aelian feels he must defend his decision: ‘indeed even to tell some short stories in the midst of a long text is only to relieve the ear and to inject some pleasure into the narrative’ (14.28, p. 354, lines 1–3: καὶ μέντοι καὶ διαμυθολογῆσαι μικρὰ ἄττα ἐν μακρᾷ τῇ συγγραφῇ οὐδὲν ἀλλ' ἢ διαναπαῦσαί τε τὴν ἀκοὴν καὶ ἐφηδῦναι τὸν λόγον). Aelian begins by demonstrating that these stories deviate from the mythological traditions of Homer and Hesiod. According to the poets, Doris, the daughter of Oceanus, and the sea god Nereus were the parents of fifty daughters. But Homer and Hesiod are silent about the only son of Doris and Nereus, the boy Nerites, the most beautiful of humans and gods, who is sung about in ‘tales from the sea’ (line 8: λόγοι θαλάττιοι). In the first of the two stories, Nerites was the beloved of Aphrodite, who delighted to spend time with him in the sea. But when the time came for Aphrodite to be enrolled among the Olympian gods at the summons of her father, she wanted to bring Nerites along with her as her companion and playmate. Nerites, however, refused, preferring to remain with his sisters and parents and rejecting a life on Olympus. Aphrodite even gave him wings, but (p.85) Nerites disdained the divine gift. Rebuffed and angered, Aphrodite transformed Nerites into the spiral-shaped shellfish we know today and gave his wings to Eros, choosing him instead of Nerites as her attendant and servant. The second story, however, declares that Poseidon fell in love with Nerites, and that Nerites loved Poseidon in return, and that it was from this that the famous Anteros was born (14.28, p. 354, lines 22–5: ὁ δὲ ἄλλος λόγος ἐρασθῆναι βοᾷ Νηρίτου Ποσειδῶνα, ἀντερᾶν δὲ τοῦ Ποσειδῶνος, καὶ τοῦ γε ὑμνουμένου Ἀντέρωτος ἐντεῦθεν τὴν γένεσιν ὑπάρξασθαι). What follows is a scene that parallels the playful sporting of the boys and their dolphins: the beloved spends the rest of his time with his lover (lines 25–6: συνδιατρίβειν οὖν τά τε ἄλλα τῷ Page 11 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium ἐραστῇ τὸν ἐρώμενον) and when Poseidon drives his chariot through the waves, the other sea creatures, including dolphins, cannot keep up with the speed of his horses. His boyfriend alone accompanies him and remains very close (14.28, p. 355, lines 2–3: μόνα δὲ ἄρα τὰ παιδικά οἱ παρομαρτεῖν καὶ μάλα πλησίον). Even this apparently chaste vignette, however, betrays hints of sex. There is certainly a sexual innuendo, for example, in the verb συνδιατρίβειν: Nerites is clearly not just ‘spending time’ with his lover.31 Furthermore, what does it mean for the beloved to get ‘very close’ (μάλα πλησίον) to his lover? The whole of the scene of course begs to be considered alongside the encomium of erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus. The beloved, says Socrates, eventually overcomes the embarrassment and shame of being slandered by his schoolfellows or others, since they say that ‘it is disgraceful to get close to a lover’ (Pl. Phdr. 255a5: αἰσχρὸν ἐρῶντι πλησιάζειν). That this is a sexual euphemism becomes clear shortly afterwards, when Socrates says that the beloved is in possession of anterôs (255e1: ἀντέρωτα ἔχων) and desires ‘to see, to touch, to be intimate, to lie down together with’ his lover, ‘and indeed, as is likely, he does what happens next’. When they are in bed together (255e4–5: ἐν οὖν τῇ συγκοιμήσει), the boy, ‘swelling with a desire that he does not understand, throws his arms around his lover and kisses him’ (256a2: σπαργῶν δὲ καὶ ἀπορῶν περιβάλλει τὸν ἐραστὴν καὶ φιλεῖ), and ‘whenever they lie down together, he is in such a state that he would not refuse on his part to gratify his lover if he should ask to have it’ (256a3–5: ὅταν τε συγκατακέωνται, οἷός ἐστι μὴ ἂν ἀπαρνηθῆναι τὸ αὑτοῦ μέρος χαρίσασθαι τῷ ἐρῶντι, εἰ δεηθείη τυχεῖν). With its own erastês/erômenos pair, its own chariot and horses, and its commemoration of the birth of Anteros, Aelian’s myth clearly evokes the Platonic intertext and thereby establishes a powerful sexual subtext for the romance between Nerites and Poseidon.32 (p.86) What follows disrupts the romance, for Helios resented the boy’s speed and therefore turned him into the spiral shellfish that he is now. Though the story does not provide an explanation for the sun’s resentment and anger, the narrative silence on this point affords Aelian the opportunity to conjecture: ‘if one must make an interpretation based on lack of evidence, then Poseidon and Helios are said to be rivals in their love for the boy’ (14.28, p. 355, lines 8–10: εἰ δέ τι χρὴ συμβαλεῖν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀτεκμάρτων, λέγονται ἀντερᾶν Ποσειδῶν καὶ λιος). This interpretation is playfully based upon the double meaning of the word anterôs and its verbal equivalent anterân: the intense reciprocal love between erastês and erômenos inevitably invites an erotic rivalry. Aelian then makes a further conjecture: ‘and perhaps Helios was vexed because he was moving about in the sea, and he wanted him to be numbered not among the sea monsters, but to be borne aloft among the stars’ (lines 10–12: καὶ ἠγανάκτει μὲν ἴσως ὁ Ἥλιος, ὡς ἐν θαλάττῃ φερόμενος, ἐβούλετό τε αὐτὸν οὐκ ἐν τοῖς κήτεσιν ἀριθμεῖσθαι, ἀλλ' ἐν ἄστροις φέρεσθαι).

Page 12 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium The erotic implications of Aelian’s interpretation corroborate suspicions about the boy’s monstrous sexuality. If there was a narrative anxiety in earlier stories about the boy’s sexual desire for horse or dolphin, here the objectionable object of desire is not an animal, but a monstrous figure nonetheless: the bearded adult male.33 Helios’ putative wish for the boy to be borne aloft to the stars therefore reflects his wish to transform a beastly sexual relationship with the charioteer of the sea into something more sublime, a heavenly ascent. Helios’ failure in this regard should be considered alongside Aphrodite’s similar failure in the first version of the myth. Spurning a heavenly existence twice over, and rejecting not only the sun god but also Ouranian Aphrodite herself, the boy Nerites emphatically declares his commitment to a baser erotic existence. But it is here, Aelian informs us, among the monsters, where the exceedingly holy, celebrated anterôs is born.

Conclusion On the surface, therefore, it would appear that in all of these stories, Aelian reinforces the old Platonic ideals of a chaste erôs whose goal is not the (p.87) satisfaction of bodily desires but the philosophical contemplation of and communion with the true heavenly beauty. Sexual intercourse is discussed with some frequency in the NA, but when it is a topic of discussion, Aelian refers to it disparagingly as lagneia (copulation). Lagneia itself, however, is not inherently repugnant, but rather the way in which it is conducted. When an exhibition is made of sex or when it is indiscriminate or immoderate, lagneia is censured, as are those creatures that are lagnistatoi.34 Aelian’s elephants, by contrast, praised for their extreme modesty and for only copulating once in their lives and for reproductive purposes, reflect a contemporary philosophical disapproval of non-procreative sex.35 This philosophical disapproval had its origins in Pythagorean thought, but it was appropriated in Rome by the likes of Seneca and Musonius, and in the century before Aelian was composing the NA, procreationism was being defined as a central tenet of Christian sexual ethics.36 It is therefore not surprising that erôs is idealized in Aelian’s text when it is reciprocal and when it seems more like philia: a love of warm feelings, a spiritual love. In these human–animal romances, it might even seem as if there is no sex going on at all. But Aelian’s text also demonstrates that there are layers of subterfuge, and I have shown in all of my readings that Aelian’s narratives are self-consciously aware of the conventionality of such sanitized erotic conceptualizations. That this dual mentality exists in the NA is perhaps not surprising when one considers that Aelian was writing in the decades when Philostratos celebrated the transcendent philosophical asceticism of Apollonius of Tyana, and Dio Cassius simultaneously enraged and aroused his readers by describing with graphic exaggeration the transgressive sexual exploits of the emperor Elagabalus. This juxtaposition and blending of philosophical highmindedness and prurience could even be said to be a defining feature of literature from the Severan period. Page 13 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium My readings of Aelian’s stories explore notable exceptions to the thesis proposed by Konstan (this volume), that erôs was a uniquely human emotion and not normally ascribed to animals. Moreover, whereas Konstan believes that in none of these narratives of animal–human erôs is a sexual relationship insinuated, I have shown that Aelian’s animal–human romances are in fact full of sexual innuendo, though that sexuality becomes problematic as the romance evolves. For Konstan, Greek erôs was similar to ‘being in love’ or infatuation in the modern sense. Further, to be in love in this sense ‘is distinct from a mere sexual drive, though it is often supposed that it includes some sexual component’. But Konstan also posits that, for these very reasons, erôs was conceived of as ‘a peculiarly human passion’, and therefore not ascribed to animals. But Aelian’s animal–human romances show that in the Greek imagination it was indeed possible to ascribe to animals an erôs such as that (p.88) described by Konstan: an infatuation with a sexual component that arises from the animal’s perception of physical beauty. What is equally amazing is that Aelian’s handsome boys experience this same erôs for their animal lovers. Ultimately, though, my readings accord with Konstan’s overall interpretation of Greek erôs. These stories are, after all, worthy of Aelian’s narrative elaboration because they are so out of the ordinary, not part of the ‘normal’ way of things. And yet, surprisingly, these stories do not provoke scorn or disgust; on the contrary, it is from such non-normative, transgressive unions that anterôs is born, the reciprocal, sexually charged infatuation that Aelian calls hupersemnos, ‘exceedingly holy’. The monstrous sexuality of these romances, in other words, is capable of being idealized because of its assimilation to an intense reciprocal love that was recognizably human. By way of conclusion, it is profitable to consider in what sense Aelian imagines himself to be a lover. I have in mind here not the biographical sketch of Aelian in Philostratos’ Lives of the Sophists, which offers the image of a man of questionable virility who avoided making children by never marrying (Philostr. VS 625: παιδοποιίαν γὰρ παρῃτήσατο τῷ μὴ γῆμαί ποτε)—though these details are most tantalizing. Rather, Aelian’s own erotic self-representation within the pages of the NA is revealing. At one point Aelian refers to himself as a ‘red-hot lover of truth’ (2.11, p. 33, line 14: ἀληθείας ἐραστὴν διάπυρον), and in the crucial epilogue of his animal miscellany, he declares that, ‘passion for learning inflames me’ (epilogue, p. 430, lines 7–8: ἔρως με σοφίας…ἐξέκαυσεν). Aelian therefore represents himself not as a philosopher, but as something more intense, more passionate, but also a little bit shifty, and not without a sense of humour. Though he draws heavily on the language of philosophical (especially Stoic) discourse throughout the NA,37 nowhere in the text does Aelian refer to himself as a ‘philosopher’ (φιλόσοφος) or as ‘engaged in philosophy’ (φιλοσοφῶν). And elsewhere in the epilogue, it becomes clear that what Aelian means by ‘truth’ is not an objective reality per se, but a literary conceit: he is showing off the Protean truths that he has found in books.38 This is Page 14 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium far from claiming a commitment to philosophical ideals, and at one point in the NA Aelian even declares that he has no time for (p.89) philosophizing (5.1, p. 100, line 18: οὔ μοι σχολὴ φιλοσοφεῖν νῦν).39 We are reminded, furthermore, by figures like Achilles Tatius, Lucian, and Alciphron that it was a commonplace for sophistic writers of the second and third centuries CE to ironize high-minded philosophizing, especially in the area of sexual morality.40 Though Aelian appropriates the language and imagery of philosophical discourse, and though he proclaims his commitment to philosophy, he is also equally interested in the play of writing, as when he defends his decision ‘to inject some pleasure into the narrative’ (14.28, p. 354, line 3: ἐφηδῦναι τὸν λόγον) with his stories about the boy Nerites.41 When, therefore, the sophist styles himself as a ‘red-hot lover of truth’ and claims to be inflamed by an ἔρως σοφίας, we may be justified in reading an invitation for an equally sophisticated and playful hermeneutics of erôs, even if that means we must, to use Aelian’s own phrase, ‘make an interpretation based on lack of evidence’ (lines 8–9: εἰ δέ τι χρὴ συμβαλεῖν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀτεκμάρτων). We are justified, in other words, to look for the sex in Aelian’s animal romances, even when it appears not to be there. (p.90) Notes:

I wish to thank the editors first for having organized the conference out of which this chapter and this volume as a whole arose, and second for their detailed comments and encouragement as this chapter took shape. (1) I have used the Teubner text of the De natura animalium (henceforth NA): García Valdés et al. (2009). When citing specific passages within longer chapters from the NA, I refer to book and chapter, as well as to the page(s) and line number(s) where the passage may be found, thus: (6.44, p. 150, line 22). Unless otherwise indicated, all citations are to Aelian’s NA. All translations are my own. (2) On erôs as an exclusively human emotion, see Konstan (this volume). I engage more directly with Konstan’s thesis in the conclusion of this chapter. (3) See especially Zeitlin (1990) 417–64 and Goldhill (1995) 46–111. On parallels between Aelian’s De natura animalium and the Greek novels, see Hübner (1984) 166, 168–73. On nature and culture in Aelian, see French (1994) 264–6. (4) These are: 1.2, 6, 11–13, 23–5, 37–8, 44, 50, 57; 2.3, 6, 10, 43; 3.5, 9, 16–17, 42, 44, 46–7; 4.1–2, 5–9, 12, 17, 32, 56–8; 5.11, 29; 6.1, 15, 17, 27–9, 34, 39, 42, 44, 60, 63; 7.15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 39; 8.1, 4, 10, 16, 19–21; 9.13, 21, 26, 36, 44, 48, 54, 63, 66; 10.1–2, 14, 27, 29, 33, 47–8; 11.3, 15–16, 18, 34; 12.10, 16, 34, 36, 41; 13.12, 15, 27; 14.5, 18, 28; 15.9, 11, 14, 19, 23, 25; 16.9, 20, 24, 27; 17.22, 44. (5) Elephants: 4.32, 8.16, 10.1; partridges: 3.5, 16; lustful fish: 1.2 (cf. Opp. Hal. 4.40–126).

Page 15 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium (6) The aitnaios fish: 1.12; pigeons: 3.5; crows: 3.9; elephants: 3.46. (7) Aphrodisiacs and erotic suppressants: 1.44, 3.17, 9.13, 11.18, 12.41, 14.18, 15.11. (8) On incest: 3.47, 4.8, 6.39. (9) On dual sexuality among animals in Aelian’s NA, see Brisson (2002) 130–45. (10) On the assimilation of zoophilia in Greek art to modes of representing human erotic relationships, see Alexandridis (2008) 285–311. On the human– animal romances in Aelian, see French (1994) 271. (11) Erotic relationships between animals and humans: 1.6, 37–8; 2.6; 3.46; 4.9, 56, 58; 5.29; 6.15, 17, 29, 42, 44, 63; 7.19, 39; 8.4, 10; 12.34, 36; 15.14. Other narratives of interspecies eroticism: 1.22, 50; 2.10; 8.1; 9.66; 12.16; 16.9. (12) This aspect of Aelian’s collection interests Hübner as well, though he restricts his discussion to narratives of animal philanthrôpia; see Hübner (1984) 164–7. (13) Cf. Plu. Bruta animalia ratione uti 990f–991a. (14) See also 5.29, 7.19, 8.10, and 12.34. D. B. Thompson (1964) discusses the depiction of Glauce and the goose in Hellenistic art. (15) Cf. Diog. Laert. 7.129. On Stoic attitudes in the NA, see especially Wellmann (1894) 486, Hübner (1984) 156, Kindstrand (1998) 2990, and García Valdés (2003) 46. (16) Konstan (1994) 47–8. (17) On ἀναβαίνειν as a euphemism for sexual congress, see Ar. fr. 329 Kock (ἀναβῆναι τὴν γυναῖκα βούλομαι), and Pherecrates 131.4; Henderson (1991) 155 tells us, ‘This usage is usually limited to animal copulation.’ (18) See Cairns (this volume). (19) Gaca (2003) 32–3 reads this passage as part of Plato’s programmatic attempt to regulate human sexual desire. Belfiore (2006) 204 in a more nuanced, literary approach argues that the black horse in this passage should be understood not merely as ‘bestial’; rather, Socrates’ satyr-like representation of the horse should be taken seriously: ‘The complex ambiguity of the satyr, a creature that shares in bestiality, humanity, and divinity, makes it an appropriate image for one part of the soul.’ See also Davidson (2007) 205–6.

Page 16 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium (20) 6.44, p. 150, lines 21–4: οὐκοῦν ἐρᾷ τοῦ δεσπότου δριμύτατα, καὶ προσιόντος ἐφριμάττετο καὶ ἐπικροτοῦντος ἐφρυάττετο, καὶ ἀναβαίνοντος ἑαυτὸν παρεῖχεν εὐπειθῆ, καὶ παρεστῶτος κατὰ πρόσωπον ὃ δὲ ὑγρὸν ἑώρα. (21) On the tradition of romantic intimacy between dolphins and boys, see also Arist. HA 631a8–11, Plin. HN 9.24, and Aul. Gell. 6.8. See also the remarks by Konstan (this volume). (22) On Arion, see Hdt. 1.23–4 and Bowra (1963). Aelian treats the Arion story at NA 12.45. (23) Arist. Eth. Nic. 9.8, 1169a18–36. (24) On the role of vision in arousal of erôs, see Konstan (this volume) and Cairns (this volume). (25) Plutarch, referring to the same story, denies the possibility of real eroticism between dolphin and boy (De sollertia animalium 36.984e). (26) Mnesimachus fr. 4.55 Kock; cf. Henderson (1991) 178–9. (27) See also Ael. VH 2.21. (28) Poole (1990) 148. (29) Davidson (2007) 234. (30) On the nêritês mollusc, see also Arist. HA 530a7–25 and Opp. Hal. 1.315. Athenaeus quotes verses by Epicharmus that refer to shellfish known as anaritai (Ath. 85d, 86a). Pliny may refer to the nêritês at HN 9.130. See also D’A. W. Thompson (1947) 176, and Bermejo Barrera (1980). (31) Henderson (1991) 176. (32) On the fusion of sexual and philosophical erôs in the Phaedrus, see Halperin (1986) 60–80, and Nussbaum (1986/2001) 200–34. Gaca (2003) 38, on the other hand, insists that for Plato sexual and philosophical erôs remain mutually exclusive. Aelian, I contend, exploits precisely this ambiguity. (33) In a brief article on NA 14.28, Bermejo Barrera (1980) 130 focuses not on the problematic anterôs between Nerites and Poseidon but on Aelian’s treatment of Nerites as a Greek bride who is reluctant to leave her home and join the household of her new husband. Such an interpretation, while provocative, does not, however, admit that although Nerites refuses the heavenly existence offered by Aphrodite and Helios, he is hardly reluctant to join Poseidon; on the contrary, Nerites cannot get enough of Poseidon. The capacity of the boy to envision the

Page 17 of 18

 

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium adult male as an object of sexual desire is discussed by Fountoulakis (this volume), in relation to the twelfth book of the Greek Anthology. (34) NA 1.2, 3.16, 4.1, 4.5–6, 4.12, 4.17, 6.27–8, 7.19, 8.16, 10.14, 12.10, 15.19. (35) NA 8.16. (36) Gaca (2003) 94–115. (37) On the Stoic elements in the NA, see above, n. 17. (38) ‘For I myself was unable to form creatures other than what are [ἄλλα, cf. Hom. Od. 4.348], but because I learned many things, I showed them off. And yet already I said some things of which no one else spoke, since at any rate no one else has undertaken this enterprise. But the truth is dear to me, both elsewhere and here not least of all’ (NA epilogue, p. 432, lines 5–8). Cf. the humorous account of the eight-footed, two-tailed, speaking lamb: Aelian forgives Homer and Alcman for the fabulous creatures in their poems: ‘But how is it possible to take seriously Egyptians who boast such things? But the peculiarities of this lamb have been told, if they too are the stuff of fiction (μυθώδη)’ (NA 12.3). Stamm (2003) 34 takes Aelian at his word when he says that he is committed to truth, but concedes that he can only be understood as a ‘philosopher’ in the original sense of the term: ‘a lover of wisdom’. (39) See also NA 8.27. (40) Cf. Ach. Tat. 8.5.7, 8.9; Luc. Dial. Meret. 10; Ath. 13.584a; Alciphr. 4.7 Schepers. See Goldhill (1995) 98–9. (41) We might profitably think of Aelian as a proto-Derridean reader of Plato: ‘Derrida sees Plato, in his emphasis on truth, presence, and speaking as aware of yet caught in the same contradiction as all thinkers who follow him’—DuBois (1982) 9.

Page 18 of 18

 

Part II Defining Erôs: Philosophy and Science

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.91) Part II Defining Erôs: Philosophy and Science Chiara Thumiger

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.011.0002 Keywords:   love, spirit, tripartite soul, sense of honour, shame, values, Plato, Symposium , Phaedrus Keywords:   erôs , Galen, Plato, Symposium , seat of passions, desires, psychology of love Keywords:   erôs , sexual desire, friendship, unanimity, concord Keywords:   Platonic, erôs , homoerotic, marriage, procreation, Musonius Rufus, Zeno, sexuality

Erôs the emotion, being one of the strongest human experiences (and one that is often represented in connection with extremes—delirium, disease, and destruction as much as exhilaration and elevation) attracted philosophical reflection from the start, both in discussions of physical appetites and their dangers, and in the theorization of erôs as instrumental to philosophical enquiry. This Part explores the most important and influential of these reflections. It opens with Plato: ‘Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love’, by Olivier Renaut. The chapter starts from the tripartite soul in the Republic, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, where Plato offers a new framework to analyse the nature and the proper object of erôs in each individual. Depending on how the three functions of the soul are combined, erôs strives towards different objects in each character. It is widely accepted that in this theoretical context thumos (spirit), the intermediary part of the soul, only longs for its proper object (honour and victory), and represents only the passionate part of erotic relationships. Philosophical love, instead, strives for the real object of erôs, the Good. Renaut objects that this conclusion, however, dismisses the traditional representations Page 1 of 4

 

Part II Defining Erôs: Philosophy and Science of erôs, in which thumos plays a more complex role. In the case of Alcibiades in the Symposium, in fact, or in the description of the lover in the charioteer myth in the Phaedrus, thumos appears not as an intermediary function, but as an emotive centre where the experience of love is genuinely felt, closely linked with a sense of honour and shame. This chapter argues convincingly that Plato is well aware of the traditional link between erôs and thumos, and treats both of them as passions of the soul. As in Archaic poetry, thumos remains for Plato a phenomenological seat of erôs as a human experience, for it is the function of the soul which is responsible for the fixation of the object of love, and the way one has of possessing it. Plato’s objective is to exploit the force and energy of the familiar thumos of tradition for his own purposes, the education of love; (p. 92) and, at the same time, to deprive it of the essential characteristics that make it a rival to reason. Plato’s theorization of erôs was to be extremely influential in all subsequent philosophical tradition, and not only there. Galen of Pergamon, one of the most prolific authors whose works survive from Classical antiquity and a medical writer, was a careful and sympathetic reader of Plato and adopted a psychology that was largely Platonic. Ralph Rosen offers a treatment of Platonic erôs’ resonance in Galen, in ‘Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs’. He explores how, for the physician, a soul ordered and regulated more or less along Platonic lines was essential to a healthy body, and it was especially critical to monitor the passions that reside in the desiderative part (epithumêtikon), the seat of the appetites and desires. Plato’s Symposium, of course, famously complicates the more categorical divisions of the soul we find elsewhere in his work, in its exploration of erôs, a pathos more typically associated in Plato with the irrational, dangerous epithumêtikon. We know that Galen was familiar with the Symposium, but it is striking how little interest he seems to have shown in the details and subtleties of that work, which theorizes erôs as an important force in a process of philosophical enlightenment. Nevertheless, Galen was deeply interested in the larger problem of the epithumêtikon—that part of the Platonic soul where erôs resided, along with the other passions. Galen also inherited from Plato the notion that the natural home of the passions within the human body was the liver, and explored the ‘organic’ aspects of the passions far more systematically than Plato. This chapter will investigate Galen’s attitude towards erôs in his capacity as a doctor who endorsed an essentially Platonic psychology but who, despite his more physiological and less metaphysical understanding of erôs, still saw it as an important force in shaping a person’s moral and interpersonal life. Plato remains in the background as we move to erôs in its relationship to civic virtues and, ultimately, to its political role in the philosophical tradition that followed in his footsteps. Eleni Leontsini (‘Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia’) examines Zeno’s argument in the Republic in relation to erôs, philia, and homonoia. She seeks to elucidate Zeno’s Page 2 of 4

 

Part II Defining Erôs: Philosophy and Science political position on the role of erôs in the unanimity of the polis, drawing on the previous positions of both Plato and Aristotle, and setting Zeno’s account in a tradition of thinking which goes back at least as far as those two philosophers. According to Zeno, the aim of sexual desire is friendship and not intercourse; thus erôs, by generating friendship, plays an important role in the formation of the virtuous city (Diog. Laert. 7.130). Before Zeno, both Plato and Aristotle argued for the importance of the unity of the city, each of course pursuing a different line of argument. Plato thinks that unanimity (homodoxia) is important for the citizens of his Republic (351d) so that they will be united in one voice, while Aristotle thinks that friendship is even more important than justice since it generates concord (homonoia) in the (p.93) city (Eth. Nic. 1155b21–7). There is a philosophical tradition of associating friendship with justice. This tradition is most apparent in Plato and Aristotle, but starts as early as Heraclitus, Democritus, Gorgias, and Antiphon. Friendship generates concord, together with justice, the unity of the state, and the pursuit of happiness in the city; Zeno seems to be continuing within this tradition. Nevertheless, the role of sex in the Zenonian city as the generator of friendship and concord remains problematic, and the association of philia with erôs calls for further examination. In particular, Leontsini argues, Aristotle’s notion of civic friendship and its relation to concord is crucial for the understanding of the Zenonian political argument. The little that we know of Aristotle’s views on erôs—and especially his definition of erôs ‘as aiming at affection rather than at intercourse’ (An. pr. 68a39–68b7)—could further help us understand the Zenonian position. With the last piece in this Part, Chris Gill’s chapter ‘Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing?’, Zeno’s Republic and the problems posed by its view of erôs remain at the centre, but a more theoretical perspective is adopted. As Gill states at the beginning, Stoicism is not, on the face of it, a theory in which we would expect to find a positive view of erôs, given its famous ethical rigour and generally negative view of emotion and desire. So it comes as a surprise that Zeno’s Republic presents erôs as contributing to concord and security in the ideal city (Ath. 561c). Likewise, the apparently full-blooded endorsement by Zeno and Chrysippus of romantic attachment to an attractive young man is also a surprising feature (see e.g. Diog. Laert. 7.129–30, and Stob. 2.115). These unexpected aspects of Stoic thought have been explored in recent scholarly discussions; and, as often in Stoicism, ideas turn out to have a rather different meaning from their initial appearance. As Gill brings out in this chapter, there is a positive dimension in Stoic thinking on erôs, and one that reflects certain under-appreciated aspects of their thought. These include a unified or holistic ideal, which operates in a range of areas, including ethics or politics and psychology, and which is different from the narrow intellectualism usually attributed to Stoicism (an ideal already explored by the author in his monograph The structured self in Hellenistic and Roman thought).1 When (partly following Plato’s revisionist approach), the Stoics rethink what erôs means, they do so in Page 3 of 4

 

Part II Defining Erôs: Philosophy and Science the light of this holistic ideal, and formulate what is in some ways a cogent and suggestive norm for communal life and interpersonal love. (p.94) Notes:

(1) Gill (2006).

Page 4 of 4

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love Olivier Renaut

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0007

Abstract and Keywords This chapter discusses the way thumos (spirit), the intermediary function of the tripartite soul, and the kind of desire traditionally associated with it, philotimia (love of honour), is central in the platonic conception of love. As an emotive centre of the experienced love, closely linked with the sense of honour and shame, thumos is depicted by Plato both as a as a dangerous challenge for philosophical love, but also as an opportunity to use the energy expended by philotimia in order to serve philosophical goals. Despite a violent critique of philotimia both in the Symposium and the Phaedrus, Plato nevertheless leaves open a way of using thumos' force in giving it a proper object of value. Keywords:   love, spirit, tripartite soul, sense of honour, shame, values, Plato, Symposium, Phaedrus

Plato’s Dialogues continue to challenge our commonplace definition of love. Whereas we commonly understand the primary meaning of love as an intense feeling addressed towards an individual and attachment to his uniqueness—what we may call ‘personal love’ hereafter—Plato famously defines erôs as a force that drives each individual towards an object that appears to be rather abstract: Beauty (kalon). Platonic love (which I use throughout this chapter in this sense, rather than in the colloquial way the phrase is usually understood) provides the individual with happiness and leads him to virtue by knowledge of the Good. This intellectualized form of love goes together with a condemnation of sexual attachment and greediness, starting with the Symposium and the Phaedrus through to the Laws. It is therefore commonly argued that, for Plato, ‘personal Page 1 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love love’ cannot be an end in itself. As Vlastos has shown, love for an individual is a mere symptom of human deficiency, for the only thing truly worth loving is the Good, in a rather egoistic way.1 It is then a small step from the condemnation of inferior love whose paradigm is sexual attachment to an overall rejection of ‘personal love’, insofar as the lovers have not fulfilled the process of ascending the so-called ‘ladder of love’ depicted in the Symposium (210a–212a).2 (p.96) Real Platonic love, the only one of value, is the philosophical love for the Good.3 What remains unclear, though, is whether real philosophical love represents a distinct kind of love, which has nothing to do with inferior kinds.4 If this were the case, how would a non-philosopher understand that philosophical love is true erôs? And, if it is even possible, how could inferior kinds of love be used as means of experiencing love of Forms, and, even more so, the Form of the Beautiful (kalon)?5 A way of rehabilitating ‘personal love’ in Plato, and of organizing different kinds of love into a non-exclusive hierarchy, is to follow Socrates when he decides on a typology of erôs at the end of the Republic. As Socrates shows in book 9 of the Republic, there are three main types of desires in the human soul: bodily desires (thirst, hunger, sexual desires—and money as a means of buying whatever one desires), desire for honour and victory, and desire for knowledge. These three types of desire define three corresponding types of man: the profit-loving man (philochrêmatos), the victory- and honour-loving man (philonikos kai philotimos), and the philosopher (philosophos) (Resp. 9, 580d– 581b). The opposition between the first and the last character reaches its climax when Socrates depicts the similarities and differences between the violent erôs growing in the tyrant’s soul, and the erôs of the philosopher.6 Less attention has been paid to the other kind of love, philotimia, which arises not from the desiring part of the soul but from its intermediary part: thumos. The philotimos seems at first sight to be an unfamiliar image of a lover, but he is actually the only one who feels what we can recognize as a ‘personal’ attachment to somebody, as well as care for the reputation and the image of his lover and of himself. Indeed, and contrary to the appetitive type of love, thumoeidic love as described in the Phaedrus is not easily discarded, insofar as a smoother treatment seems to be reserved to the thumoeidic lovers (Phdr. 256b–e).7 This chapter aims to show that philotimia is seen by Plato both as a dangerous challenge to philosophical love and also as (p.97) an opportunity to use the energy expended by the psychic function from which this love comes, thumos, in order to serve philosophical goals. I shall begin with an analysis of the role of philotimia in the speeches of Phaedrus and Diotima in the Symposium. Then, I shall explain, on the grounds of the tripartite soul in the Republic, how philotimia can be used as a stepping stone to philosophical erôs in the Phaedrus, before concluding on its political use.

Page 2 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love Philotimia as a wrong basis for love In the first praise speech of the Symposium, Phaedrus makes philotimia the sense of honour and shame, the most important lever of erôs, and the instrument of our own flourishing and self-construction through others.8 I cannot say what greater good there is for a young boy than a gentle lover, or for a lover than a boy to love. There is a certain guidance each person needs for his whole life, if he is to live well; and nothing imparts this guidance—not high kinship, not public honor, not wealth—nothing imparts this guidance as well as Love (οὔτε συγγένεια οἵα τε ἐμποιεῖν οὕτω καλῶς οὔτε τιμαὶ οὔτε πλοῦτος οὔτ΄ ἄλλο οὐδὲν ὡς ἔρως). What guidance do I mean? I mean a sense of shame at acting shamefully, and a sense of pride in acting well (τὴν ἐπὶ μὲν τοῖς αἰσχροῖς αἰσχύνην͵ ἐπὶ δὲ τοῖς καλοῖς φιλοτιμίαν). Without these, nothing fine or great can be accomplished, in public or in private. What I say is this: if a man in love is found doing something shameful, or accepting shameful treatment because he is a coward and makes no defense, then nothing would give him more pain than being seen by the boy he loves—not even being seen by his father or his comrades. We see the same thing also in the boy he loves, that he is especially ashamed before his lover when he is caught in something shameful. (Symp. 178c3–e3)9 For Phaedrus, erôs is the foundation of ethics. Through shame and philotimia, one becomes better, and better able to care for oneself. Phaedrus compares erôs to three other types of social relationships: philia (especially between members of the same family or genos), honour-based relationships (which may refer to a more extended sphere of social and political relationships), and (p.98) wealthbased relationships. Faced with these three relationships, erôs remains the only one that leads the individual to real happiness (eudaimonia). According to Phaedrus, the sense of honour enables the lover to take up the challenge of showing grace, generosity, and magnanimity in front of his lover. It is tempting to say that Phaedrus’ speech is a mere echo of popular morality and expresses concern for what people say. The value of the individual’s behaviour and actions would then depend on the way witnesses evaluate it, according to existing social norms. There would only be a difference in degree between the shame experienced in front of the beloved and in front of any other individual. But this interpretation is misleading. The rule of construction of selfhood is assuredly heteronomous, insofar as selfhood depends on how a particular witness, the lover, considers it. But this does not mean that the values advocated by the parents, the philoi, and others in general have the same function as the ones implied in a relation of love. Because the lover cares for his beloved far more than he does for his parents, friends, and others, the beloved functions as a real motivation for the lover to show an ideal image of himself. For Phaedrus, absolute timê is achieved when one is ready to sacrifice one’s life, Page 3 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love being entirely at the lover’s behest.10 In experiencing shame and philotimia in front of the beloved, one commits oneself to values which one could have otherwise only superficially approved. In other words, philotimia and shame are, according to Phaedrus, means for the individual to experience the values he is committed to as true ones, and to seek new challenges for himself. However, it seems at first sight that Phaedrus is not really consistent in opposing a sense of honour and shame, which comes from erôs, and the attachment to social and political marks of honour (timai). There seems to be a contradiction in the fact that Phaedrus first points out the inanity of founding happiness on timai, and then makes philotimia the cause of becoming better. But we should assume here that Phaedrus gives the concept of timê different meanings.11 In the first case, timê seems to refer to a kind of possession (civic honours, prerogatives, or even presents), whereas the latter, the one philotimia strives for, does not mean the product of the relation, but (p.99) the value of the relation itself, so that selfhood is constructed through a sense of honour and shame, placing the other on a level beyond the possessions one can get from him. Phaedrus’ speech plays with a Homeric legacy. The persistent Homeric patterns, notably the mention of the hero’s spirited force (menos) (178e3–179b3), and the use of the figure of Achilles as the paragon of courage (179e1–180b5), grace, and sensibility at the end of the speech, are important clues of a link between erôs and philotimia, and even with their psychological seat, thumos. If we go back to the Homeric epics, erôs is likely to be found in the character’s thumos, together with philia and passions of the like.12 Furthermore, it is in their thumos that heroes feel anger, hatred, or delight when watching their enemy perish.13 Phaedrus is thus recalling a traditional link between erôs and thumos, the latter being the aggressive side of the former.14 Furthermore, it is interesting to note that Phaedrus’ speech mentions all the characteristics of the thumos that will be found in the Republic: an acute sensitivity to what is good and just through a sense of honour and shame; marks of manliness; a spontaneous manner of showing one’s commitment to the values one believes in; a propensity to philotimia and, more generally, to a competitive spirit, leading one to seek out new challenges. It is likely that in the Republic, Plato does not discard this Homeric legacy concerning the sensitivity to timê, which is rooted in the thumos of the auxiliaries. Before we turn to the main criticism Diotima will make in her discourse against this thumoeidic ideology, we should compare this speech to its ‘echo’ in Plato’s dialogues, namely Lysias’ speech in the Phaedrus. When reading Phaedrus’ speech in the Symposium, we could have expected the word philia to occur instead of that of erôs, as if Plato were purposely transposing a Homeric model of personal relationships to fit artificially with erôs. As a counterpoint to Phaedrus’ speech, Lysias’ discourse in the Phaedrus, read by the same Phaedrus Page 4 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love he is in love with, employs the same notions of shame and (p.100) sense of honour as virtues.15 But Phaedrus’ speech is reversed, for Lysias praises the non-lover, and criticizes the incontinence and hubris of the lover. Thus, Lysias dissociates philotimia from aischunê, the first being related to envy and jealousy. Now suppose you’re afraid of conventional standards (τὸν νόμον τὸν καθεστηκότα δέδοικας) and the stigma that will come to you if people find out about this. Well, it stands to reason that a lover—thinking that everyone else will admire him for his success as much as he admires himself (οἰομένους καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν ἄλλων ζηλοῦσθαι ὥσπερ αὐτοὺς ὑφ΄ αὑτῶν)—will fly into words and proudly declare to all and sundry that his labors were not in vain (καὶ φιλοτιμουμένους ἐπιδείκνυσθαι πρὸς ἅπαντας). Someone who does not love you, on the other hand, can control himself and will choose to do what is best, rather than seek the glory that comes from popular reputation (ἀντὶ τῆς δόξης τῆς παρὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων). (Phdr. 231e3–232a6)16 Unlike the lover, who is moved by philotimia, the non-lover is able to show reserve: [No, it’s proper, I suppose, to grant your favours] not to people who achieve their goal and then boast about it in public (οὐδὲ οἳ διαπραξάμενοι πρὸς τοὺς ἄλλους φιλοτιμήσονται), but to those who will keep a modest silence with everyone (ἀλλ’ οἵτινες αἰσχυνόμενοι πρὸς ἅπαντας σιωπήσονται). (Phdr. 234a3–5)17 In opposing Phaedrus’ and Lysias’ discourses, Plato aims to criticize philotimia as a good motivation in erotic relationships. Later in the Phaedrus, giving his own version of Lysias’ speech, Socrates playfully recognizes in the supposed non-lover a lover necessarily prone to jealousy (239a7–b1: φθονερὸν δὴ ἀνάγκη εἶναι). Moreover, the lover would envy his beloved’s wealth and rejoice in seeing it all scattered (240a5–6: ἐξ ὧν πᾶσα ἀνάγκη ἐραστὴν παιδικοῖς φθονεῖν μὲν οὐσίαν κεκτημένοις͵ ἀπολλυμένης δὲ χαίρειν). As a result of these multiple reversals, it can be argued that for Plato, and contrary to what Phaedrus and Lysias say, an erotic relationship which relies on either one or both of philotimia and aidôs is doomed to failure because of its attachment to an image of oneself, which is dependent on what others say. Phthonos will necessarily appear, transforming the erotic relationship into a theatrical scene, where the self is but an image of what his beloved wants him to be and, reciprocally, the beloved a potential opponent in the competition that leads to happiness.18 (p.101) In response to Phaedrus’ speech, Diotima’s task consists in assuming the natural origin of philotimia in love without letting it fix the object of love on timê. Page 5 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love ‘Be sure of it, Socrates. Look, if you will, at how human beings seek honour (τὴν φιλοτιμίαν). You’d be amazed at their irrationality (θαυμάζοις ἂν τῆς ἀλογίας), if you didn’t have in mind what I spoke about and if you hadn’t pondered the awful state of love they’re in, wanting to become famous and “to lay up glory immortal forever” (ἐνθυμηθεὶς ὡς δεινῶς διάκεινται ἔρωτι τοῦ ὀνομαστοὶ γενέσθαι καὶ κλέος ἐς τὸν ἀεὶ χρόνον ἀθάνατον καταθέσθαι), and how they’re ready to brave any danger for the sake of this, much more than they are for their children; and they are prepared to spend money, suffer through all sorts of ordeals, and even die for the sake of glory. Do you really think that Alcestis would have died for Admetus,’ she asked, ‘or that Achilles would have died after Patroclus, or that your Codrus would have died so as to preserve the throne for his sons if they hadn’t expected the memory of their virtue—which we still hold in honor— to be immortal (μὴ οἰομένους ἀθάνατον μνήμην ἀρετῆς πέρι ἑαυτῶν ἔσεσθαι)? Far from it,’ she said. ‘I believe that anyone will do anything for the sake of immortal virtue and the glorious fame that follows (τοιαύτης δόξης εὐκλεοῦς); and the better the people, the more they will do, for they are all in love with immortality (τοῦ γὰρ ἀθανάτου ἐρῶσιν)…’ (Symp. 208c1–e1).19 Phaedrus’ edifying conception of love, according to which the lover seems to be entirely at the disposal of his beloved, is refuted by a psychological analysis of the lover’s real motives. Philotimia is a contradictory desire: through selfsacrifice, the lover clearly seeks a greater good: to die for somebody is nothing else than to die as a hero, i.e. overcome death by gaining immortality in renown. Diotima uses Phaedrus’ own vocabulary and examples in order to deny that the object of love could be anything other than glory and fame. Using the example of Codrus, whose motivations are not erotic but political, Diotima denies that the role of the beloved is more important than the struggle for timê. A twofold conclusion can be inferred from Diotima’s speech: Phaedrus is right in saying that erôs is the foundation of ethics and of a set of values that leads to the Good, but he is wrong in making philotimia its achievement. Philotimia is an irrational desire (ἄλογος), for it leads the individual to prefer death as a way to acquire renown through immortality. Philotimia is then dangerous for two reasons: first, it transforms love into an edifying affair, exalting dramatic emotions; second, it fails to understand what is really, in love, the object to be valued. The philotimos focuses selfishly on the capacity of others to make him good, beautiful, and virtuous. In other words, Plato denounces the propensity of the philotimos to love being praised at any cost, regardless of the real and objective value of actions and behaviour. Thus, for Plato, the philotimos remains dependent on what people think and (p.102) say (through memory and renown) and fails to recognize what the real object of erôs is.

Page 6 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love However, Diotima does not entirely dismiss philotimia as a whole. As irrational as philotimia may be, it remains an expression of a longing for a real object of love, immortality. Contrary to Lysias in the Phaedrus when he criticizes cupidity and lust, or contrary to Socrates in book 8 of the Republic, Diotima rightly points out the efficiency of philotimia as lever to virtuous behaviour. Indeed, the three examples of Alcestis, Achilles, and Codrus are illustrious ones; what is therefore questioned is not the effect of philotimia but the way those heroes have misconstrued the image of the object of love. What is at stake, then, is how the psychological force of philotimia could be used as a stepping stone to attain real immortality.

Educating thumos’ force If the Symposium presents the inferior type of love experienced by the philotimos as ambiguous, it does not explain how it can be used as a means towards attaining true philosophical love. The tripartite model of the soul might throw light on how philotimia can be diverted to this end.20 In the Symposium, erôs is the name Plato gives to the fundamental desire which leads every single animal in the sensible world to seek its own good during its life, but the tripartite model can also be used in order to show both how different types of love could be classified on a scale of values, whose criterion would be their proximity to philosophy, and how philosophical love could proceed from a relatively inferior type of love. The link between the two intermediaries is philotimia.21 In book 4 of the Republic, Socrates presents what is called the tripartite psuchê. The psuchê is divided into three ‘parts’ or rather three ‘functions’, each of which is responsible for a kind of action or passion: the rational part (logistikon), the desiring part (epithumêtikon), and the (p.103) intermediary part (thumoeides).22 The function of thumos is to value things, not evaluate them cognitively (which is the task of the logistikon, the rational part of the soul), nor desire them (which is the concern of the epithumêtikon).23 Angela Hobbs has brilliantly summed up its function, saying that ‘the essence of the human thumos is the need to believe that one counts for something, and that central to this need will be a tendency to form an ideal image of oneself in accordance with one’s conception of the fine and noble’.24 Valuing things means for each individual to be committed to his own values (laws, habits, norms), which will arouse two opposite emotions in him: anger (orgê, or sometimes thumos) when these values are threatened or despised (440c7–d6), and shame (aidôs or aischunê) when he himself fails to enact them (439e6–440a3, 440c1– c6). Central to the definition of the function of thumos is the idea of honour (timê). As we’ve seen in Phaedrus’ speech in the Symposium, the Greek word ‘timê’ can refer to particular objects such as civic honour, special prerogatives given by public esteem, presents, etc. These objects are the expression of a complex network of social and political relationships, often referred to as the ideology of honour.25 In this network, one is able to form oneself through others, what they think and what they say (see esp. 364a6–b2, 413e5–414a4). But timê Page 7 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love also means simply the ‘value’ the individual gives to something, which can be, potentially, anything.26 Timê refers then to the way thumos gives something a value in a particular context. This complex operation of valuing things makes timê ambivalent: it refers both to the act of ‘valuing something’ and to an ‘object’ which is actually the result of the process of valuing things in a given society which has its own set (p.104) of values.27 In that respect, thumos’ force is at once a threat and a potential auxiliary to reason’s rule. In the Phaedrus the tripartite model of the soul is a means used by Plato to neutralize philotimia, focusing on its seat, thumos. The soul’s partitioning enables Plato to locate the causes of love and act on them in order to transfigure them. A close reading of the central part of the charioteer’s myth in the Phaedrus shows that thumos is actually the seat of many erotic effects.28 It is then necessary to address a discourse to thumos in order to persuade it to care for the rational part of the soul, the ‘true self’, represented by the coachman. Plato keeps thumos as a mover, but neutralizes its propensity to corrupt intellectual love. In the last part of the myth, Socrates depicts the effects of love on the lover using a physiological vocabulary that is often related to thumos: Once he has looked at him, his chill (ἐκ τῆς φρίκης) gives way to sweating and a high fever comes over him, with sweat and unwonted heat (ἱδρὼς καὶ θερμότης ἀήθης);…Now the whole soul seethes (ζεῖ οὖν ἐν τούτῳ ὅλη) and throbs (ἀνακηκίει) in this condition. Like a child whose teeth are just starting to grow in, and its gums are all aching and itching (κνῆσίς τε καὶ ἀγανάκτησις)—that is exactly how the soul feels when it begins to grow wings. It swells up and aches and tingles as it grows them (ζεῖ τε καὶ ἀγανακτεῖ καὶ γαργαλίζεται φύουσα τὰ πτερά). (Phdr. 251a7–c5)29 In this description, it is the whole soul that endures the affections of love such as sweating, blushing, throbbing, and so on. But in other passages of the dialogues, these symptoms refer to the state of the thumos.30 These symptoms are more particularly related to the emotion of shame.31 Here, Socrates seems to speak by way of metonymy, using the word ‘soul’ to refer to ‘thumos’, which is merely a part of the soul. Why so? Certainly because the feelings aroused by the encounter between the lover and the beloved are always mixed, never reducible to sexual or intellectual feelings. It is then the thumos which is at stake here, for it is an emotional centre from which arises, after reflection, two other poles, epithumêtikon and logistikon. As the passage continues, Socrates proposes a more precise explanation: (p.105) Now when the charioteer looks in the eye of love, his entire soul is suffused with a sense of warmth and starts to fill with tingles and the goading of desire. As for the horses, the one who is obedient to the Page 8 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love charioteer is still controlled, then as always, by its sense of shame, and so prevents itself from jumping on the boy (ὁ μὲν εὐπειθὴς τῷ ἡνιόχῳ τῶν ἵππων͵ ἀεί τε καὶ τότε αἰδοῖ βιαζόμενος͵ ἑαυτὸν κατέχει μὴ ἐπι πηδᾶν τῷ ἐρωμένῳ). The other one, however, no longer responds to the whip or the goad of the charioteer; it leaps violently forward (σκιρτῶν δὲ βίᾳ φέρεται) and does everything to aggravate its yoke mate and its charioteer, trying to make them go up to the boy and suggest to him the pleasures of sex. At first the other two resist, angry in their belief that they are being made to do things that are dreadfully wrong (τὼ δὲ κατ΄ ἀρχὰς μὲν ἀντιτείνετον ἀγανακτοῦντε͵ ὡς δεινὰ καὶ παράνομα ἀναγκαζομένω). At last, however, when they see no end to their trouble, they are led forward, reluctantly agreeing to do as they have been told. (Phdr. 253e5–254b3)32 What Socrates describes in this passage is very similar to the psychic conflict Leontios endures in book 4 of the Republic (439b–c). The verb ἀγανακτεῖ, used to characterize the entire soul in the previous passage, now refers specifically to the struggle between the charioteer and the good horse on the one hand, and the bad horse on the other. The good horse, thumos, resists by showing selfrestraint. The use of the reflexive form ἑαυτὸν κατέχει is quite remarkable here, for Plato normally uses these expressions to refer to the way an individual represents himself, torn between several motivations.33 Here, Socrates seems to refer to the individual not by metonymy, but by synecdoche. In other words, it is as if the good horse were referring to the whole individual, and not one particular part of the soul. Here thumos denotes the real ‘I’, showing selfrestraint, representing the emotions as if they were in another part of the soul. Finally, Socrates gives us a hint in the following description: At the sight he is frightened (ἔδεισέ), falls over backwards awestruck (σεφθεῖσα), and at the same time has to pull the reins back so fiercely that both horses are set on their haunches, one falling back voluntarily with no resistance, but the other insolent and quite unwilling. They pull back a little further; and while one horse drenches the whole soul with sweat out of shame and awe (ὁ μὲν ὑπ΄ αἰσχύνης τε καὶ θάμβους ἱδρῶτι πᾶσαν ἔβρεξε τὴν ψυχήν), the other—once it has recovered from the pain caused by the bit and its fall—bursts into a torrent of insults (μόγις ἐξαναπνεύσας ἐλοιδόρησεν ὀργῇ) as soon as it has caught its breath, accusing its charioteer and yokemate of all sorts of cowardice and unmanliness for abandoning their position and their agreement (πολλὰ κακίζων τόν τε ἡνίοχον καὶ τὸν ὁμόζυγα ὡς δειλίᾳ τε καὶ ἀνανδρίᾳ λιπόντε τὴν τάξιν καὶ ὁμολογίαν). (Phdr. 254b7–d1)34 (p.106) At first glance, Plato seems to complicate the tripartite model of the soul in ascribing to each part of the soul some features that normally belong to another. The charioteer feels two emotions, fear (deô) and religious awe (sebô), Page 9 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love that are traditionally linked with thumos. But, conversely, the bad horse feels anger (orgê), which is, of course, what thumos feels in book 4 of the Republic (439e–441a). It can be argued that this blurring of symptoms is intentional. All these emotions are, up to a point, one and the same, but seen from different points of view: as in the previous passages, the thumos is made responsible for shame (aischunê); this very same feeling is felt in an intellectualized form (sebas) by the charioteer, whereas the bad horse transforms this shame into anger. Thumos, in this description, is the focal point from which stem different perceptions of the beloved, gradually referring to different parts of the soul. To put it as briefly as possible, in these three passages, thumos is both the focal point of the description and the psychic intermediary between reason and appetite. The thumos plays a twofold role: as the first and immediate function of the soul to feel the effects of love, thumos is the main addressee of erotic discourses; but, as an intermediary, it defeats (or tries to defeat) sexual desires, builds a relationship founded on mutual love and respect, and helps give rise to philosophical love. In focusing the description of the effects of love from the viewpoint of thumos, Socrates tries to convert its motivational force into philosophy. Thumoeidic lovers are consequently positively depicted at the end of the myth: If, on the other hand, they adopt a lower way of living, with ambition in place of philosophy (ἀφιλοσόφῳ φιλοτίμῳ δὲ χρήσωνται), then pretty soon when they are careless because they have been drinking or for some other reason, the pair’s undisciplined horses will catch their souls off guard (ἀφρούρους) and together bring them to commit that act which ordinary people would take to be the happiest choice of all; and when they have consummated it once, they go on doing this for the rest of their lives, but sparingly, since they have not approved of what they are doing with their whole minds (ἅτε οὐ πάσῃ δεδογμένα τῇ διανοίᾳ πράττοντες). So these two also live in mutual friendship (φίλω μὲν οὖν καὶ τούτω) (though weaker than that of the philosophical pair), both while they are in love and after they have passed beyond it (διά τε τοῦ ἔρωτος καὶ ἔξω γενομένω διάγουσι), because they realize they have exchanged such firm vows (πίστεις τὰς μεγίστας ἡγουμένω ἀλλήλοιν δεδωκέναι τε καὶ δεδέχθαι) that it would be forbidden (οὐ θεμιτὸν) for them ever to break them and become enemies. In death they are wingless when they leave the body, but their wings are bursting to sprout, so the prize they have won from the madness of love is considerable (οὐ σμικρὸν ἆθλον τῆς ἐρωτικῆς μανίας φέρονται), because those who have begun the sacred journey in lower heaven may not by law be sent into darkness for the journey under the earth; their lives are bright and happy (ἀλλὰ φανὸν βίον διάγοντας (p. 107) εὐδαιμονεῖν) as they travel together, and thanks to their love

Page 10 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love (ἔρωτος χάριν) they will grow wings together when the time comes. (Phdr. 256b7–e2)35 Three points must be made on this rehabilitation of thumoeidic lovers. First, their lives are provided with happiness. This happiness is of course less valuable, for it is understood as an intermediary between the regimen of philosophy and what ‘ordinary people’ would understand as true happiness. Their ‘friendship’ is then weaker than that of philosophers, but nevertheless not to be underestimated (ou smikron). Moreover, this passage should not be understood as a mere hierarchical and static comparison, but as the second prize of a competition; thumoeidic love, made compatible with friendship, should be understood in terms of a mundane and promising temporality. In that sense, philotimia is a necessary intermediary that allows the transformation of a common and popular conception of love into a less bestial relationship. Second, it seems here that an ideal form of erôs is to be found in mutual friendship (philia), challenging the issue of sexual intercourse in the relationship. Sexual intercourse is not absent, but only had seldom, if ever. Again, Socrates seems to stress here the anthropological origin and dynamic of this kind of love. Erôs is not discarded, but modified by the bonds of philia in weakening physical and sexual attachment. Third, philotimia uses thumos’ force as a ‘guard’ (phrouros), using social and political bonds: judgements (dogma), marks of trust and confidence (pistis), under the guidance of a rule (themis). These three means are, again, derivative ones compared to reason’s rule (and in that respect are ‘imperfect’ ones), but are nevertheless an aid the philosopher uses to shape, as far as possible, human and personal love into a superior type of relationship.

Restrained love in the polis If after all the Phaedrus does not deny the power of thumos in love, the persuasion and education of the thumos remains a difficult problem. This goal is reached in educating the thumos of individuals and using the very same feelings of shame and sense of honour to regulate erotic relationships in the polis: in the Republic, the Statesman, and the Laws, sexual and marital prescriptions are implied at the very beginning of a broader paideia, to prevent the individual from yielding power to bodily desires and also to a personal (p.108) attachment that could lead to sexual intercourse.36 But, more essential to this political programme in the Republic and the Laws is the way Plato transfigures thumos’ force in giving it a new object. Traditional feelings such as aidôs and philotimia are dissociated from the object they usually pursue and are used for the purpose of education, for example in the Laws. A famous passage of book 8 in the Laws about the regulation of sexual practices confirms it. As ‘guardians’ of sexual appetites and pleasures (aphrodision), theosebas (a religious awe that inevitably recalls the sebas of the charioteer in the Phaedrus) and philotimia (like Page 11 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love Phaedrus’ speech in the Symposium) help the individual both to resist sexual attraction and to intellectualize the object of love. ATHENIAN: My point is that the appetite for pleasures, which is very strong and grows by being fed, can be starved (you remember) if the body is given plenty of hard work to distract it. We’d get much the same result if we were incapable of having sexual intercourse (ἀφροδισίων) without feeling ashamed (ἀναίδεια); our shame (δι΄ αἰσχύνην χρώμενοι) would lead to infrequent indulgence, and infrequent indulgence would make the desire less compulsive (ἀσθενεστέραν ἂν αὐτὴν δέσποιναν). So in sexual matters our citizens ought to regard privacy—though not complete abstinence—as a decency (τι καλὸν) demanded by usage and unwritten custom (νόμιμον ἔθει καὶ ἀγράφῳ νομισθὲν νόμῳ), and lack of privacy as disgusting (αἰσχρόν). That will establish a second legal standard of decency and indecency—not the ideal standard, but the next to it. People whose characters have been corrupted (they form a single group we call the ‘self-inferior’) will be made prisoners of three influences that will compel them not to break the law (περιλαβόντα τρία γένη βιάζοιτ΄ ἂν μὴ παρανομεῖν). CLINIAS: What influences do you mean? ATHENIAN: Respect for religion, the ambition to be honoured, and a mature passion for spiritual rather than physical beauty (Τό τε θεοσεβὲς ἅμα καὶ φιλότιμον καὶ τὸ μὴ τῶν σωμάτων ἀλλὰ τῶν τρόπων τῆς ψυχῆς ὄντων καλῶν γεγονὸς ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ). ‘Pious wishes!’ you’ll say; ‘what romance!’ Perhaps so. But if such wishes were to come true, the world would benefit enormously. (Leg. 8, 841a6–c8)37 The Athenian uses shame and philotimia as an ideological way to attain a ‘second degree of rectitude’ for the community’s behaviour. For it is not by means of the erotic skills of Socrates that a legislator of a city could lead the citizens to real and philosophical virtue, but instead through the promotion of unwritten law and internalized norms. In this passage, the same feelings (p.109) which, for example, threatened the philosophical success of Socrates when educating Alcibiades in the Symposium are used to counteract bodily desires and lust. There is indeed a political and pedagogical use of philotimia in preventing the city from corruption. But this use is ultimately founded on philosophical grounds, according to which thumos, the intermediate part of the soul, can be used as a force for the conversion to philosophy. Plato’s task could be summed up as follows: (a) given a human nature prone to thumoeidic affections, and (b) given a function of the soul that is absolutely central to valuing things, the individual should be educated in a way that (c) thumos and generally speaking

Page 12 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love philotimia should be purified from his concern about timê, and (d) thumos should not be an obstacle to seeing the real object of love. Aristotle himself, in book 7 of his Politics, seems to confirm this interpretation, asserting that Plato is well aware of the traditional link between thumos and philia. Recalling how the Guardians in the Republic are organized in a community based on mutual friendship, Aristotle makes thumos the function of the soul whereby we feel philia: For as to what is said by certain persons about the character that should belong to their Guardians—they should be affectionate to their friends but fierce towards strangers—it is spirit that causes affectionateness (ὁ θυμός ἐστιν ὁ ποιῶν τὸ φιλητικόν), for spirit is the capacity of the soul whereby we love (αὕτη γάρ ἐστιν ἡ τῆς ψυχῆς δύναμις ᾗ φιλοῦμεν). A sign of this is that spirit is more roused against associates and friends than against strangers, when it thinks itself slighted. Therefore, Archilochus for instance, when reproaching his friends, appropriately apostrophizes his spirit: ‘For ’tis thy friends that make thee choke with rage.’ (Pol. 7.7, 1327b38–a5)38 The expression ‘the capacity of the soul whereby we love’ inevitably recalls the way Socrates introduces the three functions of the soul in book 4 of the Republic (436a8–b3).39 For here, Aristotle plays on two meanings of thumos: as a psychic function, and as pathos akin to anger. The more one feels philia for someone, the more one feels anger in finding oneself betrayed. In a way, thumos as pathos is a negative sign of philia and thus thumos as psychic function can be seen as the seat of philia. However, this passage raises two problems. First, Aristotle does not seem to speak about philia in the broad sense of affectionateness, but in a narrower sense which does not include erôs as physical and sexual attachment.40 So we might wonder if, in Plato, erôs (p.110) would essentially be linked with thumos as a function of the soul. Second, what is rather odd in this passage is that Aristotle quotes Archilochus and Euripides as evidence of the traditional link between philia and thumos, not Plato. Actually, Plato did not use this formulation in any dialogue, even in book 2 of the Republic, which is certainly the passage Aristotle has in mind, in which Socrates says that the thumoeides should not be aggressive towards relatives, balancing its violence with reason’s softness (Resp. 375b–e). But Aristotle seems to take for granted that Plato followed the tradition in placing affectionateness, or more precisely the philia that characterizes the bonds of the Guardians, in thumos. Why so? The reason for such confidence in placing philia in thumos is that the latter is, in Plato’s dialogues, the seat of philotimia, a feeling that bonds people (whether citizens or soldiers) together through shared values of mutual assistance and reciprocal esteem. We can now understand why it is important, as Aristotle would claim for philia, to make thumos a central function for love. Even if Plato never said it explicitly, thumos could be the function of the soul whereby we Page 13 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love ‘love’, specifically, the seat of the reflexive emotions of shame and the sense of honour which, when they are felt repeatedly in pedagogical training, can defeat a popular and vulgar representation of love.

Conclusion Platonic love, embodied by a philosophic way of life, must be understood as a model, a new horizon by which other forms of love can be judged and measured. In that respect, philotimia, which may be for us today more akin to ‘personal love’, is certainly criticized as being founded on a wrong image of what deserves to be loved. Nevertheless, philotimia, as the tripartite model of the soul shows, is still an intermediary, more human, maybe less abstract love, through which those who are not philosophers can experience, even imperfectly, some characteristics of philosophic love. Even if the thumoeidic lovers are second in the scale of love, they appear to be a major concern from an anthropological and political perspective. As a psychic guardian, thumos must then be educated to transform the energy of philotimia to restrain physical and sexual desires. Thus, ‘personal love’, even if it is not a valid form of love, remains a starting point before it is transformed by philosophy. Notes:

I am grateful to the audience of the Erôs in ancient Greece conference, and especially Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, and Lee Brooks for their helpful remarks and objections. I also thank the Institut de Recherches Philosophiques (EA373) of Université Paris Ouest—Nanterre-La Défense for its support, and Christopher Robertson and Lee Brooks for having corrected my English. (1) Vlastos (1981). (2) This opposition between an exclusive Platonic love and a more commonplace one has to be qualified. For an example of how love can be more inclusive, allowing sexual intercourse for instance, see Gill (this volume) on the stoic interpretation of Platonic love. (3) Vlastos’ ground-breaking article has been much discussed. See first Nussbaum (1986/2001), who opposes the Symposium to the Phaedrus (ch. 6 and 7) on the grounds that, in the latter, Plato acknowledges the importance of sensibility, passions, and personality in the experience of love (213–23). A. W. Price (1981) maintains, more accurately, that the conception of love in the Symposium is an ‘inclusive’ one (the philosophical love contains the others), whereas the Phaedrus ends by discarding inferior forms of love, symbolized by the desires of the two horses. See also the critical notes by Rowe (1990). White (1990) shows in what sense ‘personal love’ could fit the Platonic picture of philosophical love. Finally, see Gill (1990), who shows that the myth aims at educating the lovers to respect and esteem each other (76–8) but that it is not an

Page 14 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love end in itself; the main goal is to unify one’s soul in experiencing philosophical love, i.e. by submitting the desires to the rule of reason (82 ff.). (4) For a detailed account of Plato’s strategy in transforming the common conception of love in the Phaedrus, see Cairns (this volume). (5) See the recent attempt of Carone (2006) to combine universal and particular objects of love in the experience of the philosopher in the Symposium. (6) On erôs and the tyrant, see Larivée (2005). (7) See Nussbaum (1986/2001) ch. 3. (8) This speech has long been neglected by commentators as a quite conventional speech. However, it makes much more sense to take this passage as a first step towards a transformation of Homeric ethics to fit the Platonic conception of love: see Wersinger (2001) 243–8, and Corrigan and GlazovCorrigan (2006) 51–6, for an accurate analysis of this speech. (9) Trans. Nehamas and Woodruf (1997a). There is some difficulty in translating erôs by love in this passage, for we certainly expect the word philia instead, conveying the idea of a deep attachment rather than a pederastic relationship including sexual attachment. But Phaedrus uses erôs here purposely, as it becomes clear with the examples he chooses at the end of his praise speech: Alcestis, Orpheus, and Achilles. (10) Self-sacrifice could first be thought to be an expression of perfect philia, as Aristotle states in Eth. Nic. 9.8, 1169a18 ff., where he employs the same verb (ὑπεραποθνῄσκω) to show how philoi are ready to die for each other (I am grateful to Ed Sanders for drawing this passage to my attention), as Phaedrus to describe the sacrifice of Alcestis and Achilles (Symp. 179b4, 180a1). Whether or not Aristotle has the Symposium in mind, it underlines the oddity of Phaedrus’ speaking of erôs when we expect philia. However, it might also mean that for Phaedrus, erôs is even more inclusive than philia, for a perfect lover such as Achilles not only ‘dies for’ Patrocles but ‘follows him in death’ or ‘dies after’ him (180a1: οὐ μόνον ὑπεραποθανεῖν ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπαποθανεῖν τετελευτηκότι). (11) On the meaning of timê, especially in Homeric epics, see Riedinger (1976), who resists the idea that timê is reducible to a mere ransom. For an opposite and resisting view, see Adkins (1982), who seems to acknowledge the traditional Platonic criticism of philotimia. (12) Numerous formulae indicate that thumos is that function by which we feel a certain attachment to something. Such feelings range from kindness and philia between comrades, friends, or members of the family (Il. 1.196, 1.209, 5.243, 5.826, 9.486, 10.531, 11.520, 11.608, 19.287, 24.236, 24.748, 24.762; Od. 6.20, 14.146) to mere sexual attraction as in the episode of the seduction of Zeus (Il. Page 15 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love 14.315) or enchantment as in the appearance of Penelope in front of her suitors (Od. 18.212, 18.282), through to what we can call ‘love’ between husband and wife for example, including both philia and a sexual relationship (Il. 9.340–3, 9.398; Od. 17.553–5). (13) See for instance Il. 1.196, 1.209, 1.562, 5.243, 5.826, 9.341, 9.398, 9.486, 14.315, 19.287, 23.548, 23.595, 24.762; Od. 6.23, 14.146, 15.20, 18.212. (14) Hes. Theog. 223–5, where we are told that Philotes is born at the same time as Nemesis and Eris, which affect the thumos (karterothumos). See also Sappho fr. 1 West, where the poetess prays to the Divinity to strengthen her thumos, becoming the active, or even aggressive side of her deceitful erôs, whether her thumos is defeated by nauseous disease (line 4), or succeeds in conquering her love (lines 18 and 27). (15) Contextually, everything opposes the two discourses. However, Wersinger (2001) 248–57, has shown perfectly well that Phaedrus and Lysias defend an ideal of a relationship based on well-considered charis which implies the selfeffacing of the individual. But this reserve (aidôs) does not preclude competitive behaviour for Adkins (1996). (16) Trans. Nehamas and Woodruf (1997b). (17) Trans. Nehamas and Woodruf (1997b). (18) See Phlb. 47e1–48a4, where erôs and thumos are ultimately related to phthonos. See Sanders (this volume), for a jealous woman driven by thumos. (19) Trans. Nehamas and Woodruf (1997a). (20) It would be misleading to oppose, as an objection, a so-called ‘static’ hierarchical model of the soul, i.e. the tripartite model with thumos as an intermediary, to the more dynamic and unified one which has been depicted in the Symposium. Whereas Brès (1973) 308 ff. tries to show that the tripartite model, a static and hierarchical model of the soul, is an impoverishment of a more dynamic psychology which is found in the Symposium, Robin (1964) has consistently shown that this opposition is not relevant, especially in the Phaedrus. (21) This potential link between the tripartite soul, especially thumos, and philotimia, is clearly presented by D. L. Cairns (1993) 381–9. It might then be tempting to outline analogies between thumos and erôs regarding their function as ‘intermediaries’, as Souilhé (1919) has tried to show, but, despite the resemblance regarding their function, thumos is not necessarily the seat of erôs.

Page 16 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love (22) Erôs as sexual appetite has been naturally associated with epithumêtikon in the post-Platonic tradition. On this strong association and the physiological interpretation of what is understood as a passion in Galen, see Rosen (this volume). (23) The interpretation of the tripartite soul is, of course, a much-debated issue. Here I take as given a minimal reading of the tripartite model, as an intentional trifunctional structure, in which each function (reason, thumos, and appetite) is capable of only one kind of operation. Reason is a calculative function, appetite is a conative force, and thumos is a ‘valuing function’. Whereas book 4 of the Republic presents each function as an autonomous agent, they are actually parts of an entire psychic structure in books 8 and 9. See, if I may, Renaut (2007) for such a reading, along with the relevant bibliography. (24) Hobbs (2000) 30. (25) Such an ideology is severely condemned by Socrates in the Republic. According to Socrates, timê, considered through its object, inevitably comes to focus on money, as if philotimia were only a mask for cupidity and the striving for wealth. The explanation runs as follows: in his quest for honour, one is surreptitiously driven to seek the means of acquiring it; as wealth could appear as a symbol of honour and public esteem, a philotimos could be easily corrupted into a philochrêmatos. See Resp. 345a3–6, 390e9 where Socrates condemns Achilles for desiring a ransom, 547b7–549b9 where Socrates analyses how the philotimos is corrupted by love of money, and 550c11–553d7, which depicts the oligarchic man who only values money. (26) See for example the democratic man, who considers that all things have the same ‘value’ (561b8–c4). (27) Many passages in the Republic compare the real and objective values with false ones: 336e8 on justice compared with gold, 485b6–8 on Forms compared to traditional objects of enquiry, 509a4–5 on the supreme value of the Good, 591b4– 7 on the soul compared to the body, 595c2–3 on the respect which is due to truth compared to the respect due to a man. (28) As D. L. Cairns (1993) 384–5 has shown. (29) Trans. Nehamas and Woodruf (1997b). (30) See for example Resp. 387b8–c5. Especially, the verbs ‘ζεῖν’ and ‘ἀγανακτεῖν’ Socrates uses to refer to thumoeidic character, or more precisely to thumos itself: Cra. 419e, Phd. 64a8, Rsp. 440c7 and 536c1, Ti. 70b3. (31) See for example Thrasymachus in Resp. 350c12–d3. See also Ti. 84d2–e2. On the poetic legacy of the imagery of the charioteer and his symptoms in the Phaedrus, see Cairns (this volume). Page 17 of 18

 

Challenging Platonic Erôs: The Role of Thumos and Philotimia in Love (32) Trans. Nehamas and Woodruf (1997b). (33) See for example Resp. 430e–431a, in which Socrates analyses the meaning of the expression ‘to be master of oneself’. (34) Trans. Nehamas and Woodruf (1997b). (35) Trans. Nehamas and Woodruf (1997b). (36) On the subject, see the thorough analysis of P. W. Ludwig (2007), who shows that thumos in the Republic has a ‘vital connection’ to philia and possessiveness (223). I agree with Ludwig that erôs in the ideal state of the Republic should be disconnected from thumos, as far as the philosopher is concerned. But it seems slightly exaggerated to say that ‘there is a tragic paradox, since the thumos that enables citizen virtue also prevents the ascent to philosophic virtue’ (228), for if the citizen in question is definitely a non-philosopher, there is nothing ‘tragic’ about it. But, in the pedagogical and psychagogic context of the Phaedrus, as I have tried to show, even if thumos is inclined to philotimia as such, the object which is valued can be modified. (37) Trans. T. J. Saunders (1975). (38) Trans. Rackham (1944). (39) See also Phd. 96b3–8, Tht. 184c4–7. For a clear discussion on the use of this formulation (instrumental dative + verb), see Macé (2006) 89–90, 189. (40) I thank C. Gill for having pointed out this issue to me. This chapter of the Politics is entirely devoted to the way the Guardians of the Republic live together. Hence the insistence on the military context of the poetic quotations from Archilochus and Euripides. However, insofar as the community formed by the Guardians in the Republic implies a reform of sexual regulations, we may wonder whether the word ‘philêtikon’ does include more erotic relationships. It is certainly the case in Plato’s view, but not in Aristotle’s. On this topic, see Leontsini and Gill (this volume).

Page 18 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs Ralph M. Rosen

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0008

Abstract and Keywords This chapter investigates Galen’s attitude towards erôs, specifically in his capacity as a doctor who endorsed an essentially Platonic psychology. It focuses on Galen’s On the Doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato (= PHP), which reveals a far more biologically-based conceptualization of erôs than Plato. Erôs for Galen was one of the more problematic of the passions that originated in the liver, but this organ also had a positive side for Galen as a nutritive force in the human body, counterbalancing the many examples of a destructive erôs that predominate in PHP. The chapter argues that, despite the fact that Galen’s notion of erôs was more physiological and less metaphysical than Plato’s, he still saw it as an important force in shaping one’s moral and interpersonal life. Keywords:   erôs, Galen, Plato, Symposium, seat of passions, desires, psychology of love

Erôs and ‘the erotic’ are terms generally applied to psychological and emotional states, but as most people know from personal experience, it can be a small step from the psychological to the physical. From ancient poetry to the pop songs of our own day, the effects of love on the body have been well catalogued and long lamented, and in extreme cases the doctors have to be brought in.1 Greek medical writers have not left us copious clinical discussions of the physical consequences of erôs, but they were certainly aware that an individual’s emotional state could profoundly affect the body, and erotic desire was commonly implicated in a variety of physical pathologies. Just where—or how— these emotional forces ‘resided’ within a person’s body was a constant puzzle for

Page 1 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs Greek and Roman doctors, especially those whose materialist orientation encouraged them to map emotional states on to specific organs.2

Introduction: Galen’s and Plato’s treatment of erôs As a doctor with an undisguised reverence for Plato, and especially for Plato’s notion of a tripartite soul, Galen theorized at length in several treatises about the complex interactions of the emotions, organs, health, and disease within the framework of a fundamentally Platonic psychology.3 For Galen erôs was an (p. 112) emotion associated with the appetitive part of the soul, the epithumêtikon, it was powerful, difficult to control, and was responsible for all manner of irrational behaviour that could bring ill to oneself and others alike.4 Galen could have assimilated this position easily enough from various Platonic discussions of the epithumiai,5 even though it is also clear that much of his Platonism was indelibly marked by the intervening centuries of Stoic discourse about classic questions posed originally in Plato.6 Erôs as one of the Platonic epithumiai, therefore, becomes in Galen’s works a pathos, a ‘passion’ or ‘affection’—a very Stoic term, but located by Galen specifically in the appetitive (epithumêtikon) and (sometimes) spirited (thumos) parts of the Platonic soul.7 It comes as something of a surprise, however, that Galen showed no explicit engagement with the broader, more nuanced treatments of erôs also found in Plato, and then in subsequent philosophers up to Galen’s time.8 And it is perhaps especially surprising that in his monumental work On the opinions of Plato and Hippocrates (= PHP, from here on),9 where erôs as pathos is repeatedly discussed, Galen takes virtually no notice of Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus, works that transform erôs into a force far more profound than mere appetite.10 Galen unquestionably knew both works, as occasional allusions to each indicate, but none of these passages is especially illuminating. Across his vast literary output he alludes to the Symposium only infrequently,11 and mentions it by name only once, in his commentary on the Hippocratic work, Prorrhetics 1—and there only to make a small philological point about a particular term in Hippocrates.12 He mentions Phaedrus six times, all in PHP, but his interest there was largely in the section of Phaedrus on division and classification, not the metaphysical parts that attempt to assign a positive role to irrational forces such as madness and erôs in a philosophical life. In fact, the one place in PHP where Galen mentions the famous passage in Phaedrus where the soul is likened to a chariot pulled by two horses and (p.113) drawn erotically to beauty,13 Galen does so only to say that he likes the simile Plato uses in Republic 4 and 9 better.14 Galen thereby forestalls any engagement he might have undertaken with the most grandiloquent section of Phaedrus (e.g. 248–56), where Plato describes in poetically charged narrative the soul’s attempt, spurred on by the madness of love, to return to an original state in which it consorted with absolute being.

Page 2 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs Galen’s apparent lack of interest in Plato’s expansive treatment of erôs is, I think, worthy of our attention for a number of reasons. First, Galen was every bit as concerned as Plato with the problem of desire and pleasure in human activity, especially—and here Galen’s medical orientation comes into play—when they are not well regulated and so could lead to disease and physical suffering.15 Second, like Plato too, Galen did not, as we shall see, repudiate tout court the pathê associated with the epithumêtikon, but allowed them a positive role in human behaviour, provided they remained subservient to the rational part, the logistikon.16 Since Galen had a strong interest in the interrelations of the three parts of a Platonic soul, it does seem rather odd that he evidently took no interest in Plato’s own attempt to explore an element of human psychology as complex as erôs, which, as the Symposium and Phaedrus make clear, could have profound effects, both positive and negative, on all parts of the soul. Finally, it is surprising, given his obsession with Hippocrates, that Galen never had anything to say about the Hippocratic Eryximachus’ speech in Plato’s Symposium. Even if we do not take this speech altogether seriously, Eryximachus’ startling statement (186c6) that ‘medicine…is knowledge of the erotic affairs of the body in relation to filling up and emptying’ touches closely on Galen’s own interest in how medicine intersects with ethics, and (p.114) Eryximachus’ subsequent claim (188) that a ‘good’ erôs lies behind the ‘harmony’ and balanced ‘mixture’ of the hot, cold, wet, and dry is not so far off from Galen’s own fundamentally Hippocratic notions of humoral mixtures.17 If nothing else, Eryximachus’ speech (and indeed the other speeches of the Symposium as well) encourages the reader to consider what it even means to speak of erôs in these terms—whether it makes sense in the first place to divorce it from sex, for example, and from there to transform it into an abstract philosophical principle. And if we are willing to think of erôs as a cosmic principle, or simply as a positive psychological force (both of which are broached in the Symposium and Phaedrus), rather than as a mere unreflective animal instinct, how can we really say that it resides in the desiderative part of the soul —typically, in Platonic, Stoic, and Galenic terms, a place that requires continual external restraints against its natural propensity for excess? In short, whereas Plato has offered us a sophisticated and subtle disquisition on erôs as a rich, but deeply ambivalent, principle of the human condition—part appetite, part catalyst, part physical, part intellectual—for Galen, we might say, it was a missed opportunity. It would be an empty exercise, and a risky argument e silentio at that, to speculate too much about why Galen failed to take his cue from Plato and address the problem of erôs in Plato’s nuanced terms. The most banal explanation may, after all, end up the truest: perhaps he found Plato’s treatment of erôs in the Symposium and Phaedrus just a bit too fanciful for his scientific tastes. Galen certainly thought of himself as a philosophical doctor and even wrote a treatise arguing that ‘the best doctor is also a philosopher’.18 But he had Page 3 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs little interest in the more purely speculative aspects of the Greek philosophical traditions because they offered little practical utility, and he remained agnostic about the famously intractable dilemmas of philosophy, such as the immortality of the soul or the origins of the universe.19 So it could simply be that Socrates’ description in the Symposium of the soul’s ascent to absolute beauty, propelled by various forms of erôs, or his description in the Phaedrus of how the erotic attraction of the soul to a beautiful boy encourages the soul’s wings to regenerate and ascend again to heaven—thrilling narratives though they may have been—might just have been too much for the hard-nosed Galen (p.115) to take seriously.20 A passage in his treatise On prognosis (ch. 6) suggests that Galen had in general little interest in anything but a physicalist attitude towards erôs. There he debunks the notion of an ‘erotically motivated pulse’ on the grounds that ‘there is no pulse indicative of love, and that the pulse rate changes…when the mind is in any way disturbed’.21 Even though Galen seems to have shown little overt interest in Plato’s philosophically enhanced treatments of erôs in Symposium and Phaedrus, however, he was not uninterested, as we shall see, in the power of erôs and, given his commitment to a fundamentally Platonic psychology, the question remains whether his own analysis of the soul allowed any room for the more capacious view of erôs that we find in Plato. What we would really like to know is whether Galen would have at least been ‘sympathetic’ to Plato’s famous accounts of erôs, but since that is an unanswerable question, we can simply ask here how exactly Galen’s far more limited view of erôs squares with Platonic psychology, and whether he found in erôs anything that might distinguish it from the other emotions he also located in the epithumêtikon. At first glance, the answer to this question might seem fairly straightforward: Galen never singles out erôs for any kind of discrete theorizing when discussing the soul’s various desires and appetites, and on the relatively few occasions when he does bring up the topic (when he uses the word erôs explicitly), it is usually part of a more general discussion of other pathê, either of the desiderative or the spirited part of the soul (thumos). He will often speak in terms familiar from Plato, for example, of the anger paradigmatic of the Platonic thumoeides (‘spirited part’), and of the various bodily desires—food, drink, sex, love—typically associated with the epithumêtikon.22 He endorsed Plato’s metaphor of the epithumêtikon in Resp. 9 (588c) as a many-headed beast, and that image sums up his suspicions about the activities of these wild, untamed creatures of the human psyche (e.g. PHP 6.2.4). Unlike many Stoic thinkers, with whom he was in continual conflict on this point,23 Galen followed Plato in envisioning the discrete parts of the soul as entities capable of operating independently from one another and, unless reason steps in to manage the irrational parts, always at risk of endangering both body and soul. (p.116) Erôs

Page 4 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs falls into line in this scheme more or less where we would expect it to, consonant with its Platonic background as one of the epithumiai.24

Erôs as epithumia in Plato Before we consider Galen’s treatment of erôs as one of the soul’s epithumiai, a brief discussion of Plato’s attitude to this same topic is in order, for, as it happens, the nature of erôs as epithumia in Plato is complex and inconsistently treated across his works. The classic discussion of epithumia as a bodily appetite is Resp. 436–439e, where erôs appears alongside other appetites such as thirst and hunger. At 436b1, Socrates refers euphemistically to the ‘pleasures of food and procreation, and things that are related to them’ (ἐπιθυμοῦμεν…τῶν περὶ τὴν τροφήν τε καὶ γέννησιν ἡδονῶν καὶ ὅσα τούτων ἀδελφά), but in reiterating the point that the appetites reside in the ‘third part of the soul’ at 439d4, he uses the verbal form ἐράω: ‘(we call the third part of the soul) with which it feels erôs, hunger and thirst, and with which it gets excited over all the other desires, irrational and appetitive, the companion to various satieties and pleasures’ (τὸ δὲ ᾧ ἐρᾷ τε καὶ πεινῇ καὶ διψῇ καὶ περὶ τὰς ἄλλας ἐπιθυμίας ἐπτόηται ἀλόγιστόν τε καὶ ἐπιθυμητικόν, πληρώσεών τινων καὶ ἡδονῶν ἑταῖρον). In these contexts, Plato is clearly thinking of a basic notion of erôs as sexual appetite, not the more elevated, relational notion of desire he explores in Lysis, Charmides, Symposium, or Phaedrus.25 But even in Plato erôs never entirely loses its association with the appetites, and even when he entertains the idea of an erôs tamed by reason and re-oriented towards virtue, there always looms the threat that it will spin out of control. His fundamental suspicion of erôs is vividly on display in his description of the ‘tyrannical man’ in Resp. 9 (571–80), a man Socrates there imagines to be devoted first and foremost to gratifying his bodily appetites, with Eros orchestrating everything (573d2): ‘for I think that next there are banquets, revels, celebrations and girls, and all things of that sort for people in whom Eros resides as a tyrant within and directs all aspects of their soul’ (οἶμαι γὰρ τὸ μετὰ τοῦτο ἑορταὶ γίγνονται παρ' αὐτοῖς καὶ κῶμοι καὶ θάλειαι καὶ ἑταῖραι καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα πάντα, ὧν ἂν Ἔρως τύραννος νδον ο ἰκῶν διακυβερν ᾷ τὰ τ ῆς ψυχῆς ἅπαντα). At 573e3, when Socrates describes the rabble of desires that afflict the tyrannical man, he singles out erôs as the most powerful: ‘and [such (p.117) men] driven on by other desires, as if by a goad, and especially by Eros himself’ (τοὺς δ' ὥσπερ ὑπὸ κέντρων ἐλαυνομένους τῶν τε ἄλλων ἐπιθυμιῶν καὶ διαφερόντως ὑπ' αὐτο ῦ τοῦ Ἔρωτος). Indeed, in a strikingly impassioned paragraph, beginning at 574c5, Socrates invokes erôs three times, each time conceptualizing erôs as the ultimate tyrant over the appetites in the tyrant’s soul.26

Galen on the psychological effects of erôs When Galen looks to Plato to affirm his argument about the desiderative part of the soul in PHP 5.7.40–1, he cites Resp. 4.439–40, where Plato speaks of it as ἀλόγιστόν τε καὶ ἐπιθυμητικόν, the part that ‘loves, feels hunger, thirst, and flutters around the other desires’ (ἐρᾷ τε καὶ πεινῇ καὶ διψῇ καὶ περὶ τὰς ἄλλας Page 5 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs ἐπιθυμίας ἐπτόηται). In such passages erôs is just another one of the standard components of the irrational part of one’s soul, Plato’s ‘many-headed beast’. But not all the many heads of that beast are equivalent, and Galen does seem to see erôs as a particularly powerful and dangerous pathos, usually working at cross purposes to a person’s better judgement and very difficult to master. Let us look more closely at how Galen addresses the effects of erôs on human psychology and physiology. It is probably no mere chance that most of the explicit occurrences of the words erôs and eraô in Galen are found in PHP, where so much of the focus of this meandering work is on the epithumêtikon. Much of Galen’s energy in this work is spent sparring with the views of the Stoic Chrysippus on the soul, both on the question of its physical location in the body and, even more urgently for Galen, whether it is a singularity (as Chrysippus believed) or divided into parts as Plato held.27 Galen takes a good bit of pleasure throughout PHP in pointing out how often Chrysippus is either wrong or inconsistent, and this is especially evident on the question of the causes of the affections (pathê), about which Chrysippus had written a treatise (On the affections, Peri pathôn). At PHP 4.5.4 Galen accuses Chryippus of failing to ‘anchor to any one doctrine’—‘He tosses continually as on a stormy sea’—and, more specifically, of wavering on the question of whether the passions arise ‘apart from judgment’ (χωρὶς κρίσεως) or because they are judgements. It is in this context that Galen has occasion to bring up several examples—all taken from by-then classic Greek (p.118) literature—that fasten on erôs as illustrative of the autonomy of the epithumêtikon. The first example is one he found discussed in Chrysippus, who had adduced two lines from Euripides’ Andromache (629–30), supposedly to show that passions are judgements. Galen finds Chrysippus’ thinking on this issue muddled and inconsistent: while Chrysippus claims to hold that the affections of the soul are caused by bad judgements (μοχθηρὰ κρίσις, 4.6.2), he also speaks (according to Galen) of a ‘power beyond the rational’ (ἀρετὴ δυνάμεως ἑτέρας παρὰ τὴν λογικήν, 4.6.3), to which he gives the name τόνος, which influences these judgements and so our behaviour: ‘there are times when we abandon correct judgements because the tone of the soul yields and does not…carry out fully the commands of reason’ (4.6.3). This is how he would explain what happens when people find themselves in situations in which their former resolve to act in one way is defeated by some other, presumably non-rational, part of their psychology. Euripides, says Chrysippus, ‘has presented Menelaus as this kind of person’: σπασάμενος γὰρ τὴν μάχαιραν φέρεται ἐπὶ τὴν Ἑλένην ὡς ἀναιρήσων, ἰδὼν δὲ καὶ καταπλαγεὶς [εἰς] τὸ κάλλος ἐξέβαλε τὴν μάχαιραν, οὐδὲ ταύτης ἔτι δυνάμενος κρατεῖν, καθὰ καὶ ἡ ἐπίπληξις αὕτη εἴρηται αὐτῷ·

Page 6 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs ‘σὺ δ' ὡς ἐσεῖδες μαστὸν [ἐκείνης] ἐκβαλὼν ξίφος | φίλημ' ἐδέξω προδότιν αἰκάλλων κύνα·’ (PHP 4.6.9) He drew his sword and rushed at Helen to kill her, but on seeing her and being struck by her beauty he let the sword drop, no longer able even to keep his hold on it. He was accordingly rebuked with these words: ‘When you caught sight of her breast you dropped your sword | and took her kiss, fawning on the shameless traitor.’ We need not enter into the particular points of disagreement Galen had with Chrysippus in this section about the exact psychological cause of Menelaus’ lack of resolve. More interesting for our purposes, rather, is the way in which erôs is talked about here, originally by Chrysippus, of course, since Galen is largely culling texts for discussion from him. How negative are these examples? Are they morally equivalent to the other examples of potentially dangerous passions that one might bring up in such cases?28 The quotation from Euripides’ Andromache does not actually use the word erôs, but this is clearly the background he has in mind: the lines mention the erotic effect on Menelaus of seeing Helen’s breast, kisses, and the kind of fawning one associates with lovers. Galen describes Menelaus as ‘smitten by her beauty’ (ἐκπλαγεὶς τοῦ κάλλους) and a few paragraphs later speaks of him as ‘bewitched by his desire’ for her (4.6.19: ψυχὴ δελεασθεῖσα πρὸς τῆς ἐπιθυμίας). In the course of the ensuing discussion, also peppered with (p.119) ample quotations from Chrysippus, Galen describes erôs, along with anger, as the most intense, and so most emblematic, of the passions that can afflict a soul. A phrase he cites from Chrysippus makes this clear (4.6.27), where lovers are paired with ‘others who have extreme/violent desires’ (διὸ καὶ τοιαύτας ἐστὶν ἀκοῦσαι φωνὰς ἐπί τε τῶν ἐρώντων καὶ τῶν ἄλλως σφόδρα ἐπιθυμούντων καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ὀργιζομένων). Our disappointment begins to mount: how can Galen engage with the topic of erôs, base his entire treatise on promulgating a Platonic conception of the soul, and fail to show any appreciation for Plato’s own nuanced perspective on the subject? As if to torment us even further on this point, Galen proceeds to quote Chrysippus again at length (4.6.28–34) on how lovers behave with one another, and what social norms have evolved to accommodate them.

Page 7 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs ‘οἵας μάλιστα φορὰς καὶ οἱ ἐρώμενοι ἀξιοῦσι πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς ἔχειν τοὺς ἐραστάς, ἀπερισκεπτότερον καὶ ἄνευ ἐπιστροφῆς λογικῆς ἱσταμένους καὶ ἔτι τοῦ παραινοῦντος λόγου αὐτοῖς ὑπερβατικοὺς ὄντας, μᾶλλον δ’ οὐδ’ ὅλως ὑπομονητικοὺς ἀκοῦσαί τινος τοιούτου.’ καὶ γὰρ καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα πάντα τῇ παλαιᾷ δόξῃ μαρτυρεῖ, καθάπερ καὶ τὰ ἐφεξῆς αὐτῶν τάδε· ‘οὕτως τε μακρὰν ἀπέχουσιν ἀπὸ τοῦ λόγου, ὡς ἂν ἀκοῦσαι ἢ προσέχειν τινὶ τοιούτῳ, ὥστε μηδὲ τὰ τοιαῦτα ἄπο τρόπου ἔχειν γ’ αὐτοῖς λέγεσθαι·’ ‘ΚΚύπρις γὰρ οὐδὲ νουθετουμένη χαλᾷ· ἂν γὰρ βιάζῃ, μᾶλλον ἐντείνειν φιλεῖ. νουθετούμενος δ’ Ἔρως μᾶλλον πιέζει.’ (28–30)

‘ἔτι δ’ ὥσπερ ἄκαιρον ἐπιτιμητὴν καὶ οὐκ ἐπιγνώμονα τοῖς γινομένοις ἐν τῷ ἐρᾶν ἀποκλίνουσι τὸν λόγον, καθάπερ ἄνθρωπον ἀκαίρως δοκοῦντα νουθετεῖν, ἡνίκα δὴ καὶ οἱ θεοὶ δοκοῦσιν αὐτοῖς ἐφιέναι ἐπιορκεῖν’ (31) λόγῳ δ’ ο ὔτ’ ἐν τούτοις οὔτ’ ἐν ἄλλῳ τινὶ τῶν ἑξῆς ἀκολουθεῖν φήσει τοὺς ἐν πάθει καθεστηκότας, ἀλλ’ ἀπεστράφθαι διὰ παντὸς αὐτὸν καὶ φεύγειν καὶ μὴ προσίεσθαι καὶ πάνθ’ ὅσα τοιαῦτα. (33–4) ‘Loved ones especially expect that the conduct of their lovers towards them should be of this kind, that their attitude should be rather uncalculated and without concern for reason, and furthermore, that they should defy the discourse that gives them advice, or rather, have no patience whatever with any discourse of that kind.’ All such statements support the ancient view, and his [Chrysippus’] next words do also: ‘They keep so far away from admonitory discourse, from listening or attending to anything of the kind, that it is not out of place to say to them such things as these.’ ‘Even when censured Cypris does not let go; if you use force she loves to strive the more. Eros, when admonished, presses more heavily.’

(p.120) ‘they reject the discourse as an untimely censor, unsympathetic to the affairs of love, like a man who is held to admonish unseasonably, at a time when even the gods are thought to permit them to swear false oaths.’ Neither here nor anywhere in the subsequent discussion will he [Chrysippus] say that persons in an affected state follow reason. But that they reject it entirely, flee from it, do not admit it, and every expression of that kind.

Page 8 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs Galen here wants to make the relatively simple point that people in love, when in the grip of that pathos, flee rational thought, and in doing so he seems to have Plato’s Symposium on his mind, if only mediated by Chrysippus. Section 31 is not quite a verbatim quotation of that work, but it does seem to allude to Symposium 183a–b, the part of Pausanias’ speech where he too mentions the special divine dispensation offered to lovers for their notoriously unbecoming behaviour— obsequiousness, swearing questionable oaths, and in general any kind of indecorous behaviour (b2). Pausanias himself is not so much endorsing bad behaviour, of course, but he does point out that the matter is not simple (183d4): οὐχ ἁπλοῦν ἐστιν, ὅπερ ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἐλέχθη οὔτε καλὸν εἶναι αὐτὸ καθ’ αὑτὸ οὔτε αἰσχρόν, ἀλλὰ καλῶς μὲν πραττόμενον καλόν, αἰσχρῶς δὲ αἰσχρόν. αἰσχρῶς μὲν οὖν ἐστι πονηρῷ τε καὶ πονηρῶς χαρίζεσθαι, καλῶς δὲ χρηστῷ τε καὶ καλῶς. πονηρὸς δ’ ἐστὶν ἐκεῖνος ὁ ἐραστ ὴς ὁ πάνδημος, ὁ τοῦ σώματος μ ᾶλλον ἢ τ ῆς ψυχῆς ἐρῶν· καὶ γὰρ οὐδὲ μόνιμός ἐστιν, ἅτε οὐδὲ μονίμου ἐρῶν πράγματος. As I said from the start, it is not simply beautiful in and of itself, nor shameful, but beautiful if done beautifully, and shameful if done shamefully. [Something is done] shamefully when one gratifies a base lover basely, but beautifully when one gratifies a wholesome lover wholesomely. That vulgar lover is base who loves the body more than the soul; for he cannot be stable since he doesn’t love a stable thing. Despite the fact that both Galen and Chrysippus had evidently consulted Plato’s text at some point, each here seems oblivious to the grander import of Pausanias’ speech as a small sample of the work’s sustained problematizing of erôs as both a positive and negative psychic force. Other examples in PHP where passages from Classical poetry are cited specifically to illustrate the psychic properties of erôs 29 add little more to the basic picture of erôs in Galen as an unwelcome distraction from an orderly, moral life.

(p.121) Galen on the energeia of erôs If we dig a little deeper in Galen’s PHP, however, we find some scope for a more nuanced view of erôs and the other desiderative drives in the soul. We may begin by considering how Galen distinguished the soul’s pathê, which are by definition unwelcome, from instantiations of those same psychological drives that are well regulated and so do no harm. Or to put this another way, when does one of the soul’s drives become an actual pathos? Can Galen imagine, as Plato could, any circumstance in which erôs is a positive force, or at least not something categorically harmful or undesirable? Or did erôs imply for him only biological desire for sex unregulated by reason, mere animal appetite that had little to do with more complex forms of human relationships and sociability?30

Page 9 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs Galen may not have had the philosophical interest in erôs that Plato had, but he was hardly an ascetic, and probably not a proponent of complete Stoic apatheia,31 the idea that we should rid ourselves completely of the influence of the passions. And however much a moralist he was, he was also enough of a biological materialist to acknowledge not only that the passions have a physical location in the body (more on which below), but that they are in fact ‘natural’ phenomena, with a natural part to play physiologically and socially. This was a position consistent with Plato, and has its own kind of self-evident logic: gluttony may be a vice, but eating and the desire for food is biologically necessary for survival and so, we might say, ‘natural’.32 Galen theorizes this notion further when he discusses the ‘natural kinship’ that each part of the soul feels towards an object, at PHP 5.5.6–8, using Stoic terminology—an οἰκείωσις φυσικὴ—for an essentially Platonic idea. Here, (p. 122) Galen observes a ‘natural kinship’ for pleasure in small children, who have not yet acquired full control of their epithumêtika: οὕτως οὖν οἰκειο ῦσθαι καὶ τὰ παιδία φαίνεται καὶ πρὸς ἡδονὴν καὶ πρὸς νίκην, ὥσπερ ὕστερόν ποτε δείκνυσιν, ἐπειδὰν προβαίνῃ κατὰ τὴν ἡλικίαν, ὅτι πρὸς τὸ καλὸν ἔχει τινὰ φυσικὴν ο ἰκείωσιν. αἰδεῖται γοῦν ἁμαρτάνοντα προϊούσης αὐτοῖς τῆς ἡλικίας καὶ χαίρει τοῖς καλοῖς ἔργοις καὶ δικαιοσύνης καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἀρετῶν ἀντιποιεῖται καὶ πράττει πολλὰ κατὰ τὰς τῶν ἀρετῶν τούτων ἐννοίας, ἔμπροσθεν, ἡνίκα ἦν ἔτι σμικρά, κατὰ πάθος ζῶντα καὶ τῶν ἐκ τοῦ λόγου προσταγμάτων οὐδεμίαν φροντίδα ποιούμενα. In the same way children also appear to feel a kinship with pleasure and victory, and at some later time, as they grow older, they show that they have a natural kinship with what is right. Thus they are ashamed of their errors as they grow older, they take pleasure in noble acts, they lay claim to justice and the other virtues, and they perform many acts in accordance with their notions of these virtues; but earlier, when they were still small, they lived by their affections and took no notice of the commands of reason. It is worth remembering, in short, that in the face of Galen’s sustained emphasis on the dangers of the passions, the problem is not so much the existence of the passions themselves as the ways in which they are regulated by reason. At the beginning of PHP 6, Galen refines his discussion of the psychic pathê and pathêmata with a nod towards their natural functions, and suggests here more complex ways in which to understand the workings of the erotic in human affairs. Here Galen makes a distinction between what he calls the energeia and the pathos of the soul. Energeia is generally translated as ‘activity’, and seems to mean basically ‘what the soul (or the part of the soul) does’. As such, the term is Page 10 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs neutral; the spirited part of the soul (thumos) feels anger because that is what that part of the soul is supposed to do; but pathêmata arise, as Galen describes it, in other parts of the soul when ‘our body is forcibly driven to its actions by anger’ (PHP 6.1.7: ὅταν ὑπὸ τοῦ θυμοῦ βιαίως ἄγηται πρὸς τὰς πράξεις). Anger is a natural aspect of our souls, in other words, but we must keep it under control, or it easily becomes a dysfunction. Galen sums up his definition of energeia by considering how the parts of the soul actively seek out their objects. In describing this movement, Galen says that energeia is ‘a motion according to nature, and pathos a motion contrary to nature’ (6.1.8: τὴν μὲν ἐνέργειαν κατὰ φύσιν τινὰ κίνησιν ἡμῶν νοούντων, τὸ δὲ πάθος παρὰ φύσιν). A physiological explanation makes it clearer what he has in mind (6.1.11): the natural energeia of the heart is for it to beat regularly; when it beats irregularly, we consider this a pathos. If we think of erôs in particular according to this schema, it is likely that Galen would have said that it can be considered part of the energeia of the epithumêtikon. Exactly what term Galen might use to refer to erôs when it is not a pathos is unclear, since pathos is the word he typically used to describe any of the passions in general, whether or not they are functioning (p.123) ‘appropriately’. But it seems safe to say that, if pressed, he would think of erôs as a natural, not intrinsically unwelcome, feature of human psychology, useful not only for procreation, but perhaps even for pleasure.33 Galen’s psychic energeia is not, in fact, very far removed from the discourse about erôs in the Symposium. To take just one example, we may consider Diotima’s account of the force of erôs in human behaviour, as Socrates relates it at Symp. 206c–d: κυοῦσιν γάρ, ἔφη, ὦ Σώκρατες, πάντες ἄνθρωποι καὶ κατὰ τὸ σῶμα καὶ κατὰ τὴν ψυχήν, καὶ ἐπειδὰν ἔν τινι ἡλικίᾳ γένωνται, τίκτειν ἐπιθυμεῖ ἡμῶν ἡ φύσις. τίκτειν δὲ ἐν μὲν αἰσχρῷ οὐ δύναται, ἐν δὲ τῷ καλῷ. ἡ γὰρ ἀνδρὸς καὶ γυναικὸς συνουσία τόκος ἐστίν. ἔστι δὲ τοῦτο θεῖον τὸ πρᾶγμα, καὶ τοῦτο ἐν θνητῷ ὄντι τῷ ζῴῳ ἀθάνατον ἔνεστιν, ἡ κύησις καὶ ἡ γέννησις. All humans…are pregnant in body and soul, and when they come to the right age, we naturally desire (lit. ‘our physis desires’) to give birth. It’s not possible to give birth in ugliness, but rather in beauty. For the coupling of a man and a woman is a (kind of) giving birth. This is a divine thing, and this is an immortal thing, though it’s in a creature that’s actually mortal, this pregnancy and giving birth. This is erôs conceptualized not only as an intrinsic aspect of human nature, but as a glorious, ennobling one at that. All the speeches of the Symposium offer variations on this theme—no one wants to banish erôs from human interactions, Page 11 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs even though they all recognize that there will always be some people whose lives are degraded by perverse or excessive forms of it.34 While not explicitly interacting with the Symposium in his PHP, Galen does seem to share with Plato, after all, a confidence that the bodily desires can in fact be a positive, productive force in a person’s life when properly channelled and ordered. This is not the most obvious lesson one can take away from PHP, but it becomes more apparent when Galen discusses, as he does at great length, the physical location of the parts of the soul in the body. In taking on this topic, Galen was entering a long-standing ancient debate where the lines were essentially drawn (if somewhat loosely and not always accurately) between (p.124) Platonists, on the one hand, and Aristotelians and Stoics on the other, who differed especially on the physical location of the rational part of the soul (essentially, brain or heart, respectively). These discussions, however turgid and derivative they may sometimes appear, are nevertheless fascinating for the way in which they allow Galen to apply medical research and contemporary scientific procedures to these perennially intractable problems of psychology. This would certainly characterize his long attempt at the beginning of PHP 6 to prove, by various experimental procedures and a knowledge of anatomy, that the desiderative part of the soul resides in the liver. We may pass over the many details here, but focus for our purposes on the intimate connection Galen posits between the nutritive function of the liver within the human body and the desires that reside there.

Conclusion: Galen and the physiology of erôs De Lacy highlighted well the importance for Galen of food and drink in this ‘third part of the soul’, since it ‘ties the epithumêtikon to the nourishment of the body’.35 Galen thought he had good authority to make this connection from Plato’s remarks about the liver in Timaeus,36 and he adopted also from Plato (cf. PHP 6.3.10, quoting Tim. 77b3–4) the notion that humans share the desiderative part of the soul with plants. He put great stock in his plant analogy (PHP 6.3.11  ff.), in fact, and was especially interested in the function of roots, the source of nutrients to the parts of the plant that grew above the ground. His argument at PHP 6.3.35–6.4.12 is quite involved, but the main point is that the roots of a plant map on to the liver, as the trunk of the plant maps on to the heart. We might expect the roots to be analogized to the stomach, but Galen deals with this by citing Hippocrates (De hum. 11), who likened the soil that nourishes trees to the stomach of humans. Never mind that this rather ruins the neatness of the plant analogy—the point is that Galen is quite fixated on the centrality of the liver to all physiological functions of the body. The bulk of book 6 of PHP offers in fact a highly detailed account of the liver’s anatomy in an effort to demonstrate that blood originates in the liver, where it processes the nutrients received from the stomach, and then distributes these nutrients to the rest of the body, beginning with the heart. Galen’s ‘proof’ of this process invokes observations from dissection and embryology, which we cannot address in detail here, but his Page 12 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs conclusions are powerful: at 6.4.6, he says, ‘For the liver appears not as a servant who prepares (p.125) suitable material for his master, but as the master himself who has the authority to distribute the material’ (φαίνεται γὰρ οὐχ ὡς ὑπηρέτης ἡγουμένῳ προπαρασκευάζων ἐπιτήδειον ὕλην τὸ ἧπαρ, ἀλλ’ ὡς αὐτὸς ὁ ἡγούμενος ἐξουσίαν ἔχων τοῦ διανέμειν αὐτήν). A few sentences later (6.4.9): οὔτε γὰρ ὑπηρέτου τὸ τοιοῦτον ἔργον, ἀλλ' ἡγεμόνος καὶ ἄρχοντος, οὔθ' ὕλης ἐλλιπῶς παρεσκευασμένης τὸ πάθος· ὑπηρέτου γάρ ἐστι τὸ παρασκευάζειν μόνον ὕλης τ' ἐλλιποῦς ἐστι τὸ μὴ διανέμεσθαι. καὶ μὴν οὔθ' ὡς ὑπηρέτης τὸ ἧπαρ, ἀλλ' ὡς ἄρχων, οὔθ' ὡς ὕλην ἐλλιπῆ [ὕλην] τὸ αἷμα διανέμειν πεπίστευται. For distributing is not the work of a servant but of a leader and ruler, and being distributed is not what is done to matter that has been incompletely prepared; it is appropriate to a servant that he only begins the preparation, and to unfinished matter that it is not distributed. But the liver has been entrusted with distributing the blood, the liver not as servant but as ruler, and the blood not as unfinished matter. There are many striking aspects to this passage, not the least of which is the apparent discontinuity between the physiological and the psychological functions of a single organ within a body. In terms of its bodily function, in other words, Galen sees the liver as taking a lead role—all the other major organs depend on its role as producer of blood and supplier of nutrients. Galen was, to be sure, taking his cue (PHP 6.8.51) from Plato in the Timaeus (70a7–b2), who referred there to the liver as a ‘manager…[fashioned] for the nourishment of the body’, but his systematic scientific study of this organ in PHP allows him to invest it with an authority, even nobility, that is all his own. Indeed, the language of ruling, leading, and controlling that he applied to the liver in book 6 reminds us of the ways in which Platonists, including Galen, would describe the rational part of the soul, associated with the brain, in contrast to the desiderative part of the soul, associated with the liver. We might well ask, then, how Galen could so readily locate the desiderative part of the soul, with all its potential for excess and anarchy, in an organ that he regards as the supreme, authoritative regulator of bodily functioning. The shortest answer to such a question is to say simply that for Galen the soul and its ‘home organ’ were different things, and could have different functions within the body. But Galen, like his predecessors, did not just assign the parts of the soul to organs randomly, and here, I think is where we can get a better sense of how he regarded such passions as erôs. It is the liver’s specifically nutritive functions that make it an especially appropriate home for the passions, insofar as the passions that reside there are so often themselves associated with the body’s nourishment—the desire for food, drink, and sex, for example, to cite Page 13 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs Plato’s favourites. This is why it made sense for both Plato and Galen to say that the desiderative part of the soul could be found in plants as well as humans: each creature had bodily mechanisms the functions of which were to distribute nutrients to the other parts of the body, but they also needed something to motivate them to seek such nourishment—plants (p.126) need to know how and when to take in the nutrients from the soil, and, analogously, humans need to know how and when to eat, drink, or procreate. In each of them, this function, this energeia, is performed by the desiderative part of the soul. What is interesting about the relationship Galen imagines to exist between the parts of the soul and their home organs is that each seems to be able to operate more or less independently of one another. This is why he can envision, on the one hand, a liver in supreme control of its blood and nutrient distribution, and, on the other, an epithumêtikon, located in the liver and in some sense motivating it, but incapable of regulating itself without the intervention of reason. Whatever their inherent dangers, therefore, the passions were for Galen one of the fundamental, essential aspects of human existence itself, as elemental for maintaining life as a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients from the soil. It is likely that Galen, in a different work from PHP, might entertain the kind of nuanced discussion of erôs we find in Plato’s Symposium. Certainly he would be sympathetic to Plato’s view, as it emerges from nearly all the speeches in that work, that erôs manifests itself in human behaviour in good and bad ways, and that its effect is best when regulated by other parts of the soul. It also seems likely that Galen would be able to draw physiological parallels to the ways in which Plato makes erôs into a motivating force for the pursuit of reason. But we have to concede that none of this is in evidence in PHP, and if anything, erôs, in this and probably all of his work, is little more than one of the routine examples of a passion that can lead to catastrophe if left unrestrained. Any discontinuity that we may sense between the high praise Galen lavishes on the anatomical liver in book 6 of PHP and the suspicion he harbours for the part of the soul that inhabits the liver is nowhere to be found in Galen’s own thinking. He ends book 6, in fact, with a final example, Homer Iliad 11.578, to illustrate his argument that the desiderative part of the soul resides in the liver.37 There, Odysseus describes Tityos’ punishment in the underworld for his attempted rape of Leto— stretched out over nine acres with two vultures tearing out his liver. Galen notes (PHP 6.8.81) that ‘the poet did not portray Tityos’ heart or brain or any other part as being eaten because of the wanton attack he had made through erotic desire, but only his liver, saying that his punishment was on the organ guilty of the wanton act, as was reasonable’ (οὐ τὴν καρδίαν ἢ τὸν ἐγκέφαλον ἤ τι τῶν ἄλλων μορίων ἐσθιόμενον ἐποίησε τοῦ Τιτυοῦ δι’ ἐρωτικὴν ἐπιθυμίαν ἐξυβρίζειν ἐπιχειρήσαντος, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἧπαρ μόνον εἰς τὸ τῆς ὕβρεως αἴτιον σπλάγχνον κολάζεσθαι φάμενος αὐτόν, ὥσπερ ἦν εὔλογον).

Page 14 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs Clearly, Galen is not much interested here in considering whether erôs might, in other contexts, be capable of nourishing the body or mind in any (p.127) positive or enriching way. But, as I also hope to have shown, he was not on a crusade to demonize tout court the passions of the body either. The symbiotic relationship he envisions them to have with the chief nutritive organ of the body suggests in the end that they too at least had the potential to offer the kind of spiritual nutrition that Plato ascribed to erôs six centuries earlier. (p.128) Notes:

(1) See e.g. Kozak (2004) 49–65 on the medical discourse of Phaedra’s lovesickness in Eur. Hipp. Further discussion and bibliography on medicine and erotics at R. Hunter (1999) 224, on Theoc. Id. 11.1–6. See also Winkler (1990) 71–93. (2) See Van der Eijk (2005) 119–38, esp. 124–31. (3) See Hankinson (1991) esp. 198–200, on Galen’s assimilation of, and divergences from, Platonic psychology. See also Tieleman (2002). (4) For Galen’s understanding of the Platonic epithumêtikon, see De Lacy (1988). (5) See below for fuller discussion. (6) See Gill (1983) and esp. 187 on Galen’s adherence to Plato’s tripartite soul (in contrast to Chrysippus’ notion of a unified, fundamentally rational soul). See also Donini (2008) 188–90. (7) See Donini (2008) 194 with n. 59. Also Gill (this volume). (8) See e.g. Nussbaum (2002) 55–94, Renaut (this volume) with his n. 2, and Gill (this volume). (9) Translations from PHP throughout are from De Lacy (2005). (10) Nor, for that matter, does Galen seem much interested in subsequent Stoic notions of erôtikê aretê, on which, see Sorabji (2000) 281–2, and Gill (this volume). On erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus, see Cairns (this volume). (11) De Lacy noted that Galen PHP 4.6.31, a quotation from Chrysippus, may allude to Pl. Symp. 183a–b (Pausanias’ invocation of the popular notion that the gods forgive lovers even if they break their vows). For discussion of this passage, see below. (12) The word at issue is καρῶδες (‘drowsiness’), at Galen Hipp. Prorrh. 5.9.2 (ὅταν οὖν ἐν οἴνου πόσει πλείονι κεκαρωμένον τινὰ λέγωμεν, ὥσπερ ὁ 〈Πλάτων〉 ἐπὶ τοῦ Πόρου κατὰ τ ὸ Συμπόσιον εἶπεν). (13) On this passage, see Cairns (this volume). Page 15 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs (14) PHP 4.1.2. The image of the soul in Republic, which likens the three parts of the soul to two animals (the epithumêtikon to a many-headed beast, the thumos to a lion) and a man (the rational part), Galen says, is more fitting than the one in Phaedrus (ἡ εἰκὼν οἰκειοτέρα τῆς κατὰ τὸν Φαῖδρον), by which he seems to mean that the simile in the Republic does a better job of specifying how the parts of the soul differ from one another in function and location in the body. See further in De Lacy (1988) 45 with n. 4. (15) The programmatic opening of Galen Quod animi mores (QAM) illustrates his position on the interrelationship between the condition of the soul and the body, although he is most concerned in this work with the effects of nutrition on behaviour: ‘since in fact…through food and drink and our other daily activities we accomplish a good bodily mixture, and from this mixture, we effect virtue in the soul’ (ἐπειδήπερ [γάρ]…[καὶ] διὰ τῶν ἐδεσμάτων τε καὶ πομάτων ἔτι τε τῶν ὁσημέραι πραττομένων εὐκρασίαν ἐργαζόμεθα κἀκ ταύτης εἰς ἀρετὴν τῇ ψυχῇ συντελέσομεν). Much of Aff. Dig. reverses the perspective of QAM, highlighting problems of temperament and habit rather than bodily mixtures, and urging a therapy of self-control. The rhetoric of this treatise is largely ethical, but the many vices Galen describes typically involve the body (especially gluttony and sex) or have bodily consequences (e.g. anger, which can lead to violence). See esp. e.g. chs. 7 and 8—Magnaldi (1999) 41–53. (16) Galen often used the Stoic term, ‘the governing part’ (hêgêmonikon); cf. e.g. PHP 2.3.4 or 3.1.8–15, and Donini (2008) 186. (17) For varying approaches to this famous scene, see Edelstein (1945), Craik (2001), Kozak (2004) 27–9, Berg (2010) 37–55. (18) Text in Boudon-Millot (2007) 235–92; and see Lloyd (2008) 42–3. (19) Galen’s remarks at the end of PHP 9 are typical; cf. e.g. 9.7.9: ‘To inquire also into matters that are not useful for ethics and political action is appropriate only for those philosophers who have chosen speculative philosophy…But such inquiries as these contribute nothing to managing one’s own household well or caring properly for the public interest, or acting with justice and friendliness towards kinsmen, citizens, and foreigners’; or 9.9.9, where Galen says that the question of whether or not the soul is immortal is ‘of no use at all to medicine or to the philosophy called ethical and political, and physicians and many philosophers have with good reason omitted it’. (20) None of it could be scientifically demonstrated, after all, and that was the chief criterion he looked for in the philosophical principles that he felt most comfortable embracing. See Tieleman (1996) 8–37 on Galen’s scientific methods.

Page 16 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs (21) Galen De praecog. 6.16 (trans. Nutton (1979)). As Nutton notes, Galen’s point is not to deny the psychosomatic effects of emotional states, only that love in particular would affect the pulse differently from any other mental disturbance (197). See also Jackson (1969). (22) Discussed well e.g. in Gill (1983) and Hankinson (1991). (23) See e.g. PHP 5.7.42–3, where, in endorsing the Platonic notion that ‘it is not within the province of the same power both to reason and to desire food or drink or sexual pleasure’, Galen notes that this is a ‘fact that somehow escaped Chrysippus and many Stoics’. (24) See above, n. 5. (25) See Lorenz (2006) 45, who stresses the importance of distinguishing between translations of epithumia as ‘appetite’ and ‘desire’ in Plato—certainly Plato’s widely differing notions of erôs across his works is a case in point. For erôs as a form of non-bodily desire in Plato and the Stoics, see Leontsini (this volume). (26) Cf. Resp. 575d5, 575e2, and the final flourish at 575a1: ‘But Erôs resides in him like a tyrant, in complete anarchy and lawlessness, acting as sole authority’ (ἀλλὰ τυραννικῶς ἐν αὐτ ῷ ὁ Ἔρως ἐν πάσῃ ἀναρχίᾳ καὶ ἀνομίᾳ ζῶν, ἅτε αὐτὸς ὢν μόναρχος). See also Nussbaum (1994a) 140–91, for postPlatonic anxiety and ambivalence about the status of erôs in human activity; also, Nussbaum (2002) 55–94. (27) Donini (1995) and (2008) 183–93. (28) Galen notes at 4.6.16, e.g., that there are ‘thousands of individual things that induce people who live by the passions to depart from their original judgements’. (29) e.g. PHP 4.6.38, quoting Eur. Alc. 1079–80, where Admetus speaks to Heracles of his erôs for Alcestis; Galen comments: ‘It is clear that his love, being an affection of the desiderative power, not of the rational, distracts his whole soul and leads the man to act contrary to his initial judgment.’ Cf. also e.g. PHP 3.4.23–5, where Galen again adduces the Euripidean Medea—a favourite Stoic exemplum (cf. Gill (1983))—overpowered by her erôs for Jason: ‘Sufficient indications of the magnitude attained by the immoderate movement in the desiderative part of her soul are the things she did because of her love for Jason’ (τὰ περὶ τὸν ἔρωτα τοῦ Ἰάσονος). (30) It is interesting that when Galen wanted to refer to sexual intercourse in ethically neutral terms as a purely biological activity, he used the verb ἀφροδισιάζειν and the nominal phrase τὰ ἀφροδίσια. These words tend to occur in strictly physiological or pharmacological passages, as in Ars med. Kühn i. 339 Page 17 of 18

 

Galen, Plato, and the Physiology of Erôs line 14, or 340 line 15, De usu part. Helmreich ii. 321 line 17, or De simpl. med., where τὰ ἀφροδίσια occurs ten times in Galen’s discussions of drugs. Erôs is not synonymous with τὰ ἀφροδίσια in Galen—the former describes an emotion, the latter an activity (‘sex’)—but erôs does imply a type of desire that includes, even if only implicitly, a desire for sex. Galen tends to use erôs when he is interested in the relational consequences of the term, which is to say when he is concerned with the moral implications of erotic behaviour. Even the more general term φιλεῖν, indicating friendship or other kinds of non-sexualized love, however, although inherently a positive term can in Galen’s eyes become a pathos if carried to excess: cf. Aff. Dig. 3.1: ‘being excessively quick to love or hate any sort of thing is a pathos’ (τὸ φθάσαι πάνυ σφόδρα φιλεῖν ἢ μισεῖν ὁτιοῦν πρᾶγμα πάθος ἐστίν). See now Konstan (2010b) on philia. See also Sorabji (2000) 274– 87, on the general pre-Christian separability (he calls it ‘coming apart’) of love, sex, marriage, and having children, although, as his discussion makes clear, the lines between them are often blurry. (31) See Donini (2008) 194–5. (32) See De Lacy (1988) 54. (33) Stoic influence on Galen’s thinking here is clear; cf. Gill (this volume) 150: ‘Stoicism maintains what I have described as “psychophysical holism”, in which human beings are seen as unified, whole entities, whose functions, including mental or psychological ones, have a physical dimension. Hence, the Platonic tendency to present body-based emotions and desires, including sexual ones, as necessarily lower than mental or intellectual ones, does not hold good in Stoic thought.’ (34) The contrast Pausanias draws in his speech (Pl. Symp. 181b–d) between the ‘vulgar’ (τῆς Πανδήμου Ἀφροδίτης) and ‘heavenly’ erôs (ὁ δὲ τῆς Οὐρανίας) is emblematic of this constant tension between a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ erôs in the Symposium. In works such as Aff. Dig. and PHP, Galen worried mostly about the ‘bad’ erôs, of the sort that in Pausanias’ description makes people care only about sexual consummation, without any thought for whether they are pursuing such bodily pleasure ‘finely’ (καλῶς) or not (181b5). (35) De Lacy (1988) 46. (36) De Lacy (1988) 46–8. (37) See De Lacy (1988) 49.

Page 18 of 18

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia Eleni Leontsini

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0009

Abstract and Keywords This chapter examines Zeno’s argument in his Republic in relation to erôs, philia, and homonoia, and attempts to elucidate Zeno’s political position on the rôle of erôs in the unanimity of the polis, drawing on the previous positions of both Plato and Aristotle, setting Zeno’s account in a tradition of thinking which goes back at least as far as them. According to Zeno, the aim of sexual desire is friendship and not intercourse; thus, erôs, by generating friendship, plays an important role in the formation of the virtuous city. Before Zeno, both Plato and Aristotle argued for the importance of the unity of the city, each of course pursuing a different line of argument. Plato thinks that unanimity is important for the citizens so that they will be united in one voice, while Aristotle thinks that friendship is even more important than justice since it generates concord in the city. Keywords:   erôs, sexual desire, friendship, unanimity, concord

Zeno’s community is one whose members are known to one another and live in close proximity. He regards Eros as a god of friendship and freedom, and also as the provider of concord, arguing in his Republic that ‘Eros is a god who contributes to the city’s security’ (Ath. 13.561c (SVF i. 263)). In addition, according to Zeno, the aim of sexual desire is friendship and not intercourse; thus, erôs, by generating friendship, plays an important role in the formation of the virtuous city (Diog. Laert. 7.130). This is a strange position to maintain since erôs and sexual desire are not usually associated with concord (homonoia) and Page 1 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia the unity of the city. While both Plato and Aristotle have stressed the importance of friendship (philia) for the unity of the polis, Zeno apparently made love (erôs) the guarantor of concord. At least five passages survive in support of this. First, Plutarch (Lyc. 31.1–2 (SVF i. 261, 263)) mentions Zeno in relation to Plato and the importance of homonoia in the polis, reporting that the happiness of the city depends on the virtue of its citizens and the level of concord achieved in it: It was not, however, the chief design of Lycurgus then to leave his city in command over a great many others, but he thought that the happiness (eudaimonia) of an entire city, like that of a single individual, depended on the prevalence of virtue (aretên) and concord (homonoia) within its own borders. The aim, therefore, of all his arrangements and adjustments was to make his people free-minded (eleutherioi), self-sufficing (autarkies), and moderate (sôphronountes) in all their ways, and to keep them so as long as possible. His design for a civil polity was adopted by Plato, Diogenes, Zeno, and by all those who have won approval for their treatises on this subject, although they left behind them only writings and words.1 (p.130) Second, according to a report in Athenaeus (13.561c (SVF i. 263)), Zeno argues that Eros is a god who contributes to the safety of the polis: Pontianus said that Zeno of Citium regarded Eros as a god of friendship (philia) and freedom (eleutheria), and the provider in addition of concord (homonoia), but of nothing else. Hence in the Republic Zeno said: ‘Eros is a god which contributes to the city’s security (sôtêria).’2 The Athenaeus passage is further elucidated by a comment made by Diogenes Laertius for Zeno, Chrysippus, and Apollodorus which I consider vital to the interpretation of Zenonian erôs: Erôs is an effort to make friends (epibolên philopoiias) resulting from the appearance of beauty (kallos); and its end is not sexual intercourse (sunousia) but friendship (philia). (Diog. Laert. 7.130)3 Two more passages in Stobaeus’ Anthology point in the same direction:4 But erôs is not desire (epithumia) nor is it directed at any base (phaulon) object, but is an effort to make friends (epibolên philopoiias) resulting from the appearance of beauty (kallous emphasin). (Stob. Eccl. 2.66.5b9)5 They say that erôs is an effort to make friends (epibolên philopoiias) resulting from the appearance of beauty (kallos emphainomenon) of beautiful young people (neon hôraiôn); and that is why the sage will also be expert in love (erôtikon), and will love those worthy of love

Page 2 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia (erasthêsesthai tôn axierastôn), i.e. those who are well-born and endowed with natural ability. (Stob. Eccl. 2.115.1–4)6 Before Zeno, both Plato and Aristotle argued for the importance of the unity of the city, each of course pursuing a different line of argument. Plato thinks that justice (dikaiosunê) is important for the citizens of his Republic (351d) because it creates concord (homonoia) and friendly feeling (philia), while Aristotle thinks that friendship (philia) is even more important than justice (dikaiosunê) since it generates concord (homonoia) in the city (Arist. Eth. Nic. 8.2, 1155b21–7). There is a philosophical tradition—starting as early as Heraclitus (A 3d D-K), Democritus (B 186, B 250, B 255 D-K), Empedocles (31. B 17, B 26, B 35 D-K), Gorgias (82 B 8a D-K), and Antiphon (45–71 D-K)—that is most apparent in Plato and Aristotle, in associating friendship, which generates concord, with justice, the unity of the state, and the pursuit of (p.131) happiness in the city, and Zeno seems to be continuing this tradition.7 Nevertheless, the role of sex in the Zenonian city as the generator of friendship and concord remains problematic and the association of philia with erôs calls for further examination. My aim in this chapter is to examine Zeno’s argument in the Republic in relation to erôs, philia, and homonoia, and to elucidate Zeno’s political position on the role of erôs in the unanimity of the polis, drawing on the previous positions of both Plato and Aristotle, and setting Zeno’s account in a tradition of thinking which goes back at least as far as them. In particular, Aristotle’s notion of civic friendship and its relation to concord is crucial for the understanding of the Zenonian political argument. In addition, I will argue that the little that we know of Aristotle’s views on erôs—and especially his definition of erôs ‘as aiming at affection rather than at intercourse’ (Arist. Part. an. 2.22, 68a39–68b7)—could further help us understand the Zenonian position. I am not going here to engage on the identity of the god in question, that is whether Zeno had in mind Eros the son of Aphrodite or Eros the Πρωτόγονος.8 Nor am I going to deal with the interpretation of erotic love, since this topic on its own merit would require another paper altogether. For the purposes of this chapter, I am merely going to assume that—however erôs is conceived and envisaged to function in the Zenonian ideal polis—it would be the generator of friendship and concord. My reading of erôs in this context is strictly political,9 primarily basing my interpretation of Zenonian erôs on the passage by Diogenes Laertius according to which the aim of erôs is the creation of friendship.10 (p.132) There is no question of course that the function of erôs in the Zenonian city is highly problematic, if erôs is to be interpreted in accordance with the usual use of the term. Since a common definition of erotic love is ‘love transformed by desire’,11 erôs is a passion and, thus, would seem unsuitable for the polis and virtuous men, since, according to the Stoics, passion is defined as a ‘movement of soul which is irrational and contrary to nature’ (Diog. Laert. Page 3 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia 7.110). The Stoics classify four types of passions (desire, pleasure, fear, distress), and one of the most famous examples of desire (epithumia; libido) has always been erotic love.12 One way out of this problem is to argue that the Stoics in fact held that erôs is ‘an impulse in accordance with reason’,13 since ‘love is neither desire nor is it for any morally bad thing, but it is an attempt to make friends on account of an appearance of beauty’ (Stob. Eccl. 2.66.11–13). It is only when it falls out of this definition that erôs becomes a passion. This view is also supported by the view of Panaetius as reported by Seneca: ‘I think Panaetius gave a charming answer to the youth who asked whether the wise man would fall in love: “As to the wise man, we shall see. What concerns you and me, who are still a great distance from the wise man, is to ensure that we do not fall into a state of affairs which is disturbed, powerless, subservient to another and worthless to oneself.”’14 In general, one can distinguish three lines of thought about erôs which might be relevant to political philosophy. First, a fairly widespread view according to which homoerotic relationships can make people more courageous as soldiers, a view that could be called a militaristic one. Second, the Platonic view that the love for a beautiful boy can lead to a philosophical view of beauty and goodness as such.15 Third, the view in Hesiod, Parmenides, and Empedocles that erôs is the cause of everything.16 Erôs, according to these (p.133) thinkers, is either considered as the all-powerful cosmic force the god Eros, the son of Aphrodite, the ‘fairest among the immortal gods’, or as erôs (love) the power of sexual generation, the rule of love in the world-order.17 In addition, one can have different views about the role of friendship in the city. First, since the Greeks standardly regarded friendship as an essential part of the good life, it follows that one may commend political arrangements which facilitate friendships and condemn those which do not. Second, one could also argue that friendship is essential to the survival and well-being of the city. Friendship in this sense may be particularly associated with concord (homonoia). Third, if one distinguishes different kinds of friendship, then more complex accounts of the role of friendship in the city are possible. One might argue that some kinds of friendship are to be valued as part of the good life, so one purpose of the city is to facilitate these friendships. At the same time one might also argue that political friendship or homonoia is essential to the survival of the state. So this kind of friendship is valued more as a means than an end. Evidence for the early Stoa is poor. Although the two leading Stoics of the third century, Zeno and Chrysippus, did, from what we know, write a great deal of philosophical works, none but fragments and accounts of their work presented by others survive. Zeno’s Republic had been very much admired in antiquity and there has been much speculation over its contents and over the actual political theory that Zeno could have been advancing in that work. Therefore, as has been pointed out by Erskine, ‘the debate is not simply about the nature and significance of Stoic ideas, but rather it has to begin by establishing what those Page 4 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia ideas actually were’.18 In a way, the main problem that still pertains is the actual interpretation of his political proposal. Indeed, the question that still needs to be answered is what Zeno’s political views were in the Republic. Schofield,19 and Baldry before him,20 have both argued in favour of what they call the ‘communist’ interpretation, advocating that Zeno conceived an (p.134) ideal state along the lines of the ideal state in Plato’s Republic, but with only the wise as citizens. According to Schofield, those adopting this interpretation ‘would argue that the right answer comes neither from those contemporaries and successors who were most impressed by its Cynic features nor from later Stoicism, which was no doubt prone to read its own preoccupations into the pithy and sometimes cryptic pronouncements of the founder of the school’.21 He also points out that, in any case, ‘any Greek philosopher who wrote a Republic will have been challenging comparison with Plato’s great work’ and that this Platonic interpretation ‘will infer that Zeno may therefore be presumed to have been attempting, like Plato, to show how a polis—on the ordinary understanding of polis—can be reformed or reconstructed to satisfy some cherished goal or goals’.22 Zeno’s proposals in the Republic point towards a community as ordinarily conceived (physical proximity and mutual acquaintance). This community embraces mainly mature adults (male and female), but also children and adolescents. According to Schofield, Zeno’s community is thus made ideal by the degree of concord achieved in it through the political virtue of its citizens, fostered in turn by communist political institutions.23 The Baldry–Schofield interpretation supports the understanding of Zeno’s political philosophy as being part of a larger philosophical tradition expressing similar views. For the Stoics, the friendship that matters would be founded on the knowledge of the good which is shared among all wise men. Thus if the city is the community of the wise it will not be quite right to say either that the city is a means of facilitating friendship, or that friendship is valuable because it promotes the survival of the city. The point would rather be that the friendship of the wise is constitutive of the city. As Konstan points out, ‘the Stoic definition of erôs as an impulse to make friends on account of the conspicuous beauty of youths in their prime, seems to be eliminating the sexual component of pederasty in favor of a disinterested and educative affection identified as philia’.24 If this is right, the Stoic view would be different from those of Plato and Aristotle, though recognizably in the same tradition. Zeno’s political pronouncements on erôs, philia, and homonoia could also further be elucidated by Aristotle’s conception of politikê philia and erôs. Indeed, Zeno’s claim that erôs generates concord in the city could be further supported by the Aristotelian conception of erôs. Although Aristotle does not explicitly discuss erôs in any length anywhere in his works, there are nevertheless several passages scattered in various works where he talks about erôs in passing. These do give us enough to partially reconstruct an Aristotelian (p.135) account of Page 5 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia erôs. A definition of erôs is given by Aristotle at Prior analytics when he discusses the notion of logic of reference: If then every lover in virtue of his love would prefer A, viz. that the beloved should be such as to grant a favour, and yet should not grant it (for which C stands), to the beloved’s granting the favour (represented by D) without being such as to grant it (represented by B), it is clear that A (being of such nature) is preferable to granting the favour. To receive affection then is preferable in love to sexual intercourse. Love then aims at affection rather than at intercourse. And if it aims most at affection, then this is its end. Intercourse then either is not an end at all or is an end relative to the receiving of affection. And indeed the same is true of the other desires and arts. (Arist. Part. an. 2.22, 68a39–68b7)25 Aristotle also argues in favour of the conversion of erôs into friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics when, while discussing the importance of equality in all (three) kinds of friendships,26 he argues that many lovers are constant, if familiarity has led them to love each other’s characters, these being alike: This kind of friendship, then, is perfect both in respect of duration and in all other respects, and in it each gets from each in all respects the same as, or something like what, he gives; which is what ought to happen between friends. Friendship for the sake of pleasure bears a resemblance to this kind; for good people too are pleasant to each other. So too does friendship for the sake of utility; for the good are also useful to each other. Among men of these inferior sorts too, friendships are most permanent when the friends get the same thing from each other (e.g. pleasure), and not only that but also from the same source, as happens between ready-witted people, not as happens between lover and beloved. For these do not take pleasure in the same things, but the one in seeing the beloved and the other in receiving attentions from his lover; and when the bloom of youth is passing the friendship sometimes passes too (for the one finds no pleasure in the sight of the other, and the other gets no attentions from the first); but many lovers on the other hand are constant, if familiarity has led them to love each other’s characters, these being alike. But those who exchange not pleasure but utility in their amour are both less truly friends and less constant. Those who are friends for the sake of utility part when the advantage is at an end; for they were lovers not of each other but of profit. (Arist. Eth. Nic. 8.4, 1156b33–1157a12)27 This view is also supported by another definition of love (eran) in the Nicomachean Ethics as an ‘excess of friendship’ (hûperbolên philias): (p.136) ‘Presumably, then, it is well not to seek to have as many friends as possible, but as many as are enough for the purpose of living together; Page 6 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia for it would seem actually impossible to be a great friend to many people. This is why one cannot love several people; love is ideally a sort of excess of friendship, and that can only be felt towards one person; therefore great friendship too can only be felt towards a few people.’ (Arist. Eth. Nic. 9.10, 1171a8–13)28 As we know, Aristotle famously argued that friendship is ‘the pursuit of a common social life’ (Pol. 3.9, 1280b38–9),29 and that ‘when people are friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought to be a friendly quality’ (Eth. Nic. 8.1, 1155a26–7).30 Aristotle even says in the Nicomachean Ethics that concord is more important than justice.31 The city is a partnership for the sake of the good and, in the same sense that justice is the good in the sphere of politics, friendship is also a good and holds the state together. Lawgivers, according to this argument (Eth. Nic. 8.1, 1155b21–7), seem to care more for friendship than for justice, since friendship generates concord (homonoia)—i.e. unanimity of the citizens—which is similar to friendship. In that way, friendship can hold the state together—in the same sense that justice does—and can also expel faction. It is in this sense that, when people are friends, they have no need of justice, while when they are just, they need friendship as well, and the highest form of justice seems to be a matter of friendship. This is of course at first sight an odd claim for Aristotle to make, since one might say that friendship presupposes justice anyway. Right from the beginning of Eth. Nic. 8.15, 1154b21–7, where he starts discussing friendship, he makes the important pronouncement, relating, thus, friendship to justice and the state: Friendship also seems to hold states together, and lawgivers care more for it than for justice; for concord seems to be something like friendship, and this they aim at most of all, and expel faction as their worst enemy; and when people are friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought to be a friendly quality.32 The claim that friendship is necessary for justice comes out of the Nicomachean Ethics, when he discusses friendship at length in books 8 and 9, and also in the Eudemian Ethics. There is very little mention of ‘political friendship’ as such in the Politics, or its relation to justice. Aristotle discusses friendship in passing in some places in the Politics. First, in book 1, 1255b13 when he talks (p.137) about friendship between master and slave (a similar point is made at Eth. Nic. 8.13, 1161b5). Second, he also mentions friendly feeling when he talks about common land at Politics 8.10, 1330a1. Political friendship is also mentioned at Politics 1280b38 and 1295b23; both passages claim that friendship is essential to the state but say little about it. Friendship is also mentioned in book 2 where Page 7 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia Aristotle criticizes Plato’s Republic and refers to the kind of friendship evolving in such constitutions as ‘watery’ friendship. The passage in Politics book 2 is an important one because it demonstrates the essential difference between the Platonic and the Aristotelian notion of the unanimity of the state that political friendship makes possible. In what way, though, is political friendship related to justice, and what is it exactly that friendship can achieve for the state? More important, what kind of unanimity of the state is it that Aristotle has in mind? How does friendship generate concord which contributes to the unity of the state in the same sense that justice can? How is the unity of the state to be understood? What kind of unity is Aristotle advocating here? Aristotle’s criticisms of Plato’s Republic in Politics book 2 could help us illuminate further this notion of the unity of the state and its relation to friendship. As we know, Aristotle’s remarks on Plato’s Republic should not be taken at face value as direct criticisms of the Republic, but should rather be seen as expressions of Aristotle’s own political position.33 Aristotle makes an important point when he complains, in book 2 of the Politics where he criticizes Plato’s idea of community of women and children in the Republic, that Plato’s view would give rise to a ‘watery’ friendship. Indeed, his argument against such a ‘watery’ friendship in the Politics is essential for achieving an understanding of the notion of Aristotle’s political friendship, and its relation to justice and the unity of the state.34 As Aristotle points out, ‘the spirit of friendship is likely to exist to a lesser degree where women and children are in common; and the governed class ought to have little of that spirit if it is to obey and not to attempt revolution’ (Pol. 1262b1–3).35 Friendship, he argues, is the chief good of cities, because it is the best safeguard against the danger of factional disputes, and, indeed, ‘Socrates’ himself particularly commends the ideal of the unity of the city, and this unity is the result of friendship. It is similar to what ‘Aristophanes’ in Plato’s Symposium (191a, 192d–e) refers to when he speaks of lovers desiring out of friendship to grow together into a unity, and to be one instead of two. In the case of the lovers, it would be inevitable that both or at least one of them should cease to exist; but in the case of political association, Aristotle points (p.138) out, there would be merely a ‘watery’ sort of friendship, since a father would be very little disposed to say ‘mine’ of a son, and a son would be as little disposed to say ‘mine’ of a father: Just as a little sweet wine, mixed with a great deal of water, produces a tasteless mixture, so family feeling is diluted and tasteless when family names have as little meaning as they have in a constitution of this sort, and when there is so little reason for a father treating his sons as sons, or a son

Page 8 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia treating his father as a father, or brothers one another as brothers. (Arist. Pol. 2.4, 1262b17–22)36 Aristotle points out at the end of this discussion of ‘watery’ friends that there are two motives which particularly move people to care for and love an object: ‘the first is that the object should belong to yourself, while the second is that you should like it.’ But neither of these two motives can exist among those who live in a constitution such as the one described above.37 According to Aristotle, friendship is an essential ingredient in the good life, not just because it is useful but because it is the source of some of our greatest satisfactions. In addition, there is also a political dimension to friendship, since it is both what holds the city together and a main reason for its existence. The city ‘is formed for the good life which requires relations with one’s fellows; it also involves parents, children, wives, and in general one’s friends and fellowcitizens: thus the city is to be valued as providing the context for friendship.’38 The role of friendship in the city is, for Aristotle, to generate concord (the unanimity of the city) and to safeguard justice. He clearly points out though that: Concord is not agreement in belief, since this can occur even among people unknown to one another. Nor are people described as being in concord when they agree about just anything, for example, the heavens (since concord here has nothing to do with friendship), but a city is said to be in concord when people agree about what is beneficial, rationally choose the same things, and carry out common resolutions. (Eth. Nic. 9.6, 1167a22–8)39 Aristotle stresses that concord in a city, if achieved, does not in any case deprive the citizen body of its separateness and individuality, or its ability to deliberate on political decisions: In the case of a city, concord exists when all the citizens think that public offices ought to be elective, or that they ought to make an alliance with Sparta, or that Pittacus ought to govern, when he himself is willing. But when each person, like those in The Phoenissae, wants the same thing all for himself, then there is civil strife. For being (p.139) in concord does not consist merely in each person’s having the same thing in mind for the same person. (Eth. Nic. 9.6, 1167a28–1167b2)40 It should, nevertheless, be pointed out that the relation between justice and friendship does not make friendship a necessary condition for justice. Justice can exist, in Aristotle’s account, even if we have no political friendship in the city. The state might not have concord, but then again one would not expect all constitutions to have that; if they did, there would be no imperfect ones. Concord seems to be political friendship, since it is concerned with what benefits people and what affects their lives. This kind of concord is found among Page 9 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia good people, since they are in concord with themselves and with each other, being as it were of the same mind wishing for and aiming in common at what is just and beneficial. As he points out: Bad people cannot be in concord, except to a small extent; for they try to get more than their share of advantages, while falling short in difficult jobs and public services. And since each wishes this for himself, he keeps a sharp eye on his neighbour and holds him back, because if people do not look out for the common interest, it is destroyed. So what happens is that they are in civil strife, pressing one another to do what is just while not wishing to do it themselves. (Eth. Nic. 9.6, 1167b9–16)41 Nevertheless, ‘concord’ is not an easy concept to understand and, in fact, little is known on the exact philosophical meaning attributed to it. We do know from Greek history that homonoia was defined as the opposite of strife (civic or other) and that it was considered to be important for the prosperity of the polis; the Athenians even had a temple dedicated to it. Especially after the Peloponnesian War, homonoia gained a special place in Athenian politics and was indeed thought to be securing peace and harmony in the city-state.42 Therefore, there is no doubt that concord as a concept played an important role in Greek political theory and practice. But there is no systematic or extensive philosophical treatment of concord that survives, although we do know that both Gorgias and Antiphon had delivered speeches on the subject. The word homonoia is mentioned twenty-four times in Plato and twenty-one in Aristotle. Whenever it is mentioned, in almost all cases and in all three authors (including Zeno), it is always discussed in relation to either friendship or justice or both. In addition, the impression one gets from reading the texts, especially Aristotle’s but also the little of Zeno’s that survives, is that somehow the concept of homonoia is taken for granted, in the sense that the author seems to be referring to something that the audience or the readers know well and appreciate and require no further explanation. (p.140) As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, Plato and Aristotle, but also Heraclitus, Democritus, Gorgias, and Antiphon, considered concord to be very important for the happiness of the city, no matter how they each defined that happiness.43 Understanding concord as part of a political tradition helps us make sense of its occurrence in the Classical philosophical texts that seems otherwise odd and unintelligible. It should be noted though, and this is quite important for the understanding of Greek political philosophy, that the meaning of homonoia is not always the same in all philosophers. In particular, Plato and Aristotle differ markedly. Plato differs from Aristotle in two quite essential points: first, he treats friendship as a means of preserving the state rather than the state as a means of preserving friendship; and second, he pays little attention to the fact that, since friendship is essentially a relationship between individuals, the number of friends is necessarily limited. Aristotle, of course, Page 10 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia does not agree with Plato. He argues that there is a limited number of friends that one could have: finite beings that we are, we can only be in a state of friendship with a limited number of people. In this sense, ‘it follows that only in a secondary sense can we enjoy friendship with a large number of people’; ‘for this reason, Aristotle attaches importance not only to the family but also to other forms of social organization within the state’, as Stalley says.44 Zeno, in Aristotelian spirit, seems to be advocating not a strict Platonic notion of homonoia as homodoxia but, instead, one of homonoia as politikê philia, when he argued that ‘the happiness of an entire city, like that of a single individual, depended on the prevalence of virtue and concord within its own borders’, aimed at making the people free-minded, self-sufficing, and moderate in all their ways’ (Plut. Lyc. 31.1).45 This is also in accordance with the evidence we have for the Stoics in general that they thought that the ideal polis was virtuous in a way analogous to an individual. But how does erôs fit into this? Unless Zeno’s city was a very conventional city with an army and the like, the militaristic view mentioned above according to which homoerotic relationships can make people more courageous as soldiers might seem to have no relevance. Neither would the view in Hesiod and Parmenides that erôs is the cause of everything. But it is clear that later Stoics were heavily influenced by the Platonic view that the love for a beautiful boy can lead to a philosophical view of beauty and goodness as such. Looking through the Greek and Latin texts, one is struck by the widespread use of the idea mentioned previously that one kind of erôs is an impulse for the creation of friendship through beauty. This seems to come from Chrysippus though it (p. 141) is attributed to the Stoics in general.46 This could also be used to interpret Zeno. Athenaeus, in the passage referred to previously, seems to associate this Stoic view with the older militaristic view of the value of erôs, but it actually seems to be something quite different. Both views value erôs as a source of friendship and concord but they envisage different kinds of friendship and concord. This view of erôs would obviously fit the idea that the city includes the wise wherever they are, but it would also fit an ideal of the city as a localized community held together by the kind of friendship which consists of a shared knowledge of the good. Although neither Plato nor Aristotle does anything to connect civic friendship with erôs, it is interesting that, in constructing his view, Zeno seems to draw heavily on the Platonic conception of erôs as leading to birth in beauty, but also on the Aristotelian conception of erôs as leading to birth of friendship. Therefore, in conclusion, one could argue that Zeno’s actual definition of homonoia and its connection to the unity of the state could undermine in a way the strictly Platonic Baldry–Schofield interpretation, rendering it more Aristotelian and, thus, less perfectionist. Nevertheless, further textual research needs to be undertaken for this view to be substantiated.47 In any case, it is very Page 11 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia unlikely that anyone, and especially in Athens at that period, could write a work entitled Politeia and escape Plato’s legacy, or discuss friendship and escape Aristotle’s. Early Stoicism, and especially its founder Zeno of Kition, was part of the Classical philosophical tradition that nurtured him, sharing similar political anxieties to his predecessors. (p.142) Notes:

I should like to thank Ed Sanders and Richard Stalley for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this chapter, and Adam Rieger for suggesting the title. (1) Trans. Perrin (1914) 301. This passage also attributes an important role to homonoia for the good of the polis by stating that this was an assumption that Plato, Diogenes, and Zeno made in common. This is also supported by Zeno’s account of homonoia as ‘knowledge of common goods’ (Stob. Eccl. 2.108.15–18 and 2.93.19–94.6). See Schofield (1991) 46–8. (2) Trans. Long and Sedley (1987) i. 430. (3) Trans. Hicks (1925), modified. (4) For an extensive discussion of these two passages see Gill (this volume). (5) Trans. Inwood and Gerson (1997) 206–7, modified. (6) Trans. Inwood and Gerson (1997) 206–7, modified. (7) Cf. Democritus: ‘Similarity of mind makes friendship’ (Stob. Eccl. 2.33.9 (B 186 D-K)); ‘From concord come great deeds, and from concord states can fight wars—and in no other way’ (Stob. Eccl. 4.1.40 (B 250 D-K)); ‘When those in power take it upon themselves to lend to the poor and to aid them and to favour them, then is there pity and no isolation but companionship and mutual defence and concord among citizens and other good things too many to catalogue’ (Stob. Eccl. 4.1.46 (B 255 D-K)). Cf. also Aristotle (Metaph. 988a29–34): ‘These, then, have all had a notion of this kind of cause, and so have all who speak of air or fire or water, or something denser than fire and rarer than air; for some have said the prime element of this kind. These thinkers grasped this cause only; but certain others have mentioned the source of movement, e.g. those who make friendship and strife, or reason, or love, a principle.’ (8) See Boys-Stones (1998) 168–74. For an alternative interpretation see also Hook (2005). (9) For an extensive study into the public relevance of erôs in Greek political theory see P. W. Ludwig (2002).

Page 12 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia (10) It should be noted though that the meaning of erôs is indeed ambiguous in the sense that it is not always clear whether the Greek word is used denoting sexual love, or the state of being in love, or the attempt to form a relationship, or all these things together—see Nussbaum (1998) 290–2. Most translations (e.g. Inwood and Gerson (1997)) nevertheless tend to translate erôs as ‘sexual love’ although it is not always clear that this is the meaning of erôs in that particular context. The same also stands for the Greek word philia—see Vlastos (1981) 4 n. 4; Konstan (1996); Konstan (1997b); Nichols (2009). (11) Scruton (2006) 213. (12) Sauvé Meyer (2008) 161. (13) Schofield (1991) 31 n. 7. (14) Seneca, Letters 116.5 (Panaetius, fr. 114, part), trans. Long and Sedley (1987) i. 423. (15) The relation between Platonic ‘personal’ and ‘philosophical’ love has been widely discussed. See Renaut (this volume) n. 2. Unlike Aristotle, Plato does not consider heterosexual erôs but it should be noted that it is not clear that this is also the case with Zenonian or Stoic erôs in general. As has been pointed out by Davidson (1997) xix, the exclusion of heterosexual erôs by ancient philosophers has been one of the reasons behind modern scholars’ obsession with homosexuality to the exclusion of work on heterosexuality (see e.g. Dover (1989)), but recent research has shown that erôs was by no means limited to male–male contexts, as many chapters of this book show. See also Nussbaum (1994b) 1554–651; Davidson (2001) and (2007); Nussbaum and Sihvola (2002); Fisher (2013). See also Gill (this volume). (16) Hes. Op. 116; Parmenides (Aetius 2.20.8a (28 B 12 D-K)); Empedocles (Simplicius Phys. 33.21 (31 B 17.1–8 D-K), Simplicius Phys. 158.1 (31 B 17.14–26 D-K), Plut. De amic. multit. 5.95 (31 B 33 D-K), Simplicius De caelo 529.1 and Phys. 32.13 (31 B 35 D-K)). See also n. 2 above. For a translation of the various Parmenides passages see Barnes (1987) 137 and for Empedocles see also Barnes (1987) 168–71, 174–7. For an extensive discussion of Eros in Hesiod see Most (this volume). Aristotle seems to be well aware of these Presocratic views according to which either erôs or Eros is the first cause and to quote them in various places when he discusses in his usual manner the views of his predecessors (Metaph. 1.984b23–985a7, 1.988a33–4). Aristotle points out that these views, and especially that of Empedocles on love and strife, seem to be muddled (Barnes (1982) 419–22). (17) Guthrie (1962) 28, 61, 69, 88 n. 2; J. M. Robinson (1968) 158–9, 160–1; Barnes (1982) 309–10.

Page 13 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia (18) Erskine (1993) 92. (19) Schofield categorized the possible interpretations of Zeno’s political proposal in the Republic into three general views: antinomianism, revisionism, and communism. According to antinomianism, no positive political ideal emerges, since Zeno’s recommendations are altogether critical and antinomian. According to revisionism (which fits with the interpretation of Zeno’s political vision as internationalist or cosmopolitan), a positive ideal does emerge in the form of ‘a community of sages’. See Schofield (1991) 22–56, 112–14, 128–9. See also Finley (1975) 188; Erskine (1990) 18–27; Voelke (1961) 123 ff. An alternative interpretation, not taken into account here, has been put forward by Vogt (2008); for more on this see Gill (this volume). (20) Baldry (1959) 3–15. (21) Schofield (1991) 24 n. 7. (22) Schofield (1991) 24–5. (23) Schofield (1991) 22 n. 7. (24) Konstan (1997a) 39. See also Renaut (this volume). (25) Trans. Jenkinson (1984) 109. As indicated by A. W. Price (1989) 237–9, and followed by Nussbaum (1994b) 1648 and Sihvola (2002) 200–1. (26) Aristotle (Eth. Nic. 8.2–3) distinguishes between three kinds of friendship: philia that arises either from ((i)) usefulness, or ((ii)) pleasantness, or ((iii)) excellence. It should be noted that I am adopting J. Cooper’s (1999) interpretation, according to which all three kinds of Aristotelian philia have affection, and an altruistic concern for another, in common. (27) Trans. Ross (1980) 197–8. (28) Trans. Ross (1980) 244. (29) Trans. Stalley (1995) 106. (30) Trans. Ross (1980) 193, modified. (31) For a discussion of the relation between justice and friendship in Aristotle’s works, see Leontsini (2007) 159–209. (32) Trans. Ross (1980) 192, modified. (33) Stalley (1991) 182–99. (34) See Depew (1991); Stalley (1991) 191–3; Mayhew (1997) 79–85; Stalley (1995) and (1999). Page 14 of 15

 

Sex and the City: Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno of Kition on Erôs and Philia (35) Trans. Stalley (1995) 44. (36) Trans. Stalley (1995) 44–5. (37) Aristotle’s argument about ‘watery’ friends supports further the claim made previously in this chapter that it is not possible to legislate friendship. (38) Stalley (1991) 193. (39) Trans. Ross (1980) 231, modified. (40) Trans. Ross (1980) 231, modified. (41) Trans. Ross (1980) 232, modified. (42) See De Mauriac (1949); Funke (1980); Kalimtzis (2000); Monoson (2000); Kamtekar (2004). (43) For extensive references on these Greek authors see De Romilly (1972) and Petsios (1993) 158–205. (44) Stalley (1991) 193. (45) Trans. Perrin (1914) 301. (46) See Chrysippus, Fragmenta moralia, 718; Stobaeus, Eccl. 2.115; Cic. Tusc. 4.72. (47) Gill (this volume) n. 7 (cf. n. 47) is right of course in pointing out that there is ‘difficulty in knowing how far Aristotle’s treatises were studied in the Hellenistic period when Stoic ideas were being formulated’. Nevertheless, my point is that, regardless of whether the Stoics (and Zeno in particular) had widely read Aristotle, this notion of ‘erôs generating philia and homonoia in the polis’ was part of a wider philosophical tradition.

Page 15 of 15

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing?

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? Christopher Gill

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0010

Abstract and Keywords This chapter re-examines the evidence for Stoic thinking on erôs, considered especially in relation to the Platonic view of ideal love. The Stoic account is more inclusive than Plato’s in allowing that ideal forms of love can have a sexual dimension. This reflects broader differences between the two theories, for instance, in their valuation of the body and sexual procreation, and does not mark any compromise of Stoic moral rigour. Although Stoic erotic ideals are often framed in pederastic terms, some Stoics see male-female marriage as a valid context for ideal love. The shocking theses about incest and other bizarre types of sexuality ascribed to Zeno reflect the peculiarities of our evidence for early Stoicism rather than expressing a radical or Cynic phase in their thought. Overall, their theory of erôs is seen as a humane, ethically informed account of interpersonal love. Keywords:   Platonic, erôs, homoerotic, marriage, procreation, Musonius Rufus, Zeno, sexuality

The Stoics are generally seen as highly austere, with moral ideals even more rigorous and restrictive than Plato and a strongly negative view of passionate emotion. It comes as rather a surprise, then, to find erôs—or at least a version of erôs—viewed positively as part of their thinking about good forms of interpersonal and indeed political relationship. But what kind of erôs do they approve of? This is not a wholly straightforward question to answer, in part because of the nature of our evidence for Stoic philosophy. We have lost virtually all Stoic treatises from the Hellenistic period, and rely for our knowledge of their main Page 1 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? theories on much later summaries of doctrines. This can be supplemented by reports from non-Stoic writers such as Cicero and Plutarch, as well as (nontechnical) writings on practical ethics by a number of writers and teachers in the Roman imperial period, including Seneca, Musonius Rufus, and Epictetus.1 The loss of Hellenistic material makes it difficult to offer a linear history of Stoic ideas on any given topic or to chart any differences of view within Stoicism at different periods. However, it is possible to pinpoint a number of recurrent Stoic claims about erôs that can be correlated with other ancient views. What emerges is an intelligible, even credible, account of what love might mean, though it excludes a good deal that is associated with erôs in ancient thought and with passionate love in modern culture.

Stoic and Platonic ideal erôs I begin by setting out some of the evidence for Stoic thinking about erôs, taken from standard ancient summaries of their doctrines: (p.144) 1. …the wise man will fall in love with young men who reveal through their appearance a natural aptitude for virtue, as Zeno says in the Republic and Chrysippus in book one of Ways of Life and Apollodorus in his Ethics. And sexual love (erôs) is an effort to gain friendship resulting from the appearance of beauty; and it is not directed at intercourse (sunousia), but at friendship (philia). At any rate Thrasonides, although he had his beloved in his power, kept his hands off her because she hated him. So sexual love is directed at friendship, as Chrysippus says in his On Sexual Love; and it is not to be blamed; and youthful beauty is the flower of virtue.2 2. They say that sexual love is an effort to produce friendship resulting from the appearance of [physical] beauty of young men in their prime; and that is why the wise man makes sexual advances (erôtikos) and will have sexual intercourse (eran) with those who are worthy of [true] sexual love, [i.e.] those who are well-born and endowed with natural ability.3 3. …[the wise man] acts with good sense and dialectically and sympotically and erotically; but the erotic man is so called in two senses, the one who is virtuous, and gets his quality from virtue, and the one who is blamed, who gets his quality from vice—a sort of sex-fiend (erôtomanês )… And being worthy of love means the same as being worthy of friendship and not the same as being worthy of being enjoyed [sexually] (axiapolaustos); for he who is worthy of virtuous sexual love is [properly] worthy of sexual love. They understand virtue exercised at a symposium as similar to virtue in sexual matters, the one being knowledge which is concerned with what is appropriate at a symposium, viz. of how one should run symposia and how one should drink at them; and the other is how to hunt for (thêra) talented young men, which encourages them to virtuous knowledge; and in general, knowledge of proper sexual activity (eran). That is why they say that the sensible man will engage in sexual Page 2 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? activity. And sexual activity just by itself is an indifferent (adiaphoron), since at times it also occurs among base people. But sexual love is not desire (epithumia) nor is it directed at any base object, but is an effort to gain friendship resulting from the appearance of beauty.4 (p.145) From these and related passages, a rather consistent picture emerges, at least in outline. Valid forms of erôs, those of the wise, combine affective, sexual, and ethical dimensions in a one-to-one relationship. The goal of erôs is ‘friendship’ or interpersonal bonding (philia), which incorporates the wish or attempt on the part of the lover to enable the loved one to develop towards virtue (a virtue already achieved by the lover). However, this type of erôs is also aroused by ‘the appearance of beauty’; and this normally gives rise to sexual activity or intercourse. These two aspects of the relationship may seem potentially divergent and to imply two different forms of love.5 But, as the example of Thrasonides brings out (in passage 1 above), sexual activity is not seen as acceptable if it diverges from the desire to achieve philia. Also, we find, here and elsewhere, indications of the Stoic belief that ethical character or quality, or its potential, is indicated in physical appearance (especially stance and gesture), so the ‘appearance of beauty’ is not just to be taken as—as we say —‘skin-deep’. The description of ‘youthful beauty’ (hôra) as the ‘flower (anthos) of virtue’ evokes this connection between the two strands.6 So the motivation towards the erotic relationship, characterized as an ‘attempt’ (epibolê) to realize it, is presented as embracing both dimensions. These formulations of Stoic ideas on erôs are strongly evocative of certain Greek cultural paradigms and, more particularly, of Platonic versions of these paradigms.7 The interpersonal context mainly assumed is that of an asymmetrical relationship between a mature, or at least older, lover and a young loved one. More specifically, it seems to evoke the pattern of the eroticeducational relationship between older and younger male that formed a significant (though not unproblematic) strand in Greek social life at different periods.8 This pattern, in turn, underlies the famous accounts of idealized homoerotic love in Plato’s Symposium (especially Diotima’s ranking of different types of erôs and her ‘final mysteries’) and in the palinode of the Phaedrus.9 Prominent in the Platonic accounts too is the combination of responsiveness to physical (p.146) beauty (at some point in the process) and the attempt by the older lover to educate the younger loved one towards virtue.10 However, there are salient points of contrast both with the Greek cultural paradigm and with these Platonic versions of this pattern. As regards the cultural pattern, we have some evidence suggesting that Stoic idealized homoerotic relationships were seen as persisting longer into adult life (up to the age of 28 in one source) than was standard in Greek expectations.11 Also, as indicated in passage 1 above (Thrasonides and his loved one), and in other evidence discussed later, the erotic context assumed was not necessarily male– Page 3 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? male. Hence, Musonius’ presentation of marriage as a central locus for mutually affectionate philia is less unexpected than it might seem.12 The differences from Plato’s accounts are still more significant, since in broad terms his ideal seems to underlie Stoic thinking on this topic, as it does on many others.13 The most obvious difference relates to sexual activity. In the Symposium (in Diotima’s mysteries) and the palinode of the Phaedrus, though sexual arousal by physical beauty figures as part of the original stimulus to erôs, the ideal versions of erotic relationship involve a transformation of motivation that leads beyond sexual desire and activity.14 In the Stoic ideal, this is, explicitly, not the case. Sexual desire and activity remain an integral part of the ideal erotic relationship, even though sexual activity is not regarded as a good thing but an ‘indifferent’, in terms of Stoic value theory.15 In this respect, the Stoic ideal is close to the one advocated in the Symposium by Pausanias, in which sexual fulfilment is acceptable, provided that it is combined with a genuine wish by the lover to promote the development of virtue in the loved one. Pausanias’ version is usually thought to be regarded by Plato as inferior to Diotima’s picture of ideal (and ultimately sex-free) love.16 This difference between Platonic and Stoic ideals is also linked with a difference in their views of erotic motivation. In the Platonic version, sexual or erotic desire is progressively replaced by other kinds of motive. In Diotima’s speech, the ideal expression of the desire to ‘give birth in beauty’ involves the refocusing of desire on non-physical beauty, and ‘giving birth’ consists in—or (p.147) includes— stimulating a young gifted male towards virtue.17 In the Phaedrus palinode, the desire of the lover to recall and express the Forms of virtues such as moderation (sôphrosunê) leads to the suppression of sexual appetite and the achievement of a non-sexual love partnership.18 Although the two dialogues seem to presuppose rather different pictures of human psychology,19 both passages assume an idea deployed elsewhere in Plato, that one type of appetite or desire (epithumia) can be replaced or displaced by another in the course of ethical development.20 The implication seems to be that the initial sexual desire contributes in some way to the long-term motivational drive, though the nature and object of this desire has been transformed. The Stoic formulations, though broadly evocative of the Platonic pattern of ideal erôs, seem designed to avoid the bifurcation of motives and the replacement or suppression of one motive by another that is so prominent a feature of the Platonic accounts. The Stoic summaries consistently connect the response to physical beauty with the desire to promote the loved one’s virtue (as noted earlier, these two themes are further linked by the idea that physical beauty expresses the potential for virtue). The term used for erotic motivation, epibolê, ‘attempt’, is not a particularly common term in Stoic psychology. It is defined in one source as ‘an impulse (hormê) before an impulse’. ‘Impulse’ means ‘motive’ in Stoicism and does not necessary imply that the motive is, as we say, ‘impulsive’. So ‘an impulse before an impulse’, presumably, means something Page 4 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? like ‘intention’ (or ‘pre-motive’). However, the clear implication of the use of this term and related ones (including ‘hunt’, thêra) in these passages is that the motive involved is a single or unified one, rather than one that involves a complex process of internal struggle and replacement, as in the Platonic accounts.21 The kind of motivation involved in the Stoic ideal can be explained further by reference to the distinction between pathos (‘emotion’, ‘passion’) and eupatheia (‘good emotion’). This distinction in turn reflects that between wisdom and folly, since only the wise experience eupatheiai and only fools have pathê. The Stoics draw a sharp, and systematic, distinction between perfect wisdom (the normative human state) and folly (the state of virtually all of us). Nonetheless, they also maintain that all human beings are (p.148) constitutively capable of reaching wisdom, whatever our inborn nature, upbringing, or social context, and that we should manage our lives with a view to promoting development towards wisdom.22 This contrast is reflected in their view of erôs, as indicated in passage 3, cited above: ‘the erotic man is so called in two senses, the one who is virtuous, and gets his quality from virtue, and the one who is blamed, who gets his quality from vice—a sort of sex-fiend’.23 Erotic desire was seen as having a twofold character, according to whether it counted as a pathos or eupatheia. A pathos, ‘emotion’ in a conventional sense, is marked by the presence of ethically false judgement, notably the belief that things other than virtue are good, whereas they are only ‘matters of indifference’, when compared to virtue, though they may be naturally ‘preferable’ and worthy of being ‘selected’. A pathos is also marked by certain affective features (which have a psychophysical character), which can include overwhelming intensity of feeling as well as internal tension or fluctuation. A eupatheia, ‘good emotion’, is marked by correct belief or, rather, knowledge about what is good and what is a matter of indifference. It has an affective dimension, but one that lacks the intensity and internal conflict or fluctuation of the pathos and reflects the wise person’s characteristic state of evenness or serenity (sometimes described as a ‘good flow of life’). To this extent, the common impression that Stoics idealize the complete absence of emotion is mistaken.24 Correspondingly, erôs in the conventional, defective, form constitutes a pathos (a misguided or ‘sick’ emotion), whereas the wise person’s erôs forms a ‘good emotion’. In both versions, erotic desire falls under one of the four (or in the case of ‘good emotions’, three) standard types of emotion, namely ‘wish’ (boulêsis).25 The fool’s erôs (characterized as epithumia) is a desire or appetite for sexual intercourse, treated as a good thing in itself, and is linked with related misguided emotions, such as pothos, longing for a desired person who is absent. The wise person’s erôs, formulated in terms such as ‘an effort to form a friendship through perceived beauty’, differs crucially in that the emotion is not coupled with the error of treating as a good thing something that is, (p. 149) in Stoic terms, just a matter of indifference, by comparison with virtue.26 Page 5 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? Hence, as is explicit in passage 3 above, sexual intercourse, which is the goal (the supposed ‘good’) of erôs as a pathos, is recognized as a ‘matter of indifference’ (though it may still be naturally ‘preferable’) by the wise.27 There is scope for debate about the nature of the good thing that is the proper object of the wise person’s erotic desire. It might be seen as the production of virtue through the love-relationship in the character of the loved person. But the formulation cited earlier (‘an effort to form a friendship through perceived beauty’) suggests a rather broader focus. The thought seems to be that the loverelationship of the wise person, taken as a whole, is good, including the affective and interpersonal dimensions as well as the outcome, the production of virtue.28 It is worth noting that the category of things considered ‘good’ in Stoic valuetheory is broader than virtue (it includes ‘good emotions’ for instance and friendship with a good person), although virtue is an indispensable basis for these further aspects.29 When these points are taken into account, the Stoic ideal can be seen as significantly broader than the (ideal) Platonic one. It includes sexual activity and validates affective states and interpersonal attitudes which form part of a relationship which combines sexuality and a friendship designed to foster the virtue of the person loved. At first sight, it may seem surprising that the Stoic ideal is, in this respect, less rigorous and austere than the Platonic. On other ethical questions, the Stoics are notable for adopting the most rigorous position out of those debated in the Platonic and Aristotelian schools. For instance, on the question whether virtue is both necessary and sufficient for happiness or whether it requires the presence of ‘external goods’, such as health, beauty, or material wealth, the Stoics adopt the ‘hard’ position that virtue alone is needed. Although this position has some antecedents in Plato, the Platonic and Aristotelian writings recognize other options; and later followers of Plato and Aristotle such as Antiochus see external goods as necessary for complete happiness at least.30 Hence, in the case of erôs the Stoic preference for what might initially seem a less rigorous position is unexpected. However, the Stoic position on erôs does not, on closer inspection, mark any break with their moral rigour; and the difference from Plato on this point (p. 150) reflects certain broader differences between the two approaches. First, Stoic thinking on erôs, as outlined earlier, is compatible with their thinking about value. The sexual dimension of virtuous love is not an ‘external good’ in the sense that it can exist separately from virtue (as Aristotelian ‘external goods’ can).31 Like other goods in Stoicism, including the ‘good emotions’ (eupatheiai), this dimension is derivative of the virtue that is both necessary and sufficient for happiness or the good life. The line of thought that leads the Platonic dialogues to present a sexual relationship as a lower grade of love than the ideal32 does not match the Stoic thought-world in certain key respects. Stoicism does not adopt the sharp contrast between mind or soul (psuchê) and body, coupled with the devaluation of the body, which is typical of Platonic thought. Rather, Stoicism Page 6 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? maintains what I have described as ‘psychophysical holism’, in which human beings are seen as unified, whole entities, whose functions, including mental or psychological ones, have a physical dimension. Hence, the Platonic tendency to present body-based emotions and desires, including sexual ones, as necessarily lower than mental or intellectual ones does not hold good in Stoic thought.33 It is consistent with this aspect of Stoic thought that the wise person’s erôs embraces both a response to physical beauty and an attempt to form a friendship that promotes the loved one’s virtue. Similarly, as regards their thinking on motivation, the Stoics have a more unified view (which we can call ‘psychological holism’) than Plato.34 Although the Stoics have often been seen as eliminating emotion and desire altogether from their account of human psychology, the theory is better seen as holistic in approach and as stressing the close integration between beliefs or reasoning and emotions or desire.35 This point applies to both ethically perfect and imperfect forms of motivation. Platonic patterns of ideal love, as outlined earlier, depict a process in which one type of motive in the psyche conquers another or in which one type of desire (for sexual gratification) is replaced by another (the wish to improve another’s mind and character or the desire for beauty in a purely intellectual form). The Platonic picture reflects a more sharply partitioned conception of human psychology than we find in Stoicism.36 For Stoicism, in the case of both wise and foolish people, emotions and desires are seen as reflecting judgements and reasoning (whether well or (p.151) badly formed). Correspondingly, Stoic ideal erôs, with its combination of sexual, affective, interpersonal, and ethical dimensions, reflects this more holistic conception of psychology as well as the rejection of Platonic mind–body dualism. This difference reflects other divergences between the two theories which lead to different valuations of sexual activity and procreation of children. For instance, in Stoic thought, at the cosmic level, the interpenetration of rational or divine mind and matter is sometimes characterized in terms of sexual intercourse, sometimes symbolized—in a move regarded as rather scandalous— in the image of Hera committing fellatio with Zeus.37 In a distinct, though analogous, idea, the Stoics treat parental love for offspring (philostergia) as a paradigm case of other-benefiting motivation, and see the fact that human bodies are naturally equipped with the means of sexual reproduction as an indication that we are providentially shaped for parenthood as an expression of other-benefiting motivation. As Cicero puts it: They [the Stoics] think it is important to understand that nature engenders parents’ love for their children. That is the starting-point of the universal community of the human race which we seek to attain. This must be clear first of all from bodies’ shape and limbs, which make it plain by themselves that reproduction is a principle possessed by nature.38

Page 7 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? For Diotima in Plato’s Symposium, by contrast, the desire to produce offspring by sexual intercourse represents a lower grade of erotic expression than reproduction by mental means, including that involved in homoerotic educational relationships.39 So, for the Stoics, parenthood and sexual reproduction form one of the means by which the wise person naturally expresses the desire to benefit other people. In Cicero’s words again: since we see that man is created with a view to protecting and preserving his fellows, it is in agreement with this nature that the wise man should want to play a part in governing the state and, in order to live the natural way, take a wife and have children by her.40 These are indices of a different valuation of physical sexuality and reproduction from that found in Plato.41 Correspondingly, we find in some Stoic writings the suggestion that heterosexual marriage, rather than homoerotic male–male relationships, can act as a suitable context for the combination of sexual attraction and friendship (p.152) (philia). This theme is most strongly marked in the first-century CE Roman teacher Musonius Rufus, but it has some antecedents in Hellenistic Stoicism. Musonius insists that marriage is a relationship whose aim is not just reproduction of children but also ‘perfect companionship (sumbiôsis) and mutual love (kêdemonia) of husband and wife’.42 This stress goes along with certain other themes in Musonius’ recorded teachings, including the claim that women are capable, like men, of rationality and, indeed, of philosophy (at least in the form of practical ethics), and thus of virtue in a full sense. There are some indications that Musonius was aiming to replace homoerotic relationships by marriage as the natural context for Stoic ideal erôs. He claims that ‘all men consider the love of man and wife to be the highest form of love (philia)’, and asks, ‘Where indeed does Eros more properly belong than in the lawful union of man and wife?’43 Musonius’ position may reflect specifically Roman attitudes; the Greek paradigm of the male–male erotic-educational love-relationship was never fully embraced at Rome, even in its idealized Platonic versions.44 However, it echoes features of Greek Stoicism in various periods. Cleanthes (head of the school in c.262–230/29 BCE), wrote a book with the title ‘On the fact that the virtue of man and woman is the same’ (Diog. Laert. 7.175). Antipater (head in c.152–c.129 BCE) describes the union of husband and wife as one that involves ‘the truest and most genuine goodwill (eunoia)’, stresses that it involves the ‘total blending’ or union of body and mind (psuchê), and maintains that in such a union we treat the other ‘as ourselves, whether the other is man or woman’.45 The second-century CE Stoic writer Hierocles, similarly, presents marriage as, potentially, a ‘yoking’ (zeugos) and harmony of body and mind or soul and the closest kind of affinity we have.46 This strand in Stoicism draws on a different vein of Stoic thinking from the passages on ideal homoerotic erôs discussed earlier, though Musonius at least Page 8 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? invites us to link them by invoking the significance of Eros for marriage. But they have in common with those passages an ideal which embraces a combination of sexual responsiveness and ethically informed interpersonal bonding (philia).47 This is a conception of love that is more psychologically credible than might have been expected in Stoicism (at least according to common, rather stereotypical, views (p.153) of Stoicism), and one that is perhaps more universal in its appeal than Plato’s more famous ideals.

Shocking theses about erôs in early Stoicism However, this conclusion seems to ignore evidence for certain shocking and counter-intuitive claims made about the proper form of erôs. This evidence is sometimes taken as reflecting a very distinctive line of thought in early Stoicism and one that is strongly influenced by Cynicism. But, along with some other recent discussions, I see these passages as reflecting mainstream Stoic thought and as consistent with the ideas considered in the previous section. The shocking theses need to be located in their context and that context needs to be explained. These claims are closely linked in our sources with two utopian works, both called Republic, written by Zeno (334–262 BCE), the founder of Stoicism, and Chrysippus (c.280–c.206 BCE), the most important Stoic theorist. This evidence includes passages such as these: 4. They think the wise men should have their wives in common, so that anyone might make love to any woman, as Zeno says in the Republic and Chrysippus in his On the Republic.48 5. [Chrysippus] says that sexual intercourse with mothers or daughters or sisters, eating certain food [probably human flesh], and proceeding straight from childbirth or deathbed to a temple have been discredited without reason.49 6. Zeno…says that we should not have sex (intercrural intercourse, diamêrizein) with a boyfriend (paidika) more or less than with someone who is not a boyfriend, or with a female more or less than with a male. It is not the case that different things are appropriate and fitting (prepei kai preponta) for a boyfriend and a non-boyfriend or a female and a male, but the same things in all cases.50 This body of evidence, which is not wholly focused on sexual matters, is highly problematic and raises at least three substantive questions. (1) Does the evidence reflect an early, more Cynic-influenced, period of Stoicism or can (p. 154) the ideas be seen as in some way part of the main lines of Stoicism, as reflected in other evidence? (2) Does the Republic of Zeno, and Chrysippus, represent a community which (though utopian) is seen as being like other communities in that it envisages a pattern of relationships between people living in the same place? Or is it conceived not as realizable in a specific community in Page 9 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? one location, but rather as a universal ideal which we should aspire to realize in our various lives, communities, and locations? (3) Why do these passages seem to offer these claims as instructions about how to behave—when the behaviour commended seems so bizarre and shocking? Is this because these are indeed the rules or principles taken to govern life in an ideal community or is this presentation to be explained by some other feature of the evidence or its transmission? On these three questions, Malcolm Schofield, in an important study of Stoic political theory, tends to adopt the first set of alternatives, whereas Katja Vogt, in a more recent treatment of the topic, adopts the second. For Schofield, these works by Zeno and Chrysippus, like Plato’s Republic (to which they are in some sense a response), present forms of life in a community which, though ideal, is imagined as being like other communities in which people live together. In later Stoicism, by contrast, ideas such as the cosmic city, the brotherhood of humankind, and natural law constitute universal ideals which we are encouraged to realize in our separate lives and contexts.51 Later Stoics tended to disown the shocking claims as a reflection of an early, Cynic-influenced, phase of Stoicism; and Schofield sees here a more radical, counter-cultural, style version of Stoicism than is apparent in much later Stoicism, which accommodates itself more fully to Greek and Roman conventional norms.52 The impression that passages such as these offer guidance or instructions is taken at face value by Schofield; and the statements are seen as presenting credible principles of how communal life should be conducted, in spite of the shocking character of the advice given. For instance, the advice on sexual promiscuity (6 above), like that on sharing of wives (4 above), can be linked with the evidence that Zeus made Eros the patron god of his ideal city, as a guardian of friendship and freedom. The underlying point of these themes is to stress—even more than in Plato’s more subdivided ideal polis—the need for unity and affectionate bonding between the wise people making up this ideal community.53 (p.155) Katja Vogt, in a full re-examination of this topic, adopts the second set of alternatives.54 She argues that this material is intelligible, and should be understood, in the light of mainstream Stoic ideas which persisted throughout the history of the school. She is not inclined to see this evidence as reflecting an early, Cynic-style phase, nor as representing the guiding principles of a community that Zeno or Chrysippus envisaged as realizable by people in one place, like other communities. She sees Zeno’s community of the wise (or city of Eros) as being, like other Stoic ideals such as the cosmopolis or ‘world-city’, guiding ideals for aspiration in our various contexts and lives.55 On the question how to correlate this seemingly shocking material with the normally high moral principles of Stoicism, Vogt suggests that we should give full weight to the fact that the passages seem to have been collected and transmitted by Sceptical critics of Stoicism, trying to find theses which were inconsistent with other Stoic ideas or with normal moral norms of behaviour. She thinks that this background Page 10 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? also explains the (misleading) form in which the passages are often couched, namely as instructions to behave in this or that way.56 This last point in her reading is in some ways the most important and requires special explanation. Like other ancient ethical theories, and unlike certain modern ones, Stoic ethics does not focus on offering a set of moral rules but rather on characterization of the ideal wise person (or ideal community) and the virtues expressed by that ideal person. This point applies to ancient ethical theories in general; but it has particular implications for Stoicism. One is that it is impossible for us (non-wise) people to specify how a perfectly wise person (or a perfectly wise community) would behave. We know that a wise person would perform ‘perfectly right actions’ (katorthômata) on the basis of complete knowledge; but what those actions are we cannot specify. Stoic teachers do offer generalized advice about the ‘appropriate actions’ (kathêkonta) that are characteristic of virtue, and which even non-wise people should try to perform as part of the means of developing towards virtue. But they do not pretend to be able to specify what would, in any given case, be the appropriate (or virtuous) act to perform under the precise circumstances in which people find themselves.57 (p.156) This fact that Stoic ethics is not, typically, framed as a set of rules suggests that the formulations found in the passages cited above (especially 4 and 6) reflect misleading presentation by Sceptical critics of Stoicism rather than their original form. But also, more precisely, the underlying point of the passages seems to be to underline the impossibility of defining wisdom by reference to specific types of action, in sexual and other matters. In particular, they seem designed to bring out that what the virtuous person chooses to do on any given occasion may or may not correspond to conventional norms of right behaviour. Hence, as far as we know (as passages 4 and 5 suggest), the wise person might or might not commit incest or sleep with someone else’s wife—but would do so on grounds and under circumstances that would make this a perfectly correct act. Analogously, as passage 6 suggests, we cannot specify whether a wise person would find it appropriate to have sex with someone who was or was not his boyfriend or girlfriend, although he would on each occasion act in line with correct ethical knowledge. The phraseology of the last passage, in this respect, does seem to reflect the intended point. Since right acts cannot be specified precisely, it is not ‘more or less’ the case that this or that act would be appropriate, nor can a given act be identified in the abstract as ‘appropriate and fitting’.58 Obviously, such Stoic comments require a much broader context of discussion to make sense, of the kind that the original Stoic treatises would have provided. The broader context would make plain how Stoicism does set out to offer ethical advice even though it does not offer specific rules for conduct.59 But the Sceptical thinkers have wrenched these passages out of their context, and in some cases recast their formulations (to make them seem like rules) in order to

Page 11 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? present the ideas as inconsistent with other Stoic theses or with normal ethical practice.60 Although both readings of these passages (by Schofield and by Vogt) can be defended, I am more inclined to Vogt’s view. This provides, I think, the line of explanation that makes best sense of these bizarre passages, taken in the broader context of normal Stoic thought. It follows that such evidence is largely unhelpful if we are trying to form a picture of positive Stoic thinking on ideal erôs, which is my main aim here. For that purpose, we need to attend rather to the kind of constructive material considered in the first section of this discussion. However, the shocking claims need also to be examined; and, as interpreted here, they reflect something important about the character and (p. 157) form of Stoic ethics even if they cannot be taken as accurate statements about Stoic ideals of erôs.

Conclusion As I have suggested, the Stoic ideal of erôs is strongly evocative of the Platonic one, but with some salient differences. First, the Stoics are ready to allow that good forms of erôs can have a sexual dimension. Though more inclusive than Plato in this respect, they exclude, even more than Plato, intense or passionate emotion from good erôs, but this does not mean the exclusion of the affective dimension altogether. These differences go along with some other (non-Platonic) features in their thought in general. These include a positive valuation of our nature as embodied animals and a readiness to see sexual procreation as a valid expression of this nature. Also, parental love and marriage are seen as integral aspects of the other-related dimension of ethical human development. Correspondingly, we find in one Roman Stoic, Musonius Rufus, an ideal picture of marriage as a combination of sexual and ethical companionship. One aspect of Stoic thinking raises special evidential and interpretative difficulties. This is the inclusion of incest and other non-standard sexual practices among the bizarre features linked with Zeno’s ideal state in his Republic. In line with some recent scholarship,61 I see this feature as reflecting broader Stoic thinking about the contrast between wise and non-wise ethical perspectives and about the difficulty of specifying rules of moral conduct, rather than as revealing an early, radical or Cynic, phase of Stoicism. Taken overall, Stoic thinking on erôs offers a humane, ethically informed, conception of interpersonal love, though no full ancient account of their view survives. (p.158) Notes:

I am grateful for some acute questions posed after my paper at the Erôs in ancient Greece conference, to which I have tried to respond in this version. (1) See Mansfeld (1999). (2) Diog. Laert. 7.129–30, trans. Inwood and Gerson (1997) 202. Page 12 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? (3) Stob. 2.115, 11s, trans. Inwood and Gerson (1997) 231. The words in square brackets have been added by Inwood and Gerson to clarify the sense. (4) Stob. 2.65–6, 5b9, trans. Inwood and Gerson (1997) 206–7. The words in square brackets are added by Inwood and Gerson, except that I have added ‘sexually’. Stobaeus references (by volume, page, and sometimes paragraph or line) are those of Wachsmuth and Hense (1884–1912, repr. 1958). (5) The danger of possible divergence in the Stoic view is stressed by Nussbaum (1998) 272–3, 294–8. (6) The focus seems to have been on gesture and expression (what we call ‘body language’, not simply external beauty). See Schofield (1991) 115–18, discussing SVF i. 246, and A. W. Price (2002) 182–7. (7) There is also a close resemblance to a characterization offered by Aristotle in An. Pr. 2.22, 68a39–68b7, esp. ‘Love (erôs) then aims at friendship (philia), rather than intercourse (sunousia). And if it aims most at friendship, this is its end (or goal, telos)’ (my trans.). I am grateful to Eleni Leontsini for drawing this passage to my attention at the Erôs conference. There is, however, a general difficulty in knowing how far Aristotle’s treatises were studied in the Hellenistic period when Stoic ideas were being formulated. (8) The prominence of this cultural pattern was stressed by Dover (1989) and Foucault (1992); its significance has been questioned, along with many earlier claims about Greek homosexuality, in Davidson (2007). (9) Pl. Symp. 208e–212a and Phdr. 244a–257a. (10) On the relationship of the Stoic ideal to Greek cultural patterns and to the Platonic ideal, see also Schofield (1991) 35–42, Nussbaum (1998), Gaca (2000) 214–17 and 224–7, A. W. Price (2002). (11) Ath. 13.563e (= SVF i. 247). See A. W. Price (2002) 188–91. (12) See passage 6 in the next section below, and, on Musonius, discussion below in this section. (13) On Platonic influence on Stoicism, see e.g. Long (1996) ch. 1, Gill (2006) 16– 20. (14) See Pl. Symp. 210a–e, 211c, 211e–212a, Phdr. 253d–256b. (15) See passage 3 above, esp. Stob. 2.66.9–11. On the Stoic concept of ‘indifferent’ (adiaphoron), see L-S 58 (note: L-S references are normally to sections and passages). See further discussion below.

Page 13 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? (16) Pl. Symp. 180c–185c, esp. 184d–e. On the idea that Pausanias’ ideal prefigures, and may have influenced, the Stoic one, see Inwood (1997) 56–9. (17) On ‘giving birth’ in beauty, see Pl. Symp. 206b–209e and 212a (also Sheffield (2001)). The ‘mysteries’ of Diotima (Symp. 210a–212c) are ambiguous about whether what is involved is the progressive deepening of the erotic-educational relationship or a movement beyond interpersonal relationships altogether; see A. W. Price (1989) 43–54. (18) Pl. Phdr. 250b–252c, 254a–256b. For acute analysis of the process involved, see Ferrari (1987). (19) Diotima’s mysteries (Pl. Symp. 210a–212b) seem to imply a more unified picture of human psychology, in which a single motivational force can be focused in one direction or another, whereas the Phdr. palinode (esp. 253d–254e) stresses internal struggle between psychic parts which have their own determinate character. (20) Pl. Resp. 485d–e. (21) On epibolê, see Schofield (1991) 29–30; also Inwood (1985) 232–3, (1997) 64. (22) See L-S 65 (on pathê and eupatheiai), and 61, esp. I-L, S-T, 57, 59 D, on the wisdom–folly contrast, and on our constitutional human capacity for development towards wisdom. See also (on the scope for development from folly to wisdom) Gill (2006) 132–3, 141–4, 180–2. (23) Stob. 2.65.17–20. (24) See L-S 65 A-J (also 58 on virtue and indifferents), and 63 A(2) and C(4), on happiness as marked by a ‘good flow of life’ and related features, such as tranquillity of mind (63 F, L, M). On the Stoic theory of emotions, see Inwood (1985) ch. 5, Brennan (2003) 269–79, Gill (2006) 244–66, Graver (2007) chs. 1–2. (25) The four standard types of (bad) emotion or pathos are pleasure (hêdonê), desire or appetite (epithumia), distress (lupê), and fear (phobos), relating to what is (mistakenly) thought to be good or bad in the present or future respectively. The three corresponding good emotions (eupatheiai) are joy (chara), wish (boulêsis), and caution (eulabeia); there is no good emotion corresponding to distress, since the wise person never experiences real badness, i.e. ethical vice. See L-S 65 B, F. (26) See further Inwood (1997) 63–4, Graver (2007) 55–9. Foolish erotic desire is classified in the ancient evidence as a type of epithumia, perhaps because the

Page 14 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? term erôs was reserved for good (wise) erotic desire: see Schofield (1991) 29–31, esp. n. 17. (27) Stob. 2.66.9–11. (28) See Graver (2007) 185–9. (29) L-S 60 G, J-M; see also Gill (2006) 154–6. (30) This debate is played out at length in Cic. Fin. books 3–4: see L-S 63–4 and Annas (1993) ch. 20. The Stoic position is prefigured in Pl. Resp. 357a–358d, Arist. Eth. Nic. 1.7, esp. 1098a16–18; but there are qualifications elsewhere in those works that Stoicism rejects. (31) On Aristotelian ‘external goods’, see Eth. Nic. 1.8–10 (also Annas (1993) ch. 18). (32) See Pl. Symp. 208e–212b, esp. 209c–d, 211e–212a, Phdr. 256a–e. (33) See Gill (2006) ch. 1, esp. 4–14 and 29–46. (34) On ‘psychological holism’ in Stoicism, see Gill (2006) 74–145. This is distinct from, but related to, the ‘psychophysical holism’ noted in the preceding paragraph. (35) In this respect, Stoic psychology prefigures the modern ‘cognitive’ theory of emotions; on this linkage, see Nussbaum (2001) chs. 1–2. On ancient debate about the Stoic theory of emotions, see Gill (2006) ch. 4. (36) See text to nn. 15–18 above. (37) See L-S 46 B(2), G(2); see also Gaca (2000) 217–21. (38) Cic. Fin. 3.62 (= L-S 57 F(1)), trans. L-S. (39) Pl. Symp. 208e–209e (cf. 210a–c). (40) Cic. Fin. 3.68 (= L-S 57 F(8)), trans. L-S; see also Reydams-Schils (2005) 55– 9. (41) On the linkage between Stoic thinking about ideal erôs and about reproduction and other-benefiting motivation, see Graver (2007) ch. 8. (42) Muson. 13A, trans. Lutz (1947), cited by Reydams-Schils (2005) 151. (43) Muson. 14, trans. Lutz (1947), cited by Reydams-Schils (2005) 148. (44) See e.g. Cicero’s negative comments in Tusc. 4.70, cited by Nussbaum (1998) 294–5. Page 15 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? (45) Diog. Laert. 7.124 (= SVF iii. 631), trans. Reydams-Schils (2005) 148–9. (46) Stob. 4.502–7, cited by Reydams-Schils (2005) 149. On Musonius and these related Greek Stoic ideas, see the overview in Gill (2000) 601–3; also Van Geytenbeek (1963) 56–8, 64–5, 67, Reydams-Schils (2005) 147–59. (47) Aristotle also sees marriage as a relationship (of philia) which combines (sexual) pleasure, usefulness, and (potentially at least) virtue in both partners, though the virtue is not seen as similar in kind (Eth. Nic. 8.12, esp. 1162a16–27). However, as noted earlier, it is unclear how far the Hellenistic Stoics had detailed knowledge of Aristotle’s treatises. (48) Diog. Laert. 7.131, trans. Inwood and Gerson (1997) 202. (49) Plutarch, On Stoic self-contradictions 1044F–1045A = L-S 67 F, trans. L-S with my addition in square brackets. (50) Sext. Emp. Pyr. 3.245 = SVF i. 250, my trans. For a more extended quotation of these claims, see Vogt (2008) 29–37. (51) See Schofield (1991) ch. 1, esp. 22–8, 56, also (on later Stoic thought) 102–3. (52) On later Stoic embarrassment about these claims, see Diog. Laert. 7.34 (also Schofield (1991) 8–13). Krates the Cynic was said to have been one of Zeno’s teachers; on Cynicism see Moles (2000) and Desmond (2008). (53) See Schofield (1991) 26–8, 43–56. (54) Vogt (2008); earlier studies partly anticipating her view include Vander Waerdt (1991) and (1994), Annas (1993) 302–12, esp. 306–7, Boys-Stones (1998); see also the review of possible interpretations of the history of Stoic political theory in Gill (2000) 598–9. (55) Vogt (2008) chs. 1–2. Key points stressed include the fact that Zeno’s, and Chrysippus’, utopia is a community of the wise (hence, at an extremely ideal level), and that this community, like the brotherhood of humankind, is conceived as the ideal outcome of ethical development (76–86, 99–110). (56) Vogt (2008) 23–64, responding to the discussion of the transmission of this material by ancient Sceptics in Schofield (1991) 3–21. (57) See L-S 59 (on kathêkonta) and 61 (virtue and vice); also, on Stoicism and moral rules, Inwood (1999); on this as a point of difference between Stoicism (and other ancient ethical theories) and modern rule-based moral theories, Gill (2005). Cic. Off., books 1 and 2 of which are closely based on Panaetius’ Peri kathêkontôn, may give us a good idea how Stoic ethical treatises work in this respect. Page 16 of 17

 

Stoic Erôs—Is There Such a Thing? (58) See Vogt (2008) 51–64. (59) For some suggestions, see Inwood (1999) 120–7 and Gill (2005) 35–40, both based on Cic. Off. 3. (60) Vogt (2008) 45–51. (61) Esp. Vogt (2008) chs. 1–2, discussed above.

Page 17 of 17

 

Part III Divine Eros and Human Erôs

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.159) Part III Divine Eros and Human Erôs Chiara Thumiger

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.011.0003 Keywords:   Hesiod, Eros, cosmogony, Theogony, sexuality, reproduction, parthenogenesis Keywords:   Academy, Akropolis, Aphrodite, desire, erôs, Eros, gymnasium, heterosexual, pederastic, wedding Keywords:   Plutarch, erôs , private life, public career, Amatorius , Coriolanus, Alcibiades, biography

Behind erôs the emotion, we should not forget, there was always Eros the god, the mythological figure and his image—a social and cultural presence of relevance in classical antiquity. Notwithstanding the focus of this volume on the emotion, it appeared obligatory to allow space for the exploration of this iconic, personified status of ‘Eros’, which must have been at different degrees present and implied in erotic experiences, narratives, and philosophical reflections in antiquity. This section of the book is located at the centre of the collection in a physical and ideal sense, as it divides the book into two parts, separating more theoretical and philosophical reflections from the literary focus of the last chapters. In the first chapter, Glenn Most’s study, we find the only piece in the book that addresses the mythological Eros in literary sources, as opposed to its status as emotion and human experience. In ‘Eros in Hesiod’, Most shows how renewed close analysis of the well-known Hesiodic texts reveals surprisingly systematic relations between the function and nature of Eros within the Theogony, within the Works and days, and between both works. Especially relevant here are the creation of cosmic erôs, the birth of Aphrodite and of her companion Eros, divine reproduction with and without the participation of erôs, the family conflicts within the generations of the gods, the creation of Pandora, and the creation of Page 1 of 3

 

Part III Divine Eros and Human Erôs the races of humans. These observations suggest in turn that a coherent, if generally implicit, view of questions of divine and human sexuality and reproduction structures both divine and human history and governs the relations between them. Hesiod’s world turns out to be more systematic than is often thought, though much depends upon connections that are strong but only implicit (which raises the interesting question of why they are not made explicit). The chapter concludes by noting the views of later scholars on Hesiod’s personal relationship to erôs (and Eros). (p.160) The second chapter, by Emma Stafford (‘From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult’), complements the first beautifully, offering an indispensable analysis of figurative representations of Eros in Attic red-figure. Stafford chooses to look at Eros in its cultural implications and range of social practices, polarized around the two core experiences of the gymnasium and the wedding. Eros, she shows, is one of the most fully characterized personifications in the Greek pantheon, and the most iconographically recognizable. He appears on countless Attic red-figure vases, sometimes in company with doubles/brothers labelled ‘Himeros’, ‘Pothos’, even ‘Hedylogos’, or other companions of Aphrodite, sometimes as the only divine figure in an otherwise mortal scene. At the same time, there is evidence for two distinct cults in Athens, celebrating respectively homosexual and heterosexual aspects of erôs. This chapter argues that this dual cult background is important to our understanding of the figure of Eros in Attic red-figure, who appears primarily in heterosexual contexts, despite his image as the ideal erômenos. It considers the issue of Eros’ modus operandi (when does he operate alone, when in concert with other Aphrodisiac figures?), how the influence of such figures is expressed visually, and Eros’ function as an identifier of particular divine and human actors in specific narrative contexts. This leads finally to reflection on what kind of a power the medium of vase-painting presents, whether active desire or passive desirability, and thus offers a contribution to the broader discussion of erôs’ conceptual status. To conclude, Michele Lucchesi takes us to Plutarch, with a chapter that has at its centre the interface between Eros the god and erôs the emotion. ‘Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades’ obviously discusses the philosophy of love in the Amatorius, but also the treatise’s rich use of literary examples. In the dialogue Plutarch presents his most important theories about love, discussing the power of Eros, his prerogatives, and his benefits to mankind both as a god and a passion. In particular, Eros drives men and women, lovers and beloved ones, towards virtue and moral improvement. In this sense, as has been remarked by some readers, Plutarch on the one hand follows the Platonic tradition (the Amatorius shows many conceptual and intertextual references to the Phaedrus and the Symposium); on the other, there are also numerous elements that constitute authentic Plutarchean innovations within the philosophical reflection about love, Page 2 of 3

 

Part III Divine Eros and Human Erôs especially for what concerns the positive value attributed to heterosexual relationships and marriage in explicit polemic against the Epicureans. As usual with Plutarch’s works, the theoretical arguments are endorsed by a recourse to literary and historical examples, and it is on those that the chapter focuses the most. Similar or identical anecdotes, moral exempla, and famous episodes are often inserted in other works by Plutarch, but with quite a different meaning. In the Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and (p.161) Alcibiades, an examination of these instances in their different contexts reveals degrees of discrepancy between the positive tone of Plutarch’s theory of love and the negative evaluation of specific circumstances. Despite the high regard for erôs in the Amatorius, Plutarch seems to focus his attention in the Lives on the repercussions of erotic passion in human life: in this way, as we shall see, love represents a serious risk especially in political life. Such an inconsistency between love theory and political practice finds an explanation in the difference between individual and public morality that Plutarch appears to apply in his works. (p.162)

Page 3 of 3

 

Eros in Hesiod

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Eros in Hesiod Glenn W. Most

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0011

Abstract and Keywords The role of Eros in Hesiod has been much studied, but still merits further consideration. Renewed close analysis of these very well-known texts — especially the creation of cosmic Eros, the birth of Aphrodite and of her companion Eros, divine reproduction with and without the participation of Eros, the family conflicts within the generations of the gods, the creation of Pandora, and the creation of the races of humans — reveals surprisingly systematic relations between the function and nature of Eros within the Theogony, within the Works and Days, and between both works; these suggest in turn that a coherent, if generally implicit, view of questions of divine and human sexuality and reproduction structures both divine and human history and governs the relations between them. Hesiod’s world turns out to be more systematic than is often thought, though much depends upon connections that are strong but only implicit. Keywords:   Hesiod, Eros, cosmogony, Theogony, sexuality, reproduction, parthenogenesis

Hesiod refers to the god Eros by name in only two passages in all his poetry (Theog. 120, 201); there is also no more than a single instance in which he uses the term erôs (or, as he spells it, eros) as an ordinary substantive (Theog. 910);1 he speaks disparagingly about heterosexual love among humans, when he mentions it at all, and he completely ignores homosexual love. Unsurprisingly, few if any collections of the erotic authors of Greek literature assign a prominent place to his Theogony or Works and days.2 And yet the passages in which Hesiod mentions the god Eros in his Theogony are prominent and striking, and the fundamental conception of that poem certainly locates the workings of the Page 1 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod divinity he calls Eros, if not the person of the god himself, at the very centre of the history and structure of the divine cosmos; moreover the place of erôs in the human world as Hesiod expounds it in both of his poems is significantly and interestingly different from its role in the world of the gods. Those who think of erôs only as a human passion will be surprised to find in Hesiod a much richer and complex conception of the workings of sexual desire among men and gods.3 Eros was worshipped at a celebrated cult in the Boeotian town of Thespiae, which also dedicated a cult to Hesiod.4 Perhaps this is not just a coincidence. (p.164) So it is surely worth pausing to consider the role of Eros in Hesiod. But as soon as we do, a series of perplexing questions pose themselves. Why does Hesiod mention Eros so prominently in the few passages in which he does mention him, and why does he seem to neglect him so thoroughly, at least explicitly, everywhere else? Why does Eros make not one but two appearances near the beginning of Hesiod’s theogonic pageant? What is the relation between Eros and Aphrodite? Why does Eros have no offspring himself? And what relation does the conception of Eros in the Theogony bear to that in the Works and days? These are indeed puzzling questions; but, to borrow a phrase from Sir Thomas Browne, perhaps, like what song the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, they may not be beyond all conjecture.5 Let us start, where Hesiod does, at the very beginning of things: ἤτοι μὲν πρώτιστα Χάος γένετ᾽· αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα Γαῖ᾽ εὐρύστερνος, πάντων ἕδος ἀσφαλὲς αἰεὶ ἀθανάτων οἳ ἔχουσι κάρη νιφόεντος Ὀλύμπου Τάρταρά τ᾽ ἠερόεντα μυχῷ χθονὸς εὐρυοδείης, ἠδ᾽ Ἔρος, ὃς κάλλιστος ἐν ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι, λυσιμελής, πάντων τε θεῶν πάντων τ᾽ ἀνθρώπων δάμναται ἐν στήθεσσι νόον καὶ ἐπίφρονα βουλήν.(Theog. 116–22)

In truth, first of all Chasm came to be, and then broad-breasted Earth, the ever immovable seat of all the immortals who possess snowy Olympus’ peak and murky Tartarus in the depths of the broad-pathed earth, and Eros, who is the most beautiful among the immortal gods, the limb-melter —he overpowers the mind and the thoughtful counsel of all the gods and of all human beings in their breasts.6 How many primordial entities is Hesiod positing here? At least two, obviously: Chasm and Earth. These form a binary opposition: on the one hand Chasm, which designates not a jumble of disordered matter, as many since Ovid have thought, but a gap or opening;7 on the other hand Gaia, the Earth. The difference between the two is clear: Chasm provides no footing, no foundation with any kind of ontological stability, while Earth is said to be a firm basis for all the gods. What about Tartarus? Many have thought that this is a third primordial Page 2 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod entity, on the same level as Chasm and Earth, but, as I have argued elsewhere, any such notion is certainly mistaken.8 As Hesiod will go on to make clear shortly, both Chasm and Earth will subsequently propagate, thereby creating various lines of descent that populate the entire divine world. But the Tartarus in this passage never engenders anyone or anything, (p.165) neither now nor later. To be sure, there is also a figure called Tartarus who, as Hesiod says much later, impregnates Earth at a subsequent time in cosmic history, when she goes on to produce Typhoeus (Theog. 820–2)—but that is a different Tartarus, singular and of masculine gender, whereas the one here in line 119 is a neuter plural. As a neuter plural, Tartarus is a place into which things get put, not a divine person capable of action and reproduction; hence the form Tartara in that line is best taken not as a nominative on the same level as Chaos and Gaia three or four lines earlier but as an accusative linked with karê (‘peak’) in the preceding line by the conjunction te (‘and’), and I have punctuated and translated the text accordingly. So what justifies Hesiod’s choice of Chasm and Earth as primordial entities is that they can become the starting points of genealogies that will fill out the whole divine population over the course of a number of generations—nor need this surprise us: for what after all could possibly be the use of a primordial entity that did not go on in some way or other to produce the rest of the universe? But this means that next to the starting points themselves Hesiod must also introduce some kind of motor, a generative principle that can bring these entities out of their lethargic self-sufficiency and get them to produce other entities. Chasm and Earth can indeed go on to become the progenitors of all the other gods—but only because Hesiod adds to the two of them a third force, Eros, which, he says, subdues the intelligence of all gods and humans. Evidently, gods and humans would prefer not to get involved in sexual activities and, left to their own devices, would doubtless avoid doing so; hence they must be constrained by a force much stronger than they are if they are to populate the universe. Eros is, for Hesiod, not merely an emotion, still less a solely human emotion, a passion that we mortals feel often more strongly and sometimes less so, but is also, at least at this early stage of world history, a divine, and hence irresistible, force of cosmic stimulation and movement, one that compels other entities to depart from their ordinary complacent repose and to enter into relations with one another that will end up producing further entities. We might say, in Aristotelian terms, that Chasm and Earth are material causes but that Eros is an efficient cause: once Eros has been introduced as a kind of motive force, an overpowering principle of sexual reproduction, the divine generations can begin to proliferate along the lines of the genealogies Hesiod will systematically establish.9 If we view Eros less as a specific god than as an abstract force impelling subjects towards sexual reproduction, then it becomes easier to understand two apparent peculiarities in Hesiod’s depiction of him. First, while Eros makes other people have children, he is childless himself: for he is not so much a Page 3 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod material god, the starting point of a lineage, himself, as rather the (p.166) compelling drive that makes the other gods (and also humans) embark upon their various lineages. And second, Eros himself can vanish in the further course of Hesiod’s poem, since what matters about him is not his person itself but rather the reproductive energies he embodies and applies, and these will continue to remain valid for all the various generations of Hesiod’s divine genealogy. When Hesiod introduces Eros, the god’s power seems unlimited and irresistible; and yet these first lines of the theogony proper already reserve a remarkable surprise for us. Surely, any reader who is told that first there are two prime entities and then an irresistible force of attraction will expect to learn that this force is applied immediately to those two entities in order to ensure that the two of them will quickly come together to produce offspring. But in these lines, although Eros is introduced right after Chasm and Earth and is said to be so irresistibly strong that he ‘overpowers the mind and the thoughtful counsel of all the gods and of all human beings in their breasts’, he does not in fact promptly set to work to ensure that Chasm and Earth begin mating. Once it is noted, the fact that this does not happen is very surprising; only habit and inertia prevent us from being quite as surprised by it as we should be. Why then does it not happen? Evidently, there must be limits to even Eros’ power, and one of them seems to derive from the absolute ontological diversity between Chasm, and its descendants, on the one hand, and Earth, and her descendants, on the other. Not only does Eros produce no intermarrying between Chasm and Earth: there is also no intermarrying whatsoever between any of Chasm’s descendants and any of Earth’s. It has not often been remarked, but is of capital importance, that Hesiod’s two original progenitors, Chasm and Earth, give rise to two entirely separate divine families that are completely different from one another and do not enter into any social relations with one another—between these two families there are no kinship relations whatsoever, neither at their beginning nor at any later time. As it were, Hesiod’s divine population is split into two different communities which together fill the cosmos but do not ever have sex with one another—a kind of extreme theological apartheid. The family of Earth, on the one hand, unfolds through history in a series of familiar generations: first Ouranos or Sky, with whom Earth bears the twelve Titans, including Cronus; then the three monstrous Cyclops, masters of the thunder and lightning; then the three even more monstrous Hundred-Handers (Theog. 116–53). Earth persuades Cronus to castrate his father Sky, producing further offspring in various ways (Theog. 183–206)—we shall return to this charming episode shortly. And then from the Titans descend numerous minor local deities, rivers, nymphs, etc.; and from one of the Titans in particular, Cronus, come the Olympian gods, climaxing in Zeus. Most of the rest of the Page 4 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod Theogony is taken up with catalogues of the various descendants of Earth and with their interactions with one another. The family of Earth (p.167) certainly includes many deities who are only names to us (e.g. Theog. 240–62), but it also gives rise to all the gods who have personalities familiar from Greek mythology and who engage in action with one another in the course of this poem. The progeny of Chasm, on the other hand, is entirely different. Chasm, we learn, gives birth to Night, and from Night issues forth a whole series of baleful deities (Theog. 211–42). What these all have in common, in contrast with the children of Earth, is first that none of them has any personality or dramatic character whatsoever—they all designate kinds of actions performed by agents, and kinds of attitudes and emotions ascribable to agents, but they are none of them agents themselves—and second that they refer almost entirely to the domain of crime and punishment: they are divine instances of various kinds of transgressions, mostly violent but also some merely deceitful, and of the kinds of retribution that attend upon such transgressions. They are not divine persons, but divinized concepts, of misdeeds and the penalties that follow upon them. The members of one of Hesiod’s divine lineages, the children of Earth, compete with one another as agents for the scarce resources called power and honour, and the various modalities that structure their divine competition (as well as most human conflicts) comprise Hesiod’s other divine lineage, the children of Chasm. That competition begins within the family as a struggle between different generations—Sky buries his children, Cronus castrates his father Sky, Sky curses his children the Titans. As long as there are only a few deities around, their story cannot exceed the limits of the single dysfunctional family and hence reminds us of the plot structure of a Greek tragedy. But gradually, given that the gods multiply but do not die, they become ever more numerous; and the result is that there are eventually enough of them to make up armies which can engage in an extended divine warfare that is reminiscent in its dimensions and plot not of Greek tragedy but of Greek epic. The narrative mechanisms that generate and govern those disputes and wars (which involve only the children of Earth) are precisely the children of Chasm: these latter are to be understood as a set of abstract principles that function as modalities to permit the story of the children of Earth to get rolling and to move through a number of narrative steps towards its triumphant conclusion. The children of Chasm have no history themselves: they are the conditions of possibility that allow the children of Earth to have the history that they have. In a certain sense, the children of Earth are proper names functioning as subjects and objects; the children of Chasm are verbs or adverbs that must combine with the nouns to form intelligible narrative structures. We might seem to have moved a long way from the questions about Eros with which we began. But in fact we have not: for one of the most evident and yet surprising contrasts between the race of Chasm and the race of Earth (p.168) Page 5 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod regards the very systematic and very divergent roles played by Eros in the completely different modes of reproduction characteristic of the two races. Let us begin with the race of Chasm, as it is cruder and simpler, in this regard as in most others. At its beginning, according to Hesiod, ‘From Chasm, Erubos and black Night came to be; and then Aether and Day came forth from Night, who conceived and bore them after mingling in love with Erubos’ (Theog. 123–5). Chasm is said here to generate Erebus and Night, evidently entirely by itself, and then these latter two together produce Aether and Day. We may call Chasm’s mode of producing Erebus and Night parthenogenesis, even though Chasm is not very maidenly, since it produces these two entirely on its own, out of itself, without the involvement or participation of any other kind of entity. By contrast, Erebus and Night produce their children by what we may term sexual reproduction: Erebus is male, Night is female, and Hesiod explicitly states that Night, ‘after mingling in love’ (φιλότητι μιγεῖσα) with Erebus, becomes pregnant, and bears the two children (Theog. 125). So after a first generation produced by parthenogenesis, the next generation of Chasm’s offspring is the result of sexual reproduction. But it is also the last generation within the lineage of Chasm to be produced in this way: thereafter, all reproduction within Chasm’s line is by parthenogenesis (Theog. 211–42). In a succession of waves of ‘solitaire’ births, ‘although she had slept with none of the gods’ (Theog. 213: οὔ τινι κοιμηθεῖσα θεῶν), Night bears a large number of baleful children, none of whom produces further children; but then at the end she gives birth to another daughter, Strife, and this offspring of hers goes on to give parthenogenetic birth to a series of further children of her own, grandchildren of Night, who produce no further descendants. In short, after the birth of Chasm itself, there follow four generations of its offspring; with the exception of the second, which comes about by sexual reproduction, all the others are produced by parthenogenesis. Now it is easy to see why, in the first generation, Chasm produces Erebus and Night by parthenogenesis: given that at this early moment of cosmic history there is not even one other god around for Chasm to mate with besides Earth and given that Earth is not interested in Chasm, understandably in view of their profound ontological differences, there are simply no external sexual partners available with whom Chasm could possibly mate; left to its own devices, Chasm does the best it can do on its own and produces a couple of children without external help. In the next generation, then, Chasm’s grandchildren have a try at sexual reproduction, once and only once; but they do not seem to care for it very much. For Night never again mates with Erebus after her single experiment, but instead goes on to produce all her further offspring entirely on her own; and none of Night’s offspring ever tries sexual reproduction, instead either remaining sterile or else producing children by parthenogenesis. So the norm for reproduction in the race of Chasm is parthenogenetic; (p.169) sexual

Page 6 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod reproduction, on the contrary, is a single, evidently unsatisfactory exception. Why? We will understand the reproductive rules that obtain in the race of Chasm better if we compare them with those prevalent in the race of Earth. Under what circumstances do Earth and her offspring reproduce sexually, under what circumstances do they do so by parthenogenesis? Earth begins parthenogenetically enough ‘without delightful love’ (Theog. 132: ἄτερ φιλότητος ἐφιμέρου), producing entirely out of herself Sky, mountains, and the sea (Theog. 126–32). But then she mates sexually with Sky, a female with a male, and produces the Titans, the Cyclops, and the Hundred-Handers (Theog. 132– 53). Once again, as in the case of Chasm, we can understand Earth’s initial parthenogenesis as being due to the early scarcity of suitable sexual partners: given that she has no interest in Chasm, she has no choice, if she wants to have a sexual partner, than to produce him by herself. But here the similarity ends. The race of Chasm never really took to sexual reproduction: having tried it once, they gave up on it, once and for all. By contrast, once Earth tries sexual reproduction, she seems to enjoy it and keeps on producing offspring in this fashion. If this is the case, then why is Earth said to have produced the mountains and the sea by parthenogenesis, rather than involving in their creation Sky, whom she had already engendered? The mountains and the sea present two different cases; we shall return to the latter one shortly. As for the mountains, they are a nameless collective group (in the sense that, at least in this passage, there might be a general name for the group itself as a whole but there are not distinguishing names for every one of its single members), not a named individual like the twelve Titans, the three Cyclops, and the three HundredHanders, all of whose individuating single names Hesiod is careful to specify. All of these latter are unique mythic persons, each has his own individual destiny and is designated by a distinctive name. Even though there are obvious limits to Hesiod’s skill at (or interest in) differential characterization, nonetheless all these children of Earth evidently possess a different mode of being from anonymous collectivities on the one hand—and from mere concepts, moral abstractions, like the children of the race of Night on the other hand. Thus we seem to find in Hesiod’s cosmogony the following systematic tendencies: in the race of Chasm, conceptual abstractions are the rule, and they are almost always produced by parthenogenesis, sexual reproduction being a single exception; in the race of Earth, unique named individuals are the rule, and they are almost always produced by sexual reproduction, parthenogenesis being limited to cases in which no suitable partners are available or in which nameless collective entities are produced.

Page 7 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod Naturally, there is no system without its exceptions and anomalies, and this was no less true in late eighth-century Boeotia (or to whatever time and place we assign Hesiod) than it is in our own age. Indeed, we have already seen one (p. 170) such exception, in the misguided and evidently unsatisfactory one-time attempt at sexual reproduction by Chasm’s children, Erebus and Night. But before turning to examine briefly the other attested exceptions to these systematic tendencies, it is worth pointing out and emphasizing just how dominant this highly structured pattern is. On the one hand, as we have seen, the generations of the race of Night come to an end rather quickly, and all its members are either conceptual abstractions or anonymous collectivities like the Hesperides, the Destinies, or the Fates (even if the three Destinies bear names, their names are themselves transparently conceptual, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropus). On the other hand, for all the generations of Earth’s progeny, with only the very fewest of exceptions, individual named gods are produced, not conceptual abstractions or anonymous collectivities; and they are almost always produced by sexual reproduction involving a male agent and a female one (sometimes these agents can become very monstrous indeed, but even then they never lose their sexual identity). So for example after Earth has Cronus castrate Sky, she produces by parthenogenesis out of the bloody drops that fall onto her three anonymous collectivities, the Erinyes, the Giants, and the Nymphs (Theog. 183–7: once again each group has a name, but its individual members do not), while the seminal fluid from his severed member produces, by sexual reproduction, the single named individual Aphrodite (Theog. 188–204). We shall return to this curious episode shortly. Apparently, there are only three exceptions to these strict rules concerning Eros, parthenogenesis, sexual reproduction, and the races of Chasm and Earth. The first involves Pontus: Earth produces him parthenogenetically at lines 131–2, as though he were just one more anonymous natural collective feature like the mountains; but later (Theog. 237–9) he will go on to mingle in love with her and produce Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and Eurybius. If Pontus can mate with Earth and produce these children, he cannot be just an anonymous collective entity. We seem to be confronted here with a genuine exception to the rules, which can only be explained, or at least mitigated, by pointing out that, when Pontus is introduced, he is assimilated to that other anonymous natural feature, the mountains, which had preceded him, and is carefully, indeed rather pedantically, distinguished from the twelve named Titans who follow and whom Earth has produced sexually with the help of Sky. Focusing too much upon Pontus as a distinctive individual would have distracted and thereby weakened the attention Hesiod wanted to direct climactically onto the twelve Titans; by the time Hesiod gets around to telling of Pontus’ sexual congress with Earth, over a hundred lines later, many of his listeners will have forgotten the slight but real anomaly— and perhaps he had forgotten it too.

Page 8 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod The second exception, by contrast, is only an apparent one. It involves three cases in which a group of unnamed beings that share certain fundamental similarities are said to arise from an original entity, without however there being a direct sexual or reproductive connection. Consider the first woman, (p.171) whom Hesiod in the Works and days will call Pandora: in the Theogony he says that it is from her that all women come (590)—surely not in the sense that she gave birth to them genealogically, by an almost infinitely repeated act of sustained sexual reproduction, but in the sense that Pandora was the first, the archetype, in whom one can see more clearly what is really at stake in all later, actual women, who are her daughters not biologically but only ethically.10 The line beginning of 590, ἐκ followed by the existential verb ἐστί (and not by forms of the verb γίγνομαι), recurs in two other passages in the Theogony with precisely the same meaning: once in the case of Typhoeus with regard to moistblowing winds (Theog. 869), and once at lines 94–6, in the cases of Muses and Apollo with regard to poets and lyre-players, and of Zeus with regard to kings. In all three passages we find a kind of non-genealogical affinity of character, or an assertion of divine patronage and protection, which is being expressed in quasigenealogical terms; Eros is surely not involved, at least not directly, and it seems best to interpret such instances as reflecting the dominance of a genealogical pattern of thought even where it is not especially appropriate or intended. Finally, the third instance: Zeus gives birth to Athena from his head, and Hera in her fury avenges herself on Zeus by giving birth to Hephaestus without mingling in love with him (Theog. 924–9). Zeus’ heady parturition of Athena might seem an easily diagnosed case of parthenogenesis, but in fact it is not at all: Zeus has already swallowed Metis, who was destined to give birth to Athena (Theog. 888– 90), and doubtless we are supposed to think it is really the Metis within him that is giving birth to the virgin goddess. Hera, typically, overreacts on the basis of an only partial understanding of the situation, and does indeed give birth by parthenogenesis to a single named individual god, the only time this happens in the whole of the Theogony. This is indeed an exception; but it seems more a joke than an anomaly (after all, even in book 1 of the Iliad, the crippled, ugly Hephaestus seems a figure more of comedy than of high epic). Hesiod is certainly not famous for his humour: but might this passage be a rare instance of Hesiod trying to be funny? In any case, these three exceptions can surely not be thought to cast serious doubt on the systematic nature of Hesiod’s thinking about the role of Eros in the world of the gods—even when they are real, they are all quite minor, and given the enormous mass of mythological material that Hesiod has chosen to deal with in his poem, we will certainly be fairer to him if we prefer to admire his fundamental consistency rather than if we carp at his occasional inconsistencies.

Page 9 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod (p.172) On Hesiod’s view, the history and structure of the divine world would be quite impossible without the workings of Eros (as distinguished from the actual person of the god). One clear sign of the crucial importance Hesiod assigns to the god’s activity is that he takes care to insert the principle of sexual attraction into three different parts of his theogony: first, Eros himself as a primordial force introduced right after the primordial entities Chasm and Earth at the very beginning of the world (Theog. 120–2); second, within the lineage of Earth, Aphrodite, who is born from Sky’s severed member and is accompanied by Eros (Theog. 183–206); and third, within the other major divine lineage, that of Chasm, Φιλότης, ‘Fondness’, as a sister of Deceit, Old Age, and Strife (Theog. 224). Eros’ unique importance may be measured in the fact that no other divinity is introduced both into the origin of all things and into each of the two families that derive therefrom. So even if Hesiod may be thought to be exaggerating a bit when he claims that Eros overpowers the mind and counsel of all the gods and of all human beings (Theog. 121–2)—for Eros’ hold on the lineage of Chasm does indeed seem rather tenuous—nonetheless Hesiod has done all he can to make clear Eros’ central significance in his divine world. The Eros who was worshipped at the cult in Thespiae would presumably have been pleased. But how beneficent is this Eros? When Hesiod first introduces the god, he is said to be ‘most beautiful among the immortal gods’ (Theog. 120: κάλλιστος ἐν ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι)—and yet his activity is described in terms of violent coercion, of force exerted upon unwilling victims whose plans were going in one direction but who now are overpowered and subdued (Theog. 121–2). Τhe adjective λυσιμελής, ‘limb-melter’, which Hesiod uses for Eros here, is elsewhere applied to Sleep and Death.11 Hesiod surely has little doubt that it is a good thing that there are gods, and there would be very few of them indeed without Eros; and yet Eros’ workings have something rather frightful about them. Hesiod’s account of the birth of Aphrodite (Theog. 183–206) brilliantly enhances this frightfulness while at the same time mitigating or even domesticating it. For she arises from a terrible crime, Cronus’ castration of his father Sky at the instigation of his mother Earth—there is a profound paradox in the fact that the goddess of sexual desire arises out of the brutal cancellation of the very possibility of oversexed Sky’s continued sexual activity—and yet what she comes about as is something delicate and lovely, a beautiful maiden with slender feet. Eros accompanies her to demonstrate the milder form which sexual attraction will henceforth take in the family of Earth. From this time on, Eros is not only a violently overpowering cosmic force but also the emotion familiar from our own experience: the activities with which Aphrodite is associated— maidenly whispers, smiles, deceits, sweet delight, fondness, and (p.173) gentleness (Theog. 205–6)—sound innocuous and rather fun. But they have a baneful side too, and Hesiod takes great care to point this out to us by repeating the words ‘deceits and fondness’ (Ἀπάτην…καὶ Φιλότητα) almost verbatim among the daughters of Night when he returns to her baleful progeny (Theog. Page 10 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod 224)—and yet here too he is careful to mitigate matters, at least somewhat, by choosing the gentle term Φιλότης. In the world of the gods, Eros is clearly too indispensable and too central a force for Hesiod to be able to assign it reductively a single positive or negative value in his Theogony. What, then, of the world of men, especially as that world is depicted in Hesiod’s Works and days? Comparing the portrayals of Eros in Hesiod’s two poems is not merely a pedantic matter of surveying the connections between his two works: given that the world of gods is the central object of his Theogony and the world of men is that of his Works and days, and that Hesiod is evidently convinced that the members of these two classes of entities, gods and men, comprise the roster of the most important living participants in his universe, considering the role of Eros in only one of his two poems would evidently give only a partial and inadequate account of Hesiod’s view of that force. When we compare the depictions of Eros in Hesiod’s two poems with each other it becomes immediately clear that in the Works and days matters are much simpler and more drastic than they are in the Theogony: for Hesiod seems to be fully persuaded that, if not among the gods, then certainly among human beings, sexual desire is exclusively and intensely negative in value. Already in the Theogony the creation of the first woman (Theog. 570–612) provides Hesiod with the occasion for a nasty diatribe against the deadly race of mortal women, ‘a great woe for mortals’ (592: πῆμα μέγα θνητοῖσι), but apparently no problem at all, or less of one, for the gods. When Hesiod returns to this first woman, whom he now calls Pandora, in his Works and days (Op. 60–82), he makes her sexual attractiveness, which had only been implicit in his earlier poem, quite explicit by introducing her at once as ‘a beautiful, lovely form of a maiden’ (Op. 63: παρθενικῆς καλὸν εἶδος ἐπήρατον) and by recounting this time the gifts which the seductive forces of Aphrodite, the Graces, and Persuasion present to her (Op. 65–6, 73–4). So too throughout the rest of the Works and days, whenever women make an appearance it is as a dire threat to the hardworking male farmer whose success, and even survival, seem to depend upon a resolute concentration of his energies upon labour and forethought (Op. 373–5, 694–705). Whatever the defects of sexual desire among the gods, they are paltry compared to the dangers of sexual desire among humans. Why Hesiod should have conceived his world in these terms is an interesting question but one that cannot fully be answered within the limits of the present chapter. Clearly it must have something to do with the two facts that humans, unlike gods, grow old and die, and that humans, unlike gods, must (p.174) work if they are to procure the sustenance upon which their survival depends. We might well consider human reproduction to balance human mortality: if there were only reproduction, we would be too many; if there were only mortality, we would be none at all; a state of approximate equilibrium, we might suppose, Page 11 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod would require the interplay of both forces. Hesiod, apparently, saw matters differently: for him human erôs seems to have been a threat, not entirely different from disease or death, one that makes the difficult life of men, in which they have to shepherd their resources and devote their intelligence and activity to survival, all the more difficult. Given that Hesiod was convinced that human survival in an uncertain world depends upon the unremitting exercise of cautious attention and prudent planning, and given that the primordial force of Eros overpowers the mind and the thoughtful counsel of all gods and men (Theog. 122), it is perhaps not so difficult to understand how Hesiod could have arrived at this view. After all, Greek myth and inspection of his world might well have convinced Hesiod that erôs leads to people’s losing their rational selfcontrol, to their privileging present needs over future ones, and in particular to men’s becoming subject to women, and that sexual reproduction leads not only to more hands to do the work but also to more mouths to consume its products. Reason enough, perhaps, to see erôs as a threat. But whether we grateful human readers of Hesiod can pardon him his nasty words about Eros’ activity among humans, it is quite another matter whether the god Eros himself might have been inclined to do so. No god likes to be scorned by a mere human, and Greek mythology is full of tales of men and women who were punished terribly by the gods of sexual desire for having neglected or disdained them. Perhaps Hesiod too was not thought to have escaped unscathed. One biographical legend, current at least as early as Plutarch and repeated throughout later antiquity and the Middle Ages, suggests that many ancient Greeks thought that Eros did indeed punish Hesiod in the end. For it reports that Hesiod was murdered by two brothers who thought he had seduced their sister.12 In some versions Hesiod was the innocent victim of a mistake; in others, matters were rather less clear. In either case, at least in these legendary and doubtless fanciful accounts, Hesiod was thought to have fallen victim to the toils of Eros. Like Aphrodite, Eros is a mighty god. Notes:

This chapter develops further an argument I have sketched out in the Introduction to Most (2006) and may be considered complementary to Most (2011). (1) He also uses the adjective ἐρόεις, ‘desirable’, three times in catalogues (Theog. 245, 251, 357). The common noun and the adjective are also found in some fragments of pseudo-Hesiodic poetry (fr. 266a8, 266c1 M-W = fr. 204a8, 204d1 Most (2007); fr. 169.1 M-W = fr. 118.1 Most (2007)). (2) One partial recent exception is a museum exhibition catalogue: Stampolidis and Tassoulas (2009). (3) Some interesting observations are to be found in Bonnafé (1985). Page 12 of 13

 

Eros in Hesiod (4) Eros: West (1966a) 196 ad 120; Schachter (1981) 216–19. Hesiod: Testimonia 104, 105, 108—Most (2006). (5) Browne (1969) 132. (6) Text and translation, here and throughout, are taken from Most (2006). (7) See West (1966a) 192–3 ad 116. (8) Most (2003). (9) So Arist. Metaph. 1.3, 984b20–5. See among recent discussions esp. Rudhardt (1986). (10) On Pandora, see Casanova (1979); the articles in Reeder (1995); the articles by Judet de la Combe, Judet de la Combe and Lernould, Saintillion, Zeitlin, and Vernant in Blaise, Judet de la Combe, and Rousseau (1996), respectively 263–99, 301–13, 315–48, 349–80, 381–92; and now Vernant (2006). (11) Sleep: Od. 20.57, 23.343. Death: Eur. Suppl. 47. (12) The story is reported in Plut. Conv. Sept. Sap. 19.162C–E (Hes. Test. 32— Most (2006)); Paus. 9.31.6 (Hes. Test. 31—Most (2006)); the Suda (Hes. Test. 1— Most (2006)); and Tzetzes, Scholium on Hes. Op. (Hes. Test. 2—Most (2006)).

Page 13 of 13

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult Emma Stafford

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0012

Abstract and Keywords This chapter reviews representations of Eros personified in Attic art alongside what we know of Eros' cult at Athens, evidence which has an important contribution to make to our understanding of the emotion. It is generally agreed that the images chart a change from a late archaic focus on pederastic erôs to a later fifth-century association with women and heterosexual desire. It is argued here that this shift in emphasis is reflected in Athens' two major cults of Eros: at the Academy, from c.540 BC worship focused on Eros alone, its pederastic character in keeping with the gymnasium context; on the Akropolis' north slope, from c.450 BC, Eros displayed a heterosexual concern with fertility, in close association with Aphrodite. Such a background makes sense of Eros' frequent appearances in wedding scenes, which further suggest that erôs’role in marriage became firmly established in the second half of the fifth century. Keywords:   Academy, Akropolis, Aphrodite, desire, erôs, Eros, gymnasium, heterosexual, pederastic, wedding

In the Classical period, erôs was not normally perceived as the basis of a permanent conjugal bond. Perhaps because marriage was usually arranged by the families of the bride and groom, erôs was commonly treated, at least in amatory literature, as a wayward passion, fastening upon an object outside the conjugal network such as a foreigner, a courtesan, a married woman, or a boy.1

Page 1 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult This summary appears in Konstan’s study of erôs in the Greek novel. Konstan argues that the genre is distinctive in presenting erôs as part of a symmetrical, long-term relationship culminating in marriage, as against an earlier association of erôs with the short-term passion of socially unequal partners. He himself admits, however, that there are one or two exceptions to this picture in Classical literature, citing the following examples, which seem to characterize erôs as a more family-oriented emotion: a character in Euripides’ Erechtheus (fr. 358 TGrF) declares that ‘there is no other erôs sweeter’ than that of children for their mother; Xenophon’s Socrates (Symp. 8.1) cites one of his dinner-companions as having erôs for his wife, and the wife as having reciprocal love (anterôs) for him; a father in Menander (Dys. 789–90) assures his son that ‘marriage is stable for a young man if he is persuaded into it through erôs’.2 One might adduce further texts, too, which suggest that Konstan’s thesis requires nuancing. For example, in Sophocles’ Antigone (781–805) the Chorus sing of Eros as Antigone is taken to her execution in a tragic parody of the wedding, with explicit mention of the ‘palpable desire (himeros) in the eyes of the marriage-blessing bride’ (795–7); likewise, in a (p.176) comic context, at the end of Aristophanes’ Birds (1738– 40) the Chorus make explicit reference to Eros amphithalês in their wedding hymn.3 What I want to do here is to bring to bear on the question what we know of Eros’ cult at Athens and the evidence of Attic art, to see if Eros personified can tell us anything about perceptions of the emotion, and particularly about the possible place of erôs in marriage. The visual material is restricted largely to Attic red-figure of c.520–400 BCE, since there is in fact only one certain appearance of Eros in black-figure; we will also note one or two instances of sculpture. Eros is a familiar figure on the vases, sometimes appearing alone, sometimes in company with his doubles or other companions of Aphrodite, sometimes as the only divine figure in an otherwise mortal scene. Such images have of course been studied in arthistorical terms,4 while particular examples have been invoked in studies of social-historical phenomena, most relevantly works on athletics, on (homo-)sexuality, and on marriage;5 Eros’ cult has most often been discussed alongside that of Aphrodite,6 although one or two studies have focused on Eros alone.7 A recent study worth particular mention is Pellegrini’s Eros nella Grecia arcaica e classica, based on an extensive catalogue of iconographic material from the Archaic and Classical periods, which offers quite substantial discussion of the literary and cult evidence as well as the images.8 A number of issues concerning the Athenian cult remain open to debate, however, and there is a distinct ‘gap’ between some text-based discussions of erôs and studies of the iconographical material—a gap which I shall be attempting to fill here. First, we need briefly to consider Eros’ standing as a personification and god, and to consider some basic questions about his iconography. Then we will deal in (p. 177) turn with each of the two major loci of Eros’ cult at Athens, which, I shall argue, match a basic division of the images into those associated with pederastic Page 2 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult desire and those concerned with heterosexual relationships. Finally, we will look at images of the wedding, which provide a direct challenge to Konstan’s assessment of Classical erôs.

Classifying and identifying Eros One could argue that, like the goddesses Themis and Hebe, Eros is so well established in the Greek pantheon that he hardly counts as a personification at all.9 Nonetheless, Eros has little myth attached to him, and at a very basic level the fact that erôs was used as an abstract noun throughout antiquity must mean that the deity and his sphere of influence are more closely identified than is the case with more fully personalized gods and goddesses. Problematization of Eros’ status can already be glimpsed in Euripides’ Hippolytus, in which the Chorus (538–40) comment on the paradox that Zeus and Apollo receive many sacrifices while, despite his destructive power, ‘we do not worship Eros’. This cannot be taken as evidence for the absence of cult in contemporary Athens, as Breitenberger tries to argue.10 Rather, it is an example of typically provocative Euripidean rhetoric, dictated by the demands of the plot and similar to the statement that ‘Persuasion has no other temple but reason, and her altar is in man’s soul’ in the same playwright’s Antigone (fr. 170 TGrF), which is likewise demonstrably untrue.11 Less extreme is the remark of Plato’s Aristophanes that Love would have ‘the greatest temples, altars and sacrifices’ if men only realized his power, but ‘as it is none of these things are his’ (Symposium 189c4–7). This is not, in fact, incompatible with cult activity on a modest scale, as many have taken it to be, but in any case there is no reason to take the claim any more seriously than Phaidros’ earlier one (reported by Erixymachos) that Eros is not celebrated in song (177a5–b1). Elsewhere in the dialogue (202d–4a) the allegorical potential of erôs personified is exploited in Diotima’s genealogy which makes the god the result of a union between Contrivance and Poverty. The classification proposed in this passage of Eros as not a theos but a daimôn, a being ‘halfway between mortal and god’, is perhaps an attempt to express the ambiguity of the personification—simultaneously a god and (p.178) an emotion —and is the one element of Diotima’s speech to be retained in Xenophon’s more down-to-earth Symposium (8.1), where it is voiced by Socrates in propria persona.12 Later philosophical debate would explore further the potential difficulty in taking personifications seriously as gods, querying or even denying the divinity of Eros and other ‘states of the soul’ (psychika pathê), like Mercy (Eleos) and Fear (Phobos).13 Plato’s Symposium (178b) makes explicit reference to Hesiod’s conception of Eros as a primordial element (Theog. 116–22). Whether or not this was in turn influenced by Eros’ supposedly ancient cult at Thespiae is a contentious question,14 but Hesiod’s influence on Athenian conceptions of Eros is traceable much earlier than Plato in the god’s first certain appearance in the visual arts. A black-figure plaque of around 570 BCE from the Acropolis depicts a female figure holding a small boy in either arm, the one on the left labelled Himeros, Page 3 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult ‘Desire’; all that survives of the name-label to the right is E-, but Eros is the only plausible candidate.15 The pairing of Eros and Himeros echoes Theogony 201–2, where the same two escort Aphrodite ‘at her birth at first and as she went into the assembly of the gods’, but the conception of both being children is new— indeed the identification of the female figure here as Aphrodite is dependent on her role as Eros’ mother, which would only later become canonical.16 There are a few other black-figure representations of a female bearing two male infants in the same way, dating from c.580–520 BCE, but in none are the children identified by inscription, and in only one or two cases is Aphrodite named, while in some juxtaposition with Dionysiac figures makes it equally plausible that she should be identified as Ariadne with Dionysus’ (p.179) sons.17 None of these children has wings, the feature which makes Eros the most readily identifiable of personifications in later art. Conversely, a number of winged males do appear in Attic black-figure, but none in combination with potential Aphrodite figures or in mythological contexts which would facilitate identification as Eros, and their state of (un-)dress varies too.18 This raises the broader issue of Eros’ iconography. The attributes of bow and arrows, so familiar from post-Classical art, are seen first on a lekythos attributed to the Brygos Painter c.480 BCE, half a century before their first literary attestation in Euripides,19 but they do not really become standard in Greek art until the fourth century. Before this we are largely reliant on the wings, though also characteristic of Eros is youthful appearance and nudity, and his size may vary from being in proportion with other characters in the scene to the diminutive. There are one or two other winged youths—for example Zephyrus and Hypnos—but these are relatively rare, and only certainly identifiable in particular mythological contexts, or with a name-label. Eros himself is rarely given such a label, even by vase-painters who are liberal with their inscriptions, unless they want to distinguish a winged figure as being one of Eros’ doubles, the commonest being Himeros, followed by Pothos.20 Eros’ tendency to multiply in artistic representations is a distinctive feature, and one might argue that plurality helps to dilute Eros’ personality and bring more readily to mind the abstract idea he represents.

The Academy cult and late Archaic to early Classical Eros Red-figure images of the winged Eros begin to appear around 520 BCE, not long after the establishment of his oldest traceable Athenian cult. A date of around 540 BCE is suggested for the inception of worship at the Academy by (p.180) the tradition which surrounds the establishment of an altar of Eros there. Pausanias (1.30.1) locates the altar ‘in front of the entrance to the Academy’, adding that it has ‘an inscription saying that Charmus was the first Athenian to dedicate to Eros’. The inscription in question is preserved by Athenaeus (13.609d), who cites the fourth-century historian Cleidemus of Athens (FGrH 323F15) as his source:

Page 4 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult ποικιλομήχαν’ Ἔρως, σοὶ τόνδ’ ἱδρύσατο βωμὸν Χάρμος ἐπὶ σκιεροῖς τέρμασι γυμνασίου. Eros of many devices, Charmus established this altar to you near the shady turning-posts of the gymnasium. The epithet poikilomêchanos evokes the image of Eros promoted by lyric, in keeping with a mid sixth-century date, suggesting that this is genuine. Elsewhere Athenaeus suggests that the Academy is just one example of Eros’ cult in gymnasia, where he is commonly associated with Heracles and Hermes (13.561d–e), and makes explicit mention of sacrifices at the Academy.21 More controversial is the claim in the Cleidemus passage that Charmus was the erastês of Pisistratus’ son Hippias, to whom Charmus later gave his daughter in marriage. Plutarch (Solon 1) confuses the issue by talking of a statue (agalma) rather than altar, and attributing its establishment to Pisistratus ‘who was the erastês of Charmus’. As Shapiro notes, is not impossible that Charmus should have been Pisistratus’ erômenos as a boy, and later become erastês to the young Hippias, before fathering a daughter of suitable age to be married to the adult Hippias; however, Thucydides (6.55) names a different wife for Hippias, and the statue would have to have been set up either earlier than the altar or well after the relationship between Pisistratus and Charmus was over.22 On balance it seems more likely that Plutarch has slightly garbled the story here, and we should retain only the altar dedicated by Charmus. Davies suggests that Charmus should be identified as the father of the Hipparchus who was archon in 496/5 and ostracized in 488/7 BCE, who was Hippias’ son-in-law rather than father-in-law.23 Breitenberger’s objection to such a private dedication being the foundation of any public cult has some force, but her conclusion that Eros ‘did not enjoy (p. 181) cultic veneration’ in the Archaic period is too strong.24 It also fails to take into account a very public role played by the Academy altar, suggested by Plutarch’s concluding phrase, ‘where those running the sacred torch-race light the fire’. The antecedent of the ‘where’ could be either the statue/altar of Eros or the Academy in general, and a torch-race was part of at least three festivals— the Panathenaia, the Prometheia, and the Hephaisteia—all of which traversed the Kerameikos before entering the city by the Dipylon Gate.25 Pausanias (1.30.2) identifies the Academy’s altar of Prometheus as the starting point from which ‘they run to the city holding burning torches’; he does not specify the festival concerned, though πρὸς τὴν πόλιν might be understood as indicating the Acropolis as the race’s destination. It would make obvious sense in mythological terms for all three races to have started at the altar of the Titan who gave mankind the gift of fire, and the Academy cults of Hephaestus and Prometheus were closely linked.26 However, Plutarch’s association of one of the races with Page 5 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult Eros finds support in Hermeias’ commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus (231e), which explicitly states that: καὶ ὁ δρόμος γε ὁ μακρὸς τοῖς Παναθηναίοις ἀπὸ τοῦ βωμοῦ τοῦ Ἔρωτος ἐγίνετο· ἐντεῦθεν γὰρ ἅψαντες οἱ ἔφηβοι τὰς λαμπάδας ἔθεον καὶ τοῦ νικήσαντος τῇ λαμπάδι ἡ πυρὰ τῶν τῆς θεοῦ ἱερῶν ἐφήπτετο. the great race at the Panathenaia started from the altar of Eros; having lit the torches from there the ephebes would run and the fire for the goddess’s sacrifices would be lit from the winner’s torch.27 The Academy was of course generally associated with Athena,28 but why the altar of Eros in particular should have played a part in her major festival is not immediately obvious. Kovaleva makes an interesting case for understanding Eros here as the generative principle indicated by Hesiod and by the Orphic cosmogony parodied in Aristophanes’ Birds (693–702), his cult integrated into a sequence of rituals celebrating the death of the old year and the birth of the new.29 The fact that the race is almost always represented as run by (p.182) ephebes, however, fits the broader association of the Academy’s Eros cult with pederastic desire, and Scanlon surmises that Eros ‘symbolized the spirit of what Athenians saw as the source of civic prosperity, the greatest source of strength in the gymnasium’.30 The earliest images of Eros in red-figure likewise present him in a homoerotic light. He is characterized as the ideal erômenos not only by his general appearance as a youth of appropriate age, but often also by the fact that he is holding typical pederastic love-gifts or playing with a hoop in the manner of Ganymede. In the particularly fine cup potted by Kachrylion (Fig. 1), Eros’ own beauty is complemented by the flower he holds as he flies across the sea, and by the unusual red-coral glazing which has been applied to the interior around the tondo.31 The viewer’s attention is further drawn to the theme of youthful beauty by the presence of an inscription reading kalos ho pais, it being left open to individual interpretation whether the pais in question is Eros himself or an unidentified youth beloved of the symposiast who might have read the words out loud.32 The erômenos flying over the sea is multiplied on the Siren Painter’s wellknown name-vase, c.480 BCE, where there are three Erotes, all carrying items which are typically given as gifts between lovers—an embroidered belt or headband, a tendril of foliage, and a hare.33 Just one of them (with the belt) is provided with a name-label identifying him as Himeros, making an unexpected link with the image on the other side of the stamnos where Odysseus is listening to the Sirens. The Sirens’ song, which in the Odyssey is simply ‘clear’ or ‘sweet’ and bewitching,34 is interpreted by the painter here via the labelling of one of the Sirens as ‘Himeropa’, ‘song of desire’—a desire embodied by the three Erotes.

Page 6 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult From the same period as these first two examples is the only representation of Eros in Archaic sculpture (Fig. 2).35 This statuette is, unusually, made of limestone and there are traces of orange paint in the hair and red on the chlamys which hangs open on his shoulders; it is datable on stylistic grounds (p. 183) to c.500–490 BCE, the short hairstyle and moulding of anatomy placing it at the end of the series of Archaic Attic kouroi. It is identifiable as Eros especially by its wings, but also by its similarity to representations of erômenoi in contemporary vase-painting, such as the youth pursued by Eros himself on an amphora attributed to the Flying Angel Painter of c. 490 BCE, who again wears the open chlamys (Fig. 3).36 Unfortunately the provenance of the statue is no more precise than ‘from Athens’ and it has disappeared into an unidentified private collection since Seltman’s publication of it in the 1920s, allowing no further inspection to confirm his reconstruction of the

Fig. 1. Eros in flight. Inscription: KALOS HO PAIS. Attic red-figure cup, with redcoral glazing, signed by the potter Kachrylion, c.510 BCE (Florence 91456). Photo: National Archaeological Museum of Florence.

statue as holding a pair of cocks.37 Seltman offers an elaborate explanation of the cocks as associated with departed souls and with Athena,38 but the birds are perfectly comprehensible as love-gifts, as held by numerous human erômenoi in late Archaic vase-painting, and parallel to the gifts carried by the Siren Painter’s Erotes.39 The statuette has been speculatively linked to a sanctuary on the (p.184)

Fig. 2. Limestone statuette of Eros, 12.7 cm high as preserved, originally c.18 cm,

Page 7 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult (p.185) Acropolis, as we shall see below, but it would be just as easy to see it as a dedication made

c.520 BCE (England, private collection). Photo: after Seltman 1923–5, pl. 13.

to Eros at the Academy.40

Returning to vase-painting, there may be reference to the Academy cult in a number of scenes in which Eros is depicted by an altar. These first appear around 470 BCE and include the bobbin attributed to the Painter of London D12, c.470– 450 BCE, used as the logo of the conference on which this volume is based, and featured on the book-jacket.41 Most explicit, however, is the Telephus Painter’s cup, which comes early in the series.42 In the tondo (Fig. 4a) Eros seems Fig. 3. Eros accosts a youth. Attic redto be in motion towards the figure amphora attributed to the Flying altar, which is in an Angel Painter, c.490 BCE (Rome, Villa architectural form conventional Giulia 47214). Photo: Soprintendenza per for the representation of altars i Beni Archeologici dell’Etruria in vase-painting, but unusually Meridionale, Roma. resting on top of undressed rock; the specificity of the representation gives some grounds for supposing that the painter had a particular real-life altar in mind here; red paint indicates a fire burning on the altar.43 In his hands Eros is holding out a tendril of foliage (again in red paint), such as might be used to make a wreath or to decorate the altar, and beneath the ground-line under his feet is the word ΚΑΛΟΣ—as with Fig. 1, the viewer might most easily see Eros himself as ‘beautiful’, or might have in mind a mortal object of his own erôs.44 The scenes on the cup’s exterior (Fig. 4b) provide remarkable contextualization, indicating a location easily identified as the Academy.45 On one side a column establishes the location as a building, in front of which a second Eros strides between two men holding a disembodied animal’s leg, hoof uppermost; this is likely to be a portion from a sacrifice, an item sometimes noted as a love-gift in pederastic scenes. The seated man is marked as mature by his beard; the other’s upper body and head is missing, but the fact that he leans on a stick is suggestive of maturity. On the other, a third Eros is stepping forward with a wreath held out ready to crown a youth, standing demurely wrapped in his himation, who appears to be singing to the accompaniment of a seated youth’s Page 8 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult aulos-playing; on the wall between them hang a lyre and perhaps an aulos-case. It is unusual to have the same figure repeated three times in different areas of a single vase, so we might think of these as Eros, Himeros, and Pothos—the two on the exterior are very slightly differentiated by their hairstyles. However, the handful of cups depicting Theseus’ deeds as a cycle provide a parallel for such repetition, and for (p.186) (p.187) reading the scenes as a linked narrative:46 the older men on one side send forth their erôs to the youth on the other, whose skill in singing is rewarded by their elders’ desire; the altar of Eros receives a prayer for, or thankoffering in recognition of, the establishment of a relationship of erôs between the parties.

In one or two cases the altar appears in the context of a scene, exemplified on a dozen or so vases, where Eros himself is represented in the active role of the erastês, in tension with his erômenos-like appearance. A good example is the Flying Angel Painter’s amphora (Fig. 3), which falls into the second of a sequence of three stages identified by Shapiro, of increasing insistence: Eros approaches a youth or boy with gifts, then accosts him at close quarters, and finally has intercourse with him.47 Some scholars have been reluctant to identify the winged figure as Eros, especially in the case of the ‘rapes’ (as they are often dubbed), preferring to see him as Zephyrus consummating his

Fig. 4. Attic red-figure cup, attributed to the Telephus Painter, c.470 BCE (Munich 2669). Photo: Munich, Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Renate Kühling. (a) Interior: Eros at an altar. (b) Exterior: Eros in the gymnasium.

love for Hyacinthus.48 In the absence of any clear indication to the contrary, however, Eros remains the more obvious candidate. Davidson’s objection that ‘Eros in love would be freakish’ can be countered, as Shapiro argues, by the observation that this is not an isolated phenomenon: gods in vase-painting are sometimes overcome by their own powers.49 An example of Eros as erastês Page 9 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult which brings us back to the Academy cult is the cup attributed to Douris (Fig. 5).50 The gymnasium context is firmly established by one side of the cup (Fig. 5a), where two nude youths are wrestling and a third is (un-)dressing beside a washbasin. On the other (Fig. 5b), Eros’ arrival appears to be causing two fully dressed youths to scatter, the one to the left still holding his hoop and stick, the other having dropped his strigil. Scanlon’s description of Eros (p.188) (p.189) sending ‘the gymnasium into turmoil as he works his erotic power upon the youths’ in such scenes is apt, but there is no need to follow his suggestion that ‘the viewer himself is meant to take the position of the lover, vicariously projecting himself into the gymnasium scene’.51 Given the tradition Shapiro outlines, Eros himself may be the erastês here, or we might consider the possibility that his disruptive presence reflects the potential for erôs between the youths themselves.52 If Lear is correct in identifying the object in Eros’ right hand as a sandal, the metaphor may be extended to express the painful pleasure of erôs.53

Eros as pursuer has been aptly described by Lewis ‘as a pure form of embodied desire’, but he is more familiar to the modern viewer in scenes where he acts ‘as a kind of caption for

Fig. 5. Attic red-figure cup attributed to Douris, c.490-480 BCE (Berlin V.I. 3168). Photo: © bpk, Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. (a) Gymnasium scene. (b) Eros arrives.

the desire of others’.54 As we shall see, Eros is frequently seen in this role in heterosexual scenes of the later fifth century, but he is conspicuously absent from Archaic homosexual courting scenes.55 He does, however, appear in one or two depictions of Zeus’ pursuit of Ganymede in the early to high Classical period.56 On the krater attributed to the Ariana Painter (Fig. 6), Zeus is lacking his usual attributes of a thunderbolt or staff but Hermes’ presence (to the left) serves to identify this as a divine rather than human pursuit; the woman to the right could be Ganymede’s mother, or more likely a goddess.57 Eros’ relatively small size here and position hovering at Zeus’ shoulder indicates his ancillary status, in contrast to our earlier examples: his role is to make explicit Zeus’ motivation for the pursuit. This subordination in Page 10 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult size to the scenes’ protagonists will be a feature of all the images to be considered in our next two sections. More unusual here is the fact that Eros is holding the standard equipment for a libation, a lekythos and phiale, which may be a further indication of Zeus’ divine identity, or could perhaps indicate the ritual return Eros is expecting now that his work in uniting the lover with the object of his desire is nearly done.

(p.190) The Acropolis cult and Classical Eros The second location for an Athenian Eros cult is as part of the sanctuary of Aphrodite on the north slope of the Acropolis, excavated by Broneer in the early 1930s (Fig. 7).58 The sanctuary’s deities are securely identified by two inscriptions cut into the rock, dated on the basis of letter-forms to c.450 BCE, one a simple dedication ‘to Aphrodite’, the other marking the inception of a festival of Eros held on the 4th of Mounichion:59

(p.191)

Fig. 6. Hermes and Eros watch Zeus pursuing Ganymede. Attic red-figure column-krater attributed to the Ariana Painter, c.450 BCE (Paris, Cabinet de Médailles 416). Photo: Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF).

Page 11 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult τõι ᾿´Εροτι ηε ἑορτὴ

τ]ετράδι ηισταμέν[ο Μονιχιõ[ν]ος μεν[ός. The festival to Eros we establish on the fourth of the month Mounichion. We have no further evidence for this festival, but its spring (March–April) date coincides Fig. 7. Sanctuary of Aphrodite and Eros with the planting season for on the south slope of the Athenian many crops, which has led Acropolis. Photo courtesy of the Trustees most commentators on the of the American School of Classical sanctuary to speculate that Studies at Athens (Photographic Eros here is being Collection AK 785). worshipped as a god of agricultural fertility. Some note the possible parallel of a shrine and grove of Eros at Laconian Leuctra, as described by Pausanias (3.26.4).60 More specifically, the fourth was the monthly festival day of Heracles, Hermes, and Aphrodite, which draws together Eros’ associates from the Academy with his Acropolis partner Aphrodite.61 In addition to (p.192) the inscriptions the rock face is punctuated by niches carved to house votive offerings, while dowel-holes indicate that some items were attached directly to the rock-face. There is no evidence for any substantial structure, and the steep, rough terrain would have been unsuitable for anything much larger than an altar. Small-scale finds from the site include fragmentary marble and terracotta statuettes of draped females who may be Aphrodite.62 A fragmentary relief, probably of Hellenistic date, depicts the midriff of a nude youth, with the bottom edge of a wing just visible at the break to identify him as Eros.63 A fragment of two winged figures is part of a frieze, found previously elsewhere in Athens, depicting nine Erotes carrying ritual equipment (phialai, oinochoai, and thymiateriai), dated by Broneer to the late fourth century though others place it c.150–100 BCE, which may have formed part of the temenos wall.64 An important indicator of the nature of the cult here is provided by two votive phalluses and a relief depicting female genitalia, suggesting that worshippers visited the sanctuary particularly in search of human fertility.65 The Acropolis north-slope sanctuary has been thought by many scholars to be identical with that of Aphrodite in the Gardens described by Pausanias (1.27.4) as involved in the Arrhephoria ritual.66 Pausanias explains that the two Arrhephoroi descend from their temporary home on the Acropolis to a place Page 12 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult where they exchange the secret objects handed to them by the priestess of Athena for something else with which they return. The exact nature of this secret ritual has been a matter of much debate, but it is generally agreed to have something to do with fertility, since arrhêphoros should mean ‘dew-bearer’, and to be related to the myth of the daughters of Cecrops, two of whom disobeyed Athena’s command not to open the chest which contained the baby Erichthonius, went mad, and threw themselves off the Acropolis.67 (p.193) Pausanias certainly has the myth in mind, as his account of the ritual is prompted by his visit to the shrine of Pandrosus, ‘the only blameless one of the sisters’, within the Erechtheion complex (1.27.3; cf. 1.18.2). Simon connects Pandrosus with the sacred olive tree of Athena in the same area of the Erechtheion and argues that the ritual relates specifically to the fertility of the olive crop.68 What remain in dispute, however, are some topographical difficulties in Pausanias’ description: ἔστι δὲ περίβολος ἐν τῇ πόλει τῆς καλουμένης ἐν Κήποις Ἀφροδίτης οὐ πόρρω καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ κάθοδος ὑπόγαιος αὐτομάτη—ταύτῃ κατίασιν αἱ παρθένοι. Either (i): There is a precinct in the city of the Aphrodite called ‘in the Gardens’, not far away… Or (ii):…a precinct in the city not far away from that of the Aphrodite called ‘in the Gardens’… …and through it a natural passage underground—by this the maidens descend. The first problem is that the designation ‘in the city’ is incompatible with the location of the sanctuary of Aphrodite in the Gardens which Pausanias elsewhere (1.19.2) and Pliny (NH 36.16) describe as being in the Ilissus area, outside the city walls. However, it is not out of the question for there to be two sanctuaries of the same deity, one on the periphery of the city and one in the centre—an obvious example is Brauronian Artemis, with her precinct on the Acropolis. More intractable is the problem caused by the awkward phrasing: as Kadletz has demonstrated, Pausanias almost always uses οὐ πόρρω with a dependent genitive, which produces the second sense indicated above.69 This would mean that the Arrhephoroi were heading towards another sanctuary altogether, just passing by the sanctuary of Aphrodite in the Gardens. A plausible candidate for the unnamed sanctuary is that of Aglaurus, one of the disobedient daughters of Cecrops, which is indeed situated not far from the Aphrodite sanctuary, on the east slope of the Acropolis.70 However, it would be perfectly correct Greek to take οὐ πόρρω adverbially, producing the first sense noted above, and Kadletz is wrong to dismiss out of hand the possibility of a connection between Athena Polias’ Arrhephoria ritual Page 13 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult and Aphrodite in the Gardens:71 Rosenzweig adduces iconographical evidence which may provide support for just such a connection.72 Most striking of the vases she discusses is the scene on a squat lekythos attributed to the Meidias Painter, c.420–410 BCE, on which the three Cecropidae look down from a high vantage point as Ge hands the infant Erichthonius to Athena; none of the nine (p.194) female figures who surround the central scene is labelled, but one looks very much like the Aphrodite statue of the Fréjus type, and Neils has made a persuasive case for identifying her as Aphrodite, in what, as we shall see, is her usual Meidian context of a paradise garden accompanied by a retinue of personifications.73 The scene might thus be locating the aition of the Arrhephoria in the leafy sanctuary of Aphrodite in the Gardens, viewed by the Cecropidae from the Acropolis above, hinting at the ritual which re-enacts part of this myth. Even more significant is the possible inclusion of Aphrodite in the birth scene on the base of Alcamenes’ cult statue in the temple of Hephaestus in the Agora, though

Fig. 8. Erotes attend the birth of Erichthonius. Attic red-figure stamnos, name-vase of the Painter of Munich 2413, c.470-60 BCE (Munich 2413). Drawing: after A. Furtwängler and K. Reichhold, Griechische Vasenmalerei, Munich (1904) pl. 137.

details of the reconstruction have been the subject of much debate.74 Rosenzweig’s argument might be amplified by a further image, which links the birth of Erichthonius directly to Eros: the name-vase of the Painter of Munich 2413, c.470–460 BCE, strikingly features no fewer than four Erotes, arranged as two pairs flanking the scenes on either side of the vase.75 On side A (Fig. 8) the central scene is Earth handing the baby up to Athena while a male, probably Hephaestus, watches; to either side (p.195) stands an Eros balanced on a stem of foliage which is part of the vase’s decorative scheme; the one to the left also holds on to the stem; the one to the right holds a lyre in one hand and a further leafy tendril in the other. This echoes the Hesiodic schema of Eros and Himeros attending the birth of Aphrodite, making an explicit link between Athena and the generative power of erôs, in keeping with the virgin goddess’s paradoxical role as ‘mother’ of the Athenians. On B the central figures are an enthroned Zeus, holding a phiale, and Nike, framed by a pair of Erotes whose position is the reverse of those on A (the lyre-player to the left this time). The combination of figures here recalls the Oinanthe Painter’s more or less contemporary name-vase, on which Zeus and Nike frame the central scene of Ge handing the baby to Athena, and Neils may be right to see the pair as making ‘a libation in celebration of the birth’.76

Page 14 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult Either reading of Pausanias 1.27.4 maintains the identity of the north-slope sanctuary as that of Aphrodite ‘in the Gardens’, an epithet suggestive of verdant fertility. A possible further indicator of Eros’ nature here is provided by the painting alluded to in Aristophanes’ Acharnians (991–2) by the Chorus, as they exclaim upon the desirability of Reconciliation: ‘If only some Eros would seize and join you and me together, just as he is painted, with a flowery crown.’77 The scholia (ad loc.) comment: ‘The painter Zeuxis painted the most beautiful Eros in the temple of Aphrodite at Athens, crowned with flowers.’ The attribution is problematic, since Acharnians was produced in 425 BCE while Pliny (NH 35.61) insists that Zeuxis began his career in the early 390s, explicitly refuting attempts to place his floruit in the 420s.78 Nonetheless, a flower-crowned Eros would fit well with the ‘in the Gardens’ context. A painting might be easier to imagine as adorning the naos of the Ilissus sanctuary than the more rugged Acropolis one, although a wooden or terracotta plaque could have been attached to the rock-face or placed in a niche; in either case it would help to characterize Eros as sharing Aphrodite’s concern with fertility.79 Whether or not the north-slope sanctuary was involved in the Arrhephoria, we have already seen a link between Eros and Athena via the Panathenaic torchrace. This would be enough to justify Eros’ inclusion amongst the assembly of gods on the Parthenon’s east frieze in itself, but the fact that he is reclining against Aphrodite’s knee, holding a parasol, points more obviously to the nearby Acropolis cult.80 Elderkin’s theory that the deities here are (p.196) represented in accordance with the location of their cult sites is flawed, and his attractive suggestion that Aphrodite should be imagined as seated in her north-slope sanctuary, pointing to the Panathenaic procession as it crossed the city below, is undercut by the fact that Aphrodite’s right arm is interlinked with her neighbour Artemis’ left.81 This juxtaposition, taken in conjunction with Aphrodite’s veiled, matronly appearance here, recalls the involvement of both goddesses in the Athenian wedding.82 Even restricting the frame of reference to the frieze itself, however, there is a clear link between the pair and the approaching worshippers. As Neils notes in her plausible interpretation of the gods as seated in a semicircle around the central peplos scene, ‘Aphrodite is in fact frankly acknowledging the procession by pointing it out to Eros.’83 Rosenzweig is probably right to conclude that the interpretation of the goddess here should not be restricted to a single aspect of her cult, but anyone standing within sight of these Parthenon figures would have been only metres away from the north-slope sanctuary, which must surely have brought its Aphrodite and Eros to mind for some viewers.84 Before the Acropolis sanctuary was excavated, Seltman proposed a link between the limestone statuette discussed above (Fig. 2) and an Acropolis cult of Eros indicated by Pausanias’ account of the altar of Anteros, ‘love returned’.85 Seltman’s hypothesis is problematic, but has been thought by some scholars to work well with the location of the north-slope sanctuary, and since it has Page 15 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult significant implications for the nature of the cult here, the evidence is worth reviewing.86 Pausanias tells the story in a digression immediately after mentioning Charmus’ altar of Eros and before continuing his account of the Academy’s various altars (1.30.1): ‘They say that the altar in the city called that of Anteros is a metic dedication.’ The story goes that the metic Timagoras was in love with the Athenian Meles, who, uninterested, told him to ‘jump off the rock, having gone up to its highest point (ἐς τὸ ὑψηλότατον αὐτῆς)’; Timagoras promptly did so; seeing him dead, Meles was so full of remorse that he fell from the very same rock to his own death; ‘and henceforth belief in the daimôn Anteros as the avenger of Timagoras was established amongst the metics’. The Suda (s.v. melêtos μ497) tells substantially the same story as Pausanias, though elaborating details of the unsuccessful courtship and reversing the roles of the protagonists so that Meletos (rather than Meles), (p.197) a rich Athenian youth, is erastês to the boy Timagoras, with no mention of the latter’s being a metic. Meletos jumps from the Acropolis, and Timagoras ‘pays the penalty for his hubris’, holding two birds, which had been presents from his lover, as he jumps; ‘and an image was erected on the spot of what happened, a beautiful naked boy holding two pedigree cocks in his arms and throwing himself headlong.’87 No date is attached to the story by either Pausanias or the Suda, but Seltman proposes that Timagoras should be identified with a potter of this name (fl. c.550–520 BCE) whose interest in beautiful boys is attested by the inscription on a black-figure hydria declaring ‘Timagoras thinks Andocides is handsome’.88 Seltman sees the limestone statuette as a small-scale dedication, inspired by a full-size cult statue of Eros on the Acropolis, which had also given rise to the romantic story of the suicidal boy. This is an ingenious theory, but depends on much unsubstantiated speculation concerning the statuette, and leaves open the question of whether Anteros should be regarded as a figure distinct from Eros, as Pausanias seems to suggest. If there really was an altar of Anteros, with or without an accompanying statue, the insistence of Pausanias’ story on ‘the highest point’ would make more sense of a location on top of the Acropolis than the sanctuary halfway down the north slope. There may indeed be a less problematic candidate for identification with an Acropolis-top cult in a fragmentary marble statue found on the Acropolis.89 All that survives is a youthful male torso, 45 cm high (suggesting a complete height around 1.5 m), but crucially it has dowel-holes in a position which indicates the attachment of wings. Dated to c.490 BCE on stylistic grounds, it would, along with our Fig. 2, be the earliest sculptural representation of Eros.90 Once the Timagoras story is divorced from the Acropolis north-slope sanctuary, there is nothing to link its Eros with pederastic desire: the connection with Aphrodite in general, Aphrodite ‘in the Gardens’ in particular, and the presence of the anatomical votives all contribute to characterizing the Eros worshipped here as firmly concerned with the heterosexual business of fertility. The date of c .450 BCE for the inception of the festival significantly accords with a major, and Page 16 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult widely recognized, feature of Eros’ iconography in fifth-century Attic art. The authors of the LIMC Eros entry, for example, note the (p.198) ‘passage d’une ambiance à dominante masculine et homosexuelle à un monde féminin concerné par l’amour hétérosexuel’.91 In the section on ‘Heterosexuality’, under the subheadings ‘Eros in scenes of hetersexual pursuit’ (nos 615–16) and ‘Eros in the gynaikeia’ (650–2), the same authors abandon any attempt at comprehensive coverage of Attic vases, offering instead a ‘choix restreint parmi de très nombreux exemples’, while ‘scenes of marriage’ (nos 639–40) are again a very small sample specifically from loutrophoroi and pyxides. Lewis comments on the regularity with which Eros appears particularly in the women’s room from c.440 BCE onwards.92 It should be noted, too, that there is a marked increase in the number of representations of the god in any context: Pellegrini’s catalogue has 1,575 entries for Eros in Classical Attic red-figure, as against 182 for the Archaic period.93 Before turning to images related to the wedding, two major strands can be identified in Eros’ iconography in mythological contexts. First, Eros appears regularly in representations of the Judgement of Paris, Helen’s abduction, and subsequent return.94 Such scenes are the main explicitly heterosexual context in which Eros appears in late Archaic and early Classical red-figure, where his primary role seems to be to identify Aphrodite, who is otherwise lacking in attributes. This is particularly important in Judgement scenes, where she needs to be clearly distinguished from Hera and Athena. Usually just one Eros is enough, either hovering at the goddess’s shoulder or standing beside her, as on a white-ground pyxis attributed to the Penthesilea Painter, c.460 BCE, where a tainia-holding Eros looks up at Aphrodite, while Athena is identified by her usual helmet and Hera by a staff.95 The story of Helen also provides the most common mythological context for representations of Peitho, Persuasion personified, which justifies an allegorical reading of Eros in the scenes concerned.96 A well-known example is the abduction of Helen on the skyphos signed by Makron, c.490–480 BCE, in which Eros hovers in front of Helen as Paris leads her away, while Aphrodite and Peitho follow behind her: the painter was consciously attempting to express in visual terms the emotional forces at work in the situation.97 This (p.199)

Page 17 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult kind of allegory becomes more common and more complex in vase-painting of the last third of the century. A notable example is the Heimarmene Painter’s muchdiscussed amphoriskos of c.430 BCE, on which the Eros-figure is in fact labelled Himeros, and this Desire quite literally grips hold of Paris, with eye-contact suggesting direct and urgent communication between the two; the painter’s allegorical intent is clearly indicated by the inclusion of Peitho in the main scene and the pairs of allegorical figures which frame it, including Nemesis and Heimarmene.98 In addition to the functions as identifier and metaphorical expression of the protagonists’ desire, one final

Fig. 9. Judgement of Paris, with Eris. Attic red-figure hydria, name-vase of the Karlsruhe Painter, c.410 BCE (Karlsruhe 259). Photo: Badisches Landemuseum, Karlsruhe.

further role is exemplified in the Karlsruhe Painter’s Judgement of Paris (Fig. 9).99 Here Athena is easily recognizable by her aegis and armour, Hera by her crown (p. 200) and veil, but were it not for the Eros by her side Aphrodite would be indistinguishable from three other female figures, two of whom have name-labels (Clymene behind Hera, Eutychia seated above Aphrodite). An allegorical reading is invited by the presence of Eris, ‘Strife’, presiding over the scene: her mythological role in starting the dispute at Peleus and Thetis’ wedding can be traced back as far as the Cypria, but her metaphorical aspect as a force driving the action on the Homeric battlefield is even older.100 Eros’ significance in the scene is emphasized by his doubling: he is Aphrodite’s close companion (she has her arm around him), but a second Eros leans on Paris’ shoulder, eye-contact again conveying communication between the two of them. Here Eros not only expresses Paris’ desire, but actively exercises agency on Aphrodite’s behalf, implanting the desire for Helen which will decide the contest: Paris is already turning away from the other two goddesses, and the two Erotes create a visual link between him and Aphrodite, making the outcome clear.

Second, Fig. 10 is representative of a host of vases where Eros appears in Aphrodite’s retinue, as seen especially in the work of the Meidias Painter and his circle in the last quarter of the fifth century.101 This is one of a pair of hydrias in Florence, both of which depict a central pair of lovers surrounded by a number of female personifications, amongst whom multiple diminutive Erotes are dispersed; nearly all the figures are identified by inscriptions, and an outdoor setting is indicated by leafy branches. On the other hydria we see Aphrodite herself with Adonis,102 for whose entertainment Himeros is spinning an iynx, a love charm; the dozen female figures who surround them include personifications of Health, Play, Wedding-feast, Good Fortune, and Happiness; Page 18 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult also in the crowd is another Himeros and two unlabelled Erotes, one of whom plays a tambourine, the other chases a hare. In Fig. 10 the couple are Phaon and Demonassa,103 accompanied by an Eros holding out his hands, possibly again with an iynx, his gesture mirrored by Demonassa, who is holding a tainia. The central pair are again surrounded by labelled figures, including Leto and Apollo as well as the personifications Health and Happiness, while above we see Aphrodite’s chariot pulled by two more Erotes. These ones are labelled Pothos and Himeros, elaborating on the general romanticism of the scene. In Burn’s words, ‘the reduplication of images of happiness (p.201) consolidates and enlarges the total quantity of happiness on offer’, and helps ‘to promote an atmosphere of escapism’.104 Pothos and Himeros here gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes in a way which graphically expresses their meaning as Yearning and Desire, but also presents the viewer with an image of reciprocal erôs between coeval youths, despite the predominantly heterosexual theme of the hydria as a whole.

Eros and the wedding

Fig. 10. Pothos and Himeros pull The mythological context of Aphrodite’s chariot, above Eros with scenes from Helen’s story is Phaon and Demonassa. Attic red-figure quite concordant with Konstan’s hydria attributed to the Meidias Painter, c definition of erôs as a ‘wayward .420 BCE (Florence 81947). Photo: passion’: Paris’ foreignness is National Archaeological Museum of emphasized in Fig. 9 by his Florence. Persian dress, and the whole Trojan War story is paradigmatic of the catastrophic consequences of extramarital desire. (p.202) Identifying the kind of desire represented by the Erotes involved, however, is complicated by overlap between ‘persuasion’ scenes and wedding imagery. On Makron’s skyphos, for example, Paris has a firm grip on Helen’s wrist in the cheir’ epi karpô gesture typical of the wedding procession, while Aphrodite adjusts Helen’s veil like a good nympheutria, or bridesmaid.105 Page 19 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult Similarly it can be difficult to disentangle ‘wayward’ erôs from more legitimate varieties in the scenes of Aphrodite’s retinue. While Fig. 10 has its central pair of lovers to focus the erotic theme, many smaller vases feature just Aphrodite and her companions, generalizing the images’ significance. A good example is the London pyxis in the Manner of the Medias Painter (Fig. 11) on which Aphrodite’s chariot is pulled by a pair of Erotes, this time labelled Pothos and Hedylogos, ‘Sweet-talk’.106 Unlike the symposium-ware hydrias, the pyxis is likely to have been a woman’s possession, so we can posit a female viewer here. The yearning and sweet-talk in question might suggest the guilty pleasures of an illicit affair, an idea which would be concordant with the image on the pyxis lid of women dancing and pulling apart a fawn for Dionysus. On the other (p.203) hand, though, we find Himeros on the other side of the pot sandwiched between Happiness and Harmony, and other figures are labelled Lawfulness, Health, and Play, all of whom are perfectly at home in the more legitimate context of wedding preparations. Borg’s contention that images like this present us with quite sophisticated allegorical comments on the ideas represented must be right, but I doubt we can ever reconstruct just where an ancient viewer might have drawn the line between ‘the pleasures and limits of ta aphrodisia’.107

For less equivocal evidence of Fig. 11. Pothos and Hedylogos pull Eros’ involvement in marriage, Aphrodite’s chariot. Attic red-figure pyxis we turn finally to two types of in the manner of the Meidias Painter, c. scene depicting elements of the 420 BCE (London E775). Photo: © Athenian wedding. Oakley and Trustees of the British Museum. Sinos’s 1993 study provides a helpful overview of images of all stages of the event, the two most frequently represented being the adornment of the bride and the wedding procession; Eros appears in both. Blundell and Rabinowitz’s stimulating 2008 article presents contrasting interpretations of the adornment scenes, as either reinforcing the dominant patriarchal ideology of women’s place in Athenian society (passive, child-bearing), or offering a glimpse of a mildly subversive female subculture. Noting the prominence of allusions to the wedding even in adornment scenes which are not explicitly centred on a bride, Blundell follows Sutton in reading Eros’ presence as indicative of female eroticism pressed into the service of the state, via marriage and production of citizen children.108 Rabinowitz raises the possibility that Eros might be ‘signifying desire between the women he accompanies as well as making them desirable for the groom to come’, noting the many indications of intimacy between the women involved, and their often eroticized dress.109 A particularly striking example from their discussion is the New York pyxis, which presents a ‘cyclic’ narrative, with Eros present at three stages.110 The first two vignettes are part of the adornment process: Eros tips a hydria over the crouching, naked bride for her bath, and next he holds a jewellery box, looking back at the loosehaired bride who is tying her belt, before she binds her hair, accompanied by two women holding tainias. The figures of the final scene are enclosed by two pillars supporting an architrave, which might indicate a shift of location to the bride’s new home, where Eros sits on the lap of a female who may be the bride again—the young woman is prepared by Love, who takes up residence in the Page 20 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult marital home. A simpler scene (Fig. 12) focuses on the binding of the bride’s hair.111 The vase is a lebes gamikos, a shape made (p.204) specially for the wedding, attributed to the Washing Painter, dubbed by Sutton ‘a master in deploying Erotes’.112 The bride herself is seated in the centre, her arms raised as she wraps a tainia around her head; to the left a woman holds a box and a further tainia; to the right another woman leans on the back of the bride’s chair, while a third holds a loutrophoros (for the bridal bath). All eyes are firmly fixed on the bride’s action, and attention is further drawn by the Eros hovering beside her head, hands outstretched to assist; a second Eros hovers to the far left, his toes just touching a jewellery box balanced on top of a kalathos, items indicative of the wealth and work of the ideal wife. The image as a whole seems to point forward to the bride’s domestic future beyond the wedding, in which Love is to feature.

Fig. 12. Erotes at the bridal adornment. Attic red-figure lebes gamikos attributed to the Washing Painter, c.430-420 BCE (Athens NM 14790). Photo: National Archaeological Museum, Athens © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism/ Archaeological Receipts Fund.

In wedding processions Eros again plays a basic identifying role, as he always draws our attention to the bride and groom. He often carries something appropriate to the context. For example, on a loutrophoros-amphora attributed (again) to the Washing Painter, c. 430–420 BCE, Eros hovers between bride and groom playing the aulos, reflecting the music which would in real (p.205)

Page 21 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult life have accompanied the procession; he also emphasizes the romantic eye-contact being made between the couple over the cheir’ epi karpô gesture.113 A fragmentary loutrophoros in Oxford depicts a very similar scene, but here Eros carries two loutrophoroi, echoing the shape of vase that the image adorns as well as making reference to traditional wedding gifts.114 In these scenes Eros is providing, in Lewis’s formulation, ‘a comment on the bride’s desirability’.115 More elaborately, Sutton suggests that ‘to some painters [Eros] even seems to be a force [the bride] emanates’ and that ‘Eros operates in both an active and passive sense, expressing both the

Fig. 13. Betrothal; wedding procession with Erotes; Eros and the bedroom. Attic red-figure loutrophoros, c.425 BCE (Boston 03.802). Photo: © 2011 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

emotion felt by the bride and the feeling she engenders in the groom’.116 It is certainly notable that these scenes often feature a youthful, beardless bridegroom, making the couple much closer in age than the traditional ‘ideal’ allows, and thereby removing one of the most commonly cited obstacles to romantic reciprocity in ancient Greek marriage. A final example of a wedding procession on a loutrophoros (Fig. 13) is very similar to the last two examples in its scheme of a youthful groom leading the (p.206) bride by the wrist, while two Erotes hover around her head, holding wreaths or necklaces; to her left an inscription reads ΚΑΛΗ, spelling out the beauty with which the Erotes are adorning her.117 Exceptionally, however, this vase traces the wedding process from start to finish, with the reverse depicting the betrothal in a handshake between the bride’s father and the groom. On the side illustrated here, the usual little procession is unusually heading towards the open door of the bridal chamber, their way lit by a woman holding torches. Through the doorway we can just glimpse a bed, out of which jumps an Eros gesturing with his left hand, perhaps beckoning the couple in. The woman to the right of the door seems to be able to see him, raising her arms in a gesture of surprise. This goes beyond a mere expression of the bride’s desirability, confronting both the participants within the image and the viewer outside it with a concrete, and very energetic, incarnation of the principle of erotic desire which is about to be acted on within the thalamos. As Sutton puts it, this is ‘a striking vision of love in marriage’.118

Conclusion Attic art, then, gives us a clear progression in Eros’ characterization, on which art-historical commentators are unusually unanimous, from a late Archaic/early Classical focus on pederastic erôs to a Classical association with women and heterosexual desire. There has been less consensus concerning the nature of Eros’ Athenian cult, but once some misconceptions have been cleared away we are left with a remarkably clear picture of a division between the pederastic Page 22 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult character of worship at the Academy, focused on Eros alone, and the heterosexual concern with fertility expressed at the Acropolis north-slope sanctuary, where Eros is closely associated with Aphrodite in the Gardens. Exceptionally, our evidence provides dates for the inception of both cults, and these dates correspond quite precisely with the broader cultural context indicated by the images.119 The shift in erôs’ meaning which this implies from pederastic to heterosexual desire is not, of course, absolute. In vase-painting there are a few instances of Eros appearing in heterosexual contexts in the early fifth century, especially in connection with the story of Helen; conversely, there are hints of homoerotic desire in some late fifth-century scenes, especially between Erotes themselves. Likewise, Eros may have been known at the Acropolis north-slope sanctuary before 450 BCE (the site itself has yielded Archaic and even (p.207) Mycenaean material, though none obviously connected with either deity), though the advent of a festival independent of Aphrodite must mark at least a significant raising of his profile. Meanwhile, the Academy altar continued in existence at least until Pausanias saw it in the 170s CE, its preservation no doubt facilitated by the presence of the philosophical schools. The shift must therefore be more one of emphasis, but it is nevertheless an important one. This understanding of the two Athenian cults sheds interesting light on Pausanias’ speech in Plato’s Symposium (180d2–1c6), in which the basic contention is that there are two sorts of Eros, one directed exclusively at young men, the other encompassing women. This distinction is retained in Xenophon’s Symposium (8.9–10), where Socrates claims agnosticism on whether there are two forms of Eros but does concede that a model is provided by the ‘separate altars, temple and sacrifices’ for the Aphrodites Ourania and Pandemos.120 The philosophical interpretation of Aphrodite’s epithets in both dialogues goes well beyond their cultic meaning, but the underlying idea of the two sides to Eros’ character is parallel to the division between the Academy and the Acropolis cults. Finally, the vase-paintings do to an extent confirm Konstan’s thesis of a change from the popular conception of erôs as the short-term passion of a pederastic or otherwise extramarital relationship to the longer-term love of a romantic marriage. Crucially, however, they put that change of view a great deal earlier than is suggested by most studies of the literary evidence. Sutton’s important account of ‘nuptial Eros’ (1997–8) traces the development over the fifth century and into the fourth of an increasingly romanticized vision of the wedding in vasepainting, with elements such as touch and glance already indicating a close emotional bond between bride and groom in some early Classical scenes; Eros’ regular appearance in high Classical wedding images makes explicit the sexual charge surrounding the bride, and a final step in the ‘erotic transformation of the wedding’ is represented by the introduction of nudity, first seen c.425 BCE in the bathing bride. Writing at the same time as Sutton, Stewart remarks in passing that ‘marital passion’ is ‘strongly implied by the frequent inclusion of Page 23 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult Eros on high Classical wedding vases’,121 and since the 1990s it has become something of a commonplace amongst Greek art historians to assume a nuptial role for Eros in Classical Athens.122 The apparent disjunction between the visual and the literary record in this respect (p.208) has perhaps been artificially created by the predominance in the late fifth and fourth centuries of relatively elite prose genres. As we have noted, however, there are suggestions of erôs’ place in marriage already in tragedy and Old Comedy, well before the romanticization of the institution in New Comedy and the novel. These occasional notices, when considered alongside the coincidence between the development of the imagery and the change in Eros’ cult profile for which I have argued here, provide a firm foundation for positing a general shift in popular perceptions of erôs: Eros’ decampment from the gymnasium to the wedding is a firmly fifth-century phenomenon. Notes:

I owe thanks to Nick Fisher for commenting on a draft of this paper, and to Sue Blundell, Gunnel Ekroth, and Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge for making their work available to me. (1) Konstan (1994) 57. (2) Konstan (1994) 57 and n. 58, cf. 178–84; and see Konstan (this volume). (3) See Robson (this volume) on Aristophanic Eros/erôs. Calame (1999) 117–25 sees a continuum from praise of the bride’s beauty in Archaic lyric, via explicit reference to Eros in Aristophanes, to the erôs of the novel. More broadly, the enjoyment of sexual pleasure by some ‘good wives’ in tragedy has been well demonstrated by Kaimio (2002), and Fisher’s (2013) exploration of the term charis provides further evidence to suggest that the ideal of erotic reciprocity in marriage was more widely recognized than modern scholarship has usually allowed. (4) See e.g. Greifenhagen (1957); Hermary et al. (1986), hereafter ‘LIMC Eros’. (5) Athletics: Scanlon (2002), especially 199–273 figs 8.1–18. Sexuality/erotica: Calame (1999), especially 65–88; Kilmer (1993) 17–18 (only five images of Eros are adduced: R552*, R585, R770*, E774, and R847); Stewart (1997) 177 remarks that Eros is ‘conspicuously absent from the black-figure and red-figure erotica’. Homosexuality: Lear and Cantarella (2008) 150–63 figs 4.11–23; Davidson (2007), especially 14–23 figs 1–4; Dover (1989), especially 63 and 160. Marriage: Blundell and Rabinowitz (2008); Sutton (1997–8); Oakley and Sinos (1993), especially 45. (6) Rosenzweig (2004); Pirenne-Delforge (1994) 72–3. Breitenberger (2007) covers Aphrodite and her ‘train of erotic personifications’ in the Archaic period

Page 24 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult (see especially 137–94 on Eros); Shapiro (1989) 118–24 pls 52d–56c focuses on Archaic Athens. (7) Pirenne-Delforge (1998) and (1989); Fasce (1977). (8) Pellegrini’s (2009) catalogue has 2,451 entries, without including South Italian wares; the main LIMC Eros entry has a mere 1,020, and that includes much South Italian material, as well as material from the Hellenistic and Roman imperial periods. (9) Shapiro (1993) 27–8 excludes Eros from his study of personifications in Greek art. (10) Breitenberger (2007) 139–41: she is fully aware of the evidence for worship of Eros at the Acropolis north-slope sanctuary (to which we will return), but dismisses it rather weakly as ‘entirely secondary’ to Aphrodite’s cult. (11) On Peitho’s cult, see Pirenne-Delforge (1991) and Stafford (2000) 111–45; the Athenian cult associated with Aphrodite Pandemos is also discussed in E. Simon (1983) 48–51, Pirenne-Delforge (1994) 26–34, and Rosenzweig (2004) 13– 28. (12) Gantz (1993) 3 notes ‘the appeal of allegory’ in Eros’ case. Pirenne-Delforge (1989) takes the theos–daimôn opposition as her point of departure for a general discussion of Eros’ nature. On Eros’ divine status in Plato’s Symposium, see e.g. Sheffield (2006) 36–7 and 41–6, Strauss (2001) 185–97, Calame (1999) 181–5; Kenaan (2010) argues that the dialogue is deeply influenced by Hesiod’s ‘erotic genealogy’, on which see also Most (this volume). Bowen (1998) 8–9 provides an overview of the question of the relationship between Xenophon’s and Plato’s Symposia. (13) Karneades ap. Sext. Emp. Math. 9.186–8. I discuss theoretical issues concerning the identification and definition of Greek personifications at length in Stafford (2000) 1–44, and see 199–225 on Eleos’ problematic status at Athens. More briefly, see Stafford (2007), especially 74–5 on Phobos. (14) On the Thespiae cult, see especially Schachter (1981) 216–19, and PirenneDelforge (1994) 287–9, (1998) 13–21, and (2008) 284–7. Some aspects are discussed also in Fasce (1977) 15–20, Scanlon (2002) 264–9, Breitenberger (2007) 142–4, Davidson (2007) 19–23, Pellegrini (2009) 219–22. (15) Athens, Acropolis 2526; LIMC Eros 1007; first published in Seltman (1923–5) 90 fig. 1; Greifenhagen (1957) 38–9 fig. 29; Shapiro (1989) 121 pl. 53b and (1993) 110–11 no. 52 fig. 62; Schefold (1992) 18 fig. 11; Borg (2002) 132–4 fig. 24; Rosenzweig (2004) 24 fig. 12; Breitenberger (2007) 71 pl. 6; Pellegrini (2009) no. 204 pl. 16.

Page 25 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult (16) The earliest explicit literary attestations to the relationship are Sappho 198 L-P (father = Ouranos) and Simonides 575 PMG (father = Ares), and other mothers are adduced elsewhere: see Gantz (1993) 3–4; also Breitenberger (2007) 164–9. (17) These are discussed by Shapiro (1989) 121–2 pls. 43b, 53d, and 54a–c; see also Borg (2002) 132 fig. 23. (18) See Shapiro (1989) 122 pl. 55a. Greifenhagen (1957) 47 figs 35–7 identifies as Erotes the figures on an Attic cup of c.530 BCE (Copenhagen 13.521); LIMC Eros (934 nos 636–7) interprets the winged males on two Laconian cups as Eros, pointing to the influence of Alcman’s poetry, but the identification is speculative; cf. Davidson (2007) 16 fig. 2. Pellegrini (2009) 47–83 nos. 1–318 discusses winged males in Attic and other black-figure material at length, but concludes that the question of their identity must remain open. (19) Lekythos: Fort Worth AP 84.16; LIMC Eros 332; Pellegrini (2009) no. 457 pl. 14. Eur. Med. 529–1 and IA 543–51 (here again Eros appears in a wedding context). (20) Shapiro (1993) 111 quite rightly discounts Seltman’s theory (1923–5) 90 that the wings are a Dorian conception expressive of Eros’ daimôn status, more plausibly suggesting that they are an Orientalizing feature; see 110–24 on Himeros and Pothos. On Zephyrus, see below; on Hypnos, see Shapiro (1993) 132–58, and Stafford (2003). (21) Cf. Pausanias 6.23.1 for an altar of Eros in the gymnasium at Elis (on which see Pellegrini (2009) 215–19). See Scanlon (2002) 250–5 on Eros’ association with Hermes and Heracles; cf. Fasce (1977) 29–32 and 39–43. (22) Shapiro (1989) 119–20. (23) Davies (1971) 450–1. Pellegrini (2009) 208–12 fig. 13 does not query Plutarch’s statue but catalogues it (no. 2081) and discusses it in the context of the monumentalization of the Academy by the Pisistratids. Marchiandi (2003), 14–18 figs 1–2 proposes a reconstruction of the altar on the lines of the Altar of Twelve Gods in the Agora. On the potential political aspects of the cult see also Davidson (2007) 496–7 with n. 81. (24) Breitenberger (2007) 141 and 169. (25) Ar. Ran. (131 and 1089–98) envisions spectators in the Kerameikos; the three torch-races are attested by the scholia ad 131 and Harpokration s.v. lampas.

Page 26 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult (26) According to Apollodorus (FGrH 244F147) there was an ancient altar of Hephaestus in the Academy and a statue-base for images of both gods, while Lysimachides (FGrH 366F4) speaks of a common altar of the two. On the Hephaisteia, see Parker (2005) 471–2; E. Simon (1983) 53–4. (27) Since Hermeias’ account of the goal of the race confirms what one might in any case have surmised, it seems redundant to propose any finishing points other than the altar of Athena on the Acropolis; there is no evidence at all to support Robertson’s contention (1985) 283–4 and (1992) 106–7 that the race ended at Anteros’ Acropolis altar (on which see below). (28) Athenaeus (13.561e) dubs it ‘clearly dedicated to Athena’; Pausanias (1.30.2) mentions an altar of Athena; its grove of olive trees was supposedly descended from Athena’s sacred tree on the Acropolis (Istros FGrH 334F30). (29) Kovaleva (2005). Breitenberger (2007) 158–62 outlines divergences from Hesiod’s cosmogony here and argues that Aristophanes is influenced rather by an Orphic tradition of Phoenician origin; see also Calame (1999) 192–7. (30) Scanlon (2002) 257–8; cf. Marchiandi (2003) 60–6. Fasce (1977) 50–65 discusses the torch-race at length. For images, see e.g. E. Simon (1983) 64 pl. 22.2; Davidson (2007) 18 fig. 4; Pellegrini (2009) 212 no. 2076 pls 58–9. PirenneDelforge (1998) 21–3 insists on the Prometheus altar as the source of fire for the Panathenaic torches, but retains the altar of Eros as starting point for the ephebes’ race. Robertson (1985) 258–62 sees the Academy’s Eros rather as connected with the story of Erichthonius’ birth, but this depends on reading a reference to the Academy into Euripides fr. 925 TGF, which only speaks of a ‘Hephaisteion’ at an unspecific ‘place in Attica’. (31) LIMC Eros no. 91*; Greifenhagen (1957) 19–21 fig. 14; Shapiro (1989) 123 pl. 55b; Lissarrague (2001) 44–6 figs 31–2; Pellegrini (2009) no. 350 pl. 17. (32) On kalos-inscriptions, see Lear and Cantarella (2008) 164–73. (33) Stamnos, London 440; Hermary (1990) = LIMC Himeros no. 1; Greifenhagen (1957) 27 fig. 25; Shapiro (1993) 112–13 no. 53 fig. 63; Borg (2002) 168–71 figs 36–7; Lear and Cantarella (2008) 152 fig. 4.12; Pellegrini (2009) no. 351 pl. 13. (34) Od. 12.39–46 and 158–200. (35) LIMC Eros no. 74; Seltman (1923–5) 91–4 fig. 4 and pl. 13; Pellegrini (2009) no. 2079 pl. 15. (36) LIMC Eros no. 363*; Shapiro (1992) fig. 3.8–9; Lear and Cantarella (2008) 162 fig. 4.22.

Page 27 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult (37) According to Seltman (1923–5) 93, traces of tail-feathers are just visible over the figure’s solar plexus, but the area is not very clear in the photo, and LIMC Eros no. 74 dubs the reconstruction ‘hypothetical’. (38) Seltman (1923–5) 95–101. (39) On courting gifts, see most recently Lear and Cantarella (2008) 72–97. (40) Marchiandi (2003) 18–20 fig. 3 suggests that it is a small-scale copy of the statue mentioned by Plutarch. (41) Paris, Louvre CA 1798; LIMC Eros no. 16. (42) LIMC Eros no. 608; Greifenhagen (1957) 53–7 figs 40–2; Lear and Cantarella (2008) 156–7 fig. 4.19a–b. (43) Ekroth (2009) 106 n. 83; the paper as a whole offers a useful overview of the issues raised by representations of altars in Attic vase-painting. (44) Shapiro (1989) 124 pl. 56 reads the image as Eros stepping onto a plinth, but in the absence of clearly visible edges an unremarkable ground-line is more likely. (45) Breitenberger’s reading (2007) 189 pls 14–15 of the scenes as located at the symposium cannot be right. (46) The Theseus cycle cups range in date from c.510 to 430 BCE: Shapiro (1993) 111–17 figs 76–81. (47) Shapiro (1992) 64–72 figs 3.6–10. The altar also features for example on an amphora attributed to the Oinokles Painter (London E297), and probably on the white-ground bobbin attributed to the Penthesileia Painter (New York 28.167): Greifenhagen (1957) 58–60 figs 46 and 50. LIMC Eros catalogues 11 Attic examples of Eros in homosexual ‘scenes of pursuit’ (nos. 601–5) or ‘scenes of homage to youths’ (nos. 607–11). (48) The most discussed examples of ‘rape’ are two cups in the manner of Douris, Berlin F2305 and Boston 1394. On the difficulty of recognizing Zephyrus, see Lear and Cantarella (2008) 152, who identify only their fig. 4.13 (name-vase of the Zephyrus Painter) as a certain example; see their figs 4.15–16 for examples of Eros accosting a youth, and 4.17–18 for the two rape scenes. Shapiro (1992) 64–5 provides references to earlier discussions of the identification issue, and discusses the two rape scenes briefly in (1981) 142–3 pl. 28.13–14. Dover (1989) 98 R603* discusses the figure on the Boston cup as Zephyrus, but Kilmer (1993) 17–18 R595.1* and R603* more cautiously calls both the Berlin and the Boston figures a ‘winged immortal’. Kaempf-Dimitriadou (1979) 14–16 nos. 53–6 pl. 7

Page 28 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult includes both cups and the Penthesileia Painter’s bobbin in her catalogue of Zephyrus–Hyacinthus scenes. (49) Davidson (2007) 57; see 244–9 figs 23 (Penthesileia Painter’s bobbin) and 24–5 (the two rape scenes). Shapiro (1992) 69–70 cites Himmelmann-Wildschütz (1959) for discussion of Dionysus, Apollo, Ares, and Aphrodite subject to their own influence. (50) LIMC Eros no. 600•; Breitenberger (2007) 179 pls. 4–5. (51) Scanlon (2002) 239–42 fig. 8.10. (52) There is a clear trend towards lessening the age-gap in representations of the erastês and erômenos from the late sixth century onwards, though whether this reflects social realities is the subject of much debate: see Lear and Cantarella (2008) 67. (53) The sandal is unusual but not unparalleled in pederastic scenes: Lear and Cantarella (2008) 162–3 fig. 4.23. Others have read the object as a razor, for giving the youth his initiatory first shave, e.g. LIMC Eros 935 and Kilmer (1993) 130 R552*. (54) Lewis (2002) 143–4. (55) Our Fig. 4 is exceptional in this regard; see Lear and Cantarella (2008) 157– 61 figs 4.20–1 on this and two later scenes where Eros acts ‘as a middleman’ (London E126 and Paris G521). Shapiro (1989) 123 notes a possible reference to the Academy cult in the athletic kit which quite often features in pederastic courting scenes, e.g. Peithinos’ much-discussed cup: Shapiro (1981) 136 pl. 26; Dover (1989) 95–6 R196*; Kilmer (1993) 95 R196*; Calame (1999) 101–5 pl. 5; Scanlon (2002) 236–9 figs 8.6–9. (56) These scenes are usefully catalogued and discussed by Arafat (1990) 66–76 and 189–91; see also Kaempf-Dimitriadou (1979) 7–12 nos 1–40 pls 1–4. There is one late black-figure example, an alabastron attributed to the Diosphos Painter, c .490 BCE, on which a winged (but clothed) figure who may be Eros prods Zeus in the back as he pursues Ganymede: Calame (1999) 71 pl. 8; Davidson (2007) 181–2 fig. 12. (57) Kaempf-Dimitriadou (1979) no. 39; Arafat (1990) 74–5 no. 3.47 pl. 22b; Lear and Cantarella (2008) 150–1 fig. 4.11. (58) On the sanctuary, see Broneer (1932), (1933), and (1935); Travlos (1971) 228–31 figs 292–300; Fasce (1977) 32–9; Pellegrini (2009) 203–8 figs 11–12. Rosenzweig (2004) usefully juxtaposes discussion of the Acropolis sanctuary (36–40 figs 21–7) with that at Daphni (40–3 figs 28–34) with which it shares a

Page 29 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult number of features, notably rock-cut niches, the iconographical presence of Eros, and anatomical votives; on the latter see also Forsén (1996) figs 78–82. (59) IG I3 1382a–b, c.450 BCE; Broneer (1932) 43–6 figs 10-11; Travlos (1971) figs 295–6; Pellegrini (2009) fig. 11. (60) On the Leuctra cult: Fasce (1977) 21–4 and 121–30; Pirenne-Delforge (1998) 30–1; Breitenberger (2007) 238 n. 11; Pellegrini (2009) 213–15. (61) See Mikalson (1975). Parke (1977) 143 and 178 thinks the festival attested by the inscription ‘was evidently a small local rite’. (62) Broneer (1933) 334–5 figs 5–6, and (1935) 132–4 figs 17–18. Broneer (1935) 157–8 fig. 36 also associates with the sanctuary a fragmentary relief, found elsewhere in Athens, of Aphrodite seated on a rock with Eros (Athens NM 3257). (63) Broneer (1933) 333–4 fig. 4; Travlos (1971) fig. 299; Rosenzweig (2004) fig. 22a. (64) Athens NM 1451–2; LIMC Eros no. 447*; Broneer (1935) 143–7 figs 33–5; Travlos (1971) fig. 292; Rosenzweig (2004) figs 23–4. (65) Broneer (1933) 346 fig. 18 and (1935) 140–1 figs 30–1; Travlos (1971) fig. 299; Forsén (1996) 57 and 138–40 figs 45–6; Rosenzweig (2004) figs 22b and 25. In addition some unusual phallic-shaped stones seem to have adorned small altars in the area: Broneer (1933) 346–7 fig. 18, and (1935) 118–20 and 125–6 figs 8–9 and 13; Rosenzweig (2004) fig. 26. (66) The identification was proposed by Broneer (1932) 50–5 and (1935) 126–9 and has been taken up by e.g. Travlos (1971) 228; Parke (1977) 141–3 pls 58–60; Burkert (1985) 229; Loraux (1993) 23; Forsén (1996) 138–9; S. Price (1999) 90– 4; Calame (1999) 170–4. Contra see e.g. Dillon (2002) 59; Parker (2005) 221–3. (67) The myth is attested in Attic vase-painting from c.490 BCE onwards, and first appears in literature in Euripides’ Ion (9–23, 260–82): Gantz (1993) 235–9. An initiatory interpretation of the ritual, espoused most recently by Pellgrini (2009) 207, is undermined by the young age of the girls involved (7 according to Ar. Lys. 641–2). (68) E. Simon (1983) 39–46. (69) Kadletz (1982). (70) On the location of the Aglaurion, see Dontas (1983). (71) Kadletz (1982) 446. For thorough discussion of the topographical problems, and an equivocal conclusion, see Pirenne-Delforge (1994) 48–66.

Page 30 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult (72) Rosenzweig (2004) 45–58 figs. 20, 36–7, and 39–42. (73) Cleveland 1982.142; Neils (1983); Burn (1987) 21 M20 pls 11 and 12a–b. (74) See especially Delivorrias (1997); see briefly Stafford (2009) 437–8 fig. 4. (75) LIMC Eros 98; Greifenhagen (1957) 26 figs 21–4; Loraux (1993) 124 n. 62 pl. 4; Reeder (1995), 255–6 no./fig. 68; Dillon (2002) 59–60. (76) Hydria, London E82; Neils (1983) 275 figs 2–4. (77) LIMC Eros 88; Pellegrini (2009) no. 2157. (78) Pollitt (1993) 149. (79) Rosenzweig (2004) 31–5 provides a useful overview of evidence for the Ilissus sanctuary, and of attempts to identify reflections of the cult statue by Alcamenes; cf. Pollitt (1993) 65. (80) Aphrodite and Eros = E41–2; Mark (1984) 295–302 pls 61–2; Neils (1999) 8 fig. 6, and (2001) 229 fig. 164; Pellegrini (2009) no. 2087 pl. 34. (81) Elderkin (1936). (82) Pirenne-Delforge (1998) 25, and (1994) 421–6; Oakley and Sinos (1993) 11– 15. (83) Neils (1999) 13. (84) Rosenzweig (2004) 92–101 fig. 71 reviews the scholarship, cogently rejecting attempts to read E41 as specifically Aphrodite Pandemos. (85) Seltman (1923–5) 101–4. (86) Broneer (1933) 334–5 n. 1 suggests in passing that the statuette might have come from here. More thoroughgoing identifications are embraced e.g. by Scanlon (2002) 256–7 and Davidson (2007) 16–18 and 487–8. (87) Davidson (2007) 487–8 fig. 55 juxtaposes to the Suda’s version of the story a black-figure hydria attributed to the Ready Painter (c.530 BCE), showing a bearded man holding two cocks and surrounded by other mature men bringing love-gifts, and suggests that this represents the erastês in the story. (88) Louvre F38. Even an early date in this Timagoras’ career would make it contemporary with, not earlier than, the Academy cult, so neither Seltman nor Davidson can be correct in seeing the putative metic cult as Athens’ oldest. (89) Acropolis 3719; LIMC Eros no. 73; Schuchhardt (1939) 201–2 no. 306 figs 193–5 pl. 127; Pellegrini (2009) no. 2078 pl. 15. Page 31 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult (90) Marchiandi (2003) 18–21 fig. 4 sees an Acropolis-top altar and statue of Anteros as mirroring an altar and statue of Eros at the Academy. (91) LIMC Eros 935 (commentary); cf. Pirenne-Delforge (1998) 24. (92) Lewis (2002) 130 and 142–4; see the whole chapter (130–71) for broader consideration of the issues raised by such scenes (see especially figs 4.2, 4.8, 4.9, 4.17, 4.19). (93) Pellegrini (2009) nos 319–501 (Archaic) and 502–2077 (Classical); see 109– 41 on ‘l’ingresso del dio nella sfera muliebre’. (94) The classic work is Ghali-Kahil (1955); see most recently Shapiro (2005), who pays particular attention to the personifications involved. (95) New York 07.286.36; Greifenhagen (1957) 23 fig. 17; HimmelmannWildschütz (1959) 15 fig. 4. (96) Shapiro (1993) 186–207 nos 122–31 figs 147–68 catalogues Peitho’s appearances in Attic art; on the Helen-related scenes, see also Icard-Gianolio (1994) = LIMC Peitho nos 1–5; Stafford (2000) 130–5; Borg (2002) 58–72 figs 1– 3, and 159–61 figs 42–5. (97) Boston 13.186; Shapiro (1993) 189–90 no. 123 fig. 148, and (2005) 48 fig. 5.1–2; Stafford (2000) 132–4 fig. 14; Borg (2002) 58 figs 1–2; Rosenzweig (2004) 20 fig. 6. (98) Berlin 30036; Shapiro (1993) 192–5 no. 129 figs 151–4, and (2005) 50–2 fig. 5.7–11; Sutton (1997–8) 38 fig. 19; Stafford (2000) 90 and 134 fig. 91; Borg (2002) fig. 77; Rosenzweig (2004) 20–1 fig. 7. See also Shapiro (1986) 11–14 on the amphoriskos’ place in the development of allegorical expression in Greek art, and Burn (1987) 68–70 for comparable Meidian persuasion scenes. (99) Burn (1987) 65–8 C1 pls 39–41; Shapiro (1993) 58–60 and 86–8 no. 14 figs 13, 15, and 40; Borg (2002) 159–60 fig. 42. (100) Cypria: Proclus’ summary 4–7 Bernabé. Homer: e.g. Iliad 4.439–45, 11.2–6, and 72–4. (101) On the Meidian scenes, see Burn (1987) especially 26–44. Borg (2002) 171– 208 and (2005) addresses the issue of the Meidian personifications’ allegorical meaning. (102) Florence 81948; Burn (1987) M1 pls 22–5a; Borg (2002) 172–6 figs 49–54; Pellegrini (2009) no. 926 pl. 24. Shapiro (2009) 239–43 figs 67–9 compares the two hydrias to paintings of Alcibiades by Aglaophon, with personifications of panhellenic games (sources: Pollitt (1993) 146–7). Page 32 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult (103) Burn (1987) M2 pls 27–9; Borg (2002) 176–7 figs 55–9, and (2005) fig. 14.3; Shapiro (2009) 242 fig. 69. (104) Burn (1987) 36; cf. Sutton (1992) 30–1. (105) Oakley and Sinos (1993) 32–3 fig. 86; Oakley (1995) fig. 3 places Makron’s skyphos in a tradition of mythological scenes which use wedding motifs in a nonmarital context; cf. Sutton (1992) 32, and Sutton (1997–8) 29–30 fig. 2. (106) Burn (1987) MM 136; Shapiro (1993) no. 19 figs 19, 37, 60, 76, and 82; Stafford (2000) 162–3 fig. 19; Borg (2002) figs 72–3 and (2005) fig. 14.4. (107) Borg (2005) 198. (108) Blundell and Rabinowitz (2008) 128–31 and 137; Sutton (1992) 24 and 33. (109) Blundell and Rabinowitz (2008) 131–5. (110) New York 1972.118.148; LIMC Eros no. 651d*; Sutton (1992) 24 fig. 19; Oakley and Sinos (1993) 16 figs 20–1; Sutton (1997–8) 41 fig. 23; Rosenzweig (2004) 22 fig. 10; Blundell and Rabinowitz (2008) fig. 9; Pellegrini (2009) no. 684 pl. 21. Sabetai (1997) bases a broader discussion of wedding imagery on this vase. (111) Oakley and Sinos (1993) 17 fig. 23; Sabetai (1997) 329 fig. 13; Pellegrini (2009) no. 876 pl. 23. (112) Sutton (1997–8) 32 (and see 32–3 fig. 33 for the same painter’s lebes gamikos New York 16.73); cf. Lewis (2002) 104 and 154–5 on the Washing Painter’s oeuvre. (113) Athens NM 1174; LIMC Eros no. 639b; Oakley and Sinos (1993) 32 fig. 85; Sutton (1997–8) 36. (114) Oxford 1966.888; LIMC Eros no. 639c*. See Oakley and Sinos (1993) 38–9 on gifts. (115) Lewis (2002) 144. (116) Sutton (1992) 27. (117) Oakley and Sinos (1993) 9 and 36, figs 1 and 105–7. (118) Sutton (1992) 26–7 fig. 1.10. (119) Pirenne-Delforge (1998) 27 comments on the rarity of such a ‘rencontre entre un cadre culturel donné et une démarche culturelle miraculeusement datée’.

Page 33 of 34

 

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult (120) See above n. 11 on Aphrodite Pandemos; on Ourania, see Rosenzweig (2004) 59–81, and Pirenne-Delforge (1994) 15–25 (Agora) and 66–71 (Ilissus). (121) Stewart (1997) 180. (122) Most recently Pellegrini (2009) 528 concludes that Eros is assigned ‘il compito di sottolineare l’aspetto erotico fondamentale per la conquista dello sposo e la buon riuscita del matrimonio’. Cf. Eidinow (2007) 221–3, who plausibly situates the appearance of erotic curses in the fourth century against the increasing interest in female sexuality seen in wedding iconography.

Page 34 of 34

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades Michele A. Lucchesi

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0013

Abstract and Keywords This chapter discusses how Plutarch, ultimately, considers erôs to be in conflict with public life. First, the analysis focuses on the Amatorius, where Plutarch presents an idealized image of the god Eros which, however, implies that his great power over humans and his primacy over every aspect of life create the premises for a collision between the public and the private spheres. Then, the chapter scrutinizes erôs in Coriolanus and Alcibiades, a case study emblematic of Plutarch’s negative views about love in the Parallel Lives. In both the biographies private life has a negative impact on the protagonists' military and political careers. Nonetheless, while in Coriolanus love is treated only marginally, in Alcibiadeserôs is examined in its various nuances and represents a key element in understanding Alcibiades' progressive moral decadence and his failure as a political leader. Keywords:   Plutarch, erôs, private life, public career, Amatorius, Coriolanus, Alcibiades, biography

Introduction To explore in detail the private life of renowned people and to present this to the public audience are two of the main goals of modern biographies. Looking at how illustrious politicians, poets and writers, actors and singers, or scientists lived their family relationships and friendships often allows us to understand why they took the decisions which made them famous, the hidden reasons for their behaviour in public, and their lesser-known sources of inspiration. Page 1 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades Sometimes we remain surprised by the striking contrasts between their public and private conduct as we discover unknown aspects of their character. Ancient biography too follows this generic pattern. The Roman biographer Suetonius, for instance, devotes long sections of his Lives of the Caesars to the private sphere of the Roman emperors, revealing in some cases even the secrets of their sexual behaviour.1 Similarly, before him Cornelius Nepos regularly inserts family or personal information about the protagonists into the Lives of famous men. The relevance of the private sphere, as Titchener has noted, constitutes one of the main features of the biographical genre that (p.210) differentiates it from historiography.2 In ancient biography, however, especially in the biographies devoted to politicians or other public figures, private life appears to be relevant only inasmuch as it may complement our understanding of the protagonists’ public life. The primary focus of ancient biography would still lie in the public behaviour of the protagonists while on duty, in their ‘profession’, and in their activities, no matter whether these consisted of political and military enterprises or, in the case of intellectuals, of literary or philosophical works.3 In this respect, the Greek biographer and philosopher Plutarch does not seem to have moulded his biographies differently from other ancient authors. In the Parallel Lives (and in the unparalleled Galba, Otho, Aratus, and Artaxerxes) he presents anecdotes and facts concerning the private lives of the characters: education, relationships with parents and other relatives, weddings, friendships, and so forth. Private matters, nonetheless, would not be important per se but because they could serve as further examples of the character of the protagonists exposed by their public deeds. This would explain why Plutarch does not examine in detail topics regarding the most intimate spheres such as love and sex, marriage, adultery, and faithfulness. These are, at least, some recurrent assumptions of the most recent contributions on this topic.4 In general, therefore, in the Lives every aspect of the characters’ existence is public or is viewed from the perspective of its public relevance. All this makes it more surprising that in some of them the private sphere is predominant. In Agesilaus, for instance, the relationship between Lysander and Agesilaus, which begins as an erotic passion between lover and beloved, has extremely important consequences for Spartan history, first when Agesilaus’ ascent to the throne is determined by Lysander’s intervention, then when their disagreements in Asia induce Lysander to try to subvert the Spartan constitution.5 Similarly in Pompey, Pompey’s marriage to Julia is a decisive element of the political alliance with Caesar; at the same time, their sincere love makes Pompey neglect his public duties.6 Another example is represented by Theseus, where Theseus starts a long series of enterprises only because of his admiration for Heracles. Also, Theseus’ love affairs, in particular his relationship with (p.211) Ariadne, are the core of several adventures with both positive and negative endings.7 The most striking case, however, which I examine in this chapter, is Coriolanus and Alcibiades, in which the separation between the public and the private fades and Page 2 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades these two categories become indistinguishable. I shall argue that in this pair the centrality of erôs is the factor that inextricably ties together the private and the public life of the heroes, and that leads the private to overstep its limits and clash with the public. This case study is emblematic of how in the Lives Plutarch mainly emphasizes the negative effects of love on the protagonists. Such a negative aspect of erôs can be clarified by comparing it to the image of Eros presented in the Amatorius, the dialogue where Plutarch thoroughly discusses its divine nature and its qualities. In particular, the difference between the ideal erôs of the Amatorius and the evident misbehaviour of the characters in the Parallel Lives stresses, on the one hand, the difficulty in combining virtuous love with a successful career. On the other hand, Coriolanus and Alcibiades indirectly reaffirms the importance for a politician to keep his private life separate from his public duties, however hard and sometimes almost impossible this may appear.8

Erôs in the Amatorius In the Amatorius, Plutarch analyses various theories about erôs in Plato’s wake, as is explicitly remarked in the prefatory exchange between Flavianus and Autobulus, Plutarch’s son, who is also the fictional narrator of the dialogue (Amat. 749A).9 The scandalous love between the young Bacchon and the older Ismenodora—a widow who first tried to seduce Bacchon and then even kidnapped him, subverting the traditional relationship between erastês and erômenos/-ê—constitutes the starting point for exploring the differences between homosexual and heterosexual love.10 In his three long speeches (Amat. (p.212) 753C–754E, 756B–763F, and 764A–771C), which represent the main sections of the dialogue, however, Plutarch also explains his ideas about the power of Eros and his divine nature. In the second speech, as a preliminary, Plutarch claims that love is not just a human passion (pathos), as suggested by Pemptides, one of the interlocutors who supports this opinion (Amat. 755F). Rather, Eros is a god, and thanks to him Aphrodite creates affection and the intimate union between lovers (philotês and sunkrasis) (Amat. 756E); otherwise, without Eros her action has virtually no value (Amat. 759E–F).11 For Eros presides over the pursuit of young and handsome men by lovers, and leads them to virtue and friendship (aretê and philia) (Amat. 758C). Subsequently, Plutarch examines the power (dunamis) of Eros in comparison to Ares through a series of historical and mythical examples that illustrate the superiority of Eros. These exempla remark upon the indissolubility of erotic relationships, but the perspective is not limited to the private sphere. Tyrants, for instance, who usually do not meet any opposition to their despotism, encounter the fierce resistance of their competitors (anterôntes) when they try to seduce the erômenoi (Amat. 760C). That was the case of Aristogeiton of Athens, Antileon of Metapontum, and Melanippus of Agrigentum, who defended their erômenoi and eventually defeated the despots of their cities. Similarly, Eros gives strength and endurance to fight against the Page 3 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades enemy, as Cleomachus of Pharsalia and his erômenos did against the Eretrians (Amat. 760E–761B). The great power of Eros is finally demonstrated by the fact that the most warlike peoples and heroes were also the most devoted to Eros: the Thebans, the Spartans, the Cretans, Meleager, Achilles, Aristomenes, Cimon, and Epaminondas (Amat. 761D). Plutarch concentrates especially on Thebes, where the erastai used to provide their erômenoi with a complete suit of armour when these reached the age of majority (Amat. 761B). Pammenes, moreover, changed the traditional order of the army and organized the hoplites by placing each erômenos next to his erastês.12 While focusing on the force of Eros, therefore, Plutarch attributes to love and to homoerotic love in particular the traditional meaning of initiating the young into adult life, since erotic relationships prepare them to serve their country and guarantee its cultural continuity.13 Erôs, that is to say, has a strong impact on public life and its potentialities are fully displayed in it. The references to Alcestis, Protesilaus, and Eurydice, nevertheless, prove that (p.213) Plutarch does not limit his considerations to homosexual intercourse, but also includes male–female love in his analysis.14 Plutarch tries to demonstrate that his view of Eros’ divinity and dunamis is anchored in the Greek tradition by inserting in his discourse numerous quotations from poets such as Hesiod or ancient philosophers like Parmenides and Empedocles, which would seem to corroborate his position.15 Plato, however, is clearly the philosopher that Plutarch acknowledges as the authority on this subject matter, and the Amatorius is in substantial continuity with Platonic works and theories.16 In particular, Plutarch takes up several ideas present in the Symposium, especially in Phaedrus’ speech. For instance, he argues that Eros is a god, citing two verses of Parmenides and Hesiod, which are quoted in Phaedrus’ discourse too (Plut. Amat. 756E–F; Pl. Symp. 178b).17 Also, the exempla of Alcestis and Orpheus, which Plutarch mentions only briefly, are discussed in greater detail by Phaedrus (Symp. 179b–d).18 Most importantly, Plutarch expands Phaedrus’ argument about the positive influence of Eros over individuals and cities in the public sphere. In this regard, the Thebans and their Sacred Band may have constituted a response to Plato’s hypothesis about an invincible army formed by erômenoi and erastai (Symp. 179a), bringing out how history proved the potential of Plato’s ideas.19 Plutarch, then, seems to offer updated answers to some questions already discussed in the Symposium, which he still finds relevant in his time. The public dimension of erôs is certainly one of these ideas. Furthermore, by referring to Plato’s most important and famous dialogue on love and, in general, by presenting his own interpretation as consistent with Platonism, Plutarch characterizes himself in the narrative as a reliable expert on the themes debated in the Amatorius. His role is different from the other characters, since he is expected to judge on the affair between Ismenodora and (p.214) Bacchon, clarifying the most complex aspects of erôs.20 The continuity with Plato, nevertheless, is by no means dogmatic nor Page 4 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades does it prevent Plutarch from making his own original contribution to the theory of love. By emphasizing Eros’ divine nature and the importance of heterosexual love, two topics introduced in the first part of Plutarch’s speech and thoroughly examined in later chapters of the Amatorius, Plutarch significantly distances himself from Plato. The emulation of the great master implies the possibility of improving or correcting some of his views, without Plutarch’s credibility being undermined by this.21 In the second part of the speech, after elucidating Eros’ dunamis, Plutarch moves on to discuss briefly the benefits for lovers. Not only erômenoi but also erastai improve when they are in love, and thanks to Eros they become clever, courageous, generous, frank, and high-minded (Amat. 762B). All these positive qualities do not concern merely the private sphere but also represent public virtues.22 In this regard too, Plutarch considers that Eros’ action affects social skills as much as it determines personal progress. The remark after the anecdote of Alcibiades and Anytus (Amat. 762C–D), presented as an example of generosity, is noteworthy: ‘Does [Eros] not make the ill-tempered and sullen more sociable and agreeable through intercourse?’23 The overlap between public and private spheres is even more clearly expressed in a later passage, where Plutarch states that the influence of Eros on lovers is stronger than laws, magistrates, and kings, inasmuch as a man in love despises almost everything else, since ‘he does not fear anything nor does he marvel at anything nor does he care about anything’ (Amat. 762E).24 These effects confirm the divine nature of Eros, his primacy among the other gods, and his dominance over all human activities. At the same time, Eros’ characteristics may constitute the premises for a potential collision between private and public life. Such a contrast, nonetheless, is not examined in detail but remains an implicit consequence of Eros’ rule over all aspects of human life. The same implication can be noted in the definition of Eros as king (basileus), chief magistrate (archôn), and governor (harmostês), an unusually strong (p.215) combination of titles indicating absolute power, which covers all the political systems known in ancient Greece: monarchy, democracy, and oligarchy (Amat. 763E).25 Plutarch claims in this way that poets, philosophers, and lawgivers, symbolized by Hesiod, Plato, and Solon—despite the divergences of their opinions derived from their respective fields (myth, philosophy, and law)—agree that Eros is a god and also the first ruler. Such unanimity about Eros is compared to the cases of Solon and Pittacus, famous politicians highly respected for their virtue. Solon was jointly elected by the three ancient factions of citizens at Athens as mediator (diallaktês), archôn, and legislator (nomothetês), while Pittacus was named tyrant (turannos) of Mitylene (Amat. 763D–E). Once again, Plutarch chooses examples that connect love to the public sphere in order to highlight Eros’ beneficial effect on public and private life.

Page 5 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades As in the previous chapters of the speech, the references to Plato’s dialogues are particularly relevant, inasmuch as they confirm Plutarch’s flexible approach to Platonism. Plutarch appears to deepen Plato’s conception of Eros as the god who inspires and guides lovers (Amat. 762B–763F), a theory earlier presented where Plutarch discusses the two forms of madness (mania), one rising from the body and the other, which is also called ‘enthusiasm’ (enthousiasmos), set in motion by Eros (Amat. 758C–759E). He borrows these concepts from the Phaedrus, where mania is treated extensively.26 The Symposium, however, is the text where we can find the closest parallels with this section of the Amatorius. The designation of Eros as king, archon, and harmost recalls Agathon’s speech, where Eros is praised as steersman (kubernêtês), defender (epibatês), comradein-arms (parastatês), saviour (sôtêr), and leader (hêgemôn) in labour and fear, while drinking and making discourses (Symp. 197d–e). Yet, in this context, the terms employed by Agathon evoke Eros’ compassionate care of humans and gods rather than the idea of command.27 Agathon also celebrates the beauty, the tenderness, the power, and the virtue of Eros, claiming that Eros does not need to act by force, since ‘everyone willingly serves Eros in all things, and the agreements on both sides willingly made are declared to be just “by the city’s king, the laws”’ (Symp. 196c). The perfect integration of erotic principles and customs into the laws, nonetheless, is implicitly contradicted by Plutarch. For, while affirming that Eros exerts an (p.216) influence stronger than laws and magistrates, Plutarch seems to imply that conflicts between erôs and laws may happen, and, when these situations arise, lovers invariably prefer to follow erôs. According to Plutarch, moreover, the general agreement about the primacy of Eros derives from Eros’ force rather than, as Agathon asserts, from reciprocal justice between men, gods, and Eros. Thus, Plutarch’s perspective on the superiority of Eros is different from that of Agathon. A similar conclusion can be drawn from the comparison with Diotima’s speech. Like Plutarch, Diotima too mentions some famous figures such as Homer, Hesiod, Lycurgus, and Solon (Symp. 209c–e). She explains to Socrates that love consists of the desire for the lasting possession of the good and, ultimately, is the desire for immortality (Symp. 206c–207a). All men try to attain the good and immortality through biological procreation, so that they can transmit their cultural heritage and knowledge from one generation to the next. Those who are pregnant in their souls, nonetheless, seek immortality in a different way, by bringing to birth values such as prudence, temperance, and justice.28 In this respect, the great poets Hesiod and Homer and the lawgivers Lycurgus and Solon are paradigmatic examples, since they obtained immortal glory through their poetic works and political constitutions, which are the everlasting legacy of their virtue (Symp. 208c–209c). By referring to them Diotima indicates the great achievements that men in search of the good can earn as a result of their personal progress under Eros’ guidance. She aims to instil in Socrates the desire to start the ascent towards the Form of beauty, gradually proceeding from the desire for an individual beautiful body to the love of beautiful souls, from these Page 6 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades to the love of beautiful pursuits and laws, and, finally, to the love of the beautiful in itself (Symp. 209e–212c). In the Amatorius, conversely, as we saw earlier, Plutarch recalls Plato, Solon, and Hesiod as authoritative exponents of the Greek tradition in order to substantiate his view of Eros’ superiority, described in political terms and with political examples. Despite accepting Plato’s idea of the public relevance of erôs, Plutarch focuses on the power of Eros rather than on the personal growth of lovers. In this regard, significantly, the second speech concludes with the triumphal image of Eros descending on a chariot from the mount Helicon to the Academy to be celebrated with a procession (Amat. 763F), which marks once again the majesty of the god Eros.29 (p.217) Plutarch’s repeated remarks on the divinity, the dunamis, and the rule of Eros throughout the second speech do not reflect Diotima’s famous definition of Eros as a great spirit (daimôn megas), that is, an intermediary between the gods and men (Symp. 202d–e). Analogous concepts are expressed by Socrates in the Phaedrus, where he states that Eros is either a god or something divine (ti theion) (Phdr. 242d–e), and the explanation of erôs’ action centres around the idea that love is a divine mania and a pathos (Phdr. 249e, 252b). Rather, despite the differences revealed by the analysis of the Amatorius, the discourses of the ‘secondary’ characters of the Symposium, Phaedrus and Agathon in particular, are important models for Plutarch’s encomium of Eros as a god (Symp. 178b–c, 194e–195c). To combine their arguments, considered complementary to Plato’s main theory of love, and to adapt them to emphasize Eros’ divine power constitute, per se, Plutarch’s distinctive contribution to the debate about erôs.30 Thanks to his flexible approach to Platonic texts, Plutarch can also reject the accusations moved against Ismenodora and Bacchon. Since Eros is the most powerful god, whose influence on erômenoi and erastai is always positive and cannot be resisted because of its supernatural origin, Plutarch can consequently claim that social rules and moral principles, usually respected in other situations, can be transgressed by lovers. Lovers, that is to say, hold a special status, as Plato too shows in the Phaedrus (252a) and in the Symposium (183a– b). Thus, Ismenodora is not guilty and should not be condemned for ‘obeying’ Eros. Plutarch’s second speech in the Amatorius, therefore, provides the theoretical basis for the defence of Ismenodora and Bacchon, which is conducted in more practical terms in the first speech.31 Such an idealized image of Eros and his qualities is also the necessary premiss for the innovative interpretation of heterosexual love, which is presented in Plutarch’s third speech. At Soclarus’ request, Plutarch compares some Egyptian myths and the Platonic doctrine of love, indicating the major points of convergence and the differences between them (Amat. 764A–B). After distinguishing between vulgar and heavenly Eros, Plutarch concentrates on the analogies between Eros and the sun and between Aphrodite and the moon (Amat. 764B–E). He clarifies that there is no perfect identity between (p.218) them, just as the corporeal and the spiritual spheres remain separate (Amat. Page 7 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades 764D). While the sun makes men and women turn their attention from the intelligible to the perceptible, Eros stimulates in the human soul the recollection (anamnêsis) of her original immortal condition and the desire for the divine beauty through the beauty of the lover’s body (Amat. 764E–766B).32 Plutarch’s description of this process too is largely indebted to the Phaedrus and the Symposium.33 Once again, however, Plutarch distances himself from Plato. For anamnêsis is not limited to homosexual relationships but also involves heterosexual love, since women, who show traces (sêmeia) of harmonious and prudent characters through their physical beauty, can originate memories of the divine beauty and may activate the recollection as much as men do (Amat. 766E– 767B). Women too, indeed, can be virtuous. As a consequence, marriage, founded on stability, complete reciprocity, faithfulness, and mutual self-restraint among husbands and wives, is the relationship in which the joint action of Aphrodite and Eros allows the partners to realize their philia and a perfect union (dia holôn krasis) (Amat. 767C–770B).34 According to Plutarch, this demonstrates that marital life and male–female love should be preferred to homosexual intercourse. Like erôs, marriage too does not concern merely private life, and its public relevance can be implied from the observation that the law supports husbands and wives (Amat. 770A). Just like erôs in Plutarch’s second speech, however, marriage may clash with the public sphere; when this happens, husbands and wives give erôs the highest priority, no matter what risks they have to take. The last example of faithful and loyal relationships with women, which concludes Plutarch’s third speech, implicitly clarifies this aspect of love. Sabinus, a Gaul who took part in the rebellion of Civilis against Vespasian, and his wife Empona secretly continued their marital life after Civilis’ defeat, when Sabinus was forced to live in a cave, where he regularly met Empona until she was condemned to death by Vespasian. The strong union of Sabinus and Empona shows that Eros influences lovers’ actions more than laws, magistrates, or even the emperor (Amat. 770D–771C). Moreover, although this story is presented as a model of virtuous love, one can note that, when erôs oversteps the limits of private life and marriage, colliding with the political power, the consequences can be negative for lovers. To conclude, in the Amatorius Plutarch describes the great power of the god Eros and the benefits for men and women. In many respects, he presents here an idealized erôs. In the Lives, Plutarch adopts a different approach. Since the protagonists are all public figures and erotic behaviour always has (p.219) repercussions on public life, the clash between the power of Eros and the political sphere, which in the Amatorius is not analysed in detail, assumes a greater importance. The case study of Coriolanus and Alcibiades will show how dangerous the conflict between private and public life, and between erôs and politics, can be not only for individuals but also for cities.

Page 8 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades Coriolanus and Alcibiades The Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades are in many respects diametrically opposite to one another. Plutarch, however, as often happens in the Lives, treats some topics in both the biographies as complementary variations on the same theme.35 Private life is one of these common denominators in each part of the paralleled narratives, while the importance of erôs in Alcibiades marks a main difference between the two Lives. In Coriolanus, the erotic sphere is completely absent and Coriolanus’ marriage with Vergilia, compared to his relationship with his mother, is marginal.36 An explanation for the absence of erôs can be found as early as the portrait in the first chapters, which centres around the contrast between his noble and good nature (phusis) and his lack of education (paideia).37 Coriolanus loses his father early in his life, but despite so disadvantageous a condition he still manages to become an excellent and distinguished man (Cor. 1.2). His undeniable qualities, however, are accompanied by a clear inability to interact with other people in political relations because of his intemperate fits of anger and his inflexible contentiousness (Cor. 1.4). Coriolanus’ lack of moderation, due to his lack of education, causes his insensibility (apatheia) to be perceived as grievous and unpleasant, and appears to be a sign of oligarchic tendencies.38 He is unable to create positive relationships with anyone except his mother, Volumnia, the only person to whom he is sincerely devoted. No mention is made of his marital life. Such a strong bond with Volumnia creates a collision between the private sphere and the political choices in Coriolanus’ life. From an early age, Coriolanus achieves important military successes, as demonstrated by the battle of (p.220) Lake Regillus, the first of many occasions in which his military virtue shines (Cor. 3). Yet, the glory and recognition he gains are not his ultimate goal nor do they leave him fully satisfied. Rather, Coriolanus always tries to gladden and honour Volumnia: her happiness in seeing him praised and crowned by the Romans is his only reason to achieve glory. In this sense, indeed, Coriolanus’ private life determines his political and military conduct. This behaviour, in Plutarch’s view, is unbalanced and rather inappropriate. Plutarch compares this trait of Coriolanus’ character to the Theban Epaminondas, who regarded the fact that both his parents could see him defeating the Spartans at Leuctra as his greatest joy (Cor. 4.6–7). One should consider that Epaminondas represents Plutarch’s ideal statesman, having a solid philosophical education and extraordinary political and military expertise.39 Furthermore, a decisive factor in Epaminondas’ career was his friendship with Pelopidas, which was based on virtue and on the common desire (erôs) to make Thebes the most illustrious and the greatest Greek city (Pel. 4.2–4). In Epaminondas, therefore, erôs and friendship assume a political dimension and are founded on public values.40 In contrast, Coriolanus’ character lacks these feelings of erôs and friendship, but paradoxically his political and military life responds simply to his private need to honour Volumnia. Their relationship is uncommon and, to a certain extent, Page 9 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades abnormal, as the details about Coriolanus’ marriage to Vergilia prove. Coriolanus is asked by Volumnia to get married, but he continues living in the same house with his mother even after his children are born: another sign that Coriolanus does not experience ideal erôs in his life.41 As Pelling has noted, Plutarch reinterprets Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ account, especially Ant. Rom. 8.44–54, his only source about the relationship between Coriolanus and Volumnia, possibly in order to offer a realistic psychological reconstruction of the two characters, reading back from their dramatic dialogue towards the end of the war between the Romans and the Volscians (Cor. 36).42 After being sent into perpetual exile by the Roman assembly, Coriolanus moves from the Roman to the Volscian side. In his revenge he is led by anger and resentment towards the Romans, and on multiple occasions he arrogantly rejects the proposals of the Romans and the appeals of his friends and relatives, sent by the Senate (Cor. 30.4–8, 31.6–7, 32.2–3). Only his affection for his mother makes him desist from (p.221) trying to destroy Rome. In Dionysius the tone of the dialogue is rather different from Plutarch’s Life, showing how deeply Plutarch remoulds the story of Coriolanus and his mother. Volumnia, in particular, is not portrayed as the authoritarian and severe mother gratified by her son’s successes that we find in Plutarch. Most importantly, in Dionysius she does not try to move her son to compassion; rather, she presents herself as intermediary on behalf of the other Roman matronae (Ant. Rom. 8.46) and tries to find a political solution to the conflict, so that Coriolanus’ honour may also be saved (Ant. Rom. 8.48–50).43 Only in the second part of her speech does she leave aside her capacity as political diplomat and talk as a mother (Ant. Rom. 8.51–3). Conversely, in Coriolanus, Volumnia places emphasis right from the start on the contradictory condition of both herself and Vergilia caused by Coriolanus’ being son, husband, and public enemy (Cor. 35). Their personal difficulties and sorrow are at the centre of her strategy, which proves successful. For Coriolanus gives up his resolve to attack Rome exclusively because of her: ‘You have won a victory fortunate for the country, but fatal to me. For I will retreat even though defeated by you alone’ (my italics) (Cor. 36.5).44 Even in the presence of many women, in particular of his wife, Vergilia, Coriolanus pays attention only to Volumnia, as shown by the use of the singular personal pronoun sou. Thus, the crucial moment of Coriolanus’ story in Plutarch confirms the collision between the public and the private, and the reduction of the private to the mother–son relationship. Cornell has remarked that the whole episode could also be read as a sexual assault against Rome and as an act of rebellion against family ties and female domesticity.45 According to this interpretation, Coriolanus would represent an archetype of warlike hero, follower of purely male values, while his mother could be identified with the motherland, both attacked by Coriolanus. Such a hypothesis, however, seems to be plausible only if related to Livy’s version of the story, where Volumnia asks Coriolanus: ‘Could you ravage this land, which gave Page 10 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades you birth and nourished you?’ (Liv. 2.40.7).46 The Life of Coriolanus is a different case. In Volumnia’s appeal there is no such identification between herself and Rome, and she simply plays on the respect (charis, the same term used at Cor. 4.7) due to her by Coriolanus. Rather, Plutarch focuses on the contrast between the private and the public spheres. When Coriolanus abandons himself to pathos and promises Volumnia that he will retire, he puts (p.222) his private feelings before his public duties. In the final comparison Plutarch passes a negative judgement on this decision and how it is reached (Cor.–Alc. 43(4).2–9). In Plutarch’s opinion, Coriolanus humiliates Rome as if Rome does not deserve to be saved in her own right. Charis is due to Rome as much as to the family, while, in this regard, Coriolanus merely shows the inflexibility of his unsociable nature and desperate anger. Moreover, since the mother and the wife are part of the fatherland, it is wrong to care uniquely about them, and the collision between the public and the private creates a breakdown of the natural order of the state. It is no surprise, then, that Coriolanus is not loved by his fellow citizens despite their admiration for him (Cor.–Alc. 42(3).6). While the absence of erôs and an insufficient education are two traits which distinctly characterize Coriolanus, erôs and paideia assume a crucial importance in the Life of Alcibiades. For Alcibiades receives an appropriate physical and cultural training, although he challenges some traditional elements of the Athenian education system, such as learning to fight following the rules or playing the pipe—all clear signs, according to Plutarch, of his ambition and his desire always to come first.47 Like Coriolanus, Alcibiades too is an orphan, but he finds other parental role models in Pericles, Ariphron, and Socrates. Especially in the first part of the biography Plutarch concentrates on the complex erotic relationship between Alcibiades and Socrates. Socrates’ erôs has a deeply pedagogic and philosophical meaning: it represents the path to virtue that Socrates offers Alcibiades and that Alcibiades seems to accept. Socrates, in this sense, plays the role of the true and virtuous lover. Their love, however, is far from being exclusive. Just as Alcibiades has many ‘fathers’, so too he has many erastai, false friends and lovers who address only flatteries to him and tempt him into various forms of pleasure. Plutarch remarks quite strongly on the differences between Socrates and these other lovers. Socrates is able to look beyond Alcibiades’ beauty and recognizes his potential for virtue (euphuia pros aretên); he also makes Alcibiades aware of the weakness of his soul and of his foolish pride (Alc. 4.1–3). The other pretenders, conversely, are simply interested in his appearance and, by playing on Alcibiades’ philotimia and philodoxia, instil in him the desire to enter into politics, even if he is not ready yet, so that he can surpass the other stratêgoi and demagogues, Pericles included (Alc. 6).48 (p.223) The comparison between Socrates and the other erastai sheds light on the different views about Alcibiades’ political role. According to Socrates, Alcibiades should be guided towards moral virtue through erôs in order to be of benefit to Athens. Their love, that is to say, is meant to have positive public Page 11 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades effects, as is confirmed by two anecdotes presented by Plutarch after the depiction of their relationship (Alc. 7.4–6). First, despite having shown great courage in rescuing Alcibiades during the battle of Potidaea (the historical event in question, 432 BCE), Socrates rejects a crown and a suit of armour in favour of Alcibiades. Then, at the battle of Delium (424 BCE) Alcibiades in turn protects his lover during the retreat. In this regard, as Gribble has thoughtfully explained, Plutarch presents Socrates as acting differently from the Symposium.49 In Alcibiades, Socrates appears to be perfectly integrated into Athens and he does not live in any tension with his city, a tension to which, in contrast, Plato attributes great importance. In short, ‘[Socrates’] role is not to turn Alcibiades away from a political career, but to prepare him for one’.50 In Socrates’ case, therefore, the private erôs is supposed to affect Alcibiades’ career positively and, more broadly, Athenian public life, while, as we saw earlier, the flatterers offer Alcibiades prospects for a political career without any consideration for public utility or virtue. Thus, the public is only a means for their private ambitions with regard to Alcibiades, who in turn is encouraged by them to make politics serve only his personal aspirations. The public domain is reduced merely to a private affair. Fraught with such different options, Alcibiades’ good nature is not strong enough to decide in favour of virtue alone. Although he becomes acquainted with Socrates thanks to his own euphuia and distances himself from his rich and famous lovers, he never completely breaks these relationships (Alc. 6.1–2). As Plutarch explains, Alcibiades’ character is inconsistent and shows many changes, so that throughout his life he remains an enigmatic and unpredictable figure, whose behaviour is very difficult to evaluate, considering the inextricable mixture of good and bad in his actions (Alc. 2.1).51 The same instability characterizes his erotic life and the presence of many erastai creates the conditions for being inconsistent as a lover. There is, however, something inherent in his nature that makes him anomalous as an object of sexual attraction. His beauty is certainly beloved (erasmion), but it is ambiguous too: his speech impediment, for instance, is an anomaly but one that broadens his appeal (Alc. 1.4). Some traits of his character are effeminate, but they are also related to aggressiveness, as the anecdote of the fight, in which he bites his opponent like a woman (or like a lion, according to Alcibiades himself), (p.224) exemplifies well (Alc. 2.2–3).52 His debauchery and vanity weaken him as fire weakens iron, while Socrates forges him with his discourse and gives him back his ‘shape’ by making him humble and cautious (Alc. 6.5).53 Alcibiades, nonetheless, is harsh and intractable with his other lovers, who are responsible, in Plutarch’s opinion, for undermining his character (Alc. 4.4). The anecdote concerning Anytus, from whom Alcibiades steals silver and golden cups (Alc. 4.5–6), and that of the foreigner convinced to outbid the other participants at the auction for the public revenues (Alc. 5), give further proof of his inconsistent behaviour as an erômenos. As Wohl has demonstrated, Alcibiades’ anomaly is Page 12 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades reflected also in the fact that his attractiveness lasts throughout his life, even into adulthood, when physical beauty normally disappears (Alc. 1.4–5).54 This may suggest that the passage from a passive to an active role in erotic intercourse is never perfectly completed and Alcibiades remains bound to the role of erômenos. Alcibiades’ inconsistent and, in many respects, atypical erôs has serious public repercussions. His relationship with the Athenians has ‘erotic’ connotations, so that he is portrayed as erômenos of the people (dêmos).55 As Plutarch recalls through the quotation of Aristophanes’ Frogs 1425, the dêmos loves and hates him at the same time, and ultimately wants to possess him (Alc. 16.3). His extravagance and wrongdoing are constantly forgiven with indulgence because of his appeal, which, in Plutarch’s view, is due to his contributions, the glory of his ancestors, his eloquence, beauty, vigour, and military skills (Alc. 16.4). Only the most eminent citizens criticize his contempt and love of luxury, his transgression of the laws (paranomia), and the excesses of drink and sex. Erôs, therefore, is a crucial element of Alcibiades’ public image, as further confirmed by the Eros holding a thunderbolt which is carved on his shield instead of the usual ancestral emblems (Alc. 16.2–3). Yet, Alcibiades’ erôs, together with other controversial aspects of his character, can be associated with tyranny. The key episode, in this regard, is the expedition to Sicily, which is preceded by the mutilation of the Herms (Alc. 17–21). Plutarch narrates that Alcibiades inflames the Athenians’ strong desire (erôs) to attack Sicily, and persuades them to prepare a great armament for the enterprise. (p.225) He also encourages them to have great hopes, as he himself has great aspirations: ‘He regarded Sicily as a beginning of the campaign towards the objectives he was hoping for and not, like the others, as an end in itself’ (Alc. 17.2). Once again, Alcibiades’ erôs makes the public sphere bend to his interest.56 Similarly, the Athenians deliberate on the expedition being influenced by Alcibiades’ charisma, having the same attitude as the erastai who pushed him into politics. Thus, the desire of the Athenians to possess Alcibiades becomes passivity to his initiative. In this case too, the normal relationship between erastês and erômenos is confused. The mutilation of the Herms on the eve of the departure reinforces the idea that Alcibiades is an aggressive erômenos, almost an erastês to the Athenians. The Herms, statues of the god Hermes with genitals at their base, became the symbol of Athenian freedom from the erotic and political rule of the tyrants, after the two lovers Aristogeiton and Harmodius killed the Pisistratid tyrant Hipparchus, who made sexual advances towards Harmodius. The Herms, then, recall the essence of the Athenian democracy. As Wohl writes, an attack against them is inevitably feared as an attempt to reimpose tyranny and a castration of the democratic regime.57 Alcibiades becomes the obvious suspect because of his erotic paranomia, since, for the Athenians, only Alcibiades, breaking the limits of his being erômenos, could try to subdue them violently, by making them passive erômenoi and political subjects, as the ancient tyrants did. The scandal of the Page 13 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades Herms, however, reveals further aspects of the complex relationship between the dêmos and Alcibiades. Alcibiades’ involvement in the mutilation is not clear, since the accusations are not well founded and the accusers are motivated by personal resentment (Alc. 19–22). The reaction of the Athenian people, nonetheless, is characterized by anger (orgê), the same driving force behind Coriolanus’ political decisions (Alc. 20.6, 21.5, 21.7). The dêmos trusts Alcibiades’ accusers without considering the political consequences of its decision or the correctness of its judgement. The Sicilian expedition, moreover, is left without adequate leadership, since Nicias is too indecisive and Lamachus lacks reputation and dignity, despite being warlike and manly (Alc. 21.8–9).58 The dêmos too, therefore, appears to be an inconstant lover and its instinctive revulsion towards Alcibiades compromises the public interest.59 In this regard, Alcibiades’ triumphal return from exile, (p.226) marked by the restoration of the traditional procession to Eleusis to celebrate the mysteries, interrupted since the Spartans fortified Deceleia, represents a new episode in the complex relationship between the dêmos and Alcibiades (Alc. 34.3–6). For the poor and the humble feel the desire to have him as a tyrant (Alc. 34.7–35.1), another sign that Alcibiades’ erotic attractiveness is too strong for the dêmos to be able to take rational decisions.60

Conclusion In Coriolanus and Alcibiades the private sphere of both protagonists impinges on public life. Coriolanus and Alcibiades make their private behaviour, relationships, desires, and impulses become public and determine the political course of their cities. In this pair, therefore, private life is not a marginal element of the narrative nor is it simply used to illustrate aspects of the character of the protagonists, which only become fully evident when Coriolanus and Alcibiades take political decisions or are involved in military enterprises. Rather, private life has a decisive influence on how Coriolanus and Alcibiades begin and pursue their careers, lead their cities, and make choices that positively or negatively change the course of the events or, conversely, fail to mark a turning point in Greek and Roman history. Thus, public duties bend to personal interests. Erôs, in particular, is a key factor, which blurs the distinction between the public and the private spheres. Paradoxically, the absence of erôs in Coriolanus, which represents one of the most remarkable differences from Alcibiades, characterizes Coriolanus’ relationship with the Romans, who hate his intractable character, while Coriolanus’ political actions do not show genuine concern for the public good. In Alcibiades, on the other hand, the impact of erôs on political practice is very problematic. For Socrates fails to guide Alcibiades, the erastai exert a bad influence on Alcibiades, and, ultimately, erôs makes Alcibiades and the Athenian dêmos take wrong political decisions, following their egoistic desires and impulses, without considering what the best option for the city is. This is emblematic of Plutarch’s rather negative view of love, when love tangibly influences public life, and contrasts with the idealized image of erôs in Page 14 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades the (p.227) Amatorius. Here Plutarch illustrates his love theory and presents erôs as a strong and extremely positive force, although it can potentially collide with laws and political authorities. The effects of this clash are examined in detail in the Lives. Even if the Life of Alcibiades is an extreme example, compared to the virtuous models of Epaminondas and Pelopidas, nevertheless it shows the difficulty of practising in the political context virtues proposed in theory. (p.228) Notes:

I am grateful to Prof. Chris Pelling for having read earlier versions of this chapter and for his most valuable suggestions. I wish to thank also John Moffat and Ed Sanders for having proofread the chapter and for their help in improving my English. All the remaining oddities, inaccuracies, and muddled thinking are, obviously, my own responsibility. The translations of the passages quoted are my adaptation from the various Loeb volumes, while for the Greek text I have followed the more recent Teubner editions. Throughout the chapter ‘erôs’ refers to love as feeling, while ‘Eros’ indicates the god. (1) Wallace-Hadrill (1995) 157–8 and 171–4. (2) Titchener (2003) 98; cf. Plut. Alex. 1. Famously, Leo (1901) distinguished between Plutarchan and Suetonian biographies as subgenres of ancient biography, and examined their differences from ancient historiography. Momigliano (1993) criticized this schematization (see esp. 86–8), although he accepted the categories of political and literary biography (101–4). See also Geiger (1985) 11–29, and McGing and Mossman (2006) ix–xii. (3) Ancient political and intellectual biography, despite their different aims as sketched by Geiger (1985) 23–5, do have this element in common. Conversely, see M. Saunders (2010) 62–4 on the importance of the inner life and psychology in shaping modern biographies. (4) Duff (1999) 94–7; Stadter (1995) 222. (5) Plut. Ages. 2.1, 3.5–9, 6.1–5, 7–8. (6) Plut. Pomp. 47.10, 53.1–6. (7) Plut. Thes. 19–21 (Ariadne), 26.1–5 (Antiope), 29.1–2 (Theseus’ violent loves), 31.1–3 (Helen). (8) On Coriolanus as the first Life of the pair see Duff (1999) 205–6, Verdegem (2010) 87–8. (9) The reference is to Pl. Phdr. 229a and 230b–c. The structure of the Amatorius —a narrated dialogue between several characters within a frame, which also has the form of a conversation—deliberately imitates Plato’s Symposium. The most Page 15 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades relevant difference consists in Plutarch’s taking part in the dialogue as the main speaker of the Amatorius, a role that, conversely, in the Symposium is played by Socrates and Diotima, both alter egos of Plato. Cf. Gallé Cejudo (2007) 45; Georgiadou (2010) 230–2; Martin (1984) 87. For a narratological analysis of the Amatorius see also Scarcella (1991); Valverde Sánchez (2005). (10) In the fiction of the dialogue, Pisias and Protogenes oppose the marriage between Bacchon and Ismenodora and argue for the superiority of homosexual erôs. Conversely, Anthemion and Daphneus, supported by Plutarch, defend Ismenodora and declare in favour of heterosexual erôs and marriage. The paradoxical character of the relationship between Ismenodora and Bacchon was noted by Foucault (1986) 195–7; cf. the thorough discussion of this issue in Goldhill (1995) 150–5. (11) Plutarch’s Eros as a god: Brenk (1988) 462–5; Frazier (2005/2006) 71–4 and 78–87; Görgemanns (2005) 169–73 and 186–91; Martínez Hernández (2007) 373–7 and 380–5. (12) Görgemanns (2011) 166 n. 229. Cf. Plut. Pel. 18.2 and Quaest. conv. 618D. (13) On this topic the analysis conducted by Dover (1989), esp. 153–70, is still of fundamental importance; see also Cartledge (2001) 92–105; P. W. Ludwig (2002) 27–39; Wohl (2002) 3–9, with further bibliography. (14) Plut. Amat. 761E: ‘It is good that Alcestis came to our mind. For women have no part at all in Ares, but the inspiration which comes from Eros leads [them] to acts of courage beyond nature, even to die.’ (15) Plut. Amat. 756D (Empedocles), 756E–F (Parmenides), 756F (Hesiod), etc. Tragedians and Homer, conversely, appear to have expressed more negative views on erôs: e.g. Euripides (756B–C), Sophocles (757A), Homer (757B), etc. Quotations in the Amatorius are listed by Scarcella (1991) 352 nn. 15 and 16; Zucker (2009); cf. also Martin (1969a), (1969b), and (1984) 84–5. Plutarch’s large use of exempla in the Amatorius: Frazier (2005); Valverde Sánchez (2007). (16) Cf. Plut. Amat. 758D and 762A. For an overview of the Platonic influence on Plutarch in the Amatorius see Billault (1999); Boulogne (1999); Martin (1984); Rist (2001); Trapp (1990). (17) Görgemanns (2011) 155–6 nn. 141 and 142; Longoni (1986) 131 n. 107. (18) The story of Aristogeiton too is recalled by Plato at Symp. 182c with a meaning and in a context rather different from the Amatorius. (19) Cf. Plut. Pel. 18–19. On the Sacred Band, its controversial tradition, and the references in Plato and Plutarch see Davidson (2007) 433–41; DeVoto (1992); Georgiadou (2006); Leitao (2002), esp. 149–62. Page 16 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades (20) In the introduction, Autobulus explains that Plutarch and his friends were chosen as arbitrators of the controversy over the relationship between Ismenodora and Bacchon (Amat. 750A); cf. Amat. 752C and 753B–C. See Longoni (1986) 113 n. 11. (21) Frazier (2005/2006) 76–7; Martin (1984) 86–7; Rist (2001) 558–9; Russell (1973) 92. (22) Being sagacious (sunetos), for instance, is a quality often associated by Plutarch with public recognition: Demetr. 47.4, Them. 2.1, An seni 797C, etc. Similarly, being frank (aplous) reverberates in politics: e.g. Artax. 30.2, Brut. 1.4, Cor. 15.5, Lys. 5.7. (23) The same anecdote is mentioned at Alc. 4.5, where, however, it demonstrates Alcibiades’ contradictory nature and his recalcitrant reception of Socrates’ teaching about moral virtue. On the relationship between Alc. 4.5 and Amat. 762C–D, and on the relative chronology see Verdegem (2010) 112–14, 145–9. (24) Plutarch mentions here the verse of Phrynicus fr. 17 Nauck, which is also quoted at Alc. 4.3 and, with a different meaning, at Pel. 29.11; see Görgemanns (2011) 169 n. 261. (25) Frazier (2005/2006) 96; Görgemanns (2005) 172–3 and (2011) 172–3 n. 282; Longoni (1986) 146 n. 229. Similar terms such as leader (hêgemôn) and master (despotês) are employed at Amat. 758C; cf. the reference to Pammenes, who defines Eros as the only invincible general (stratêgos) (Amat. 761B). (26) Pl. Phdr. 244a–245c; see Frazier (2005/2006) 71–83. (27) Cf. Phaedrus’ definition of Eros as ‘the oldest of gods, most worthy of honour, and most powerful (kuriôtatos) in helping men achieve virtue and happiness’ (Pl. Symp. 180b), and Aristophanes’ exhortation to take Eros as leader and commander in order that ‘we shall find and join our own beloved ones’ (Pl. Symp. 193b). (28) Pregnancy of the soul—also called psychic pregnancy—is a postulate of Plato’s theory of knowledge, which is related to the innate Ideas or Forms: human souls have innate knowledge and values as potentialities that are actualized through successive stages, just as women give birth to their children through gestation. See Dover (1980) 146–59 and (1989) 153–65; Ferrari (1992) 254–60; Irwin (1995) 315; Most (2005) 38–9; Pender (1992); Rawson (2006), esp. 137–40 and 144–50. (29) The Helicon and the Academy may implicitly indicate Hesiod and Plato, that is, poetry (the Helicon is the mountain sacred to the Muses) and philosophy in general, reaffirming the continuity between Plutarch’s idea of Eros and the Page 17 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades Greek tradition. It is also plausible that, by connecting the Helicon—which is near Thespiae in Boeotia, where Plutarch sets the fictional dialogue of the Amatorius—to the Academy, Plutarch wants to claim that his theory about Eros is genuinely Platonic. Cf. Plut. Amat. 748E–F. The setting of the Amatorius at Thespiae: Brenk (1998); Georgiadou (2010); Graf (2011). (30) See Brenk (1988) 462–8; Frazier (2005/2006) 78–83; Görgemanns (2005) 171–3; Martin (1984) 83; Rist (2001) 571–2. (31) In the first speech, Plutarch’s strategy is based on three arguments: Ismenodora’s wealth, beauty, and higher social status are not disadvantages but positive qualities (753C); although Ismenodora is older than Bacchon, the right age for marriage depends on the possibility of procreation, which she still has (754B); nothing forbids a more mature wife from guiding her husband in life (754D). (32) See Brenk (1988) 463–5; Frazier (2005/2006) 87–9; Opsomer (2007) 165; Rist (2001) 571. (33) Cf. Pl. Phdr. 248e–250c, Symp. 210a–211d (Diotima’s speech). See Martin (1984) 85–6. (34) Foucault (1986) 203–9; Frazier (2005/2006) 74–8; Opsomer (2007) 165–6; Rist (2001) 573–5. (35) The presence of complementary elements in the biographies of the same pair is thoroughly examined by Pelling (1986). (36) Plutarch wrongly changes the names of Coriolanus’ mother and wife, calling the mother Volumnia for Veturia, and the wife Vergilia for Volumnia; cf. Russell (1995b) 359. In order to avoid confusion, I maintain the names given by Plutarch, even when I refer to texts such as Dionysius’ Antiquitates Romanae, where Veturia and Volumnia are correctly used. (37) See Ahlrichs (2005) 47–62; Duff (1999) 206–15, (2008) 13–14. Coriolanus’ lack of paideia: Swain (1990) 136–7. Cornell (2003) 78–9, 84–91 tries to reconstruct Coriolanus’ story beyond the myth. (38) Pelling (1989) 206–7. (39) Cf. Fabrini and Ghilli (1998) 159–60 n. 28, 162–4 nn. 34, 37, and 38. (40) Georgiadou (1997) 75–80. Cf. Pel. 17.13–19.5: on this Georgiadou (1997) 153–60. On the public dimension of erôs at Thebes and on the Sacred Band see n. 19. In general, on the connection between erôs, friendship, and public life cf. Leontsini (this volume); see also Fisher (2013).

Page 18 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades (41) On the distinctiveness of the relationship between warriors and mothers at Rome see Cornell (2003) 79–80. (42) Pelling (2002) 155–6 and 309–10; cf. Russell (1995b) 368. (43) In fact, the beginning of Volumnia’s speech aims to arouse Coriolanus’ pity (eleos), but it is pity for the Roman women all together as female community (Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 8.46.1–2). (44) Duff (1999) 214–15 has stressed that the importance of anger and pathos in Coriolanus’ decisions represents another proof of his lack of education. On the different tone between Dionysius and Plutarch cf. also Pelling (2002) 394–8. (45) Cornell (2003) 80–1. (46) One should consider, however, that at Liv. 28.29.1 Coriolanus’ rebellion against Rome is defined as public parricide. (47) Alcibiades’ dislike of the pipe can be compared to Coriolanus’ lack of benefit derived from the Muses (Cor. 1.5, Alc. 2.5–7). Similarly, the reference to the Thebans and their predilection for this instrument may represent the resumption of the implicit comparison with Epaminondas, from whom Alcibiades, like Coriolanus, is very distant. This anecdote is thoroughly discussed by Duff (2003) 102–6 and Verdegem (2010) 126–8. (48) Cf. Pl. Alc. I 104a and 105b, and Symp. 215e–216b. On the Platonic reminiscences in this part of the Life see Alesse (2005); Duff (2009) 37–45 and (2011); Pelling (2005) 116–25; Russell (1995a) 196–7; Verdegem (2010) 137–51. (49) Cf. Pl. Symp. 219e–221c. (50) Gribble (1999) 275–6. Cf. also Duff (2009) 45–9; Pelling (2005) 121–5. (51) Duff (1999) 230–1, (2003) 94–5; Verdegem (2010) 119–21. On Alcibiades’ mixture of vice and virtue cf. Nepos Alc. 1.1.4 and Plut. Nic. 9.1. (52) Wohl (2002) 131 n. 21 notes that erasmion and hêdu, adjectives that Plutarch attributes to Alcibiades’ beauty (Alc. 1.4), ‘describe a distinctly unmasculine appeal’. Similarly, other clear signs of effeminacy are reflected in Alcibiades’ son (Alc. 1.8): cf. Wohl (2002) 132–3. Alcibiades’ ambiguity and effeminacy occur in the narration of Alcibiades’ death (Alc. 39.1–7): Alcibiades has the vision of wearing the clothes of the hetaira Timandra and of having his face made up like a woman, something which prefigures his death. Duff (2003) 96 explores other aspects of Alcibiades’ sexual ambiguity. (53) Cf. Duff (2009) 39. (54) Wohl (2002) 131. Page 19 of 20

 

Love Theory and Political Practice in Plutarch: The Amatorius and the Lives of Coriolanus and Alcibiades (55) It is probably no coincidence that the name of one of Alcibiades’ first lovers is said to be Democrates (Alc. 3.1). Cf. Pl. Alc. I 132a, where Alcibiades is designated as dêmerastês, active lover of the people; see Wohl (2002) 149. (56) Cf. Pelling (2002) 126. See also the episode at Plut. Alc. 13.3: Alcibiades makes private use of utensils that belong to the city. (57) For the origin and the meaning of the Herms and their mutilation see Wohl (2002) 20–5, 152–8, 215–17. (58) Considering also the remark upon poverty, the description of Lamachus closely resembles Coriolanus and implicitly contrasts with Alcibiades’ femininity: in contrast to Alcibiades, both Coriolanus and Lamachus do not represent characters able to govern cities. (59) Pelling (2002) 125–8 and (2005) 121–2 discuss how Alcibiades and the dêmos have very similar characteristics. (60) Plut. Alc. 34.7: ἐρᾶν ἔρωτα θαυμαστὸν ὑπ' ἐκείνου τυραννεῖσθαι. By contrast, one can note that Alcibiades’ marriage with Hipparete as much as his frequent intercourse with courtesans (hetairai) do not seem to be based on erôs, which represents an aspect common to Coriolanus’ marriage (Alc. 8.4–6). Similarly, the seduction of the Spartan queen Timaea is due to Alcibiades’ immense ambition to see his descendants reigning over Sparta (Alc. 23.7–8); cf. Verdegem (2010) 158–61 and 279–83.

Page 20 of 20

 

Part IV Imagery and Language of Erôs

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.229) Part IV Imagery and Language of Erôs DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.011.0004 Keywords:   Plato, Socrates, Phaedrus, erôs , Platonic love, love in ancient literature, emotion, metaphor, symptomology Keywords:   Aristophanes, Acharnians, Lysistrata, Wasps, erotic, comedy, erôs, philia, pothos Keywords:   imagery, worlds, symposium, erôs Keywords:   epigram, lamp, concrete imagery, variation, erôs , emotions, serio-comicality, diachronicity Keywords:   bodies, male pederastic gaze, pederastic epigrams, erôs , Musa Puerilis , Greek Anthology

This last Part of the volume addresses many of the crucial texts we familiarly think of when considering ancient erôs, some of which had already been discussed in other chapters under different perspectives. These last contributions, however, revisit them with a close attention to imagery and language, trying to trace how the emotion of erôs is instantiated in literature. The first chapter returns to Plato, but changes perspective and methodology from the other treatments of that philosopher in this volume. Douglas Cairns’ ‘The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus’ addresses the language and imagery of that famous dialogue to show how the text exploits the rich previous tradition of erotic representations. Socrates’ recantation of his previous agreement with Lysias on the superiority of the non-lover as a potential partner for the erômenos at Phdr. 242b ff. sets about rehabilitating erôs in its traditional poetic guise as a form of madness. In doing so, it appropriates and elaborates a number of metaphorical constructs that have been traditionally associated with the phenomenology and symptomatology of erôs: the image of the chariot; the winged psyche; the role of the eyes as conduits for emotion; the image of the body as a container for the emotions (and for psychophysical fluids and gases in Page 1 of 4

 

Part IV Imagery and Language of Erôs general); the notion of psychic conflict (e.g. between erôs and aidôs, reason and passion); the presentation of emotional experience as a struggle with external forces; erôs as a gymnic or hippic contest; and so on. This chapter traces some of these influences and discusses what Plato made of them, paying close attention to the importance of metaphor in the construction of psychological concepts. In this way Cairns seeks to locate Plato’s treatment in its intellectual context as both a reflection of and a contribution to the conceptualization of erôs in classical Greece. More precisely, the main focus will be on the models Plato receives from the tradition (Lyric poetry, Parmenides, Empedocles, Theognidia, etc.), the ways in which he elaborates them, and the resistance they pose in turn to such engaged refashioning. (p.230) The conception of erôs that emerges owes much to the dialectic between these two forces. It would have been hard to omit Aristophanes from this collection. James Robson’s chapter offers a close analysis of language and erotic ‘vocabulary’ in the works of the comic poet. ‘The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes’ explores the different ways in which Aristophanes’ plays engage with erotic themes and employ erotic vocabulary. This is not just another excuse for an examination of Aristophanic sexuality: rather, Robson looks at how concepts like erôs, philia, and pothos are drawn on and interact in Aristophanic drama. In one sense, he argues, erotics underpin the plots of most of Aristophanes’ comedies since each play typically revolves around a desire for change (which can even be explicitly stated in erotic terms). Sexual desire can also dominate the plot of a play (e.g. Lysistrata) or be used to underscore important motifs (e.g. the connection between sexual fulfilment and peace/resolution). In addition, erotic language is used to characterize key aspects of characters’ behaviour in the plays (e.g. Philocleon’s jury-obsession in Wasps, or the relationship between politicians and Demos in Knights). The main focus of this chapter, however, is on the erotic vocabulary and underlying erotic energies of the plays, to advance the claim that each play tends to have its own distinct erotic landscape. The language of love we find in Knights, for example, is very much characterized by erôs (with Paphlagon and the Sausage Seller acting as competing erastai); in Acharnians, however, pothos plays a central role (Dicaeopolis’ ‘longing’ for his deme); whereas in Wasps and Lysistrata, philia is arguably the key player (as Philocleon’s name and Lysistrata’s goal of panhellenic unity might suggest). The chapter focuses on those plays most susceptible to this analysis, although discussion will take in the erotic vocabulary of all eleven surviving comedies. The zoom moves closer and closer to the text with Cazzato’s tight reading of Ibycus and Kanellou’s analysis of one particular erotic image, the lamp in the epigram. In ‘Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286’, Vanessa Cazzato interrogates scholarship on this fragment, which has primarily reacted to the baffling richness and complexity of its images for erôs. The text has been Page 2 of 4

 

Part IV Imagery and Language of Erôs variously emended and defended in attempts to restore to the imagery some sense of unity and coherence. Its implications have been teased out by reference to numerous parallels in Archaic and later literature. Hitherto, the tendency has been to regard each image as a collection of symbols, tokens which can effectively be replaced by the ideas they stand for. This chapter aims to examine how they function as complete images. The fragment is explored through the philosophical notion of ‘possible worlds’. The images are seen as components of ‘worlds’ which relate in interesting ways to each other, to the amorous world implied by the utterance, and to the sympotic world embedded in the poem. The locus amoenus of the first half of the fragment becomes not only an image of erôs but also a setting for erôs. This stands in contrast to the (p.231) symposium as a setting for a different kind of erôs, which is expressed through an externalized emotional landscape in the stormy image of the second half of the poem. The contrast on which the poem is built is not just, as is commonly assumed, between the seasons of nature and the seasons of man, or the placidity of nature and the turmoil of the lover’s emotions, but between different notions of erôs itself. The next chapter also looks in close detail at erotic language and imagery. In ‘Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions’, Maria Kanellou examines the way in which the epigrams of the Greek Anthology depict the lover’s emotions through the use of lamp imagery. The lamp illustrates the epigrammatists’ effort to shape and reshape images that can act as symbols of the lover’s feelings or erotic relationships. The treatment of the lamp brings out a different effect each time; different kinds of lovers are portrayed based on the way that each of them treats his lamp. In the eyes of the jealous lover, the lamp becomes the voyeur of the unfaithful beloved’s sexual transgressions, embodying his masochistic envy. The lamp can also share his desolation or become the avenger of the lover by withholding light during sex in an attempt to preserve the beloved’s fidelity. In the latter case, his anxiety for the beloved’s faithfulness is accentuated by the attribution to the lamp of the role of the ‘guardian’. Deification constitutes a final essential aspect of the lamp’s use; the lover’s nervousness about the beloved’s delay is exemplified through the ascription to the lamp of prophetic abilities. These and other images create a complex seriocomic effect. Their seriousness derives from the fact that the lover’s emotional state is explored in a psychologically plausible and nuanced way. But at the same time a certain distance is created between what is described and the lover’s perception by the detached reader; this tension creates the paradoxical mélange of seriousness and comicality. Epigrams can thus be fruitfully read through the microscope, so to speak, but also by casting a wider look on more general themes and tendencies. In this spirit, Andreas Fountoulakis’s piece is complementary to Kanellou’s, addressing as he does the ‘male pederastic gaze’ as a social datum and a poetic filter through which the poems of the twelfth book of the Greek Anthology are Page 3 of 4

 

Part IV Imagery and Language of Erôs read (‘Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology’). These epigrams are permeated by various conventions of imagery, thought, and action, which are related to representations of desire occurring throughout the entire corpus of Greek erotic epigrammatic poetry. Yet the themes of the epigrams of the twelfth book, which is known as Strato’s Musa puerilis, evolve around the depiction of same-sex erotic relations between males and this is the starting point of further differentiations extending to the articulation of their imagery, emotional load, and poetics. The images of youthful male bodies which occur in these poems are often shaped according to the disposition, the sexual preferences, and the social status of the older men who gaze at them. The same images are related to the (p.232) ways desire is felt and expressed by these men. In this chapter it is argued that those images and emotions are strongly determined by a ‘male pederastic gaze’, which functions as an emotional and intellectual lens. It is this lens that derives its power from a wide range of socially and culturally produced constructs and experiences, and affects the formation of the identities of both viewer and viewed, the social power relations between them, the emotional quality of their relationship, and the ways this emotional quality is manifested. The fact that ‘gaze’ appears capable of formulating not only the representations of erôs in the epigrams of the Musa puerilis, but also the ways in which these representations are turned into poetry, reflects a pederastic subculture, and is made perceptible to the poems’ audience.

Page 4 of 4

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus Douglas Cairns

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0014

Abstract and Keywords This chapter explores the debts owed by the account of erôs in the speeches of Socrates in Plato's Phaedrus to earlier (chiefly poetic) models of the concept. Three main points are made: (i) the use of pre-existing models, metaphors, and metonymies of erôs highlights Plato's debt not only to erotic, but also to philosophical poetry (especially Parmenides and Empedocles); (ii) this furthers the speeches' project of creating a model of erôs that presents the erotic in terms of the metaphysical; (iii) the various poetic, religious, and philosophical models that the speeches invoke serve to present a conception of erôs that is at once highly revisionary and yet also in some respects paradoxically traditional. Keywords:   Plato, Socrates, Phaedrus, erôs, Platonic love, love in ancient literature, emotion, metaphor, symptomology

The Phaedrus is an unparalleled tour de force of Platonic writing, inexhaustible in its richness. The dialogue is renowned not only for the multiplicity of its themes, but also for the complex ways in which these recur, interact, develop, and mutate, and for its self-referentiality, its constant questioning of its own status and claims as philosophical investigation in written form. My concern in this chapter is for only one aspect of this complex, variegated, and recalcitrant whole, namely for the way that the dialogue’s images and metaphors of erôs contribute to a construction of that concept that is both uniquely Platonic and rooted in traditional Greek (and especially poetic) conceptions. My main focus will be on the following questions: what are the traditional models that Plato exploits; to what extent does he transform these models; to what extent do traditional models remain to resonate in his account or resist his attempts to Page 1 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus refashion them; and what precisely is the conception of erôs that emerges? But even this is a vast and complex topic, of which the present chapter can do no more than scratch the surface; and I am under no illusion that there can be simple, comprehensive, or final answers to the sort of questions raised by a work like the Phaedrus.1 (p.234) The dialogue has three speeches on the subject of erôs: one by Lysias, in praise of the non-lover (230e–234c), and two by Socrates, the first (S1, 237a– 241d) an attempt to compete with Lysias on his own ground, and the second (S2, 243e–257a) a recantation in praise of erôs. Socrates admits (at 235e–236a) that the substance of his first speech overlaps substantially with that of Lysias: they agree on the negative aspects of erôs as it is commonly conceived; it is merely that Socrates will not proceed to the positive praise of the good sense of the nonlover that Lysias had offered (241e). As for the relation between Socrates’ own two speeches, some indication is given after the second has been delivered, at 262c  ff. It seems that we are to conclude that there is something to be said for both, though neither is to be taken as definitive: the first condemns that form of madness that is erôs, as it is commonly conceived (henceforth C-erôs), while the second extols a beneficial form of madness, which we might call Platonic or P-erôs (262cd, 265a, 265c, 265e–266a). By chance, Socrates would have us believe (265cd), the pairing illustrates the important methodological principles of collection and division; and so in fact the dialogue as a whole recaps and incorporates three phases of Plato’s career as a writer of Socratic dialogues: (a) as in the early Socratic dialogues, S1 insists on the importance of definition, for only when one has defined something can one begin to talk about it (237bd); (b) S2 exhibits the concerns of Plato’s middle period with the immortality of the soul, recollection, the theory of Forms, and the tripartite soul, all within an extended mythical narrative with heavy mystic and eschatological overtones; and (c) the post-myth section (at 265d–266b) introduces a new methodological procedure of collection and division that is characteristic of Plato’s later period (but which, as 277b shows, can be seen as a development of the early dialogues’ concern with definition). There are two points to bear in mind about this: (a) we cannot dismiss the first speech—its negative view of C-erôs remains valid, and we are warned not to confuse the P-erôs of the second speech with the common-or-garden variety of the first, familiar from other works of Greek literature; and (b) we are warned, in the context of a written dialogue that both encapsulates Plato’s career to date and emphasizes the inadequacy of written communication, that neither speech is the last word on erôs and (especially) that the second is, at least to some extent, a jeu d’ésprit (262cd, 265bc). It is no surprise that Lysias’ speech and S1 tell us something about erôs as it is commonly conceived, but it is more difficult to pin down the extent to which S2 does so. For P-erôs is not C-erôs. For one thing, in its truest form, it dispenses Page 2 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus with sex. Its ends, its focus, and its objects are those of Platonic philosophy, not those of erôs as commonly conceived. We should note, in particular, how the initial stage of the myth, from 243e to 249d, is all about the soul’s or the philosopher’s experience of Beauty Itself; it is only in the next stage that the symptoms and manifestations of P-erôs begin to intersect with (p.235) those of C-erôs. P-erôs is only contingently about erôs as the Greeks knew it. When Socrates observes (250ab) that only a few souls have enough memory of beauty to be stirred by it, and that even they are amazed and lose control of themselves, ignorant of the nature of their pathos, he is telling us that what erôs ‘really is’ is not recognized by ordinary language; to interpret the pathos of erôs as a desire for a physical relationship with a particular individual is an error. The contingency of the intersection of P-erôs with C-erôs is shown most clearly by the immediate sequel, 250be: a pure, disembodied psuchê would love all the Forms, but, when the psuchê is entombed in the body, the facts that Beauty is the brightest, most visually accessible of the Forms and sight the keenest of an embodied human being’s senses mean that the erôs of an embodied human being appears to be a response to only one Form, that of Beauty. The soul’s attraction towards justice, sôphrosunê, or (especially) phronêsis is still P-erôs, but the response of an embodied soul to these qualities is not the kind of thing that one would compare to or confuse with C-erôs.2 The intersection of what Plato in S2 means by erôs and what everyone else means by erôs is the product of two contingencies: that copies of the Form of Beauty happen to be found in the faces and bodies of other human beings and that an embodied human being’s response to physical beauty involves not only the veneration and contemplation that is the disembodied soul’s response to Beauty Itself, but also the control of thymoeidic and epithymetic motivations that come with our nature as physically embodied creatures. Also as a matter of contingency, P-erôs shares certain features that might be thought to pertain to erôs as the Greeks knew it or (which is something different) to love as we know it: for example, both as desire for sex with the possessor of a beautiful body (C-erôs) and as attraction to physical beauty as an instantiation of Beauty Itself (P-erôs), erôs in Greek (like some forms of love in English) can be thought of as making demands that may be met by any number of people—any beautiful person will do.3 Likewise, many Greeks and many moderns would agree with S2 that lovers delude or deceive themselves about their motives. But Socrates’ aim is not to tell us these things about C-erôs via his account of P-erôs; they emerge, if they emerge at all, malgré lui and ironically. Nor can we effect a rapprochement between P-erôs and our own idea of love by revising Plato’s notion of kallos/to kalon so that it becomes, in effect, a portmanteau for all the qualities, whatever they are, that make an individual lovable for his/her own sake. P-erôs is about Beauty, a quality to which one’s first point of access is visual, and to love someone platonically for their beauty is not to love them for themselves, but for their possession of a quality that imitates, Page 3 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus participates in, or otherwise depends upon an abstract, intangible, transcendent, and perfect form of that quality. To love someone (p.236) because they remind you of something else, albeit something your soul once apprehended at a time before your birth, is not to love them for themselves at all—even Plato does not argue that an individual is defined by his or her beauty. As Dover puts it, what we have in S2 is ‘sexual language applied to metaphysics’, not ‘metaphysical language applied to sex’.4 But this is not the whole story. The myth’s account of P-erôs also encompasses the phenomenon of C-erôs, insofar as C-erôs, whether the bestial response of the lover of pleasure who ‘attempts to go the way of a four-footed creature and sow children’ (250e) or that of the lover of honour who is capable of forming a longlasting friendship with his sexual partner (256ce), is a derivative, debased, and unnatural form of P-erôs. The explanations of the ideal, desexualized, metaphysical P-erôs and of all forms of C-erôs are the same, their difference lying only in the clarity of one’s memory of the Beautiful Itself and in the way that one responds to that memory. Further, since imperfect forms of erôs nonetheless derive from P-erôs, and since there are degrees of imperfection, some forms receive a relatively positive validation (e.g. the unbreakable, lifelong pledges which bind those lovers who have devoted their lives to honour, 256d).5 Hence, though it is idealized and revisionary, the explanation of all human erôs as deriving from P-erôs makes room for genuine elements of a satisfactory, positive account of what we call love. To a greater extent than in the Symposium, the Phaedrus myth’s account of erôs stresses, in contrast to Lysias and Socrates’ first speech, that erôs can be an element in—can indeed give rise to and help sustain—a long-lasting, reciprocal, and mutually beneficial relationship.6 This is as much as to say that erôs, in both ideal and less ideal forms, can be a basis for philia. Insofar as mutual devotion is an element in our own cultural models of love and played a part in at least some Classical Athenians’ understanding of what might become of relationships founded on sexual attraction, the Phaedrus offers an account of erôs in Athenian society that begins to resemble modern notions of love. Yet, while the dialogue has a great deal to say on the subject of philia between lovers, nonetheless erôs as such is defined by its relation to abstract, impersonal qualities, even if those who are devoted to those qualities may also (p.237) be devoted to each other. Philia may be a consequence of the better forms of erôs, but still the definitions of philia and erôs are different. So the myth is intended to explain C-erôs as well as P-erôs, and even allows that C-erôs need not be the vulgar and predatory thing discussed by Lysias and Socrates’ first speech. As such, the myth does tell us something valuable about C-erôs, for in these ways Socrates is making allowances for erôs as the dialogue’s audiences knew it as well as arguing for erôs as it might be in its perfect form. Yet S2’s account of C-erôs remains revisionary (a) in that the origins of all erôs, even its most vulgar and debased forms, are metaphysical and (b) in its denigration of the sexual aspect: debased forms of erôs are located Page 4 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus higher or lower on the scale of value according to the degree of abstinence that they manifest. There is nothing inherently wrong with offering a revisionary account of popular concepts: often, this is precisely what proper scientific or philosophical investigation requires; but we need to be clear about the differences between prescriptive and descriptive accounts, and as students of erôs rather than students of Plato we need constantly to bear in mind that S2’s P-erôs is very revisionary indeed, to the extent that P-erôs in its truest form has only the slightest of connections with the object of our enquiry as archaeoerotologists. That established, it is time to move on to the specific issue of the imagery of erôs. First, I focus on aspects of the imagery of P-erôs that are also found in traditional poetic imagery or models of C-erôs, before moving on to some more particular implications of some of these. Just as the Phaedrus encompasses the stages of Plato’s career as a writer, so it is voracious in its appropriation of a variety of existing genres, both poetic and philosophical. The dialogue as a whole is punctuated by references and allusions to poets, and poetic composition constitutes a model for both S1 and S2. Socrates prefaces S1 with an ironic reference to Sappho and Anacreon (though they are advocates of erôs their account of its madness provides better evidence against gratifying a lover than does the speech of Lysias, 235c)7 and begins with an invocation of the Muses (237a). Pausing between two phases of S1, he pronounces himself possessed, seized by the nymphs, virtually talking in dithyrambs (238cd); by the end of the speech, he claims that his verse has become epic rather than dithyrambic. Similarly, S2 is preceded by a quotation of Ibycus (242cd), and the point of that quotation (that Socrates may have offended against the gods) is then expanded in his appropriations of the Palinode of Stesichorus at 243ab, 244a. Poetry is then cited as an example of (p.238) the divine madness of which erôs, like seercraft, is another variety, before Socrates, who described himself as a seer at 242c, goes on implicitly to compare himself to a poet at 247c, venturing some dubious verse of his own at 252b. S2 concludes (at 257ab) with an apologetic prayer to Eros in which Socrates comments on the poetic vocabulary that, he claims, Phaedrus forced him to use. So we are clearly alerted to the debt that S1 and S2 both owe to previous poetic conceptions of erôs. Much of this debt lies in the use, especially in S2, of metaphor; not only is the chariot-myth replete with the metaphors, metonymies, expressions, and symptoms that are part of the traditional poetic model of erôs, but the chariot-myth itself is a kind of simile or metaphor—at 246a it is explicitly introduced as an attempt to describe not what the soul is (οἷον ἐστι), but what it is like (ᾧ δὲ ἔοικεν):

Page 5 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus About its form we must say the following. To say what kind of thing it is would require a long exposition, and one calling for utterly superhuman powers; to say what it resembles requires a shorter one, and one within human capacities. So let us speak in the latter way. Let it then resemble (ἐοικέτω) the combined power of a winged team of horses and their charioteer.8 Similarly, in referring back to the myth at 265bc Socrates describes it as a sort of mythic hymn to Eros, which may have caught something of the likeness of the pathos of erôs, without necessarily encapsulating the truth about it. And of the divine kind we distinguished four parts, belonging to four gods, taking the madness of the seer as Apollo’s inspiration, that of mystic rites as Dionysus’, poetic madness, for its part, as the Muses’, and the fourth as that belonging to Aphrodite and Love; the madness of love we said was best, and by expressing the experience of love through some kind of simile (οὐκ οἶδ' ὅπῃ τὸ ἐρωτικὸν πάθος ἀπεικάζοντες), which allowed us perhaps to grasp some truth, though maybe it took us in a wrong direction, and mixing together a not wholly implausible speech, we sang a playful hymn in the form of a story (μυθικόν τινα ὕμνον προσεπαίσαμεν), in a fittingly quiet way (μετρίως τε καὶ εὐφήμως), to my master and yours, Phaedrus, Love, watcher over beautiful boys. Here, the myth is explicitly regarded as potentially misleading, but nonetheless capable of grasping something of the truth.9 Just so, the initial reference to the myth as a kind of ‘likeness’ was part of a contrast between the true exposition of the soul’s nature, which would require the powers of a god, and the shorter and human account that Socrates is able to give.10 A true, non-metaphorical (p.239) account of soul and erôs is thus a theoretical possibility, but, in the absence of the superhuman powers required to produce it, metaphor is essential. From the human perspective, then, and in terms of Pender’s categories,11 S2’s metaphors for soul and its experience of erôs are not merely illustrative, but epistemic— they help us grasp something of a concept that would be difficult or impossible to express in any other way. Thus a myth which is about humans’ imperfect grasp of images of reality is itself an imperfect image of reality; this is the best humans can do. And of course poets are human, their grasp of reality even more imperfect than the philosopher’s; accordingly, the traditional poetic model of erôs is also thoroughly permeated by metaphor—erôs as an entity, as a personification, as a divinity, as a force which assails one from outside, as an opponent in a struggle, as a catalyst of internal conflict between reified or personified forces, etc. As well as these metaphors, the traditional model also makes use of a set of typical metonymies, symptoms, and behaviour patterns— the gaze, shudders, palpitations, sweats, fevers, etc., many of which are

Page 6 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus associated with some of the main metaphors (erôs as madness, erôs as an illness, erôs as fire, etc.).12 Plato makes extensive use (in S2 as well as S1) of these traditional metaphors, metonymies, symptoms, and behaviour patterns; this is a fundamental strategy in his project (in S2) of creating sufficient common ground between C-erôs and P-erôs for the latter to be taken as a plausible account of what erôs (p.240) really is.13 Some of them he adapts fairly straightforwardly from C-erôs to P-erôs (e.g. the gaze as an expression of erôs; erotic desire as the consumption of food or drink; erôs as warmth, softening, or melting; erôs as a disease; erôs as a bitter-sweet amalgam of pleasure and pain; etc.); others he transforms (e.g. the ‘grasping’ of the object of one’s desires is done with the memory (235a), rather than in the more traditional hands-on fashion, as in e.g. Archilochus fr. 196a.48, 51 West;14 though the lover is enslaved by his beloved (252a), in the good lover the master–slave relation is between the better and worse elements of the soul (256ab); and the presentation of erôs in terms of wrestling and other athletic contests becomes the Olympic wrestling victory achieved by the pair of platonically chaste lovers when their souls take wing on death (256b)). Study of these various metaphors, metonymies, and symptoms of erôs and their use in the Phaedrus would be a rewarding but extensive project, which cannot be pursued in detail here. Instead, I propose to concentrate on (p.241) only three images in which elements of the traditional model are exploited in a way which brings out an important and productive multivalence of the images themselves. These are elements, I argue, which are traditional not only in the domain of erôs, but also those of religious and philosophical mysticism, found in both erotic and philosophical poetry, so that their use both illustrates and furthers Plato’s project of dressing philosophy in the language of love. I shall begin and end by concentrating on two different aspects of one major area, vision and the visual, but shall also consider, at the heart of my discussion, the central metaphor of the soul’s chariot; this procedure will allow me to take account of some of the other images as well. First, I should like to consider a feature that occurs in passages that frame S1 and prepare for S2, underlining the nature of the pair of speeches as contrasting but complementary accounts of the madness of erôs. This feature is not a verbal one, but a gesture, sometimes used as a visible, non-verbal way of representing an unseen, internal state of mind, and sometimes occurring as a concrete, visible sign of abstract social status. This gesture is a way of using one domain (the physical manipulation of dress) as a way of thinking about another (psychological state or social status); i.e. a metaphor. The fact that the metaphor is constructed visually and physically rather than in words underlines the important point that metaphor is a phenomenon of thought and not merely of language.15 This visual metaphor’s movement, from the concrete and physical to the abstract and psychosocial, represents a typical feature of the pervasive use of metaphor as a means of structuring and constructing abstract concepts.16 The Page 7 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus gesture in question is veiling,17 an action that Socrates performs at 237a out of shame at what Phaedrus will make of his inexpert essay in improvised speechmaking,18 an enterprise in which he has already enlisted the support of Sappho and Anacreon (235c) and for which he invokes the Muses at 237a. Socrates remains veiled for the whole of S1, unveiling only at 243b, whereupon he reinterprets his shame as prompted by the insult he has perpetrated against those who aspire to non-vulgar forms of erôs and against the god himself, an error to which he was alerted by the promptings of his divine sign at 242b.19 S1 treats erôs as a negative form of madness, something (p.242) that anyone who was sôphrôn would resist, while S2 commends giving in to erôs in its truest form. It is appropriate, then, that S1 should be marked and attended by aidôs, which regularly functions as a counter-weight to the force of erôs, especially illicit, insane, destructive erôs. Such is its force (e.g.) in the resistance of Phaedra to her passion in Euripides’ Hippolytus, a conflict which is vividly and visually illustrated by veiling and unveiling: Phaedra casts off her veil when giving vent to her desires in a frenzy of sublimated wish-fulfilment (201 ff.) and asks to have it replaced at 243–6, out of shame at what she has said and the passion from which it springs.20 The motivational conflict between erôs and aidôs to which Socrates’ veiling alludes is explicitly identified as a typical feature of erôs in S1 itself (237d–238a), and further developed and dramatized by the contrast between the two horses in the chariot-myth, one a lover of honour with sôphrosunê and aidôs (253d, cf. 254e) and the other a companion of hubris and alazoneia (253e), a hubristês (254c, 254e), characterized by anaideia (254d). But Socrates’ unveiling, his repudiation of the Sapphic-Anacreontic, Muse-inspired performance of S1, is also explicitly associated with Stesichorus’ recovery of his sight upon recanting his slander of Helen in the famous Palinode (243ab, 244a, 257a).21 The unveiling thus marks a move from blindness to sight, darkness to light, from a vulgar and shameful mortal conception of erôs to a nobler, divine, and truer form. It marks an illumination, an insight;22 and so it bears comparison with the use of veiling and unveiling to mark the passage from darkness to light, ignorance to knowledge, in mystic initiations.23 Just as Socrates’ veiling prefigures the contest of aidôs and hubris that is dramatized in the chariot-myth’s metaphors (p.243) of struggle and conflict, so his unveiling prefigures the extensive conflation of erotic with mystic vision.24 And thus we move from a model rooted in erotic poetry to one found in philosophical poetry, to the unveiling of the Heliades in the proem to Parmenides’ poem (B 1.1–10 D– K): The mares that carry me as far as my heart ever aspires sped me on, when they had brought me and set me on the far-famed road of the god, which bears the man who knows over all cities. On that road I was borne, for that way the wise horses bore me, straining at the chariot, and maidens led the way. And the axle in the naves gave out the whistle of a pipe, blazing, for it was pressed hard on either side by the two well-turned wheels as the Page 8 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus daughters of the Sun made haste to escort me, having left the halls of Night for the light, and having thrust the veils (καλύπτρας) from their heads with their hands.25 Parmenides is clearly one of the sources for the myth of the soul’s chariot,26 and the use of that model is prefigured in Socrates’ unveiling. But if one immediate source of the chariot-myth is to be found in the philosophical verse of Parmenides, it is equally clear that others are to hand in erotic verse. A primary source is undoubtedly Anacreon’s description of the ‘boy with the maidenly glance’ as the charioteer of his soul, but also relevant are Ibycus’ image of the lover as a chariot-horse which dreads yet another race, and several instances of erôs figured as a chariot race in the Theognidia.27 But (p. 244) the potential sources and associations of the myth are many and various. Most obviously, the winged psuchê is an ancient and recurrent feature of Greek eschatology,28 but there are also traditional myths of the gods (esp. Helios) travelling in (winged or unwinged) chariots;29 in some cases (above all that of Hades, certainly in play here; also that of Eos, emphasized recently by Davidson) the chariots are employed in erotic pursuits and abductions, a relevant motif since the reference to Boreas’ rape of Oreithyia at the beginning of the Phaedrus (229bd).30 Chariots of the Muses are also relevant,31 as is the use of flight as an image for poetic inspiration.32 Also spanning the domains of erotics and religion is the traditional conception of Eros himself as a winged figure; and the idea of the lover’s soul taking wing is no doubt also partly inspired by the traditional language of taking flight and fluttering hearts in descriptions of the symptoms of erôs.33 So the image of the winged psuchê spans the spheres of poetic inspiration, erotic experience, and mythical eschatology. But the chariot-myth also brings in a number of related images and metaphors. Most obviously, the chariot race is a feature of athletic festivals, and so the image of the souls (of lover and beloved) as charioteer and horses brings in the general schema of erôs as an agôn that is reflected elsewhere in the dialogue and part of the traditional imagery of erôs.34 As we have already seen, too, the characterization of the pair of horses in particular represents and takes further the notion of motivational conflict between more than one (p.245) psychic entity that is also a traditional aspect of the conceptualization of erôs.35 But in particular, since the bad horse is presented as a paradigm of hubris, we need to reckon with the influence of two aspects of the metaphorical construction of that concept. First, in a variation of the notion of erôs as a form of consumption (eating or drinking: see n. 13 above), the soul has wings that grow like plants as the soul is filled, like a container, with a form of liquid sustenance that derives from the sight of the beautiful (247de, 251ab).36 But some plants can grow too much, becoming riotously out of control, just as feeding on the vision of the beautiful can over-excite the bad horse unless the charioteer is able to rein it in; and this over-exuberant vegetal growth is a traditional application of the notion of hubris, one that is integral to some ways of thinking about the concept in humans and other animals, i.e. to conceptions of Page 9 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus hubris as something that bursts into bloom when an individual or an organism is satiated (koros) with too much of a good thing.37 Plato is one of the authors who particularly reflect this notion of hubris as the efflorescence of an inner force caused by (literal or figurative) over-feeding; and one of the creatures which paradigmatically manifest the hubris that results from an excess of internal energy, the build-up of pressure within a container, is the horse.38 Both the vegetal and the equine connotations of hubris, of course, are especially associated with sex. As we saw above, Socrates’ unveiling prior to his second speech prefigures and dramatizes the chariot-myth’s presentation of the passage from ignorance to knowledge as a transition from light to darkness, blindness to sight, a metaphor that is (as is apparent from the Republic’s images of Sun, Line, and Cave) fundamental both to the metaphysics of Plato’s middle period and to the mystery religions. The chariot-myth’s account of erotic seeing as a memory of transcendent Beauty excited by the sight of its earthly image is, as we saw, explicitly and extensively presented in the language of mystic initiation. In general terms, then, the ability to exploit the role of vision in traditional models of both erôs and mystic initiation and to blend these in a version of Platonic metaphysics is the central way in which the phenomenology of C-erôs is elevated into an account of P-erôs which nonetheless retains much of the traditional conception. But this domain-duality, if I can call it that, can also be traced at a more specific level in some of the particular (p.246) metaphors involved. At 248bc, for example, the place in which the soul undergoes the mystical vision of P-erôs is described as the plain (pedion) of alêtheia, the location of the meadow (leimôn) that provides the pasture for the best part of the soul: The cause of their great eagerness to see the plain of truth (τὸ ἀληθείας… πεδίον) where it lies is that the pasturage which is fitting for the best part of the soul comes from the meadow there, and that the nature of the wing (ἤ…τοῦ πτεροῦ φύσις) which lifts up the soul is nourished by this (Rowe). In general, this passage takes the metaphorical association between erôs and other, more basic forms of appetite and applies it to the specific image of the soul as pulled by a team of horses (hence naturally drawn to pasture), while at the same time setting up an image of the right kind of spiritual sustenance to contrast with the overfeeding of the hubristic horse which follows at 253e–254e. In particular, however, the concrete topographical detail recalls eschatological myths of various kinds, both mystic and otherwise, in which both terms, pedion and leimôn, are used;39 at the same time, both terms are also regularly found in erotic contexts, both as the locations of eroticized encounters and as aspects of the schema which conflates mother earth and the female body.40 Again, the dialogue’s very setting, near the location of Oreithyia’s abduction by Boreas (229bd) and on the flowering banks of the Ilissus (230bc), confirms the importance of the motif, as many scholars have noted;41 Oreithyia was picking Page 10 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus flowers in a meadow prior to her abduction, according to one source.42 One particular author who combines the erotic and the religio-philosophical aspects of this imagery is Empedocles.43 Empedocles, of course, (p.247) is Socrates’ great predecessor in giving an account of Love in which the explanation of the attraction between two human beings is only an aspect of a much more wideranging account of the nature of the universe. In one place (B 66 D–K), Empedocles refers to the σχιστοὶ λειμῶνες (cleft meadows) of Aphrodite as the source of human generation: the primary reference is to the mother’s body, but the underlying explanatory principle is the cosmic cycle of separation and recombination (what ordinary language would call generation and destruction) driven by Philotes (one of whose alternative names is Aphrodite, B 17.24) and Neikos. Similarly, S2’s account of the cycle of the soul’s transmigrations recalls in some respects Empedocles’ vision of the exile of the daimones in a cycle of reincarnation, during which they wander in the darkness through the meadow of Ate (B 121 D–K). It seems certain that Empedocles is one of the sources whose ideas are transformed in S2; as we saw with regard to Parmenides, Plato’s poetic sources include the philosophical as well as the erotic.44 This makes it interesting that S2’s account of the mechanics of erotic vision both draws on traditional conceptions of erotic poetry and appears specifically to evoke the philosophical poetry of Empedocles. We noted already that vision plays a central role in the traditional poetic phenomenology of erôs. Also in the poetic tradition there can be a link between the erotic eye and processes of heating and liquefaction, a particular erotic application of the general schema in which the body is a container for various kinds of stuff.45 But the specific elaboration of this in S2 (251ac)46 conflates this traditional model of erôs with the optical theory of Empedocles, in which effluences of the objects of vision enter the body through the eyes (specifically its pores).47 Empedocles himself (B 64) seems to have drawn S2’s link between vision and the onset of erôs; but (p. 248) this need imply no more than what is familiar from mainstream erotic poetry. The physicalist explanation of erôs as the direct result of aporrhoai (effluences) entering the lover’s soul is more likely to be Plato’s own development of an Empedoclean optical theory into a model of erotic vision,48 and it may not be meant entirely seriously (as the spurious etymology of 251c might suggest).49 Plato also takes Empedoclean theory further in another way, in making the flow of particles from the beloved reflect back into the beloved’s own eyes, so that he experiences a form of erôs that the beloved himself regards as philia but which Plato calls anterôs (255ce): then it is that the springs of that stream (ἡ τοῦ ῥεύματος ἐκείνου πηγή) which Zeus as lover of Ganymede named ‘desire’ (ὃν ἵμερον Ζεὺς Γανυμήδους ἐρῶν ὠνόμασε) flow in abundance upon the lover, some sinking within him, and some flowing off outside him as he brims over Page 11 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus (πολλὴ φερομένη πρὸς τὸν ἐραστήν, ἡ μὲν εἰς αὐτὸν ἔδυ, ἡ δ’ ἀπομεστουμένου ἔξω ἀπορρεῖ); and as a breath of wind or an echo rebounds from smooth hard surfaces and returns to the source from which it issued, so the stream of beauty (τὸ τοῦ κάλλους ῥεῦμα) passes back into its possessor through his eyes, which is the natural route to the soul; arriving there and setting him all of a flutter (ἀφικόμενον καὶ ἀναπτερῶσαν), it waters the passages of the feathers and causes the wings to grow, and fills the soul of the loved one in his turn with love (τὴν τοῦ ἐρωμένου αὖ ψυχὴν ἔρωτος ἐνέπλησεν). So he is in love (ἐρᾶ), but with what, he does not know; and he neither knows what has happened to him, nor can he even say what it is, but like a man who has caught an eyedisease from someone he can give no account of it, and is unaware that he is seeing himself in his lover as if in a mirror (ὥσπερ δὲ ἐν κατόπτρῳ ἐν τῷ ἐρῶντι ἑαυτὸν ὁρῶν λέληθεν). And when his lover is with him, like him he ceases from his anguish; when he is absent, again like him he longs and is longed for, because his return of love is a reflection of love (εἴδωλον ἔρωτος ἀντέρωτα ἔχων), though he calls what he has and thinks of it as friendly affection rather than love (καλεῖ δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ οἴεται οὐκ ἔρωτα ἀλλὰ φιλίαν εἶναι). In this last elaboration, there are several levels of irony. In contracting anterôs, the beloved fails to understand what has happened to him, like someone who has contracted ophthalmia. This reintroduces the traditional conception of love as a disease, and ophthalmia is a particularly appropriate disease with which to do this, since it is commonly thought of as being contracted by sight, and its most prominent symptom is a discharge (rheuma: cf. 255c1, 6) from (p.249) the eyes.50 The beloved’s condition, anterôs, moreover, is described as the eidôlon (‘image’) of erôs. This term possibly imports a reference to the development of Empedocles’ optical theory in the atomists Leucippus and Democritus.51 Like Empedocles’, their theory was emanationist, but what was supposed to enter the eye of the perceiver was an eidôlon or deikelon of the perceived object.52 According to the sources which report their views, they supported this theory by referring to the image (eidôlon) of ourselves that we see when we look into the eyes of someone who is looking at us.53 But as Aristotle and Theophrastus point out, this eidôlon is not a sign of the process of perception—it is just a reflection.54 It is possible that this is what Plato is getting at with his reference to the mirror at 255d6: i.e. he may be alluding not only to the atomist theory of vision, but also to its (supposed) refutation.55 But the central irony of this account of the beloved’s anterôs is the way that it intersects with (and transforms) traditional conceptions of C-erôs, in this case the notion that erômenoi are self-obsessed and conceited, showing no regard for the erastês, but only for themselves (a motif that finds memorable expression in the (apparently later) myth of Narcissus).56 But behind this irony is an important point about the contemporary conceptualization of erôs (C-erôs) and its Page 12 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus intersection with P-erôs. Plato is prepared to go beyond the contemporary pederastic ideology and argue that the philia which the erômenos might (in the best cases) feel for the erastês is really a form of erôs itself. This is perhaps a bold move on his part. Yet despite Plato’s attribution of erôs, (p.250) in some form, to both parties to the relationship (an aspect of the mutuality and reciprocity that he feels the relationship must have if it is to escape the strictures of Lysias/S1), even he does not conceive of a symmetrical relationship between two parties each of whom loves the other in the same way for the same reason;57 the qualities which excite erôs belong exclusively to the erômenos; the erastês responds to these, and this response elicits a further response, at one step removed (and hence weaker), in the erômenos; but while that response is erôs insofar as it is a perception of an image of an image of the Beautiful Itself, it is not erôs in the everyday sense of being turned on by the allure of another person; even in Platonic terms, anterôs, though a variety of erôs, is not the same as the erôs of the lover. Erôs can only be of the beautiful; beauty is above all aesthetic and (in this world) physical; and only the young are beautiful (cf. S1 at 240d on the ugliness of the erastês). The existence of this feature even in an account as revisionary as Plato’s is a testimony to the strength of Konstan’s pederastic paradigm, the traditional asymmetrical model of active erastês and passive erômenos.58 In conclusion: there is a profusion of images of erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus; but central to Plato’s purpose is a small group whose pedigree lies in both erotic and philosophical (and religious) poetry. These in particular facilitate the mapping of models of erotic experience, via models of mystic enlightenment, onto an allegory of metaphysical epistemology. There are many paradoxes in the Phaedrus: that an account which rejects the C-erôs of the poets relies so heavily on poetry in constructing its alternative; that an account which transforms C-erôs into a vision of the philosophical life should itself prove influential upon subsequent accounts of C-erôs;59 and finally that such a revisionary, antitraditional account of erôs should in the end provide so much evidence for (and retain so much that is typical of) traditional representations of the concept. Notes:

I should like to thank the Leverhulme Trust for funding the research project from which this study derives, Francis Caims, Elizabeth Pender, Christopher Rowe, Simon Trépanier, and Robert Zaborowski for advice and assistance, and the editors for valuable comments on the penultimate version. (1) For previous accounts of Plato’s use of earlier, poetic conceptions of erôs in Phdr. see esp. Fortenbaugh (1966); Lebeck (1972); Foley (1998); Demos (1999); Pender (2007a) and (2007b); cf. in general Nightingale (1995) 133–71 on the dialogue’s appropriation of lyric and other literary genres. On Plato’s use of poetic citation and allusion more generally, see most recently Demos (1999); Halliwell (2000); Giuliano (2005) 291–338; see also the list of citations in Page 13 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus Brandwood (1976) 991–1003. The wider bibliography on Plato’s attitudes towards poetry in general (the so-called quarrel between poetry and philosophy) is not central to my argument and too vast to be accommodated here. (2) Cf. Gooch (1992); Santas (1992). (3) Cf. Rowe (1990) 239–40. (4) Dover (1989) 165. For attempts to make P-erôs (in Symp., Phdr., or in both) more accommodating to modern philosophical notions of love, see e.g. A. W. Price (1981); Nussbaum (1986/2001) 213–22; A. W. Price (1989) 98–102; Nehamas (2007); in my view the strictures of Vlastos (1981) have proved substantially resistant to such attempts. (5) ‘So these too spend their lives as friends (φίλω μὲν οὖν καὶ τούτω… διάγουσι), though not to the same degree as the other pair, both during their love and when they have passed beyond it (διά τε τοῦ ἔρωτος καὶ ἔξω γενομένω), believing that they have given and received the most binding pledges, which it would be wrong to break by ever becoming enemies’, trans. Rowe (1986). Am I alone in finding this model of erôs more hopeful and more worthy of emulation than the metaphysical adulation of the P-lover? (6) Cf. e.g. Nussbaum (1986/2001) 220; Ferrari (1987) 171–8; A. W. Price (1989) 54–60; Rowe (1990) 245; Nichols (2009) 116–20; Sheffield (2011). (7) The irony is perhaps double (cf. Pender (2007a) 44–6): the traditional conception of erôs in the poets is a good reason for avoiding those who are afflicted by it (the point of S1: cf. Rowe (1986) 151), but the poets’ positive view of erôs has its counterpart in Socrates’ own praise of the experience in S2, where the traditional symptoms, expressions, metonymies, and metaphors of C-erôs are, as we shall argue below, transformed in their application to P-erôs (cf. Foley (1998) 42–5; Morgan (2000) 237; Pender (2007b) 9–14). (8) All Phdr. translations in this chapter are from Rowe (1986). (9) On the status of the Phdr. myth (as metaphor and as philosophy), cf. Lebeck (1972); Morgan (2000) 210–40; Pender (2000) 155–62, 219–23; and Rowe (2009). (10) The point is rehearsed in jocular form at 252b, in the two lines of hexameter doggerel attributed to the Homeridae that contrast the human and divine names for Eros. We should note the recourse to poetry (albeit bad poetry) as an indication of S2’s debt to the poetic tradition, as well as the point, at once ironic and serious, that traditional poetic myth-making serves as an example of humans’ inevitably flawed attempts to grasp the abstract truth through metaphor.

Page 14 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus (11) See Pender (2000) 18–36, 76–8, and passim on the main theories of metaphor and their application to Plato’s metaphors for soul. Pender identifies three main theses: the epistemic, i.e. that metaphors can convey a sense of the concept that cannot be expressed in other terms without loss; the illustrative, i.e. that metaphors involve the vivid and memorable representation of ideas which are readily understood in non-metaphorical terms; and the emotive, i.e. that metaphors condition an audience’s affective responses to concepts rather than contributing to their understanding of them. (12) It may be objected that symptoms (e.g. increased body temperature), expressions (e.g. gazing longingly), and typical behaviour patterns (e.g. looking shyly away) are not metaphors. This is true, but (a) these and similar features nonetheless form part of a cultural model of a concept that is thoroughly permeated by metaphor (e.g. the relation between increased body temperature as a symptom and the metaphor of love as fire, or that between the gaze and the metaphor of the eyes as containers for emotion); and (b) such features themselves typically become emblematic of the concept itself, so that to refer to them is a way of referring metonymously to that concept (e.g. when we say ‘my heart skipped a beat’ to convey the notion of romantic/erotic excitement rather than simply to report the physical symptom of cardiac arhythmia). If we think of symptoms etc. as elements in or as features associated with emotions qua holistic syndromes of factors, then their use as symbols or signs of emotion is a matter of synecdoche or metonymy. But if we think of them as aspects of bodily experience that we appeal to in referring to emotions as mental events, evaluations of external states of affairs (especially in social or cultural terms), then we are using a term from one domain (the body) to talk about another (the mind), and are thus in the realm of metaphor. There is thus no hard and fast distinction between symptom, synecdoche, metonymy, and metaphor. (13) See Lebeck (1972) 273–80; DuBois (1985) 99–100; Ferrari (1987) 107–8, 153–5; Pender (2007a) 46–54. A list of traditional poetic metaphors, symptoms, expressions, typical behaviour patterns, metonymies, etc. used of erôs in the Phdr. would include at least the following: (a) gaze as expression/cause of erôs: 247ce, 248bc, 249d–251a, 251c, 251e, 253a, 253e, 254b, 255cd; cf. Hes. Theog. 910–11, Sc. 7–8, Alcm. 1.20–1 PMGF, 3. fr. 3. col. ii. 62 PMGF, Ibyc. 287.1 PMGF, Sappho 138.2 L–P, Anac. 360.1 PMG, Sim. fr. 22.12 West, Pind. fr. 123.3–4 S–M; (b) consumption of food or drink: cf. 247d, 248bc, 251b; cf. also erôs as drunkenness, Anac. 376.2 PMG (also id. 450 PMG, ἔρωτα πίνων); cf. plucking fruit: 252a PMG; cf. Ibyc. 286 PMGF, Pind. fr. 122.6–8 S–M; (c) hunting (pursuit): 252e, 253c (cf. 241d, erastês as predator, with Thgn. 949–50 = 1278cd); cf. Sappho 1.21 L–P, Ibyc. 287.4 PMGF, Thgn. 1283–94, 1299–304; (d) warmth, fever: 251bc, 253e; cf. Sappho 31.10 L–P, 48.2 L–P; (e) shuddering: 251a, cf. Soph. Aj. 693; (f) sweating: 251b, 254c; cf. Sappho 31.13 L–P, Thgn. 1017; (g) softening, melting: 251b; cf. Alcm. 3. fr. 3. col. ii. 61 PMGF; Anac. 459 PMG; Ibyc. 282C (xiv) frr. 29 + 31, line 3 PMGF, 287.1 PMGF, Pind. fr. 123.10–11 S–M; Page 15 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus (h) disease: 231d, 244d, 252b, 255d; cf. Archil. 193 West; (i) madness: 240d, 244a–245c, 249de, 251e, 253c, 256b, 265ac; cf. Sappho 1.18 L–P, Anac. 398, 428 PMG, Ibyc. 286.10–11 PMGF, Thgn. 1231; (j) force: 238b; cf. Sappho 47 L–P, Anac. 403 PMG, Ibyc. 286 PMGF, Thgn. 1273–4, 1275–8; (k) pain (stings, goads, etc.): 240d, 251de, 253e–254a, 254c, 254e, 255d; cf. Sappho 1.3, 172 L–P, Ibyc. 282A (iii) fr. 4 PMGF; (l) near-death experience: 254e; cf. Alcm. 3, fr. 3, col. ii. 61 PMGF, Archil. 193 West; Sappho 31.15–16 L-P; (m) burden: 252c: cf. Anac. 460 PMG, Thgn. 1322; (n) bitter-sweet: 251ce; cf. Sappho 130.2 L–P, Thgn. 1353–6; (o) slavery: 252a (transformed at 256b: worse element in soul enslaved); cf. Archil. 196 West, Anac. 346 (2). 5–6, 357. 1, 505 (d) PMG, Thgn. 539–40, 1235, 1306–7, 1344, 1350, 1357–60; (p) wrestling: 236be, 256b (transformed; cf. 265b); cf. Aesch. Ag. 1206, Soph. frr. 618, 941.13 Radt, Ar. Ach. 273–6, Pax 896– 9, Eccl. 259–61, 964–6; (q) other contests: 245b (non-specific); cf. Anac. PMG 346 (2). 1, 396 (boxing), 398 (knucklebones, dice), Thgn. 1335–6 (gymnastics); (r) fluttering (of heart, etc.): 255cd (with Rowe (1986) ad loc.); cf. Sappho 31.5 L–P, Anac. 346 (1). 12, Thgn. 1018; (s) beloved as agalma: 251a, 252d; cf. Aesch. Ag. 418–19, Eur. Hec. 558–61, fr. 125 Kannicht (cf. Pl. Chrm. 154c, and see Steiner (2001) 186–207); (t) forgetting family: 252a; cf. Sappho 16.10–11. For some aspects of the metaphors and symptomatology of erôs in lyric, see Calame (1999) 13–38; cf. the accounts of erotic symptoms in later genres in Maehler (1990); Létoublon (1993) 137–55; and note the inclusion of Greek examples alongside the Latin in many of the relevant entries in Moreno Soldevila (2011), esp. 348–402 (‘síntomas de amor’, by A. J. Traver Vera). (14) The role of memory, too, can be seen as a motif that Plato has taken from lyric, given its prominence in the experience of erôs as constructed by Sappho (e.g. 16, 94, 96 L–P)—in marked contrast, one might say, to the dominance of physical presence and visual stimulus in the scenarios offered by male eroticists; cf. Foley (1998) 55, 67–8. (15) On metaphor’s role in constructing the conceptual categories by which we understand the world, rather than as mere linguistic or literary ornament, see above all Lakoff and Johnson (1980). (16) See Lakoff and Johnson (1980); Lakoff (1987); Kövecses (2000). (17) I have treated the metaphorical and symbolic aspects of this rich and multivalent gesture in a number of different studies: see D. L. Cairns (1996a), (2001), (2002), and (2009). (18) ‘I shall speak with my head covered (ἐγκαλυψάμενος), so that I can rush through my speech as quickly as I can and not lose my way through shame, from looking at you (ἵν’ ὅτι τάχιστα διαδράμω τὸν λόγον καὶ μὴ βλέπων πρὸς σὲ ὑπ’ αἰσχύνης διαπορῶμαι)’.

Page 16 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus (19) ‘So I shall follow a wiser course than Stesichorus and Homer in just this respect: I shall try to render my palinode to Love before anything happens to me because of my libel against him, with my head bare, and not covered as it was before, for shame (γυμνῇ τῇ κεφαλῇ καὶ οὐχ ὥσπερ τότε ὑπ’– αἰσχύνης ἐγκεκαλυμμένος)’. (20) This struggle between erôs and aidôs becomes a topos in later romantic literature, e.g. Ap. Rhod. Arg. 3.444–5, 1017–20, 1022–4, 1063–8, Ach. Tat. 1.4.1–5, Longus 1.17.2, Heliod. Aeth. 3.5.5–6. (21) On the use of Stesichorus and the Palinode in Phdr. see D’Alfonso (1994) and Demos (1999) 65–86, esp. 69–70, 78–9, 81; cf. Lebeck (1972) 280. For the possibility that Stesichorus’ blinding and recovery was as performative as Socrates’ veiling and unveiling, see Sider (1989), esp. 428–31. (22) Cf. the very common use of veiling/unveiling imagery to express the notion of concealing/revealing the truth: e.g. Eur. Hipp. 191–2 (ἀλλ’ ὅτι τοῦ ζῆν φίλτερον ἄλλο | σκότος ἀμπίσχων κρύπτει νεφέλαις); cf. Pl. Crat. 395b (ἡ οὖν τοῦ ὀνόματος [sc. Atreus, derived from ἀτηρά] ἐπωνυμία σμικρὸν παρακλίνει καὶ ἐπικεκάλυπται); discovery/disclosure as ἐκκαλύπτειν (ἀνακαλύπτειν, ἀποκαλύπτειν), see e.g. [Aesch.] PV 193, Soph. fr. 918 Radt, Hdt. 1.112, Eur. IA 872, Critias B 16 D-K = Eur. fr. 591 Kannicht, Evenus fr. 5 West, Ctesias fr. 26.9 FGrH, Theopompus fr. 20a.35 FGrH, Plut. Lys. 30.2 (etc.); falsehood = καλύπτειν (and cpds): Critias B 25.41 D–K, cf. Callim. fr. 75.39 Pfeiffer. (23) See Schefer (2003) 193–4 on this passage; cf. D. L. Cairns (2009) 53–4, citing (textual evidence) Hymn. Hom. Cer. 192–205; Ar. Nub. 254–68; (visual evidence) Lovatelli Urn (LIMC iv, Ceres 145; cf. the relief, LIMC iv, Ceres 147); Torre Nova Sarcophagus (LIMC iv, Ceres 146); wall paintings in the Mithraeum at Capua Vetere, Merkelbach (1984) 136, with 287–8, figs 29–30. To these add the following, all discussed and depicted in Turcan (2004): fresco or painted stucco, olim Rome, Domus Aurea (now lost), Turcan 107 and fig. 24; plaque, Louvre, Turcan 116 and fig. 52; sarcophagus, Lyon Mus. Civ. Gallo-Romaine, Turcan 119–20 and figs 61–2; sarcophagus, Rome Villa Medici, Turcan 121–2 and fig. 63. (24) NB the mystic language of esp. 248b (ἀτελεῖς τῆς τοῦ ὄντος θέας, ‘without achieving a sight of what is’, Rowe, but also ‘uninitiated in the vision of reality’), 249cd (τοῖς δὲ δὴ τοιούτοις ἀνὴρ ὑπομνήμασιν ὀρθῶς χρώμενος, τελέους ἀεὶ τελετὰς τελούμενος, τέλεος ὄντως μόνος γίγνεται, ‘thus if a man uses such reminders rightly, being continually initiated in perfect mysteries, he alone through that initiation achieves real perfection’), 250bc (κάλλος δὲ τότ’ ἦν ἰδεῖν λαμπρόν, ὅτε σὺν εὐδαίμονι χορῷ μακαρίαν ὄψιν τε καὶ θέαν, ἑπόμενοι μετὰ μὲν Διὸς ἡμεῖς, ἄλλοι δὲ μετ’ ἄλλου θεῶν, εἶδόν τε καὶ ἐτελοῦντο τῶν τελετῶν ἣν θέμις λέγειν μακαριωτάτην, ἣν ὠργιάζομεν ὁλόκληροι μὲν αὐτοὶ ὄντες καὶ Page 17 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus ἀπαθεῖς κακῶν ὅσα ἡμᾶς ἐν ὑστέρῳ χρόνῳ ὑπέμενεν, ὁλόκληρα δὲ καὶ ἁπλᾶ καὶ ἀτρεμῆ καὶ εὐδαίμονα φάσματα μυούμενοί τε καὶ ἐποπτεύοντες ἐν αὐγῇ καθαρᾶᾷ, καθαροὶ ὄντες καὶ ἀσήμαντοι τούτου ὃ νῦν δὴ σῶμα περιφέροντες ὀνομάζομεν, ὀστρέου τρόπον δεδεσμευμένοι, ‘but before it was possible to see beauty blazing out, when with a happy company they saw a blessed sight before them—ourselves following with Zeus, others with different gods—and were initiated into what it is right to call most blessed of mysteries, which we celebrated, whole in ourselves, and untouched by the evils which awaited us in a later time, with our gaze turned in our final initiation towards whole, simple, unchanging and blissful revelations, in a pure light, pure ourselves and not entombed in this thing which we now carry around with us and call body, imprisoned like oysters’). See further Riedweg (1987) 30–69; Schefer (2003). (25) Trans. Kirk et al. (1983). (26) See Slaveva-Griffin (2003), who also includes a useful survey of Parm.’s own possible sources; cf. DuBois (1985) 98–9, who also compares Xerxes’ yoking of the two female personifications in the Queen’s dream at Aesch. Pers. 181–99. (27) Anac. 360 PMG (ὦ παῖ παρθένιον βλέπων, | δίζημαί σε, σὺ δ' οὐ κλύεις, | οὐκ εἰδὼς ὅτι τῆς ἐμῆς | ψυχῆς ἡνιοχεύεις); cf. Ibyc. 287.5–7 (lover as old horse which dreads the contest; cited at Pl. Parm. 137a); Thgn. 952 (lover as charioteer), 1249–52 (boy as horse, lover as charioteer), 1267–70 (boy like a horse willing to be driven by any charioteer). Cf. sex as riding/single-horse race: Anac. 417 (specifically the κέλης, pace Pender (2007a) 48), Thgn. 257–60. (28) See Il. 16.856–7 = 22.362–3, Od. 11.222, 24.1–10. For representations of the soul as bird or winged homunculus in art from the Mycenaean period onwards, see Vermeule (1979) 9–10, 18–19, 26, 31–2, 58–9, 65, 160–2. Further refs. in D. L. Cairns (2003b) 57 n. 38. (29) See e.g. Hades (Hymn. Hom. Cer. 18–19, 32; artistic representations in Lindner (1984)); cf. Dioscuri (London E 224 with Burn (1987)), Eos (Davidson (2007) 201–20); Helios (Hymn. Hom. Cer. 63, 88–9, Mimn. 12, Thgn. 997–8). Davidson insists that Eos’ abduction of Cephalus is the main model for the chariot-myth, but a central plank of this argument (that the latter—very unusually—features a female charioteer: 207, 214–15) is falsified by the fact that there are ten unambiguous references to ὁ ἡνίοχος in the chariot-myth, two uses of the singular without the article, three masculine plurals, and no occurrences of ἡ ἡνίοχος. (30) For the suggestion that Phdr.’s references to the myth of Boreas and Oreithyia belong in a network of allusions to monuments and artefacts at Delphi and Olympia, including the chest of Cypselus (depicting Boreas and Oreithyia,

Page 18 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus Paus. 5.19.1, but also two chariots drawn by winged horses, that of Pelops, Paus. 5.17.7, and that of (perhaps) Thetis, 5. 19. 8) see Morgan (1994). (31) See e.g. Pind. Ol. 9.81, Pyth. 10.65, Isthm. 2.2, Isthm. 8.61, Bacchyl. 5.176–8. (32) See e.g. Ar. Av. 1383–5, 1389–90, 1392–1402, 1409, Nub. 333–4, Pax 828–31, Ran. 1437; Pl. Ion 533e–534b. (33) See e.g. the winged lover of Anac. 378 (‘I fly to Olympus on light wings because of Love’; ἀναπέτομαι δὴ πρὸς Ὄλυμπον πτερύγεσσι κούφῃς | διὰ τὸν Ἔρωτα); cf. the winged Eros who stands for the beloved in Anac. 379. For the fluttering heart, cf. Sappho 31.5, Anac. 346 (1).12, Thgn. 1018, cited in n. 13 above. Socrates puns on this language at 255cd, where the flow of beauty, emanating from the beloved but reflected back from the lover, enters the beloved’s soul via his eyes and ‘sets him aflutter’ (ἀναπτερῶσαν); as Rowe (1986) 188 notes, the verb is almost exclusively metaphorical, and in using it to prepare for the reference to the regrowth of the soul’s wings in the next clause, Pl. makes the link between his image of a winged soul and traditional metaphors of erotic excitement. (34) See the metaphors of wrestling and other contests cited in n. 13 above. (35) Cf. here De Romilly (1982), esp. on the poetic models for the chariot as an image of psychic conflict. (36) See esp. Lebeck (1972) 273–5. (37) See Arist. Gen. an. 725b35, Theophr. Hist. pl. 2.7.6, Caus. pl. 2.16.8, 3.1.5, 3.6.8, 3.15.4, with Michelini (1978); Fisher (1992) 13–14, 119–21; D. L. Cairns (1996b) 22–5. In Pl. see e.g. Plt. 310de, Leg. 691c, 782e–783a. (38) See e.g. Pind. Pyth. 10.34–6 (donkeys), Ar. Vesp. 1306, 1310, Hdt. 4.129, Xen. Cyr. 7.5.62–3, Hier. 10.2, with Fisher (1992) 119–21, 232–3, 353–4; D. L. Cairns (1996b) 22–5. Cf. (e.g.) Phd. 81e–82a, Leg. 808d. (39) See Motte (1973) 247–79. Passages include: Od. 4.561–9, 11.538–9, 24.13; Sappho 95.11–13; Pind. Ol. 2.72–4, Pind. fr. 129. 3–5 S–M; Ar. Ran. 326, 344, 352, 373–4, 441–2, 448–9; Pl. Grg. 524a, Resp. 614e; gold leaves 487.6, 493.4 Bernabé, Hymn. Orph. 18.2, 18.13, 29.12; Plut. fr. 178.11–12 Sandbach. Cf. Hymn. Hom. Cer. 7, 17. (40) See (e.g.) Hes. fr. 26.18–23, fr. 140 M–W, Archil. 196a.42–4 West, Sappho 2 L–P, Ibyc. 286.3–6 PMGF, Anac. 417 PMG, Hymn. Hom. Cer. 2–21, 417–32, Aesch. fr. 99 Radt, [Aesch.] PV 651–4, Eur. Hipp. 73–87, Ion 887–96, etc. Further refs. and discussion in Motte (1973) 35–6, 42–6, 91, 112, 117–20, 196, 207–16 (NB his tabular list of passages at 208–12), 227; cf. Bremer (1975); Slings (1978); Calame (1991), (1999) 153–74; D. L. Cairns (1997) 60–5; Pender (2007a), Page 19 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus (2007b). Cf. the meadow/plain as female genitalia, Archil. 196a.23–4 West, Anac. 446 PMG, Eur. Cycl. 170–1, Emped. B 66 D–K (below), Paus. 2.21.1, with further passages in Motte (1973) (esp. 82–7, 282–5, 361–8; cf. Index, s.v. pudendum muliebre). (41) See e.g. Foley (1998) 45–6; Calame (1999) 154; Pender (2007a) 66–72; Pender (2007b) 3–8. Another relevant erotic aspect of the setting is the intense heat (229a, 242a, 279b): cf. Hes. Op. 582–97, Alc. 347(a) L–P, with Lebeck (1972) 280; Nussbaum (1986/2001) 211, 472 n. 20; Demos (1999) 75. (42) See Choer. fr. 7 Bernabé = SH 321 LJ–P. Cf. Soph. fr. 956 Radt, and see in general Neuser (1982) 30–87. (43) On Empedocles and the Phdr. see Nicolai (1981); Ebert (1993); Laks (2005) 274–6; cf. in general O’Brien (1997). As well as the general parallels (Love as a cosmic force, transmigration, and the cyclic nature of existence) and the instances discussed in the text, there are signs of more local, ad hoc influence, e.g. in the remark at 253e that the bad horse is εἰκῇ συμπεφορημένος (‘a random collection of parts’); cf. the Empedoclean monsters at B 57, 59–62 D–K (not noted by Ebert); or the law of Adrasteia (Phdr. 248c) and Empedocles’ oracle of Necessity (B 115.1); further candidates in Ebert. (44) As indeed is indicated by the observation at 247c that ‘the region above the heavens has never yet been celebrated as it deserves by any earthly poet, nor will it ever be’ (τὸν δὲ ὑπερουράνιον τόπον οὔτε τις ὕμνησέ πω τῶν τῇδε ποιητὴς οὔτε ποτὲ ὑμνήσει κατ’ ἀξίαν), a possible allusion to Empedocles (so Ebert (1993) 218–19). (45) Cf. the passages cited under (g) in n. 13 above. (46) NB esp. ‘after he has seen him, the expected change comes over him following the shuddering—sweating and a high fever (ἰδόντα δ' αὐτὸν οἷον ἐκ τῆς φρίκης μεταβολή τε καὶ ἱδρὼς καὶ θερμότης ἀήθης λαμβάνει); for he is warmed by the reception of the effluence of beauty through his eyes (δεξάμενος γὰρ τοῦ κάλλους τὴν ἀπορροὴν διὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων ἐθερμάνθη)…and with that warmth there is a melting of the parts around its base (θερμανθέντος δὲ ἐτάκη τὰ περὶ τὴν ἔκφυσιν)…and with the incoming stream of nourishment…So when it gazes at the boy’s beauty, and is nourished and warmed by receiving particles (μέρη) which come to it (ἐπιόντα) in a flood (ῥέοντ’)—hence, of course, the name we give them, “desire” (ἵμερος)—it experiences relief from its anguish and is filled with joy’. (47) See A 86, B 84; cf. B 89 (NB the phrase πάντων εἰσὶν ἀπορροαί in a verbatim quotation from Empedocles, and cf. Meno 76cd), 109a. In contrast to Empedoclean optical theory, the traditional, pre-Platonic, poetic model of erôs is emissionist in nature. On emanationist theories of vision, their emissionist and Page 20 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus interactionist rivals, and their intersection with cultural models of emotion see D. L. Cairns (2011); cf. D. L. Cairns (2005) 132–3, 138–41. (48) So Lebeck (1972) 274. (49) Cf. Crat. 419e–420b. It would thus be highly ironic that the Phdr.’s mockserious version of the erotic gaze should prove influential upon later erotics; cf. Ach. Tat. 1.9.4, 5.13.4, Heliod. Aeth. 3.7.5 and see n. 59 below. On Phdr. and Ach. Tat. see Morales (2004) 131–2, who, however, conflates and confuses the description of the lover’s experience at 251b with that of the beloved at 255d. (50) Cf. Hippoc. Aër. 10, Epid. 1.5, Vid. Ac. 9, with Lebeck (1972) 279. The example of ophthalmia recurs in Plut. Quaest. conv. 681D and Heliod. 3.7.4, both of which involve the comparison of the effects of erôs with those of the Evil Eye. The example of ophthalmia is a favourite one in Plut., on whom the influence of the Phdr. is pronounced (see Trapp (1990); Moreschini (1992)), and so it is likely that Plut. is the source parodied in the Heliod. passage (see Dickie (1991)). (51) See Leucippus A 29–30 D–K, Democr. A 77, A 135, B 123 D–K; cf. Epicur. Ep. 1.49–50, Lucr. 4.26–468. (52) It seems that atomist eidôla, like the aporrhoai of Phdr. (but probably unlike those of Emped.), could bear an emotional and ethical charge: see Plut. De def. or. 17, 419A, Quaest. conv. 5.7.6, 682F–683B, 8.10.2, 735B, Sext. Emp. Math. 9.19. For the latest account of Democritean theory, according to which it is both emanationist and emissionist, see Rudolph (2011). (53) See esp. Arist. Sens. 438a5–16, Alex. Aphr. in Arist. Sens. 24.14–22; cf. Theophr. Sens. 53. Cf. the similar view of Anaxagoras, Theophr. Sens. 27 = Anaxag. A 92 D–K. (54) See Arist. Sens. 438a5–16; Theophr. Sens. 51–4; cf. Sens. 36–7 on Anaxagoras. (55) On the other hand, this notion of ‘mirroring’, seeing and understanding oneself in the eyes of others, can also (as at Alcib. 1, 132d–133a; cf. Arist. MM 1213a20–2) support an account of friendship as a mutually beneficial institution; cf. Frontisi-Ducroux in Frontisi-Ducroux and Vernant (1997) 121–4. (56) See e.g. Pl. Lys. 205d–206a, Meno 76b; perhaps one might compare Euripides’ Hippolytus (e.g. Eur. Hipp. 1078–81, with D. L. Cairns (1997) 59–60 n. 36, 73–4). The earliest extant source for a version of the tale of Narcissus now seems to be P.Oxy. 4711 (first(?) century BCE; ed. W. B. Henry in P.Oxy. lxix (2005)), where he appears as a conceited erômenos who rejects all male suitors. The comparison with Narcissus is also drawn by A. W. Price (1989) 87; Steiner (2001) 204.

Page 21 of 22

 

The Imagery of Erôs in Plato’s Phaedrus (57) So, rightly, Calame (1999) 189–90; cf. Ferrari (1987) 162, 176; A. W. Price (1989) 86–7. Contrast Halperin (1986) 62–8; Foley (1998) 49. (58) See Konstan (1994) 26–30. (59) On the influence of Phdr. in the Second Sophistic and later antiquity (esp. in Plutarch and the novel) see Trapp (1990); Moreschini (1992); Morales (2004) esp. 50–60, 130–5; Repath (2007); Ní Mheallaigh (2007).

Page 22 of 22

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes James Robson

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0015

Abstract and Keywords This chapter explores the different ways in which Aristophanes' comedies employ erotic vocabulary—‘the language(s) of love’—the thesis being that each play has its own, distinct erotic landscape. The chapter begins with an overview of erotic vocabulary in Aristophanes and the uses to which three key words in particularare put: erôs, pothos andphilia. Studies of three comedies follow in which the thematic importance of erotic vocabulary is examined. In Acharnians, erôs and pothos are shown to be linked to peace, food, sex and the countryside, while philia plays a crucial role in defining the shifting network of allegiances between characters. In Lysistrata, philia is an all-important gendered concept, intimately linked to the female sphere and the struggle for peace. In Wasps, Philocleon’s strong passions, such as his erôs for the law-courts, are ultimately shown to be less enduring than his son’s philia for his father and city. Keywords:   Aristophanes, Acharnians, Lysistrata, Wasps, erotic, comedy, erôs, philia, pothos

Introduction The erotics of Aristophanes’ plays are hardly an underexplored subject. From the sex strike of Lysistrata, to the sexual references and shameless fantasies to which his characters regularly give voice, Aristophanes’ comedies have long proved fertile ground for those interested in exploring sex and sexuality in Classical Athens. Whilst the obscene and explicitly sexual language of the plays has been much discussed, however, more subtle forms of erotic language have often been overlooked. This chapter aims to redress this balance by exploring ways in which certain terms denoting love, desire, longing, and affection are drawn on and interact in Aristophanic drama. Specific attention will be given to Page 1 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes concepts such as erôs, pothos, and philia, which I shall collectively refer to as ‘erotic vocabulary’ or, more poetically, ‘the language of love’. The focus of this chapter, then, will be on this language of love and the underlying erotic energies of the plays, my thesis being that each play tends to have its own distinct erotic landscape. The erotic vocabulary of Knights, for example, is very much dominated by erôs, with Paphlagon and the Sausage Seller acting as competing erastai (with the claims to feel erôs or philia for Demos largely made either by or about Paphlagon).1 Since the linguistic love play of Knights has already engendered a good deal of scholarly discussion, however, I do not intend to revisit others’ work here, but rather to look at three further plays with a view to highlighting the kind of results that an analysis of erotic vocabulary can yield.2 These plays are: Acharnians (where Dicaepolis’ (p. 252) erôs and pothos for his deme assume key roles); Lysistrata (where female philia looms large); and Wasps (where the different erotic leanings of Philocleon and Bdelycleon play an important part in their characterization, as we shall see). Before considering these plays in detail, however, I shall first look at the words which will form the basis of the discussion in this chapter in order to gain an overview of how the language of love is used throughout the Aristophanic corpus. A note on translation. In this chapter I have generally resisted the temptation of providing English equivalents for the items of erotic vocabulary discussed. When quoting relevant Aristophanic passages in translation, however, I have used Sommerstein’s Aris & Phillips editions of the plays, thereby allowing the reader to see the variety of ways in which words like erôs, pothos, and philia have been translated in context.3 As for the Greek words themselves, these have been transliterated in the main text, but kept in the original Greek in parentheses and quotations.

Erotic vocabulary While love, desire, longing, and affection are expressed in a variety of ways in Aristophanes’ plays, the most commonly used terms are cognates of erôs, pothos, and philia (phil- words being the largest group by far, given the prevalence of both the verb φιλέω and of φίλος in both its nominal and adjectival forms). Further items of erotic vocabulary used less frequently by Aristophanes include cognates of agapê (Vesp. 672, 684; Thesm. 761), epithumia (Av. 1344; Ran. 62, 620), and himeros (found just once, at Lys. 552).4 To begin with erôs,5 this noun and its cognates occur some forty-five times in the eleven plays, the uneven spread ranging from two occurrences in Thesmophoriazusae (401: ἐρᾶν; 1118: ἔρως) and just a single occurrence in Lysistrata (551: Ἔρως) to sixteen occurrences in the erôs-rich Birds.6 The objects of erôs range from positive items like peace (Ach. 32; Pax 191) and food (i.e. sausages, Ach. 146, and whitebait, Av. 76) to negative concepts such as ‘the Page 2 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes horrors of war’ (Pax 1098), disputes (Pax 191), monarchy (Vesp. 474), and ‘evil things’ (Nub. (p.253) 1303: πραγμάτων…φλαύρων; 1459: πονηρῶν… πραγμάτων—the dishonesty inherent in Strepsiades’ erôs to cheat his creditors coming to the fore in the closing scenes of Clouds). Erôs can certainly be employed thematically in a play, such as in Birds where we find references first to Peisthetaerus and Euelpides and later to humans in general being ‘lovers’ of the birds’ society (Av. 324, 412, 1279; cf. 1316). In the realm of human desire, heterosexual erôs can be directed at men (Eccl. 954) as well as women (Thesm. 1118; Plut. 992) and, when used absolutely, the verb eraô can indicate not just a man’s desire for a woman (Pl. 992) or another male (Eq. 734), but also a woman’s love of a man (Thesm. 401; Ran. 1044; Plut. 179). As might perhaps be expected, however, the word erastês is used exclusively of males in the plays (Ach. 991; Eq. 732, 1163, 1341; Nub. 976, 979; Vesp. 1025; Pax 988; Eccl. 994; Plut. 154).7 Eros as a god receives a number of mentions in Aristophanes’ comedies, too. In addition to Eros’ appearance in Lysistrata (where his help in the sex strike is enlisted, 551–4) he is also invoked in Acharnians (where the Chorus ask Eros to unite them with the beautiful Reconciliation, 551) and Assemblywomen (by Epigenes and his young girlfriend, both of whom pray that Eros release them from their torment, Eccl. 954 and 958). It is Birds where Eros is alluded to most frequently, however: first as an example of a god who has wings (574) and towards the end of the play as a groomsman at the wedding of Zeus and Hera (1737). More prominently still, in a pastiche of a creation myth in the parabasis of the play, the Avian Chorus recount how Eros is the egg-hatched, goldenwinged son of Night, and father of the race of birds (693–703).8 Pothos expresses longing for someone or something that is missed or has been missing.9 In Assemblywomen, for example, girlfriend and boyfriend feel pothos for each other (Eccl. 948 and 956), and in Frogs both the dead Euripides and the living Alcibiades are said to be missed (by Dionysus and the city respectively: Ran. 53, 55, 66; 1425).10 Places can also be the object of pothos—Dicaeopolis’ village in Acharnians (33); the olive trees of home in Peace (578) —as can food, such as Theban eels in Acharnians, which have been absent from Athens because of the war (885, 886, 890), or the flat-cakes in Wealth, which the god Hermes no longer receives from suppliants following the creation of (p.254) the new world order (1127). Pothos can be sexual in nature, too (Pax 728; Lys. 888; Thesm. 481), or describe a yearning for peace (Pax 584, 587). In Peace and Birds, Pothos is even personified as a deity (Pax 456; Av. 1320). Some plays are inevitably more pothos-oriented than others: Peace, for example, where much long-standing longing is finally resolved with the establishment of peace and the reclaiming of the countryside, contains eight instances of pothos and its cognates—and pothos also plays an important role in Lysistrata, as we shall see. In other plays, such as Knights and Clouds, pothos fails to feature at all.

Page 3 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes As might be predicted, cognates of philia feature in abundance in each of the eleven extant comedies. These range from seemingly casual references to ‘friends’ and ‘beloved’ objects to more suggestive allusions to the philia, i.e. the affective tie of allegiance or friendship, which binds two individuals together (such as Paphlagon’s philia for Demos in Knights which, contrary to the norm, also has sexual overtones).11 Aside from its prominence, however, what makes philia such a worthy topic of study is the important role that it plays in the erotic life of many Aristophanic comedies. Certainly the networks of philoi, ‘friends’, that characters possess can often be revealing about the allegiances that exist within plays with all manner of people and objects said to be ‘dear’ or ‘beloved’, such as the goddess Peace (Pax 294), so ‘dear’ to Trygaeus and his allies, and Dicaepolis’ market which is ‘beloved’ to Megarians (Ach. 729). In addition, the adjective philos is regularly used as part of an address (e.g. Pax 718: ὦ φίλ’ Ἑρμῆ, ‘my dear Hermes’; Plut. 959: ὦ φίλοι γέροντες, ‘my dear old friends’), often in the superlative (e.g. Nub. 746: ὦ Σωκρατίδιον φίλτατον, ‘my dearest sweet Socrates’; Eccl. 54: ὦ φιλτάτη, ‘Oh darling’).12 Furthermore, numerous examples of compound-adjectives beginning with phil- occur in the plays, such as philopolis, ‘patriotic’ (Lys. 546); philôidos, ‘fond of signing’ (Vesp. 270; Ran. 241), and philampelôtatos, ‘most vine-loving’ (Pax 308). As for the verb, phileô, objects of affection range from people (e.g. Strepsiades at Nub. 82 and 86, or ‘men of worth’ at Nub. 1238) to food and drink (such as dried figs (Pax 634), and wine (Eccl. 227; Plut. 645)) to concepts (Dicaeopolis says he loves his own life, for example, at Ach. 357). Phileô can also signify to kiss (such as at Ach. 1200 and Av. 671 and 676).13 So much for the ways in which these key terms—erôs, pothos, and philia—are used in the Aristophanic corpus as a whole. Let us now turn to the first of our case studies with a view to examining how the languages of love are drawn upon and interact in Aristophanes’ earliest extant play: Acharnians.

(p.255) Erôs, pothos, and philia: the longings and allegiances of Acharnians Desire and longing first make their presence felt in Acharnians in the prologue of the play. The context is Dicaeopolis’ opening speech, made during his lonely wait on the Pnyx, where he reflects on the state of the city—and, in particular, the lack of respect afforded to the Assembly and the unpreparedness of the Prytaneis to discuss peace (17–28). As his ruminations continue, Dicaeopolis uses some striking erotic vocabulary to describe not only his objective in attending the Assembly,14 but also his contrasting attitudes towards the city and his own village. Prefacing his remarks with a paratragic address to the city, Dicaeopolis declares (27–39): O my city, my city (polis)! For myself, I always come to the Assembly before anyone else and sit here; then, when I’m alone, I sigh and yawn, stretch and fart, don’t know what to do, draw on the ground, pluck myself, count Page 4 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes to myself, gazing at the countryside and yearning (erôn) for peace, loathing (stugôn) the town (astu) and longing (pothôn) for my village (dêmos)…So now I’ve come absolutely prepared to shout, interrupt, abuse the speakers, if anyone speaks about anything but peace. What makes this passage noteworthy for the student of Aristophanic erotics is that the desires evoked here, erôs and pothos, are explicitly linked to two central strands of the play. First, erôs is given a role in motivating Dicaeopolis’ main quest in Acharnians, his solitary struggle for (what turns out to be a fairly solitary) peace. Second, mention of Dicaeopolis’ pothos for his village—and his hatred of the city—introduces a theme that comes to pervade Acharnians: the contrast between the sterile life of urban Athens (with its associations of war, corruption, and privation) and the fecund freedom of the countryside (with its associations of peace, food, wine, and sex).15 These two desires are fused together here in something of a programmatic statement, lifted out of the surrounding text by its paratragic phrasing (namely. ὢ πόλις πόλις; στυγῶν).16 The play’s themes and action may be set up in erotic terms in these lines, but what is perhaps surprising is how little the concepts of erôs and pothos are subsequently drawn on in the play. Not that Acharnians is by any means short of erotic activity. Dicaeopolis’ sexual desires are frequently foregrounded in the play, slowly changing from fantasy to flirtation to near fulfilment, as he progresses from the imagined sexual assault of the slave girl, Thratta (276–9), (p.256) to the final scene where he is kissed and fondled by two dancing girls (1198 ff.).17 Interestingly, too, the way in which sexual fantasies are described also ties them in to the nexus of themes outlined above. Thratta’s sexual assault takes place in the countryside, for example, with the sex act itself described by the coinage katagigartisai thus linking it to wine and viticulture (γίγαρτα are ‘grape stones’).18 In a similar vein, the Chorus’ fantasy of sex with Diallage, or Reconciliation (which, we note, they hope Eros will bring about), is detailed in a series of agricultural metaphors, ‘I’d shove in a long row of young vines’ etc. (989–99), the connection once again being made between sex and viticulture.19 For all this mingling of the themes of sex, peace, wine, and the countryside (a set of ideas we also find coexisting in other Aristophanic plays, of course),20 erôs, pothos, and their cognates receive relatively little mention in the rest of Acharnians, however. To take erôs first, aside from Dicaeopolis’ hope that Eros will bring him and Diallage together (991), the only other mention of erôs in the play is by Theorus (in real life a political associate of Cleon and Cleonomes).21 Theorus claims that Sitalces, a philathenaios Thracian king whom he had visited as an ambassador (142), was a ‘true lover’ (ἐραστής) of the Athenians (143),22 and had a son who ‘was yearning (ἤρα) to eat sausages’ at Athens’ Apaturia festival (146). As for pothos, Dicaeopolis’ deme aside, the only other items in the play to arouse this emotion are Dicaeopolis’ market (which the Megarian addresses as ‘beloved’ (729: ἀγορὰ…φίλα), and says he has yearned for as if for Page 5 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes a mother (730: ἐπόθουν τυ…ᾇπερ ματέρα)), and an eel brought to Athens by the Theban trader which Dicaeopolis addresses in tragic fashion, stating three times that it has been the object of pothos (885: ποθουμένη; 886: ποθεινή; 890: ποθουμένην).23 The items that are the objects of erôs and pothos in the rest of the play, then, symbolize the material benefits of peace in Athens (i.e. sausages, the market, the eel) and are emblematic of the significance of good international relations—not just to an Athenian like Dicaeopolis, but also to non-Athenians (like the Megarian) and non-Greek allies (like the son of Sitalces). (p.257) Whilst erôs and pothos are potent, if perhaps underemphasized, forces in Acharnians, one concept that is drawn on time and again in the play is philia. The word philos is used far from casually in Acharnians and clearly fulfils an important role in defining the network of allegiances that exist between characters at different points of the action. In the prologue, for example, Dicaeopolis claims to ‘love’ the Knights (7: φιλῶ),24 and in the play’s final scene, which revolves around a series of contrasts between the bellicose Lamachus and the peace-loving Dicaeopolis, the nature of the ‘friends’ accompanying these two characters neatly reinforces their different leanings: Lamachus’ philoi are soldiers (1215), whereas Dicaeopolis’ philai are dancing girls (1217). The adjective philos can also be linked to items which are the subject of pothos, such as the market place (729–30) and the Theban eel (885 and 887), thus reinforcing the emotional link between each speaker and the longed-for object. Philos is not always used to highlight an existing bond, however: this adjective can also be put to rhetorical use by a speaker to invite the sympathy of a potentially hostile audience (thus signalling a desired rather than actual allegiance). When begging Euripides for some wild chervil, for instance, Dicaeopolis calls the tragedian ‘most beloved’ (475: Εὐριπίδιον ὦ γλυκύτατον καὶ φίλτατον), and Dercetes addresses Dicaeopolis in a similar fashion when he comes to ask for his eyes to be anointed with peace (1020: ὦ φίλτατε). During his controversial account of the origins of the war, Dicaeopolis also refers to those listening to his speech as ‘friends’ (513). When it comes to philia, the shifting allegiances and thematic emphases of Acharnians are played out in a particularly revealing way in respect of the Chorus, who are associated with different ‘friends’ at different points in the action. Initially, it is their loyalty to their deme which is foregrounded. This is expressed in terms of their close association with the charcoal basket that Dicaeopolis kidnaps, variously described as the ‘dearest of their loved ones’ (326: τῶν φίλων τοὺς φιλτάτους), their ‘fellow demesman’ (333: δημότης… ἐμός), and their ‘charcoal-loving age-mate’ (336: ὁμήλικα…φιλανθρακέα). Their hostility, meanwhile, is directed towards Dicaeopolis, who they claim is a ‘friend’, philos, of the Spartans (338–40). Later, as the two semi-choruses indulge in a fiery debate about the merits of the arguments that Dicaeopolis has put forward in his speech, those sympathetic to Dicaeopolis seek to defend him (564–5), whilst those still hostile to his plan for peace address Lamachus as a Page 6 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes ‘friend’ and ‘fellow tribesman’ (568: ἰὼ Λάμαχ’, ὦ φίλ’, ὦ φυλέτα). Once the Chorus lose their ‘sour-wine passion’ (352–3: ὀμφακίαν…θυμόν), however, and their enmity towards Dicaeopolis is abandoned, the nature of the ‘friends’ they mention changes as we are slowly introduced to a variety of Athenians who are financial losers in (p.258) the money-grubbing city. The Chorus mention by name, for example, those of their number who—unlike Lamachus—have failed to benefit from embassy service and its perquisites (607–14), and they also talk of ‘friends’ of Lamachus’ who avoid him because of his constant demands for money (615–17). More poignantly, they refer to an old man who addresses his ‘friends’ in tears after he is ruined in the law courts (689–91). Towards the end of the play, the philia which is foregrounded changes in character again. Now attention is placed on divine figures, with the Graces (who are associated with Diallage, ‘Reconciliation’) described by the Chorus as ‘beloved’ (989: φίλαις). This is in contrast to War (Polemos), whom, they say, they have previously been unable to assuage, despite offers of wine and friendship (985: φιλοτησίαν), and whom they now promise never to admit into their homes again (980). The erotic landscape of Acharnians, then, is one in which erôs and pothos play key, if muted, roles and where the allegiances underscored by philia are both important thematically and subject to a certain amount of renegotiation and realignment as events unfold. The importance of phil- words in signalling allegiances is hardly unique to Acharnians, of course: similar patterns are discernible in Peace, for example, as well as in Lysistrata, as we shall see.25 Nor is a change in emphasis in the erotic vocabulary used by a comic chorus unique to Acharnians: in other plays, too, choruses are wont to demonstrate a shift in allegiance following the agôn. Indeed, this is a phenomenon we shall witness again when we come to look at Wasps.

Make philia, not war! The erotic life of Lysistrata In a play whose plot revolves around a sex strike, what is remarkable about Lysistrata is the near absence of erôs. Only once is the concept evoked, namely when Lysistrata says that the success of her plan depends on Eros and Aphrodite breathing ‘desire’, himeros, over women’s ‘bosoms and thighs’ (551–4); nowhere else are the verb eraô or noun erôs used. This passage also marks the sole occurrence of himeros not just in the play but in the Aristophanic corpus as a whole.26 (p.259) Far more important in the erotic landscape of Lysistrata is pothos. This is the emotion to which Lysistrata appeals at the beginning of the play when addressing the women, for example (98–9): Don’t you miss (potheite) the fathers of your children badly, when they’re on campaign?

Page 7 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes Importantly, too, for the plot of Lysistrata, we discover that pothos acts no less powerfully in respect of men and is thus destined to play a crucial role in the success of the sex strike. Lysistrata underlines this fact when some of the younger women attempt to escape from the Acropolis in order to have sex. Addressing the collected women, she says (763–4): …maybe you do long for (potheit’) your husbands; but do you suppose they don’t long for (pothein) you? Confirmation that men, too, are affected by pothos comes from the mouth of Cinesias during the long‐drawn‐out seduction scene. When he is not describing his desire for Myrrhine in physical terms (869: ἔστυκα, ‘I’ve got a hard on’), or fantasizing about sex with her (972–9: εἴθ’…περὶ τὴν ψωλὴν περιβαίη, ‘If only… she would land on my prick’), Cinesias expresses his passion for his wife not in terms of erôs but pothos. The comment he makes about Myrrhine is that ‘her haughtiness and petulance towards me…overwhelm[s] me with desire (πόθῳ)’ (887–8). Pothos may be instrumental in bringing the two sexes together in Lysistrata, but a far more important role is played by philia—a concept that takes on a special significance for women in this play since it underpins female unity and the women’s campaign for peace. Women commonly use phil- words when addressing each other (15: ‘They’ll come, darling (φιλτάτη)’; 145: ‘Oh my darling (φιλτάτη), you’re the only real woman here’); and they also describe themselves as one anothers’ ‘friends’ on more than one occasion (238: ‘only your share, my friend’, ὦ φίλη; 712: ‘Speak to thy friends’, φράζε ταῖς σαυτῆς φίλαις). But philia, it seems, is in short supply among the men of Lysistrata who never address or refer to each other in this way.27 The few occasions when men are referred to as philoi fall into two categories. One scenario sees a man addressed by a woman as ‘most beloved’/‘darling’ (φίλτατε)—something which in fact happens only twice in the play, both times in respect of the teased Cinesias, who is first greeted in this way by Lysistrata at 853, and later left in the lurch by Myrrhine with the parting words, ‘do make sure you vote for peace, darling’ (950–1: ἀλλ’ ὅπως, ὦ φίλτατε, σπονδὰς ποιεῖσθαι ψηφιεῖ). The other scenario where we find male philoi is when a female speaker is talking about a man who is allied to the (p.260) women’s cause. One example of such an ally is the man-hating Timon, about whom the Female Chorus sing a song in response to the Male Chorus’s ode about the arch-misogynist Melanion (781–95 and 805–20): Timon is described as ‘most friendly to women’ (820: ταῖσι δὲ γυναιξὶν…φίλτατος).28 The only other example of a male philos comes in the course of Lysistrata’s lengthy wool metaphor where she prescribes a series of cures for the city’s ills (567–86).29 One suggestion she makes is the extension of citizen rights to various social groups both inside and outside Athens. Along with immigrants (metoikoi) and Page 8 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes those in debt to the treasury (581) she says that the Athenians should look to include among the ranks of the citizens ‘any foreigner who’s friendly (φίλος) to you’ (580). So, once again, a male philos is something distinct from the warring Greek men who populate the play. An important point to make at this stage is that, in other plays in the Aristophanic corpus, philos and its cognates are regularly used both by men and of men (to take a simple example, in Thesmophoriazusae, where male and female characters are also in conflict, Euripides is addressed by his In‐law as ‘my dear, dear fellow’ (210: ὦ φίλτατ’)). That is to say, phil- vocabulary is not always so strongly gendered—and so the patterns of use identified above would appear exceptional.30 Of particular interest is the way in which the verb phileô is used in Lysistrata. A woman can be credited with ‘loving’ a man, as at 905–6: MYRRHINE: I’m not going to say I don’t love (phileô) you. CINESIAS: You love (phileis) me? Then why not lie down, Myrrhie baby? And women are also said to ‘kiss’ others (also signalled by the verb phileô in Greek): Myrrhine asks to kiss (φιλήσω) her baby at 890, for example, and the Old Women’s leader kisses the Old Men’s leader at 1036 (‘I shall kiss (φιλήσω) you’, ‘No, don’t kiss (μὴ φιλήσῃς) me!’). But men are never the subject of the active verb phileô. Unlike the women, they neither ‘love’ nor ‘kiss’—which is not the case in other plays (the Sausage-Seller claims to ‘love’ (φιλῶ) Demos, at Knights 769, for example, and at Peace 118 Trygaeus’ daughter asks her father if he loves her: εἴπ’, ὦ πάτερ, εἴ τι φιλεῖς με;). Once again, then, there is evidence to suggest that Aristophanes is using phil- words in a self-consciously gendered way in Lysistrata. Indeed, while Myrrhine, as a woman, can claim to (p.261) ‘love’ her husband, Cinesias, as a man, is spoken of as capable merely of being loved (870–1): MYRRHINE: I love him (phileô), I love him (phileô), but he doesn’t want to be loved (phileisthai) by me. Philia, then, is a concept closely linked to the female sphere and the campaign for peace—an idea which is reinforced, too, by the fact that the younger women seal their pact over a ‘cup of amity’ (κύλιξ φιλοτησία) at 203, and by the Women’s Chorus leader describing her fellow older women as possessing ‘patriotic (φιλόπολις) valour’ at 546.31 But this is not to say that philia is an emotion completely absent from the world of men in Lysistrata. Towards the end of the play, the Spartan prays in his song that ‘our pact may now be blessed with everlasting friendship (φιλία) and prosperity’ (1266–9). Crucially, then, it is only

Page 9 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes with peace in prospect, and once the men are united in cause with the women, that philia becomes a concept that is applicable to the male sphere too.

Courting trouble: the fads and philia of Wasps Philia and erôs are the passions that drive the action of Wasps. The major ‘love interest’ of the play is the law courts, of course, with which the ageing Philocleon is portrayed as obsessed. But less prominent strands of erotic language are also discernible in the play. The loving disposition of Philocleon’s son, Bdelycleon, both towards the city and his father is an example of a more sedate type of erotic feeling. And in a more scurrilous vein, the sexual appetites of Philocleon form an erotic thread which runs throughout Wasps, the objects of his attentions changing as the focus shifts from the public courts, to the domestic courtroom, and finally to the symposium that father and son attend at the end of the play. Erotic language is first used in the prologue of the play, when the audience’s attention is directed to consider the extraordinary disease from which the old man is said to be suffering (71: νόσον…ἀλλόκοτον). In an extended comic sequence, the two slaves guarding Philocleon turn to the audience and ask for suggestions as to what the nature of his malady might be. Sosias tells us that the first ‘guess’—that Philocleon is philokubos, ‘a dice-lover’—is wrong, but Xanthias adds that the malady does indeed begin with philo- (77: ἀλλ’ “φιλο” μέν ἐστιν ἁρχὴ τοῦ κακοῦ). There follows a series of ‘guesses’ in a similar vein: (p.262) that the old man is philopotês, a ‘drink-lover’ (79); or philothutês, a ‘sacrificelover’; or philoxenos, a ‘guest-lover’ (82)—all of which turn out to be incorrect. Finally, when the ‘guesses’ dry up, we are told that he is a philêliastês, ‘a jurylover’, like ‘no-one on earth’ (88). So, the old man turns out to be suffering from an excessive philia for the law courts—and philia is the erotic emotion foregrounded once more when we learn at 133 that this character’s name is Philocleon, ‘lover of Cleon’ (a particularly suitable name for a jury-obsessed man since Cleon had been the politician responsible for raising juror’s pay in Athens to three obols).32 When Xanthias details the symptoms of Philocleon’s ‘jury-loving’, however, it seems that the old man is not merely subject to philia, but is also consumed by erôs. Philocleon is not only said to ‘love’ (ἐρᾷ) judging (89), but his obsessions with the paraphernalia of the law courts are presented as those of an infatuated erastês. He spends sleepless nights dreaming of the water-clock, writes the name of the voting-funnel as graffiti in a kalos-inscription, and so on. As Xanthias explains (89–93; 97–99; 104–105): That’s what he’s in love with (erai), judging, and he groans if he can’t sit on the front bench. During the night he doesn’t have the tiniest grain of sleep; but if in fact he does shut his eyes even a speck his mind still flutters around the water-clock down there the whole night long.…And, by Zeus, if Page 10 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes he sees scribbled on a door anywhere ‘Pyrilampes’ son Demos is beautiful’, he goes and writes close beside ‘The voting-urn’s funnel is beautiful’…[and he] then goes down there and sleeps in front of the court, hours early, clinging to the pillar like a limpet. Philocleon’s ‘jury-loving’ tendencies are further underscored throughout the play by a range of erotic vocabulary. For example, he ‘pines’ (τήκομαι) when listening to the Wasp-Chorus, his ‘friends’ (317: φίλοι), outside the house, since he is unable to join in with their singing.33 And once Bdelycleon has won the agôn and the Chorus are convinced by his arguments, Philocleon bemoans his fate (750: ἰώ μοί μοι), stating once again his love for the law courts (753: ‘There is what I yearn for (ἔραμαι), there would I be’). When the domestic court is being constructed for him in the courtyard of his home, Philocleon also claims that he ‘misses’ (ποθῶ) the hero-shrine of Lycus which stood near Athens’ law courts (818–19), and as he races inside to find some suitable railings for his ‘courtroom’, his son, Bdelycleon, remarks on his father’s philochôria, ‘love of place’ (834: ‘What a powerful thing one’s love of place can be!’). A further strand of erotic language in the play concerns Bdelycleon and the changing stance he is credited with taking towards the city. It is the Chorus who provide this commentary, with their claims about Bdelycleon’s erotic (p.263) leanings changing as their perspective on events shifts. Before the agôn, the Chorus address him an ‘enemy of the people [and] lover (ἐραστά) of monarchy’ (474), whereas post-agôn they remark to Bdelycleon that ‘we have been well-disposed to you since we perceived that you loved (φιλοῦντος) the people (τὸν δῆμον) as no other man does’ (887–9). This shift from (negative) erôs to (positive) philia is echoed later, too, when the Chorus praise Bdelycleon’s philopatria (1465)—a word with the double connotation of ‘filial devotion’ and ‘patriotism’ (two qualities which, in the context of Bdelycleon’s campaign to turn his father against the city’s law courts, arguably amount to much the same thing). Interestingly, when Bdelycleon sets about correcting his father’s misapprehensions about the nature of public finances in Athens and exposing the limited nature of the benefits the old jurors enjoy despite the city’s prosperity, the somewhat bland erotic emotion that Philocleon is accused of harbouring is agapê.34 While bribery, corruption, and profiteering are rife in the city, Bdelycleon says that his father is ‘quite content (ἀγαπᾷς) to nibble at the trotters of your own empire’ (672) and ‘content (ἀγαπᾷς) if someone gives you those three obols [sc. for jury service], money that you yourself originally acquired by hard toil’ (684). Just like his passion for the law courts, then, the old man’s contentment is shown to be misplaced—unlike his son’s restrained and thoughtful love of his city and his father. No discussion of the erotics of Wasps would be complete without mention of Philocleon’s sexual exploits, which form something of a leitmotif in the play. Initially the setting for this old man’s sexual wantonness is the city’s law courts Page 11 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes where, we learn, the sexual exploitation of witnesses is one of the perquisites of his job. As a juror, Philocleon gets ‘the chance to look at boys’ private parts when they are being examined for registration’ (578),35 and in the course of various involved jokes we are also told that he gets to listen to a defendant’s daughter (rather than his son) if he enjoys ‘pork’ (573: τοῖς χοιριδίοις—a slang term for female genitalia) and has the power to decide whom an heiress should marry (586; a claim which is turned into a double entendre about ‘deshelling’ an heiress by Bdelycleon—589: ἀνακογχυλιάζων). Philocleon also benefits from the attentions of his own daughter who, while kissing her father, tries ‘to fish my three obols out of me [sc. my mouth] with her tongue’ (609).36 With Philocleon’s changing circumstances, however, these pleasures, which all depend on his attendance at the public law courts, stand in danger of disappearing. But Bdelycleon has an answer for this: Philocleon’s ebullient sexuality will also be catered for under the new regime (p.264) of the domestic court. Here Bdelycleon says he will provide his father with ‘a whore to massage his prick’ (739); and here, too, a housemaid who opens the door surreptitiously may, according to another double entendre, expect to pay ‘a fine of a single (drachma)’—or, alternatively, be required to furnish ‘just one clinch’ (769: ἐπιβολὴν…μίαν μόνην).37 Philocleon’s sexual vitality spills out one last time. In the final scene of Wasps, he brings on stage the naked flute-girl, Dardanis, whom he has stolen from the party where he has wreaked havoc. As he propositions the girl, asking her ‘to do this prick of mine a favour’ (1347), we see Philocleon’s capacity for troublemaking and sexual enjoyment in the present, which contrasts starkly with the fading abilities of the Chorus, whose glory and conquests belong firmly to the past (1060–4).38 O the prowess we showed once of old in choruses and the prowess we showed in battle and the superb manly prowess we showed just in precisely this respect [indicating their phalli]! That was of the past, of the past; now it is gone… But even Philocleon is not the man he once was. As Henderson notes, Philocleon is no revitalized comic hero in the mould of Dicaeopolis or Trygaeus in possession of a ‘magical’ woman to service his sexual desires;39 and for all his sexual energy, and for all his claims to be young (1355: νέος γάρ εἰμι), his penis is likened to rope that is sapros, ‘worn out’ (1343: ὡς σαπρὸν τὸ σχοινίον).

Page 12 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes Indeed, the flute-girl is ultimately led away, with Philocleon’s sexual desires unfulfilled, his impotence underlined by his son’s remarks that (1379–80): I’ve taken her away from you because I think you’re worn out (sapros) and not able to do anything.40 Philocleon’s impotence in this last scene is worth dwelling on since it is an important feature of his characterization more generally in the play. In terms of sexual desires, for example, Philocleon’s pleasures are either passive (p.265) (e.g. looking at a boy’s private parts, or hearing a defendant’s daughter speak) and/or projected and ultimately unfulfilled (e.g. the promise of a whore to massage his prick at home, or his spurned proposition of the flute-girl, Dardanis). This impotence is arguably a feature of his life as a juror, too. For all the petty benefits Philocleon enjoys, in the course of the agôn Bdelycleon demonstrates to his father that, far from enjoying ‘power that’s equal to that of any king’ (548–50: τῆς ἀρχῆς…οὐδεμιᾶς ἥττων ἐστὶν βασιλείας), he is in fact ‘bamboozled’ by the words of those deft and exploitative orators by whom he ‘choose[s] to be ruled’ (667–8: σὺ γάρ, ὦ πάτερ, αὑτοὺς ἄρχειν αἱρεῖ σαυτοῦ τούτοις ῥηματίοις περιπεφθείς).41 In erotic terms, the ineffectiveness of Philocleon’s passions provides the play with an important contrast between the two main characters, feeding into the inverted nature of the father–son relationship. On the one hand, Philocleon’s obsessive love of the law courts is exposed as misguided and his outrageous flirtation with the flute-girl is destined to be fruitless; or in other words, his erotic desires are ultimately shown to be passing fancies.42 Bdelycleon’s less exuberant philia for his father and city, on the other hand, is not only praised by the Chorus but also proves to be a constant character trait.43 But as the staid father-figure in this inverted relationship, Bdelycleon is no match for his father in terms of lively appeal, as numerous scholars have concluded.44 And an important part of Philocleon’s ebullient charm is the strength of the passions he is wont to demonstrate and the fact that, unlike his father, his erotic reach is so wide, extending as it does from philia to erôs and agapê.

Conclusion This brief survey of the languages of love in Aristophanes has allowed us both to gain an overview of how words like erôs, pothos, and philia and their cognates are used in the plays and also to observe some of the specific ways (p.266) in which Aristophanes controls and manipulates erotic vocabulary in Acharnians, Lysistrata, and Wasps. Of course, these three titles have been chosen in part because they are plays in which Aristophanes’ use of erotic language has an interesting story to tell, and there are certainly comedies in which the language of love is either less profuse or forms patterns which are less striking. Much of the erotic vocabulary of Assemblywomen, for instance, is restricted to a single scene45—namely that which features the battle for Epigenes between the Old Women and his young girlfriend—and Thesmophoriazusae can boast just two Page 13 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes cognates of erôs, one of pothos, one of agapê, and a relatively thin scattering of phil- vocabulary (used largely to underscore existing allegiances or in wheedling requests).46 But in other plays erotic vocabulary clearly does have thematic importance. In Peace, for example, philia is regularly drawn upon to underscore the unity of those in pursuit of peace (as in Lysistrata philia is similarly linked to peace) and no doubt the language of Birds would reward further study, since this is a play whose erotic landscape remains relatively unexplored territory.47 The loves and longings of Aristophanes’ characters may not be as arresting as the obscene and sexual language which has formed the basis of so much work on Old Comedy, but in a genre which so often takes a desire for change as a starting point of its plots, the language of love in Aristophanes is certainly not short of interest. Notes:

(1) Paphlagon describes himself as Demos’ erastês, Eq. 732, and his claims to ‘love’ (φιλέω) Demos are mentioned at Eq. 773, 779, 791, 792, 821, 848, 861, 870 and 946. The Sausage-Seller, on the other hand, Demos’ self-professed anterastês, Eq. 733, claims to ‘love’ (φιλέω) Demos only twice, at Eq. 732 and 769. (2) Discussions of the erotic language of Knights include: Henderson (1991) 68– 70; Wohl (2002) 75–7, 83–91 and 105–23; Scholtz (2004) = Scholtz (2007) 43–70, and Yates (2005), esp. 42–3. (3) Quotations are thus taken from Sommerstein (1980), (1982), (1983), (1985), (1990), (1994), (1998), and (2001). (4) On the etymology of pothos, himeros, and erôs, see Weiss (1998); cf. their folk etymologies given at Pl. Crat. 420a. For a brief survey of the differences in meaning and nuance between agapê, pothos, himeros, and erôs, see Davidson (2007) 11–16. (5) As Weiss (1998) 31 notes, Pausanias expresses doubt as to whether a clear distinction between pothos, himeros, and erôs can in fact be drawn (1.43.6). (6) Where erôs and its cognates appear at Av. 76, 135, 136, 143, 324, 412, 574, 592, 696, 700, 703, 704, 706, 1279, 1316, 1737. On the complexity of Birds’ erotic landscape, see n. 47 below. (7) The sole uses of anterastês, Eq. 733, and erômenos, Eq. 737, also apply to males. Whilst it is generally the rule outside comedy, too, that erastai are male, there is also the prominent exception of Alcestis, who is classed as an erastês at Pl. Symp. 180b5. (8) See Stafford (this volume).

Page 14 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes (9) For an overview of the use of pothos and its cognates in Homer and Classical drama, see Sfyroeras (2008) 302–3, whose definition of the term is an ‘intense nostalgic longing for someone or something absent or lost’ (302). Sfyroeras also suggests that pothos is not only ‘more passive than erôs’ but also ‘tends to feminize those experiencing it and to render then powerless’ (303). (10) On pothos in Frogs, see Sfyroeras (2008). (11) On the relation of philia to other items of erotic vocabulary, see Davidson (2007) 32–4. On the erotic landscape of Knights, see main text and nn. 1 and 2 above. (12) See Willi (2003) 186–7 and n. 30 below. (13) Ignored for the purposes of this study are occurrences of phileô in the corpus where the meaning is clearly ‘to be wont or used to do’ (LSJ φιλέω, s.v. II), e.g. Nub. 812 and Vesp. 263. (14) Pace Olson (2002) ad loc. Who claims that εἰρήνης ἐρῶν, ‘yearning for peace’, in line 32 is a ‘banal metaphor’. Cf. Taillardat (1965) 161 §304. (15) A theme which is given an interesting twist in this play through Dicaeopolis’ acquisition, as the action progresses, of what are essentially urban habits (e.g. engagement with rhetoric, involvement in commerce, and the purchase of luxury foodstuffs): see Compton-Engle (1999). (16) For Silk (2000) 36, ὢ πόλις πόλις in line 27 is ‘very obviously tragic in tone’; Olson (2002) ad loc. calls στυγέω in line 33 ‘high poetic vocabulary’. (17) Dicaeopolis’ various fantasy sexual partners include: the ‘blooming’ slavegirl, Thratta (276–9); another ‘blooming young girl’ (Thratta again?: 1143–9); and the two dancing girls (with whom he enters at 1198). If Henderson (1991) 61–2 is right about the presence of double entendres in line 1102 and 1121 (a suggestion not picked up by Olson (2002) ad loc.), then Dicaeopolis also flirts with a slave boy. (18) On katagigartisai see Starkie (1909) ad loc.; Taillardat (1965) 100; Henderson (1991) 166; Silk (2000) 186; Halliwell (2002) 122; Olson (2002) ad loc. (19) See Henderson (1991) 61. (20) See, e.g., Robson (2009) 171–2. (21) On Theorus, see Olson (2002) on lines 134–5. (22) On the ‘demophilia topos’ in oratory, see Scholtz (2004) 265–71 = Scholtz (2007) 46–51; cf. P.W. Ludwig (2002) 141–53 and Wohl (2002) 144–58. Page 15 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes (23) There is a further connection, too, between the eel and Dicaeopolis’ deme: the eel is said to have been missed for six years (890), which is the same period of time for which we earlier learn that Dicaeopolis has been absent from his village (266). (24) Ostensibly for getting Cleon to ‘cough up’ five talents (Ach. 6): a reference either to a historical event or to an episode from Aristophanes’ Babylonians (or perhaps both): see Olson (2002) ad loc. (25) In Peace, phil- words are regularly used by those united in their mission of regaining Peace, both in connection with the goddess herself (294, 308, 393, 582, 661, 1055) and when addressing one another: e.g. Trygaeus to Hermes (416, 718) and the sickle-maker to Trygaeus (1198). (26) At Pl. Crat. 420a, himeros is said to signal desire for something that is present (cf. pothos, which describes longing for something absent). (27) Indeed, none of the play’s men use philos or its cognates in relation to women, either. (28) On the Timon ode, see Hawkins (2001). (29) On which, see Henderson (1987) ad loc. and Sommerstein (1990) ad loc. (30) To be sure, Willi’s (2003) 186–7 figures show that women are statistically more likely than men to use vocative forms of philos as a term of address in Aristophanic comedy. Whilst women only speak 17.4% of lines in the plays, 44.1% of occurrences of the vocative of philos in its positive form (i.e. 15 out of 34 uses) and 41.2% of occurrences in its superlative form (i.e. 14 out of 34 uses) are to be found in the mouths of women. Separating out Lysistrata from the rest of the Aristophanic corpus, however, we find that 100% of the 12 uses of philos as a term of address in Lysistrata originate with women, compared to 30.6% (i.e. 17 out of 56 uses) in the other ten plays. See further Willi (2003) 157–97 on characteristics of ‘Female Speech’ in Aristophanic comedy. (31) Philopolis famously occurs in Pericles’ Funeral Speech (Thuc. 2.60.5): see Scholtz (2004) 267 and 269 = Scholtz (2007) 47–8. (32) Scholiast on Vesp. 88 and Av. 1541. (33) The Chorus also claim at 270 that Philocleon is ‘fond of singing’, philôidos, thus anticipating the singing competition that takes place between father and son towards the end of the play (Vesp. 1222–49). (34) On the meaning and nuance of agapê see Davidson (2007) 12, who describes it as love which is ‘chaste-ish’, ‘expressing neither intimacy nor an impassioned desire’. Page 16 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes (35) See MacDowell (1971) ad loc. (36) A line which has raised its fair share of comment. Dover (1972) 127, for example, notes that French kissing was considered ‘highly erotic’ by the Greeks. Reckford’s (1987) 246 verdict on Philocleon and his courtroom antics is that he displays a ‘warped erotic nature’. (37) See MacDowell (1971) ad loc. and Sommerstein (1983) ad loc. (38) The presentation of the Chorus of Wasps is discussed as an example of pathos by Silk (1987) 87–9, who highlights what he calls the ‘once but now’ motif apparent in this passage (89). See also Crichton (1993) 59–60 on the characterization of these wasp-jurors. Reckford (1987) 237 suggests that Philocleon acts as a ‘test case for [the Chorus’] vitality as they grow old’. (39) Henderson (1991) 82. Philocleon’s aspirations in respect of Dardanis are essentially those of an old man (or at least an older man with a healthy male heir), namely to keep her as a pallakê or ‘concubine’: see Davidson (1997) 102. (40) On Philocleon’s faded (sexual) abilities, see Henderson (1991) 81–2. In terms of erotic vocabulary, Philocleon (but perhaps Bdelycleon—the attribution of this line is disputed) is also said to be yearning (eran) for ‘coffin’ at Vesp. 1365. (41) Reckford (1987) 249 lights on further passages in the play which are suggestive of Philocleon’s lack of potency, e.g. the sword (which Reckford sees as a phallic symbol) which he is unable to hold upright at Vesp. 713–14. (42) A. Bowie (1993) suggests that Philocleon comes across as ‘crazed’ and ‘emotionally disordered’ (82–3) and is characterized by ‘imagery of the wild’ (95), a theme further explored by Silk (2000) 252–5, who also highlights Philocleon’s mutability (‘recreativity’) in this play. On Philocleon’s madness, see also Beta (1999). (43) As P. W. Ludwig (2002) 202 notes there is also a tension between the public nature of the pleasures in which Philocleon indulges and the more private pleasures his son would have him pursue (such as drinking and singing in the context of the symposium and the enjoyment of a prostitute). (44) e.g. Dover (1972) 125; A. Bowie (1993) 80–1 and 97–8; MacDowell (1995) 178; Silk (2000) 247. For Gomme (1962) 79, Philocleon is ‘a triumph of characterization’. (45) Discussed by Calame (1999) 133. (46) Erôs-cognates: Thesm. 401 and 1118; pothos: 481; agapê-cognate: 761; phil-cognates in direct addresses: 210, 286, 574, 703, 978, 1015, 1056, and 1147. Page 17 of 18

 

The Language(s) of Love in Aristophanes (47) Patterns in the use of erotic vocabulary are far from easy to discern in Birds, although human erôs for bird society is clearly a running theme with the god, Eros, also given special prominence (see main text above).

Page 18 of 18

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF)

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) Vanessa Cazzato

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0016

Abstract and Keywords This chapter examines in detail the imagery of Ibycus' fr. 286 PMGF. The elaborate images in each half of the fragment are viewed as components of ‘worlds’; these worlds relate in interesting ways to each other, to the amorous world implied by the utterance, and to the sympotic world implied as performative context. Thus the locus amoenus of the first half of the fragment becomes not only an image of erôs but also a setting for erôs. This stands in contrast to the symposium as a setting for a different kind of erôs, which is expressed through an externalized emotional landscape in the stormy image of the second half of the fragment Keywords:   imagery, worlds, symposium, erôs

ἦρι μὲν αἵ τε Κυδώνιαι μηλίδες ἀρδόμεναι ῥοᾶν ἐκ ποταμῶν, ἵνα Παρθένων κῆπος ἀκήρατος, αἵ τ’ οἰνανθίδες αὐξόμεναι σκιεροῖσιν ὑφ’ ρνεσιν 5 οἰναρέοις θαλέθοισιν· ἐμοὶ δ’ ἔρος οὐδεμίαν κατάκοιτος ὥραν. Page 1 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) †τε† ὑπὸ στεροπᾶς φλέγων Θρηίκιος Βορέας ἀίσσων παρὰ Κύπριδος ἀζαλέ- 10 αις μανίαισιν ἐρεμνὸς ἀθαμβὴς ἐγκρατέως πεδόθεν †φυλάσσει† ἡμετέρας φρένας In spring, the Cydonian apples watered from flowing streams flourish where the untouched grove of Maidens is, and the grape-blooms growing beneath the shady vine-leaves. But for me erôs/Eros is never at rest. [Like?] Thracian Boreas ablaze with lightning bolts, rushing from Cypris’ side, dark and dauntless with parching frenzies, he strongly [guards? has crushed? shakes? consumes? will crush?] my heart from the roots.1 Ibycus’ fragment 286 PMGF is preserved by Athenaeus (13.601b) among a selection of erotic and pederastic excerpts (paideia or paidika, as he calls them— erotic encomia for beautiful boys).2 The verses are adduced as evidence for the ‘immoderately erotic’ character (οὐ μετρίως ἐρωτικός) of their respective authors. ‘Ibycus of Rhegium’, we are told, ‘cries out and shrieks aloud’ (βοᾶι καὶ κέκραγεν) the verses of our fragment. Thus the poem is introduced (p.268) as a statement about the immediate effect of desire on a speaking subject assumed to be the poet. As often in this kind of biographical allegory, one of ancient philology’s favourite modes of operation, the emotions and sentiments of a poem’s imaginary world are projected onto the authorial subject in real time. But the poem is more properly understood in the light of its formal and occasional character as a piece of lyric song, and in the context of a traditional language and imagery of desire. This imagery, an elaborate diptych of contrasting landscapes, has proved problematic to modern interpreters. A perceived lack of cohesion is the leitmotif of scholarship on this fragment. In what follows, an interpretation is offered of the fragment as conjuring up different imaginative ‘worlds’ which interact with the implied world of the ‘here and now’. This manner of reading the fragment helps make sense of the complicated imagery and illuminates ways in which it hangs together as a coherent unit. The fragment is then situated as an utterance in its implied context of performance: this, too, is a ‘world’. This implied context of performance—it is argued—is the symposium, the context par excellence of Greek pederastic love. Onto the world of the symposium are grafted the more imaginative worlds of imagery. But before moving on to discuss the imagery of the poem, it is necessary to acknowledge some of the textual issues of this fragmentary and corrupt text. We Page 2 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) do not know how much of the poem is preserved. It is possible that we have the opening.3 It should not be excluded that we have the whole poem. The metrical structure is a matter of debate. Lines 1–7 make good sense as a stanza.4 Attempts have been made to restore metrical responsion, and it is possible to conceive of what we have as a complete structure consisting of a strophe and an antistrophe.5 At any rate, what we have is a coherent unit of sense; the pervasiveness of the imagery and the lack of application to a particular situation or laudandus arguably increase its effectiveness. The fragment functions satisfactorily as a whole centred on the contrast between two landscapes: the peaceful locus amoenus (an idealized ‘pleasant place’) of the first half, and the tempestuous landscape of the second. In what follows, then, the surviving text will be discussed as if it were a whole. Of the various corruptions, two are major and demand to be mentioned here. The first is in line 8: †τε† ὑπὸ στεροπᾶς φλέγων. Verse-initial τε is impossible, and the reading crucially affects how we understand the fragment’s second half. The conjectures advanced by Hermann (ἅθ’ ὑπὸ) and Melhorn (ἀλλ’ ἅθ’ ὑπὸ) have one thing in common:6 they turn the image of Boreas into a simile. Tortorelli’s tentative suggestion (τοι ὑπὸ vel ὑπὸ τοι—but τοι in first position is unacceptable) has the advantage of preserving a metaphor which answers to the (p.269) metaphor of the fragment’s first half.7 West’s speculative reconstruction of the stanzas presupposes a missing line and a half before ὑπὸ στεροπᾶς and leaves the question open.8 The second major corruption affects the main verb of the final line. This has been the focus of almost all scholarship on the fragment. According to Page, the manuscript reading φυλάσσει (‘guards’) does not make sense as the conclusion of Eros’ powerful assault on the speaker, and various alternatives have been advanced.9 Though several of these alternatives have much to recommend them, none can be adopted with any degree of certainty. Hence an interpretation will be attempted which does not depend on the meaning of the last verb. The fragment displays two notable features. The first is the complete absence of an addressee, or even any clear love-object (though there is some suggestion of an identification of Eros with the object of erôs in lines 6–7, see below). This is particularly evident in the first five and a half lines, which seem to exist, as we will see, in a space and time of their own. The second and most striking formal feature of the fragment is the ‘turn’ (volta) in the middle (at lines 6–7). The lyric ‘I’ is absent for the first five lines; and the moment of intrusion, where he makes his presence felt with ἐμοὶ δ’ (line 6), is a strong disjunction—almost a new beginning. It marks the transition between the two imaginative ‘worlds’ of the ode. The first of these worlds, which occupies the first half of the fragment, is the verdant garden of the mysterious ‘maidens’, where quince-apples flourish on the trees and vine-blossoms bloom on the shady vines. This scene, though in the present tense, is a timeless tableau, almost a diegetic description of a fictional locale: one might compare it with Calypso’s cave in the Odyssey.10 Though the scene is temporally marked by the opening word ἦρι, this has a descriptive or Page 3 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) adjectival force, rather than an adverbial one. The time of the spring-scene is a different time from the internal time of the speaker; it does not seem to form part of his subjective experience. The springtime locale simply is—a place existing in some vague location. This pleasant landscape conjured up by the speaker’s description is a (p.270) fictional world distinct from the world which the speaker inhabits. This locus amoenus is imbued with erotic symbols: it is a quintessential space of love. It is said enigmatically to belong to parthenoi: who are these parthenoi?11 They could be the Graces,12 or nymphs,13 or possibly even Muses.14 On one level, they are probably parthenoi with a small ‘p’, maidens ripe for marriage, like Alcman’s parthenoi; this does not seem inappropriate if we consider that the locus amoenus is clearly marked out as late spring, just as the fruits are about to burgeon. On a mythological level, though, the grove of apple-trees is probably an allusion to the garden of the Hesperides. From Homer onwards, hieros gamos (‘sacred marriage’) is associated with such idyllic places. The garden of the Hesperides is said to have been the site of Zeus’ first lovemaking to Hera;15 Ge, the Earth Mother, caused the famous apple-trees to spring up as a wedding gift.16 So the grove might be thought of as an archetypical setting for lovemaking as well as an image for erôs. A similar symbolic setting is evoked by Anac. fr. 346.7–8: ‘the fields of hyacinth, where Cypris tied her…horses freed from the yoke-straps’ (τὰς ὑακιν[θίνας ἀρ]ούρας | ἵ]να Κύπρις ἐκ λεπάδνων | ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣ ]´[ ̣ ]α[ς κ]ατέδησεν ἵππους). In our fragment, the indication that it is an image rather than a setting comes only in line 6, where the δέ in ἐμοὶ δ’ ἔρος finally answers ἦρι μὲν in the first line. Only here, in the transitional sentence, is it made explicit that the verdant garden is a vehicle for a different tenor, namely erôs.17 The ‘turn’ falsifies the initial expectation that the opening scene in the garden is an actual setting,18 and establishes the speaker in the text. With the arrival of the speaker, we shift into a second vehicle, where physical actions (the raging North Wind, the storm) overtly allegorize mental or emotional processes: the psychic trauma of erôs. There is a much greater sense of presence here as the static tableau of the poem’s first half is replaced by an (p.271) explosion of dynamic forces. This second world is apparently coterminous with the speaker’s own psyche. Its subjective character is evident in the way in which tenor and vehicle, love and wind, are closely intertwined, in contrast with the image of the garden, where the tenor was absent.19 This is the case regardless of whether we restore the text to have a simile or a metaphor here, but the effect is more marked with a metaphor. Love, identified with Thracian Boreas,20 ‘darts’ from beside Cypris, wherever she is,21 armed with lightning bolts but also with ‘parching frenzies’, black like a storm-cloud and also fearless (or ‘shameless’, line 11: ἀθαμβὴς),22 and the direct object of its action (whether guarding, consuming, crushing or shaking) is the speaker’s own mind or heart.23 Meteorological and emotional phenomena are assimilated. The contrast in the ‘feel’ of these two images is evident in the different force of the two main verbs. Page 4 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) In both of the poem’s imaginative ‘worlds’ a single finite verbal predicate is deferred to conclude the thought. On most reconstructions at least, both are presents, but θαλέθοισιν (line 6) is intransitive and static while φυλάσσει—or λαφύσσει or τινάσσει—is forcefully transitive and inflicts its action on none other than the speaker. If we accept a stanzaic interpretation of the metre, this effect is reinforced; for if there is metrical responsion, with lines 1–7 providing a unit, then the forcing of the very different content and syntactical structure of the two halves into the same metrical pattern heightens the contrast between them. The first half of the fragment enacts a sense of being at rest with its parallel participial units underscored by repetition (with a slightly varied dactylic lilt) of the article-and-conjunction formula (αἵ τε Κυδώνιαι | μηλίδες ἀρδόμεναι and αἵ τ’ οἰνανθίδες | αὐξόμεναι), each of which is enlarged upon with further detail and fleshes out the picture expressed in the opening noun ἦρι. There is no tidiness or symmetry, on the other hand, in the second half of the fragment; rather, the accumulation of qualifying words (φλέγων, Θρηίκιος, ἀίσσων, ἐρεμνὸς ἀθαμβὴς, ἐγκρατέως πεδόθεν) enacts the relentless violence of erôs’ onslaught. There is even a temporal wrench as we are thrust forward from a static picture of springtime ripening and grace to midwinter and the assault of the North Wind. The word πεδόθεν in line 12 (‘from the bottom up’) is used by Hesiod to describe an earthquake as well as in the Odyssey of a man’s (p.272) most intimate nature.24 And indeed, all the action and movement and violence of this second image paradoxically point no further than the speaker’s innermost heart. So the fragment falls neatly into two contrasting halves, and almost all of it is made up of detailed imagery. This juxtaposition of apparently unrelated images has left interpreters wanting some sense of cohesion between the parts. Martin West’s damning assessment is often quoted: ‘Ibycus will spring from one metaphor to another, with chaotic overall effect.’25 Interpreters have responded by arguing for a sophisticated allusive technique, explaining individual elements of the image-clusters in each half of the fragment by reference to similar passages in Greek poetry.26 They have hailed the point-for-point contrast between the two halves as the fragment’s main structural device. Several thematic contrasts have been proposed. For instance, Campbell speaks of ‘the contrast…between the seasonal regularity of nature and the ever-present love of Ibycus which knows no seasons’.27 The contrast between the eternally renewed seasons of nature and the ages of man is perhaps prompted by the aged lover of fr. 287 PMGF. Davies contrasts ‘the peaceful calm of the garden of parthenoi and the violent turmoil of the poet’s own emotions’.28 What is clear is that the contrast cannot be between absence of erôs and presence of erôs. Bowra missed this when he tried to explain the locus amoenus as a ‘virginal’ image.29 The plants of the locus amoenus are distinctly fruitful.30 The vine is an erotic symbol.31 Apples, too, are an overtly erotic symbol,32 and probably one with predominantly heterosexual connotations. They are connected with the idea of Page 5 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) marriage in Stesichorus, Sappho (most probably), (p.273) and Solon.33 The ‘casting of an apple’ is proverbial for seduction in the language of comedy as well as in the myth of Atalanta.34 Faraone has argued that the role of quinces in marriage rites and seduction scenes is to be explained by the magical-erotic powers attributed to them.35 Women’s breasts are often compared to apples36 and, without wanting to suggest any double entendre in Ibycus, it might still be worth mentioning that the image of a κῆπος or ἄλσος seems to have been employed euphemistically for female pudenda.37 On vase-paintings, apples appear often in feminine contexts, but also as love-gifts to erômenoi. So there is no doubt that the cluster of images of the garden builds up a world that is both a setting and an image for a particular kind of erôs—possibly an erôs with specifically heterosexual connotations. This is to be contrasted with the different kind of erôs of the world of the second half of the fragment. The poem’s two worlds are metaphors for two contrasting kinds of love. Erôs is the tenor for which the Παρθένων κῆπος is a vehicle. The same is true of the image of Boreas which follows the transitional sentence: the wind, too, is a vehicle for erôs. The two worlds of the contrasting landscape are hinged by the world of their shared tenor. The world of the tenor is the world of the amatory utterance—the world which the speaker logically inhabits, the world in which he is struck by painful love, and in which he performs his song. It is odd that the poem’s ‘turn’—the transitional sentence—so important to the meaning is rarely discussed. When it is, it is usually just assimilated to the ‘world’ of Boreas. But this transitional sentence must not be assimilated to the image of Boreas because it stands to that image as tenor stands to vehicle. (p. 274) Boreas is an image for Eros who is never κατάκοιτος, but the two are not the same. They belong to different notional worlds: Boreas to the world of the vehicle and restless Eros to the world of the tenor. So how does this transitional sentence characterize the world of the tenor? The first thing to note is the ambiguity inherent in the term ἔρος, which is both an abstract noun and a proper name. If we understand erôs with a small ‘e’, then this sentence is as a literal explanation of the tenor for which the garden and storm are both vehicles: the speaker is saying ‘the emotion erôs is never at rest for me’. But this transitional sentence which links to the amatory situation can also be understood to involve the character of personified Eros—Eros with a capital ‘E’. Needless to say, there is not a firm distinction: the emotion erôs experienced as a daimonic force easily shades into the god Eros.38 Indeed, early Greek love poetry likes to play with this ambivalence, as when Anacreon says, ‘Eros strikes me with an axe then douses me in a cold river’ (fr. 413 PMG), or when he says that Eros invites him to play a game of ball with a girl (fr. 358 PMG). Ibycus elsewhere plays with identifying Eros and the object of erôs. The most striking instance is fr. 287 PMGF, where Eros captivates the speaker, an ageing warhorse of a lover, with the radiance of his eyes, and throws him once again into Cypris’ net. The seductive power of the beloved’s glance is a topos of Greek love Page 6 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) poetry,39 and the speaker is seized with a tremor of desire as the god approaches. Clearly, then, the pais kalos in question is identified with Eros, who is also a pais kalos, as the vases attest. Barbara Breitenberger has suggested that the beloved boy is assimilated to Eros also in fr. 288 PMGF. There, Euryalus is depicted as a nursling of Aphrodite, the Graces, and Persuasion, while Eros is absent: this suggests that Euryalus stands in for him.40 Be that as it may, in our fragment, in the transitional sentence, ἔρος is both the emotion which torments the speaker, and an attractive youth who will not lie with him (line 7: οὐδεμίαν κατάκοιτος ὥραν). Personified Eros, then, can also be viewed as an image of sorts: Eros, who typically takes the form of an attractive youth, will not lie with the speaker. The scene replicates the common situation of the erômenos who resists the advances of the erastês. The speaker bemoaning the uncooperativeness of the youth Eros corresponds to an erastês bemoaning the uncooperativeness of an erômenos; this is a common sympotic scenario. So one might argue that the world of the transitional sentence, that is to say the world of the amatory situation which prompts the utterance (for the fragment is couched in the form of a love-prompted utterance), is specifically a sympotic world. It is quite probable that the fragment is from a sympotic (p.275) poem, and that it was meant to be performed and reperformed in the symposium. The erotic theme and its handling are closely reminiscent of overtly sympotic poetry. Even Cingano, in an article aimed at undermining the rigid classification of lyric poetry into monodic poetry as equivalent to sympotic poetry on the one hand, and ‘public’ choral song on the other, takes for granted that our poem is a sympotic poem.41 The speaker is plausibly taken to be a symposiast, and the deictic ἐμοὶ δ’ returns us from the world of the garden to the symposium. The striking word κατάκοιτος, which is hapax (i.e. this is its only recorded instance), may be an allusion to the practice of reclining in the symposium, just as the cognate κατάκεισθε in Callinus’ martial exhortation (fr. 1 West) has been understood as an allusion to the sympotic context of performance.42 The amatory situation fits very well in a sympotic context. And there is no other plausible semi-institutionalized context for this kind of erotic poem. The onus, then, is on anyone who would disagree to propose an alternative. But a sympotic interpretation of the speaker’s utterance does not, in fact, depend on an assumption of actual sympotic performance. For though the fragment is located as an utterance in the context of the symposium, yet it is not a transcript of a particular historical occasion. The symposium is rather a conventional space, an aesthetic locus. It is as when the speaker in Anacreon’s fr. 396 PMG calls for garlands and wine; we do not think of him actually calling out in song to a real boy to pour wine for him. Instead, we understand that the poet is casting himself as a symposiast and relying on his audience to cast themselves in a fictional symposium alongside his speaking persona and the pais. Anacreon then goes on to challenge Eros to a boxing match, so that there too the world of the symposium is blended with a different world—the world of the gymnasium (an Page 7 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) equally erotic pederastic world). The symposium as an aesthetic locus seems to have been peculiarly interested in such interactivity between imaginative worlds. We see it also, for instance, in the topos of drinking at sea, both in poetry and on pottery.43 Instead of a political storm upsetting the symposiasts’ cups, our fragment presents us with an erotic squall blowing into the symposium. There is special point to the juxtaposition of worlds. The world of the locus amoenus is pointedly not that in which the speaker is located: ἦρι μὲν…ἐμοὶ δ’ ἔρος. The locus amoenus is an ‘image of elsewhere’, to borrow (and adapt slightly) Ruth Padel’s phrase.44 The speaker defines his sympotic world negatively, by contrasting it with the distant image of ‘otherness’ he has conjured up in the first world, the springtime garden. The imagery which constitutes (p.276) that world is primarily of a fruitful and satisfied erôs, and possibly a heterosexual, rather than homosexual erôs. The moisture and fertility of the garden, the quinces, and the parthenoi all seem to refer to marriage and reproduction. This is at odds with the world of the symposium and of paidika. On the other hand, the world of the speaker (the sympotic world) is invaded by the second image, that of Eros as the violent wintry wind. We have seen that the dynamic image of Boreas is presented in such a way that the speaker is much more involved in it, and the image is more ‘present’ in the world of the speaker. Tenor and vehicle pass in and out of each other. If the spring was pointedly an external unattainable landscape, the tempest forces its way into the world the speaker inhabits: it invades the world of the ‘here and now’ of the symposium, and reaches even into the heart of the speaker to become an internal landscape. There is a much stronger sense of presence suggested by the relentless sequence of qualifiers and the transitive verb pinning down ἡμετέρας φρένας —‘my heart’—as in the eye of a tornado. The fragment, then, is best served by understanding the images of each half as conjuring up two contrasting imaginative worlds, each connected in a different way to the ontologically more solid sympotic world of the ‘here and now’. At the beginning of the fragment, the poet deliberately plays with conjuring up a ‘world’, a setting—not merely a symbolic image. This world is revealed by the ‘turn’ (ἐμοὶ δ’ ἔρος, line 6) to be an impossible world, a world of imagery, a world remote from that of the speaking subject. This amatory sympotic world of the ‘here and now’ is, on the other hand, penetrated by a different imaginative world in a satisfyingly inverse movement: while in the image of the garden what might have been an external setting had turned out to be a symbol, in the image of the storm a symbolic emotional image seems to spread its disturbance to take over the world of the ‘here and now’. Notes:

(1) My own literal translation. The textual problems are discussed below. (2) An account of the textual tradition in Ucciardello (2003). (3) Dale (1969); Race (1992). Page 8 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) (4) West (1982). (5) West (1966b); Tortorelli (2004). (6) See the apparatus criticus in PMGF for these conjectured restorations. (7) Tortorelli (2004) 374. (8) West (1982). (9) The most commonly accepted (though not to the extent of being printed in the main text) is West’s λαφύσσει, ‘consumes (as if by fire)’; this builds on the image of the lightning and also provides a neat contrast with the moistness of the locus amoenus in the first half; see West (1966b) 153–4; cf. Borthwick (1979). Naeke’s τινάσσει (see the apparatus criticus in PMGF) is based on analogy with Sappho fr. 47 L–P, where Eros is also compared to the wind: Ἔρος δ’ ἐτίναξέ μοι | φρένας, ὠς ἄνεμος κὰτ’ ὂρος δρύσιν ἐμπέτων. Gentili (1984) defends φυλάσσει as furthering the idea of sleeplessness anticipated by κατάκοιτος in line 7, and refers to Mel. Anth. Pal. 12.157: Ἔρως δ’ οἴακα φυλάσσει | ἄκρον ἔχων ψυχῆς ἐν χερὶ πηδάλιον· | χειμαίνει δὲ βαρὺς πνεύσας Πόθος cf. Luginbill (1995). Tortorelli’s recent φλάσει, reviving Hermann’s earlier but mostly ignored φλάσεν, is based on a comparison with Hor. Carm. 1.25, which, he argues, imitates our Ibycean fragment—see Tortorelli (2004). To these published conjectures must be added ταράσσει, suggested to me independently by Gregory Hutchinson and Mr. W. Poole. (10) Hom. Od. 5.63–73; cf. Heubeck et al. (1988) 262. (11) Cf. Gallavotti (1981), who emends Παρθένων to Παρθένω and has the grove refer to the Samian sanctuary of Hera. (12) Cf. Pind. Ol. 9.27, ἐξαίρετον Χαρίτων νέμομαι κᾶπον, and Ar. Av. 1099–100, ἠρινά τε βοσκόμεθα παρθένια | λευκότροφα μύρτα Χαρίτων τε κηπεύματα. (13) Cf. Anac. 357: ὦναξ, ὧι δαμάλης Ἔρως | καὶ Νύμφαι κυανώπιδες | πορφυρῆ τʿ Ἀφροδίτη | συμπαίζουσιν. Cf., too, Eust. Il. 6.420: Εἰ δὲ καὶ δρύες διʿ αὐτῶν γίνονται καὶ μηλέαι καὶ τὰ ἐν λειμῶσιν, οὐδὲ τοῦτο ἀφῆκεν ἡ ποίησις ἀπεριλάλητον ἁμαδρυάδας νύμφας τινὰς πλασαμένη καὶ μηλίδας καὶ λειμωνιάδας, with Van der Valk (1976) 350. (14) Tortorelli (2004) 375. (15) Eur. Hipp. 742–51 Ἑσπερίδων δʿ ἐπὶ μηλόσπορον ἀκτὰν | ἀνύσαιμι τᾶν ἀοιδῶν…κρῆναί τʿ ἀμβρόσιαι χέον- | ται Ζηνὸς μελάθρων παρὰ κοίταις, | ἵνʿ ἁ βιόδωρος αὔξει ζαθέα | χθὼν εὐδαιμονίαν θεοῖς, with Barrett (1964) 303–6. (16) Pherec. fr. 16 EGM. Page 9 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) (17) I use ‘vehicle’ and ‘tenor’ to mean respectively the image which serves as comparison and the thing compared. (18) Cf. Dante Rime 101: Al poco giorno, ed al gran cerchio d’ombra | son giunto, lasso! ed al bianchir de’ colli, | Quando si perde lo color ne l’erba; | E ’l mio disio però non cangia il verde… (19) On ‘interaction’ between vehicle and tenor see Silk (1974). (20) There may be some play on the sound of the words ἔρος—Βορέας—ἐρεμνός. (21) Gallavotti (1981) 120 emends to Κύπριδ’, ὅς ‘per avere moto a luogo, e non la provenienza’. (22) Cf. Bacchyl. 15.58, ἀθαμβὴς Ὕβὴς, and Anth. Pal. 5.177: Κηρύσσω τὸν Ἔρωτα, τὸν ἄγριον· ἄρτι γάρ, ἄρτι | ὀρθρινὸς ἐκ κοίτας ᾤχετ' ἀποπτάμενος. | ἔστι δ' ὁ παῖς γλυκύδακρυς, ἀείλαλος, ὠκύς, ἀθαμβής… (23) Cf. Archil. fr. 188 West:…ἦ γὰρ πολλὰ δή σʿ ἐ̣πῆι̣ξ̣εν | πνεύμ]α̣τα χειμερί̣ων ἀνέμων, μ̣ά̣λ̣α̣ π̣ο̣λλάκις δ’̣ ε[. The fragment is too fragmentary to be able to tell precisely what the image refers to, but E. Bowie’s (1987) suggestion that ‘the blasts of wintry wind in Archilochus may be the assaults of desire’ seems plausible. Cf. too Il. 2.144–6: κινήθη δʿ ἀγορὴ φὴ κύματα μακρὰ θαλάσσης | πόντου Ἰκαρίοιο, τὰ μέν τʿ Εὖρός τε Νότος τε | ὤρορʿ ἐπαΐξας πατρὸς Διὸς ἐκ νεφελάων. (24) Hes. Theog. 680; Hom. Od. 13.295. (25) West (1980) 42. (26) See especially M. Davies (1986); Cavallini (1997) 139–42. (27) Campbell (1967) 310. Cf. Barron (1984) 13; Gentili (1988) 103. (28) M. Davies (1986). For the contrast between outer peacefulness and inner turmoil Lavagnini (1954) 204 compares also Theoc. Id. 2.38–9: ἠνίδε σιγῇ μὲν πόντος, σιγῶντι δʿ ἀῆται· | ἁ δʿ ἐμὰ οὐ σιγῇ στέρνων ἔντοσθεν ἀνία. (29) Bowra (1961) 260–3, whose reading is based on a comparison with the meadows in Eur. Hipp. 73–8 and Soph. Trach. 144–7, which however also have definite erotic implications; see especially Bremer (1975). (30) Cavallini (1997) 140. (31) See Nisbet and Hubbard (1978) on Hor. Carm. 2.5.10 for a list of examples and add Phld. Anth. Pal. 5.124: Οὔπω σοι καλύκων γυμνὸν θέρος, οὐδὲ μελαίνει |

Page 10 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) βότρυς ὁ παρθενίους πρωτοβολῶν χάριτας. | ἀλλ' ἤδη θοὰ τόξα νέοι θήγουσιν Ἔρωτες…Perhaps, too, Alc. fr. 119 L–P. (32) On the symbolism of apples see B. O. Foster (1899) and Littlewood (1968), with an excellent list of sources. μῆλον is conventionally translated ‘apple’ but is in fact a generic term for any tree-fruit; which kind is specified by adding an indication of provenance, e.g. μ. Περσικόν for peaches, μ. Ἀρμενιακόν for apricots, or, in our case, μ. Κυδώνιον for quinces. Quinces were already known in Homeric times and may have been regarded as the μῆλον par excellence. Early fifth-century coins from the island of Melos depict a quince on one side and a ram’s head on the other, a pun on μῆλον and its different meanings. The quince was also dedicated to Aphrodite, the chief deity in Melos; see Baumann (2007) 100–1. μηλίδες is an uncommon form for μηλέα. (33) Stes. fr. 187 PMGF (apples thrown at the wedding of Menelaus and Helen); Sapph. fr. 105a L–P with the context of the citation, Himer. Or. 9.16 (the image of the unpicked apple seems to allude to a still unmarried girl); Plut. Vit. Sol. 20.3; Mor. 138d, 279f (Cydonian apples figure in Solon’s marriage legislation). (34) Ar. Nub. 997: μηδʿ εἰς ὀρχηστρίδος εἰσᾴττειν, ἵνα μὴ πρὸς ταῦτα κεχηνὼς | μήλῳ βληθεὶς ὑπὸ πορνιδίου τῆς εὐκλείας ἀποθραυσθῇς. Early evidence for the story of Atalanta and the apples: Hes. fr. 76.8–23 M–W. Cf. Anac. fr. 358 PMG. (35) Faraone (1999) 69. (36) For breasts = (Cydonian) apples see: Cantharus fr. 6 PCG: Κυδωνίοις μήλοισιν ἴσα τὰ τιτθία; Ar. Ach. 1199: ἀτταταῖ, | τῶν τιτθίων, ὡς σκληρὰ καὶ κυδώνια; Ar. Eccl. 903: μὴ φθόνει ταῖσιν νέαισι· | τὸ τρυφερὸν γὰρ ἐμπέφυκε | τοῖς ἁπαλοῖσι μηροῖς, | κἀπὶ τοῖς μήλοις ἐπαν- | θεῖ·…; Lys. 155 Ὁ γῶν Μενέλαος τᾶς Ἑλένας τὰ μᾶλά πα | γυμνᾶς παραϊδὼν ἐξέβαλʿ, οἰῶ, τὸ ξίφος (cf. Ibyc. 296 PMGF), cf. schol. ad loc. and Henderson (1987) 86; [Theoc.] 27.50 with Gow. See Taillardat (1965) 69 §82; cf. Littlewood (1968) 157. (37) Anac. fr. 446 PMG uses μανιόκηπον of a πόρνη as a synonym of πανδόσιαν and λεωφόρον, since κῆπος γὰρ τὸ μόριον (Suda μ 1470 A s.v. μυσάχνη); Hesychius κ 2529 L κῆπος·…καὶ τὸ ἐφήβαιον τῶν γυναικῶν; Suda β 391: Βορβόροπιν: κῆπον. σημαίνει δὲ καὶ τὸ μόριον; Archippus fr. 50.2–3 PCG ἀφροδίσιον | κῆπον. West argues that a fragment attributed to Parmenides (D–K 28 B 20) which tells of the ‘best [path]…to the delightful grove of muchesteemed Aphrodite’ (ἡ δʿ ἡγήσασθαι ἀρίστη | ἄλσος ἐς ἱμερόεν πολυτιμήτου Ἀφροδίτης) is precisely such a euphemism. And many have seen in the κήπους of Archilochus’ Cologne Epode (fr. 196a.24 West) a euphemism for the girl’s sex; see e.g. Merkelbach and West (1974) 106; Degani (1974) 127; Bremer et al. (1987) 39; Henderson (1976) 170. (38) See Easterling (1977b). Page 11 of 12

 

Worlds of Erôs in Ibycus Fragment 286 (PMGF) (39) See e.g. Pind. fr. 123.2–4 (with Hubbard (2002) 266–83), Alcm. fr. 1.21 PMGF, Anac. fr. 360 PMG, etc. (40) Breitenberger (2007). (41) Cingano (2003) 35. (42) Tedeschi (1978); E. Bowie (1986); Aloni (2009) 171. (43) See especially Slater (1976), M. I. Davies (1978), Lissarrague (1990) 107–22, and most recently, with a strong political slant, Corner (2010). (44) Padel (1974).

Page 12 of 12

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions Maria Kanellou

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0017

Abstract and Keywords The erotic epigrams combine tight spatial constraints with the development of a vocabulary of images. An appreciation of these images facilitates the understanding of the epigrammatists' techniques for the depiction of emotions. Kanellou uses the ‘lamp-epigrams’ as her case study, and shows how the epigrammatists condense human experiences and emotions into a single object. Its treatment by lovers depicts a shifting range of emotions (e.g. jealousy, anxiety, desolation, nervousness). The chapter also uses the ‘lamp-motif’ to exemplify the ability of the epigrams to create a ‘serio-comic effect’. Their seriousness derives from the exploration of the lover’s emotions in a psychologically plausible way. Simultaneously, the distance created between what is described and its perception by a detached reader adds a comic element to these epigrams. This makes it for all its brevity a versatile medium for the subtle exploration of the complex psychology and sociology of erôs. Keywords:   epigram, lamp, concrete imagery, variation, erôs, emotions, serio-comicality, diachronicity

Erotic epigram is especially rich in metaphors and images for the experience of erôs. These images do not constitute simply an aesthetic feature of the subgenre, but moreover they form a conscious narrative strategy which secures narrative economy in a poetic form which must incorporate a dense message within a small compass.1 The present chapter focuses on one of these images, namely the lamp, and examines the way in which epigrammatists use it to explore and portray the lover’s inner world. As the treatment of the lamp varies Page 1 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions from epigram to epigram, a shifting range of emotions is represented, including envy, desolation, possessiveness, and anxiety over the beloved’s fidelity. As we shall see, the poets handle the lamp in an especially flexible manner; it can be employed as an inanimate or personified object, as a surrogate for the lover, his rival, or even the beloved; it can be deified, or credited with prophetic abilities. Absorbing elements from a wide range of fields where lamps were used (religion, rituals, magic, ancient customs for the prognosis of weather, previous literary tradition), the epigrammatists continuously renew the motif and ever offer new twists in the description of the lover’s emotions and actions. Moreover, as is argued here, several of these epigrams exhibit a ‘seriocomic’ tone. Their seriousness derives from the exploration of the lover’s emotions in a psychologically plausible and nuanced way. At the same time, the lover’s behaviour may appear humorous to the detached reader who can form an objective judgement of the lover’s emotions and actions.2 (p.278) The lamp as a motif has a long life within the subgenre of erotic epigrams: it was first employed by Asclepiades (who was active in the late fourth and early third century BCE) and survived up until the Cycle of Agathias Scholasticus (published c.567/8 CE).3 The motif’s longevity suggests its continued value as a medium for the subtle exploration of the complex psychology and sociology of erôs. Given the limited space of this chapter, I offer a number of case studies to illustrate its basic features in erotic epigrams. Let us start with Asclepiades, and focus on his companion pieces Anth. Pal. 5.7 = 9 HE and Anth. Pal. 5.150 = 10 HE.4 Both epigrams vary the stock scene of a lover who has been stood up by a woman, and employ the lamp to give expression to his emotions: λύχνε, σὲ γὰρ παρεοῦσα τρὶς ὤμοσεν Ἡράκλεια ἤξειν κοὐχ ἤκει· λύχνε, σὺ δ’ εἰ θεὸς εἶ τὴν δολίην ἀπάμυνον· ὅταν φίλον ἔνδον ἔχουσα παίζῃ ἀποσβεσθεὶς μηκέτι φῶς πάρεχε. Lamp, Heracleia swore three times in your presence that she would come, and she hasn’t come; lamp, if you are a god, take revenge on the deceitful girl; whenever she has a friend at home playing with him, extinguish yourself and give them no more light. (Anth. Pal. 5.7) ὡμολόγησ᾽ ἤξειν εἰς νύκτα μοι ἡ ᾽πιβόητος Νικὼ καὶ σεμνὴν ὤμοσε Θεσμοφόρον, κοὐχ ἤκει, φυλακὴ δὲ παροίχεται. ἆρ᾽ ἐπιορκεῖν ἤθελε; τὸν λύχνον, παῖδες, ἀποσβέσατε. The famous Nico made an agreement with me to come tonight, and swore by solemn Thesmophoros; and she hasn’t come, and the watch has passed. Did she intend to break the oath? Boys, put out the lamp.5 (Anth. Pal. 5.150)

Page 2 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions In Anth. Pal. 5.7, the lamp is called upon by the lover to punish Heracleia, who swore falsely that she would meet him.6 His prayer to the lamp draws from a (p. 279) complex literary-cultural background whose appreciation is important for understanding the object’s function and the tone of the epigram. To begin with, the lover stresses that Heracleia swore thrice in the presence of the lamp that she would come (lines 1–2). Here, Asclepiades reworks the role that objects play in oath-taking, as early as Homer: an oath can be sworn on an object that has a special symbolic meaning or an oath can be taken while an object is held, the action being symbolic. For instance, in Il. 15.39–40, Hera, trying to persuade Zeus that she has not interfered in his plans, inter alia swears falsely by their bridal bed. Their bed functions as the symbol of her love for Zeus that would (supposedly) prevent her from acting against his will. Similarly, in Il. 23.581–5, Menelaus challenges Antilochus to swear by Poseidon that he did not mean to hinder his chariot by guile, while standing before his horses and chariot, touching the horses, and holding his whip. This is a symbolic act and, as Griffin observes, if Antilochus was swearing falsely, this could cause the destruction of his chariot, the very symbol of his royal power.7 In Anth. Pal. 5.7, Heracleia takes the oath before the lamp exactly because this object constitutes a symbol of her relationship with the man and of the intimate moments they spent together. In addition, the lover attributes to the lamp the role that gods have as the guarantors of oaths; the lover asks it to act as gods would do if an oath taken in their name were broken. In this way, Asclepiades renews a comic strand which presents lamps as semi-divine figures.8 In Aristophanes Eccl. 1–16, the lamp is a surrogate for the sun, it is personified, and closely linked to sex as its trustworthy attendant and aide;9 in the anonymous comic fragment 724 PCG, the lamp is also deified by Bacchis and perhaps by the speaker: ‘Bacchis thought of you as a god, blessed lamp, the greatest of gods, if she thinks you so’ (Βακχὶς θεόν σ’ ἐνόμισεν, εὔδαιμον λύχνε, | καὶ τῶν θεῶν μέγιστος, εἰ ταύτῃ δοκεῖς)— alternatively, the tone of his words could be ironical. This comic background underlines the humorous undertone perceptible in Asclepiades’ epigram. Asclepiades might also have been inspired by the role of lamps in magical rituals.10 Magical papyri survive in which lamps are personified and addressed by the practitioner to assist him in a variety of ways: e.g. PGM 7.376–84 is a charm where the lamp is called upon to make a woman lie awake, PGM 7.407–10 is a spell addressed to the lamp to help the practitioner appear in someone’s dreams at night, and PGM 7.250–4, PGM 22b 27–31, and PGM 22b 32–5 are requests for dream oracles. More interestingly, in PGM 7.255–9 the lamp is almost deified as it is summoned along with Osiris, Osirchentechtha, and (p. 280) the archangel Michael to assist the practitioner (κύριε, ὑγίαινε, λύχνε, | ὁ παρεμφαίνων τῷ Ὀσίριδι καὶ παρεμφαίνων τῷ | Ὀσιρχεντεχθα καὶ τῷ κυρίῳ μου, τῷ ἀρχαγγέλῳ Μιχαήλ). Although these papyri are chronologically much later than Asclepiades (e.g. PGM 7.255–9 dates to the third/fourth century CE)11 and multi-cultural products (one discerns Greek, Egyptian, Christian elements etc.), Page 3 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions the interest of Hellenistic literature in magical rituals is well documented,12 and, as we shall see, Anth. Pal. 5.7 is not the only epigram which treats the lamp in a way that creates parallels to its roles in the magical papyri.13 This aspect of the epigram affects the way in which the objective reader is invited to view the lover’s prayer—as hyperbolic, superstitious, and vain. In his jealousy, bitterness, and fear, the lover desires that the lamp act as his surrogate; embodying his envy, it spies on Heracleia, and is asked to withhold its light when she has sex with another man (lines 3–4). But the revenge sought by the lover is ultimately pointless, since darkness cannot prevent erotic foreplay and sex, although it might reduce somewhat their voyeuristic pleasures. As scholars note, the desired vengeance signals the lover’s irrationality and powerlessness to control Heracleia.14 To conclude, the epigram interweaves elements drawn from comedy and magic, while simultaneously exploring and portraying the lover’s emotions in the manner of erotic lyric-elegiac poetry. That the scene described has its roots in recognizable human psychology gives the epigram an element of seriousness; the lover’s prayer and thoughts of revenge derive from his tormented emotional world. However, the erudite reader is unlikely to seriously accept that the lamp is a god.15 He will perceive the lover as a man in an irrational state trying to find comfort through vain means. The incongruity between the lover’s prayer and the insufficiency of the chosen revenge invites a smile from the reader, while the comic background of the epigram underlines the humour and hyperbole. In Anth. Pal. 5.150, the lover reacts differently. When he realizes that Nico will not come, he asks his servants to put out the lamp (line 4: τὸν λύχνον, παῖδες, ἀποσβέσατε). Galli Calderini finds the mention of the lamp incidental, arguing that it is just an everyday object, not an erotic symbol as in Anth. (p.281) Pal. 5.7.16 But the lover’s order has a symbolic value here. Asclepiades dramatizes the moment when realization dawns upon the lover. The moment that he acknowledges that Nico will not come, the lamp, namely the symbol of sex, is put out. The lamp could also be perceived as representing the lover’s hopes: that the woman will come and that they will have sex. The extinction of its light symbolizes the lover’s disillusionment, and withering of his hopes for enjoying Nico’s charms. The lamp may further stand for the amatory relationship itself; its quenching can signal the end of the man’s desire or love for the woman.17 The way in which the lover’s story is presented and his inner world is explored permits the reader both proximity to and distance from what is narrated. When referring to the oath that Nico swore, the lover places emphasis on the use of Demeter ‘Thesmophoros’ as its guarantor (lines 1–2). For the reader, the use of Demeter’s specific cult title may indicate that Nico intentionally broke her promise, as the cult title alludes to the Thesmophoria, from which men were excluded.18 But for the lover, Nico’s oath was a solemn one and Demeter, in her (supposed) role as the giver and guardian of rules, should guarantee its Page 4 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions fulfilment.19 This picture of the lover waiting for Nico in vain, putting too much faith in her promise and being unable to foresee her true intentions, invites the reader to sympathize with him. His question ‘did she intend to break the oath?’ (line 3) reflects his difficulty in admitting that Nico intentionally dishonoured her promise. This man has fallen victim to his desire for a woman who has the upper hand, as indeed her very name suggests (Νικὼ derives from νικῶ). At the same time, the objective understanding of Nico’s intentions makes the reader interpret the lover’s conduct as naive and foolish; his demeanour is the reaction of a person in love who believes anything he is told. This is also reflected in the (in context hyperbolic) pseudo-legal language used by the lover (ômologês’, ômose, epiorkein, Thesmophoron 20) for this unofficial, casual event which reflects the extent of his trust and his consequent disillusionment. Meleager further refines the use of the lamp as a medium for crystallizing human emotions.21 In Anth. Pal. 5.197 = 23 HE, the lover swears by the charms of three women and by his lamp that he is ready to give his last breath to Eros: (p.282) ναὶ μὰ τὸν εὐπλόκαμον Τιμοῦς φιλέρωτα κίκιννον, ναὶ μυρόπνουν Δημοῦς χρῶτα τὸν ὑπναπάτην, ναὶ πάλιν Ἰλιάδος φίλα παίγνια, ναὶ φιλάγρυπνον λύχνον ἐμῶν κώμων πόολλ’ ἐπιδόντα τέλη· βαιὸν ἔχω τό γε λειφθέν, Ἔρως, ἐπὶ χείλεσι πνεῦμα· εἰ δ’ ἐθέλεις καὶ τοῦτ’, εἰπὲ καὶ ἐκπτύσομαι. Yea by Timo’s fair-haired loving ringlet, by Demo’s fragrant skin which cheats sleep, again by Ilias’ dear love games, by the wakeful lamp which overlooked the many rites of my serenades; Eros, I have but little breath left on my lips; and if you desire this too, say it, and I will spit it out.

The epigram reworks the topos of ‘bitter-sweet’ love, introduced by Sappho fr. 130 L–P. It offers an image of a ‘Don Juan’ who, while complaining about what he has experienced so far,22 is ready to surrender to love again and again. His words stress his exhaustion, emotional and physical. The depiction of Demo’s skin as chasing sleep away both suggests that the man is wakeful because of his desire for Demo, and creates an image of him as staying awake having sex with her. The ‘love games’ of Ilias also denote foreplay or sex with this woman.23 More importantly, the description of the lamp as φιλάγρυπνον | λύχνον, ἐμῶν κώμων πόλλ’ ἐπιδόντα τέλη (lines 3–4) presents the speaker as an accomplished lover who has had sex with these women and many more. Telos means ‘achievement, attainment’,24 and so in the epigram telê designates that the lover’s serenades were not fruitless, but that he both won and bedded the women he serenaded. Simultaneously, the term stands for the lover’s frequent sexual encounters that are here represented metaphorically as ‘rites’.25 This presentation of sex as a nocturnal ‘rite’ merges the use of lamps as indoor objects for the illumination of a room with their use in religious contexts.26 The Page 5 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions religious metaphor stresses the man’s devotion to love, as well as alluding to the private nature of sex. The characterization of the lamp as ἐπιδόντα adds another dimension to the use of the motif. In the poetic tradition, the verb ἐφοράω is constantly attributed to the sun and has the meaning of ‘oversee, observe’;27 the sun sees and supervises men’s actions (see e.g. Il. 3.277). (p.283) In Aristophanes Eccl. 8–11, the lamp superintends sex, which is described as an athletic contest: ‘and when our bodies are flexed, no one banishes from the room your supervisory eye’ (λορδουμένων τε σωμάτων ἐπιστάτην | ὀφθαλμὸν οὐδεὶς τὸν σὸν ἐξείργει δόμων).28 In our epigram, this role of the lamp is transferred to the metaphorical domain of sex as a ‘rite’. Since the object is the indispensable witness of the lover’s sexual encounters, it becomes the symbol of his restless sexual life. As in Anth. Pal. 5.7, it is its symbolic function that makes the lover swear by the lamp that he is willing to ‘die for love’. Timo’s ringlet, Demo’s skin, and Ilias’ ‘love games’ have similar symbolic functions. All are called as proof that the lover cannot resist the power of Eros. The characterization philagrupnon (line 3) adds to the object’s symbolic function. It preserves its inherited role as the concomitant of sex, stressing the importance (within literature, at least) of the voyeuristic pleasures attached to sex; as it ‘stays awake’, it sheds light on the lovers. More importantly, the characterization injects an element of humour, implying that the object itself takes pleasure in its voyeurism. This concept almost assimilates the lover to his lamp; as the lamp ‘loves to stay awake’, the lover stays awake at night because Demo’s skin ‘cheats sleep’, as line 2 informs us. The close bond created between him and his lamp is all the more palpable to the reader who remembers that the adjective elsewhere describes desire that makes a lover stay awake at nights (Anth. Pal. 5.166.1 = 52 HE). In both epigrams, the adjective philagrupnos varies the idea of bitter-sweet love. It is worth recalling a Homeric passage that might have constituted an intertext for Anth. Pal. 5.197, enhancing the perception of its ‘seriocomic’ tone. In Il. 14.312–29, Zeus, just before he sleeps with Hera, enumerates before her his former mistresses in order to praise her beauty. This scene certainly belongs to the ones where gods are treated humorously. Similarly, in the epigram, the list of beloveds that the man offers does not only act as proof of his exhaustion, but also of his success as a lover. Love for him is a sweet torment that he would undergo gladly time and time again, as the last distich reveals. Two words could particularly signal the Homeric intertext: first, the Homeric adjective εὐπλόκαμον (very rare in Hellenistic epigram29) might echo καλλιπλοκάμοιο (used by Zeus for Demeter in Il. 14.325). Secondly, the name Ilias (which is not to be found elsewhere in epigrams, and has been variously emended by scholars30) seems designed to direct the reader’s attention to the Homeric intertext. This means that Ἰλιάδος φίλα παίγνια (line 3) could allude to the ‘love games’ enumerated by Zeus in his famous catalogue.

Page 6 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions In Anth. Pal. 5.165 and 5.166, Meleager reinvigorates an idea introduced by Asclepiades in Anth. Pal. 5.7, the (alleged) ability of the lamp to hinder sex. (p. 284) I start with Anth. Pal. 5.166, where the lover’s31 anxiety over the beloved’s (i.e. Heliodora’s) faithfulness is accentuated through the attribution to the lamp of the role of her ‘guardian’: ‘never, lamp, look on these, but be the guardian of her whom I entrusted to you’ (lines 7–8: μήποτε, λύχνε, | ταῦτ’ ἐσίδῃς, εἴης δ’ ἧς παρέδωκα φύλαξ). The epigram gives a picture of the lover as possessive, always anxious, jealous, and insecure over Heliodora’s fidelity. The main idea of his monologue up until lines 7–8 is clear and obvious: he is tormented by the question of whether Heliodora is thinking of him and suffering, as he apparently does, or if she has a new lover in her room. Just before the speaker addresses the lamp, he wonders: ‘or is there another new love, new “love games”?’ (line 7: ἢ νέος ἄλλος ἔρως, νέα παίγνια;). So, when he orders the lamp never to see ‘these’, the pronoun refers back to Heliodora’s νέα παίγνια that stand either for foreplay or for sex, alluding also to her new sexual partners. The lover orders the lamp to quench its light, specifying that he is the one who gave it to Heliodora. He thus stresses that he is its master and that the lamp should obey him for this reason. Gow and Page suggest that the text should be emended into ὧν παρέδωκα (‘be watchman over that which I entrusted to you’, meaning the lover’s amours).32 But the lamp is definitely ordered to be the guardian of Heliodora’s fidelity, and the fact that it was offered to her by the lover before their current separation indicates that it was given as a precautionary measure. Two later epigrams, P. Silentiarius Anth. Pal. 5.219.3 and Agathias Scholasticus Anth. Pal. 5.294.11, attribute the characterization phulax to women responsible for guarding the virginity of girls: they are supposed to keep an eye on them and repel any potential lovers. In a similar manner, the lover’s distrust makes him believe that the lamp can act as his undercover agent keeping an eye on Heliodora when he is not around. Gow and Page also argue that ‘the lamp cannot be expected to be censor of the girl’s conduct’.33 But in the lover’s ‘wished for’ reality, the lamp is an autonomous subject with the power to harm and help, the power to control sex. Of course, this perception of the lamp is false, and the instructions given to it cannot be fulfilled. As in Anth. Pal. 5.7, the way in which the lover handles the object reflects his psychology; he seeks to control what he cannot, in order to reduce his sense of powerlessness.34 And as in Anth. Pal. 5.7, it is as if he resorts to magic. The reader has no other choice, but to respond sympathetically to the lover. But the unrealistic nature of his wish allows one simultaneously to see his folly; the tension created between the lover’s subjective emotions and (p.285) reactions and the reader’s objectivity creates a mild humour directed towards the lover. Anth. Pal. 5.165 offers an alternative version of the same kind of preventive measures. As in Anth. Pal. 5.7 and 5.166, the lover suffers from the thought that his beloved might be unfaithful. In the event that Heliodora has another lover, he wishes both that the lamp will fall asleep and that any rival lover will become a Page 7 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions ‘second Endymion’: ‘let the lamp sleep and let him, slumped in her bosom, lie there a second Endymion’ (lines 5–6: κοιμάσθω μὲν λύχνος, ὁ δ’ ἐν κόλποισιν ἐκείνης | ῥιπτασθεὶς κείσθω δεύτερος ’Ἐνδυμίων). The myth of Endymion, whom Zeus put to eternal sleep, refreshes the lamp motif. Several versions of this myth survive.35 Whichever version Meleager had in mind, this description of the rival lover stresses the speaker’s desire that any man who finds himself in Heliodora’s bed will be fast asleep when the lamp ‘falls asleep’ as well. Here, the role of the lamp is dramatically changed as the object is almost assimilated to the rival lover. It is as if the lover makes use of sympathetic magic, since the effect of the darkness on the lamp will be identical to its effect on the lover’s competitor. The parallelism created between the two is linguistically enhanced by the use of koimasthô for the lamp that is here personified. In addition, the verb keisthô accentuates the idea of any potential rival as remaining sexually inactive in Heliodora’s bed. The verb keimai is often employed for the dead, and it is often the impotent lover who employs this kind of metaphorical language to describe his condition.36 This metaphorical meaning of keisthô accentuates the antithesis between the rival’s intention when throwing himself into Heliodora’s bosom, and what he will get at the end. The antithesis is also sharpened by the fact that the name Heliodora means ‘the gift of the sun’; but for the lover, darkness will prevent the enjoyment of the woman’s charms. Of course, darkness cannot prevent sex and would not discourage an enthusiastic lover. The intertextual background of the epigram (Anth. Pal. 5.7, 5.166) enhances the perception of the lover’s prayer as void, an unfulfilled wish.37 Anth. Pal. 5.8 = 69 HE constitutes an interesting variation, as the role of the lamp changes; from the lover’s ally, it becomes a traitor: νὺξ ἱερὴ καὶ λύχνε, συνίστορας οὔτινας ἄλλους ὅρκοις, ἀλλ’ ὑμέας εἱλόμεθ’ ἀμφότεροι· χὠ μὲν ἐμὲ στέρξειν, κεῖνον δ’ ἐγὼ οὔποτε λείψειν (p.286) ὠμόσαμεν· κοινὴν δ’ εἴχετε μαρτυρίην. νῦν δ’ ὁ μὲν ὅρκιά φησιν ἐν ὕδατι κεῖνα φέρεσθαι, λύχνε, σὺ δ’ ἐν κόλποις αὐτὸν ὁρᾷς ἑτέρων. O holy Night and lamp, we both chose no other confidants of our oaths, but you; and we swore that he will love me and that I will never leave him; and you were both witnesses (of our oaths). But now he says that those oaths were written on water, and you, o lamp, see him in the bosom of others.

The speaker’s bitterness because of the beloved’s infidelity is undoubted. It is, however, the infidelity of the lamp which is stressed in the monologue. Just as the lamp can be the surrogate for the lover or his rival, here it seems to become almost a surrogate for the beloved, a focal point, towards which the feelings of betrayal on the part of the lover are directed. The double complaint (towards the beloved and the lamp) is emphasized in the last couplet; the structure μὲν…δ’, Page 8 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions binding together the reasons for the lover’s distress, and the repetition of luchne underline the lover’s dismay and bitterness. For her the lamp is equally a traitor as the beloved because it observes his sexual transgressions.38 The object along with the Night were chosen as the witnesses of the couple’s oaths (lines 1–2, cf. Anth. Pal. 5.7.1). The lover’s address starts with a reminder of that fact because in this way the treachery of the lamp is stressed. The other relevant epigrams enable the reader to understand that the lamp would be expected to exact retribution on the beloved, certainly not to be a bystander to his new sexual encounters. Once more the lover protests too much. The statement κοινὴν δ’ εἴχετε μαρτυρίην is meant to underline the gravity of the task that the lamp undertook; as a martus (‘witness’) was supposed to bring justice through his testimony, so she believes that the lamp should act in her favour. She complains because, according to her viewpoint, although the lamp should prevent the injustice through the deprivation of light and hence the hindrance of sex, it keeps on burning, witnessing the beloved’s sex with new lovers. It is as if the reader is meant to believe that the lamp prefers to take pleasure in watching the beloved’s sexual transgressions rather than staying faithful to its function as a witness and guarantor of the oath. The lover’s perception of the lamp again creates a ‘seriocomic’ tone. The story is one of amatory betrayal. But there is humour in the idea that the lamp could have prevented the infidelity and that it is now betraying the lover by witnessing the beloved’s sexual encounters with other women; so the epigram pokes affectionate fun at the suffering lover. (p.287) Let us now turn our attention to the work of other epigrammatists, specifically Philodemus Anth. Pal. 5.4 = 1 GPh and Statyllius Flaccus Anth. Pal. 5.5 = 1 GPh.39 The main features of the motif remain unaltered; the lamp still functions as a medium for the exploration of emotions, but its established roles are now cleverly varied. In Anth. Pal. 5.4, the lover, just before engaging in sex with Xantho, asks Philaenis to make the lamp drunk (ekmethusasa meaning in literal terms to fill it with oil) before shutting the door and leaving the room: ‘the lamp, Philaenis, intoxicate with oily dew, the silent confidant of actions that are not to be spoken of, and then go out’ (lines 1–3: τὸν σιγῶντα, Φιλαινί, συνίστορα τῶν ἀλαλήτων | λύχνον ἐλαιηρῆς ἐκμεθύσασα δρόσου, | ἔξιθι).40 Here, we have a new development in the use of the motif. Gow and Page argue that ‘there is no point in making the lamp “drunk”’.41 But the participle brings into play several connotations. First it should be noted that for the lover, the lamp (as well as his bed) is a welcome and trustworthy witness of his sexual encounters.42 The witness who should be dispatched is Philaenis. The vigilant reader is asked to pick up on the subtle meaning of her name. Deriving from φιλῶ (love) and αἶνος (tale, story)43 it is a dead give-away of her gossipy nature. The name also possibly alludes to Philaenis of Samos, the alleged author of the sex manual,44 and this enhances her perception as a fervent voyeur of her master’s sexual activities. However, the lamp is to remain in the room, and become ‘intoxicated’. The use of metaphorical language invites more than one Page 9 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions possible reading. To begin with, the ‘intoxication’ of the lamp will ensure both that it will keep on burning throughout the duration of sex, and that its light will be brighter and stronger. The idea of a ‘drunken’ lamp as shining brighter survives in Babrius 2.114.1–3, where an ‘intoxicated’ lamp brags that it has the most pre-eminent light (μεθύων λύχνος ἐλαίῳ ἐσπέρης ηὔχει | πρὸς τοὺς παρόντας, ὡς Ἑωσφόρου κρείσσων, | ἅπασι φέγγος ἐκπρεπέστατον λάμπει).45 But what does this idea mean within our epigram? On the one hand, the steady and bright glowing of the lamp will enable the lovers to enjoy the voyeuristic pleasures attached to sex. On the other hand, it will enhance the voyeuristic abilities of the lamp itself; a stronger light illuminates a wider space, and in this way the ‘drunken’ lamp will be able to see more. Additionally, the participle denotes that the lamp is a personified (p.288) witness, and its ‘intoxication’ may imply that the lamp will not remember what it witnessed when it becomes sober, namely when its light goes out. The ideas are humorous and in line with the ‘seriocomic’ tone of several of Philodemus’ epigrams.46 Additionally, the participle can be interpreted as a sympathetic personification. In general, the verb methuô can denote someone ‘intoxicated’ by his feelings (such as desire and passion),47 and, in the epigram, the ‘intoxication’ of the lamp can mirror the lover’s ‘emotional drunkenness’ due to his desire for Xantho. With Anth. Pal. 5.5 we return to the motif of the tormented lover, but with a clever twist. It is not the lover (who is here identified with the poet) that speaks, but his lamp that indulges in a soliloquy. It narrates its sad story; while it was given to Nape by the poet (obviously to shed light on their lovemaking),48 it is now forced to illuminate her sexual encounters with others: ἀργύρεον νυχίων με συνίστορα πιστὸν ἐρώτων οὐ πιστῇ λύχνον Φλάκκος ἔδωκε Νάπῃ, ἧς παρὰ νῦν λεχέεσσι μαραίνομαι, εἰς ἐπιόρκου παντοπαθῆ κούρης αἴσχεα δερκόμενος. Φλάκκε, σὲ δ’ ἄγρυπνον χαλεπαὶ τείρουσι μέριμναι, ἄμφω δ’ ἀλλήλων ἄνδιχα καιόμεθα. A silver lamp, the faithful confidant of nightly loves, to unfaithful Nape Flaccus gave me, now beside her bed I droop, looking on the forsworn girl’s all-suffering shameful deeds. And you, Flaccus, unsleeping, are distressed by cruel cares, and we both are aflame away from each other.49

The monologue of the lamp reflects the poet’s own tormented thoughts concerning Nape’s sexual behaviour. Flaccus does not just transfer his feelings to the non-sentient object (as the lover does with ekmethusasa in Anth. Pal. 5.4), but he uses the lamp as his surrogate, picking up a trend already found in Asclepiades and Meleager. What the lamp says regarding its state mirrors his own feelings. The verb marainomai is ambiguous. It implies the witty concept that the lamp, because of its loyalty to Flaccus,50 finds it difficult to shed a Page 10 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions strong light on a scene which is distasteful to it. Its drooping indicates its distress because it is obliged to see the beloved’s sexual transgressions. This description of the lamp reflects the lover’s desolation as he imagines his (p. 289) beloved engaged in sexual activity with others.51 The verb may even allude to the lover’s impotence, his libido being drained by his distress. Scythinus Anth. Pal. 12.232.1 provides a parallel for this use of the verb: ‘you unspeakable thing, now you stand erect and do not droop’ (ὀρθὸν νῦν ἕστηκας ἀνώνυμον οὐδὲ μαραίνῃ). We may then have a translingual pun on the name of the poet because the adjective flaccus means ‘flabby, hanging down’.52 The epigram finishes with the notion of the lamp and the lover burning from afar (line 6). Gow and Page argue that a good epigram is spoiled by this sophisticated notion since kaiometha is literal for the lamp and metaphorical for Flaccus.53 But the last words of the lamp are meant to add a humorous touch to the lover’s profile. Certainly the verb denotes the literal burning of the lamp and Flaccus’ desolation that makes him burn inside as he is torn by his jealousy (line 5: χαλεπαὶ τείρουσι μέριμναι). At the same time, the verb can signify that the poet is inflamed by passion, and the reader is probably led to see an underlying side of his disposition towards Nape: his scopophilic visions of Nape, nude and engaged in erotic plays, make him burn with desire for the wanton woman. The lamp also occurs in two epigrams written by Marcus Argentarius, Anth. Pal. 5.128 = 13 GPh and 6.333 = 14 GPh, both on a woman called Antigone. We focus on the second one, where the role attributed to the lamp changes significantly as the object is ascribed prophetic abilities. The lover anticipates Antigone and wonders if the triple flickering of the lamp foretells the woman’s arrival: ἤδη, φίλτατε λύχνε, τρὶς ἔπταρες· ἦ τάχα τερπνὴν εἰς θαλάμους ἤξειν Ἀντιγόνην προλέγεις; εἰ γάρ, ἄναξ, εἴη τόδ’ ἐτήτυμον· οἷος Ἀπόλλων θνητοῖς μάντις ἔσῃ καὶ σὺ παρὰ τρίποδι. Thrice already you have sneezed, dearest lamp; do you by any chance foretell that delightful Antigone will come to my bedroom? For if, o lord, this is true, you too will be a prophet, a second Apollo, for mortals and stand at a tripod.

The epigram draws on superstitious beliefs since the way in which the lover interprets the flickering (eptares) of the lamp evokes the ominous significance of sneezing. Take for instance Od. 17.539–50, where Telemachus’ sneezing, (p. 290) after Penelope wishes for Odysseus’ return and the slaughter of the wooers, is interpreted as a positive omen. In Xenophon An. 3.2.8–9 the sneezing of a soldier at the moment when Xenophon urges his soldiers to fight, is perceived as an omen of the success of this strategy.54 Argentarius elaborates on the stock scene of a lover waiting for his beloved, to give the portrait of a man who is ready to attribute prophetic abilities to his lamp because this alleviates his anguish.55 Interestingly, as in our epigram, in PGM 7.593–619 the repeated ‘sneezing’ (meaning the sputtering) of a seven-nozzle lamp is ascribed prophetic Page 11 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions abilities, revealing different stages in the beloved’s arrival.56 So, as in other epigrams, there are parallels between the manner in which the lamp is presented and the actual function of lamps in magical rituals.57 In addition for the lover, if the ‘sneezing’ of the lamp foretells that Antigone will come, then it will not be simply a prophet but will have the prophetic abilities of Apollo himself. This hyperbolic declaration both reflects the lover’s anxiety for Antigone’s arrival and the strength of his passion for her. The question of lines 2–3, ‘do you by any chance foretell that Antigone will come to my bedroom?’, shows that he himself perceives—to some extent at least—the irrationality of his thoughts.58 The confused state of his mind is depicted in the following words. On the one hand, he addresses the lamp as anax, a title of respect, which reflects his readiness to believe that the lamp will prove itself a second Apollo. On the other hand, the hypothetical phrasing of his last words proves that he himself has doubts about the way that he interprets the flickering of the lamp. For the erudite and objective reader, however, there is no doubt that the sputtering of the lamp cannot have any prophetic significance.59 The hyperbolic ‘apotheosis’ of the lamp (not just a god as in earlier texts, but another Apollo) would seem unrealistic and humorous. This idea pokes fun at a tormented lover, who in his state of vulnerability is willing to seek emotional refuge and support in superstitions and in reading omens into everyday events.60 I would like to conclude my discussion with a much later epigram, Ag. Scholasticus Anth. Pal. 5.263, which resembles Anth. Pal. 6.333 as far as it concerns the dramatic setting (the lover waits for her beloved) and the prophetic abilities conferred to the lamp. The ability of the epigrammatist to (p.291) vary and give new life to the motif, while preserving its function as a tool for the display of emotions, is obvious: μήποτε, λύχνε, μύκητα φέροις, μηδ’ ὄμβρον ἐγείροις, μὴ τὸν ἐμὸν παύσῃς νυμφίον ἐρχόμενον. αἰεὶ σὺ φθονέεις τῇ Κύυπριδι· καὶ γὰρ ὅθ’ Ἡρὼ ἤρμοσε Λειάνδρῳ…θυμέ, τὸ λοιπὸν ἔα. Ἡφαίστου τελέθεις, καὶ πείθομαι ὅττι χαλέπτων Κύπριδα θωπεύεις δεσποτικὴν ὀδύνην. Never, o lamp, may you wear a snuff or arouse rain, lest you impede my bridegroom from coming. You always grudge Cypris, because when Hero was plighted to Leander…my heart, leave the rest. You are the property of Hephaestus, and I believe that by vexing Cypris you fawn on her lord’s suffering.61

Agathias here draws inspiration from ancient prognostics of rain based on the creation of a fungoid excrescence from the wicks of lamps.62 By basing the use of the lamp on this custom, the epigrammatist renews its role as a prophet. The woman asks of the lamp never to foretell and, more interestingly, never to arouse rain. She clearly does not regard the lamp as a mere inanimate object, Page 12 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions useful for weather predictions. Her words exemplify that she perceives it as less a prophet than the cause of what it prophesies, specifically the creator of rain. She locates all of her anxieties, and consequently all of her hostility, in the personified lamp. Her fear that rain might impede her beloved’s arrival leads her to an irrational perception of the lamp that is based on the tragic love story of Hero and Leander.63 She does not want her beloved to fail to arrive, as Leander did. The reader is meant to recall the details of this love story, in particular the traditional role that the lamp plays in it as a traitor, failing the lovers’ trust.64 In our epigram, the woman clearly blames the object for what happened to Leander. The phrase θυμέ, τὸ λοιπὸν ἔα (line 4) adds dramatic tension; the speaker stops herself from saying any more to avoid getting more upset and also to pre-empt any ill omen.65 Her plea to the lamp is an attempt to control something that is uncontrollable, the powers of nature. Her last words emphasize the tormented state of her mind. For her the lamp is the enemy of Aphrodite: its purpose is to destroy erotic affairs, thus causing vexation to the goddess. In the explanation given for the attitude of the (p.292) lamp towards the goddess (it has as its goal to soften Hephaestus’ suffering), one can discern the ability of the object to act as the core of the exploration of the lover’s psychology. Hephaestus takes on the role that the lover has in many of the ‘lamp epigrams’. He cannot control the woman he desires (his wife Aphrodite) and uses the lamp as his surrogate (cf. Anth. Pal. 5.7, 5.165, 5.166). The lamp embodies its master’s emotions; it grudges Aphrodite (line 3: αἰεὶ σὺ φθονέεις) and exacts revenge on her because of her infidelity. Certainly, the god does not need the lamp to avenge Aphrodite, as is evident from the trap that he sets for her and Ares (Od. 8.267–369). There is humour in the self-dramatizing way in which this woman presents her personal problems as the result of cosmic battles between divine forces. The analysis of the role of the lamp within the selected epigrams exemplifies the way in which the object is used to channel the lover’s emotions. In several cases, it constitutes the prop of the whole story, and becomes the foothold for the exploration of a wide range of emotions varying from envy, anger, bitterness, and fear to possessiveness, desperation, and hope. As we saw, the lamp is a symbol of sex and erotic liaisons, and plays multifarious roles: it can be inanimate or not, the trustworthy bystander of sex, the witness of erotic oaths, a semi-divine power, an avenger, a traitor, the protector of the beloved’s fidelity, or a prophet. The analysed case studies exemplify that erotic epigrams constitute more than a locus of intertextual dynamics. Despite the recurrent wit, erotic epigrams articulate ideas which are at a fundamental level serious. Notes:

I would like to thank A. Griffiths, S. Chatzikosta, R. Höschele, I. Konstantakos, G. W. Most, I. Petrovic, S. Hedge, and above all C. Carey for their critical reading

Page 13 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions and comments on earlier drafts of this chapter. It goes without saying that any views expressed are mine alone. (1) I analyse the use of metaphors within erotic epigram in Kanellou (forthcoming). (2) I approach these epigrams as they would be interpreted by the reader of the anthologies in which they were included. (3) For Asclepiades’ chronology see Gutzwiller (1998a) 122; Sens (2011) xxv– xxxii. For the Cycle of Agathias and the date of its publication see Cameron and Cameron (1966) 6–25; Cameron (1993) 69–75. (Doubts have been expressed by Baldwin (1977) 298–301, (1980) 334–40). (4) For the idea of companion pieces see Kirstein (2002) 113–35, and for the specific epigrams as falling under this categorization see W. Ludwig (1962) 159– 61; Galli Calderini (1976) 204; Gutzwiller (1998a) 138. The lamp is also employed in Asclepiades Anth. Pal. 12.50.6 = 16 HE, where it is a symbol of the cessation of drinking and retiring to bed. (5) Unless otherwise stated, I follow the edition of Gow and Page (HE and GPh) and the translations of Paton. The latter have been modified. (6) Scholars disagree on the location of the lover and the lamp. For relevant bibliography see e.g. W. Ludwig (1962) 156–9; Gow and Page (1965) ii. 122–3; Marcovich (1971) 333–9; Galli Calderini (1976) 192–205; Sens (2011) 57–8. Following Galli Calderini, I believe that, as in other epigrams (e.g. Anth. Pal. 5.165, 5.166), the lover addresses the lamp that the beloved has in her room. (7) Griffin (1980) 26. See Griffin (1980) 1–49 for the symbolic function of objects in epic and their use to convey emotions. (8) Cf. Kost (1971) 126–32; Marcovich (1971) 336; Guichard (2004) 211–14; Sens (2011) 57. (9) Ussher (1973) 70–4; Sommerstein (1998) 137–9. (10) Cf. Kost (1971) 128. For the role of lamps in magical rituals, especially divination, see Eitrem (1991) 175–87; Zografou (2008) 61–76, (2010) 276–94. (11) For PGM 7.255–9 see Betz (1996) xxiii, 123; Zografou (2010) 284. (12) See e.g. the erotic spell that Simaetha uses in Theoc. Id. 2 (cf. e.g. Faraone (1995) 1–15, (1999) 152–4; Petrovic (2004) 421–44, who suggests that Anth. Pal. 5.7 parodies specifically ‘prayers for justice’), and Medea’s drugs in Ap. Rhodius (cf. e.g. R. L. Hunter (1987) 129–39).

Page 14 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions (13) Asclepiades’ interest in the ways that magic could be poetically used is also seen in Anth. Pal. 5.158 = 4 HE. A woman’s belt alludes to Aphrodite’s magical kestos himas because the adjective poikilon, used for its characterization, is also employed for the kestos twice (Il. 14.215, 220). (14) See Gutzwiller (1998a) 138–40, (2007) 319–20; Sens (2011) 62. Cf. Cameron (1981) 282–4 for a contrary view. (15) Cf. Garrison (1978) 39–40; McKay (1983) 140 (who also considers Anth. Pal. 5.7 and 5.150 as ‘mock-serious’); Sens (2011) 57. (16) Galli Calderini (1976) 204. (17) Cf. W. Ludwig (1962) 159–61; Gow and Page (1965) ii. 124; Gutzwiller (1998a) 137–8. Von Wilamowitz Moellendorff (1924) ii. 113, Cameron (1981) 285, Sens (2011) 64 consider the lover’s reaction dispassionate. This, however, is to ignore the anxiety in the preceding lines. (18) Cameron (1981) 285; Gutzwiller (1998a) 137–8. Also the reader knows that erotic oaths are not to be trusted—see Guichard (2004) 217–18. (19) For Demeter Thesmophoros see Stallsmith (2008) 115–31. (20) F. Cairns (1998) 175, 177–8. (21) Meleager uses the lamp in Anth. Pal. 5.8 = 69 HE, Anth. Pal. 5.165 = 51 HE, Anth. Pal. 5.166 = 52 HE, Anth. Pal. 5.197 = 23 HE, and Anth. Pal. 6.162 = 11 HE. Due to space limits, I focus on specific epigrams. For the combination of humour and seriousness in his epigrams see Gutzwiller (1998b), who links the style of his poetry with the style of Menippean satire. (22) For the topos of multiple loves see Garrison (1978) 89–91. (23) See Gow and Page (1965) ii. 621, 636; cf. Anth. Pal. 5.7.4. F. Cairns (1998) 169 and Guichard (2004) 214–15 for the meaning of paizô and its cognates in erotic contexts. (24) LSJ, s.v. III 1. (25) Cf. Gow and Page (1965) ii. 621. (26) Lamps were devoted to gods, carried during processions or other rites, and left burning before the images of gods. For the role of lamps in religion and indoors see e.g. Parisinou (2000a) and (2000b). (27) LSJ, s.v. I. (28) Ussher (1973) 73. Translation by Henderson (2002) 247. Page 15 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions (29) Gow and Page (1965) ii. 621. (30) For a list of the relevant emendations see Gow and Page (1965) ii. 621. (31) From Anth. Pal. 7.476 = 56 HE, a lament for Heliodora, we understand that the reader is to imagine Meleager as the lover. For the epigrams on Heliodora see Höschele (2009) 99–134, (2010) 194–229. (32) Gow and Page (1965) ii. 636. (33) Gow and Page (1965) ii. 636. (34) Gutzwiller (1998a) 139 n.50 also cites the epigram as an example of the lover’s powerlessness. (35) According to one version Selene fell in love with Endymion, in another Endymion tried to rape Hera (see OCD, s.v. Endymion). (36) Cf. e.g. Anth. Pal. 11.29 (Automedon), 12.216 (Strato), 12.232 (Scythinus). For impotence and the metaphor of sleep/death cf. Höschele (2006a) 129–33, (2006b) 592–5. (37) The underlying humour is enhanced by the comic background in the use of koimasthô for the quenching of a lamp’s light, see Nicophon fr. 16 (7) PCG: κοιμίσαι τὸν λύχνον, Phrynichus fr. 25 (24) PCG: ἔπειτ’ ἐπειδὰν τὸν λύχνον κατακοιμίσῃ. (38) The gender of the lover is unspecified, but since the lamp is mainly used in heterosexual epigrams (Strato Anth. Pal. 12.199 is an exception) the reader is prone to consider the speaker to be a woman. (39) For Philodemus see Sider (1997); for Flaccus see Gow and Page (1968) ii. 451. (40) Edited text and translation (modified), by Sider. (41) Gow and Page (1968) ii. 374. (42) The term tôn alalêtôn alludes to the idea of sex as a ‘rite’ and of the lamp as its ‘initiate’—cf. Sider (1997) 87. Cf. Anth. Pal. 5.191.7–8 (Meleager), 5.197.4 (Meleager), 6.162.2 (Meleager), 7.219.6 (Pompeius the Younger). (43) LSJ, s.v. I. (44) Cf. Sider (1997) 86. (45) The parallel is cited by Gow and Page (1968) ii. 374 and Sider (1997) 87, who do not use it to enable the decipherment of the epigram.

Page 16 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions (46) For the ‘seriocomic style’ of Philodemus’ epigrams see Sider (1997). (47) LSJ, s.v. II 2. (48) Gow and Page (1968) ii. 451 note that this is an expensive and rare gift, so perhaps it was given as a symbol of the poet’s love. (49) Translation by Gow and Page (1968) i. 423, modified here. (50) The adjective πιστὸν strongly contradicts the οὐ πιστῇ that characterizes Nape. (51) Compare Anth. Pal. 5.279.1–2 (P. Silentiarius). A lover waits in vain for his beloved, and the wick of his lamp droops and slowly fades: ‘and for the third time the wick of the lamp begins to sink as it slowly dwindles’ (ὁ δὲ τρίτος ἄρχεται ἤδη | λύχνος ὑποκλάζειν ἦκα μαραινόμενος). The fading of the lamp’s light mirrors the fading of the lover’s hopes that the woman will come. In the following verses (lines 3–4) the parallelism between the lamp and the lover becomes more explicit and takes another form: he wishes that his burning passion would be quenched like the light of the lamp. For this epigram cf. Viansino (1963) 105–7, Zanetto (1985) 260–4. (52) Lewis and Short s.v. I. I owe this idea to R. Höschele. (53) Gow and Page (1968) ii. 452. (54) For these and other examples (including our epigram) see Pease (1911) 429– 43. (55) It is the triple repetition of the flickering that makes the lover wonder if this is an omen. Cf. Pease (1911) 441–2 for the significance of the repetition of sneezing. Cf. Anth. Pal. 5.7.1, where Heracleia swears thrice (with Sens (2011) 60), and Anth. Pal. 5.279.1, where the lamp starts to droop for the third time. (56) Cf. Kost (1971) 129. (57) Gow and Page (1968) ii. 173 and Pease (1911) 442 cite Ov. Her. 19.151–2, an accurate parallel: Hero’s lamp sputters and she considers this a favourable omen for Leander’s arrival. (58) This can also be said about Anth. Pal. 5.7.2: εἰ θεὸς εἶ. (59) For sneezing as a superstition, see e.g. Cic. Div. 2.84. (60) The humour in the epigram is also recognized by Small (1951) 124 and Del Re (1955) 190–1. (61) Εdited text by Viansino (1967) 135–6. Page 17 of 18

 

Lamp and Erotic Epigram: How an Object Sheds Light on the Lover’s Emotions (62) Cf. Kost (1971) 130; Viansino (1967) 136. (63) Nυμφίον probably stands for the beloved. Language that is literally used for marriage can be metaphorically employed for erotic liaisons (compare ἤρμοσε, which normally means ‘was betrothed’, that is here used for sex). (64) Cf. e.g. Anth. Pal. 7.666.4; Musaeus 304, 329. (65) Cf. Viansino (1967) 136. Moreover, the phrase is employed by Agathias to point out to his readers that they do not need any other clue to understand the meaning of the parallelism.

Page 18 of 18

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology Andreas Fountoulakis

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0018

Abstract and Keywords This chapter explores perceptions and representations of erôs in the pederastic epigrams of the Greek Anthology’s twelfth book, which is known as Strato’s Musa Puerilis. In these epigrams youthful male bodies and voluptuous gazes of older men construct an imagery that enables the articulation of various patterns of thought and action centered upon pederastic relations and the emotional load surrounding them. It is maintained that the male pederastic gaze of these poems functions as an emotional and intellectual lens associated with the identities of viewer and viewed, the social power relations between them, as well as the type and manifestations of their emotions. It is also shown that the same lens affects the ways in which these representations are related to the cultural context of the Musa Puerilis and are turned into poetry. Keywords:   bodies, male pederastic gaze, pederastic epigrams, erôs, Musa Puerilis, Greek Anthology

The collection of epigrams on pederastic themes in the Greek Anthology’s twelfth book, which is preserved in Palatinus Graecus 23, reflects the tendency of Byzantine scholars such as Constantine Cephalas, and probably that of earlier compilers, to set the subgenre of pederastic epigrammatic poetry apart from the wider genre of amatory epigram.1 The book contains, among others, ninety-four poems attributed to Strato of Sardis. His name figures in the book’s title, which is known as Strato’s Musa puerilis (Στράτωνος τοῦ Σαρδιανοῦ Παιδικὴ Μοῦσα). An earlier anthology of these poems, created perhaps by Strato himself, must have formed the basis of the Greek Anthology’s twelfth book. Poems with Page 1 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology relevant themes, many of them by Callimachus, Meleager, or Rufinus, were added to Strato’s poems so as to form the extant collection of the book’s 258 epigrams, which belong to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.2 These poems share many of the thematic and formal conventions of amatory epigram. Yet they are differentiated from that poetry in terms of their pederastic thematic preferences and the relevant cultural representations they provide. The narrative voices of these poems are often equated with the voices of men expressing their desire while gazing at the bodies of their potential male (p. 294) lovers. A relevant imagery is subsequently being constructed through those men’s gazes. The term ‘gaze’ is employed here as a terminus technicus emerging from psychoanalysis and film theory, where it refers to the ways in which spectators look at images as well as to the ways in which characters depicted in these images direct their gazes at other characters or objects. The ‘male gaze’, in particular, though originating in Freud’s infantile scopophilia and developed by Foucault and Lacan,3 was coined by the film theorist Laura Mulvey and adopted by feminist theory in order to describe the gendered and socially informed way in which men look at women.4 As regards the epigrams of the Musa puerilis, the older men’s gaze is in fact a ‘male pederastic gaze’. This should be considered as a subcategory of the ‘male gaze’ and is associated with specific practices evidenced in ancient Greece and related to the love of older men for post-pubescent boys.5 As often happens with the use of vision in Hellenistic poetry and philosophy,6 the male pederastic gaze of the Musa puerilis depends on the viewers’ gender and cultural experience in terms of such practices, while it determines the ways in which those men let their desire be articulated in the context of this poetry.7 It is also an intra-diegetic gaze that guides in a self-conscious manner the reader or the listener to the unfolding of the poems’ particular aesthetic which elucidates, interprets, and at the same time is being informed by the socially produced contexts of various Greek pederastic subcultures.8 (p.295) In Strato Anth. Pal. 12.185 and 227 it emerges that the first and most important step towards the creation of an emotional link between an older man and a boy appears to be the contact between the man’s eyes and the boy’s body, while in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.21 and 219 such gazes are the beginning of more intimate kinds of contact. In an epigram ascribed to Rhianus (Anth. Pal. 12.93), which puts forward patterns of thought attested in many poems of the Musa puerilis, the reader or the listener is addressed in the second person singular in an attempt made by the poem’s narrator to share his amazement with his audience. The intra-diegetic gaze of the epigram’s older man, which is focused upon the bodies of three boys, is turned into an extra-diegetic gaze directed towards the poem’s readers or listeners who are treated as a community of lovers of boys with similar interests and are asked to direct their gazes towards

Page 2 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology the desired bodies through the narrator’s eyes, thus sharing his pederastic vision:9 Boys are a labyrinth from which there is no way out; for wherever thou castest thine eye it is fast entangled as if by bird-lime. Here Theodorus attracts thee to the plump ripeness of his flesh and the unadulterated bloom of his limbs, and there it is the golden face of Philocles, who is not great in stature, but heavenly grace environs him. But if thou turnest to look on Leptines thou shalt no more move thy limbs, but shalt remain, thy steps glued as if by indissoluble adamant; such a flame hath the boy in his eyes to set thee afire from thy head to thy toe and finger tips. All hail, beautiful boys! May ye come to the prime of youth and live till grey hair clothe your heads.10 The poem begins with a general statement that associates desire for boys with vision (1–2: Οἱ παῖδες λαβύρινθος ἀνέξοδος· ᾗ γὰρ ἂν ὄμμα | ῥίψῃς, ὡς ἰξῷ τοῦτο προσαμπέχεται). Vision cannot be restricted to one boy nor can desire. Boy-love, in general, is then regarded as a labyrinth with no way out, because the obsessive feelings young males generate are caused not by a single boy and his outer and inner features, but by many boys who possess physical beauty and resemble thus the many ways one may take in a labyrinth.11 The older man’s gaze sticks thus, as if on a bird-lime, to elements considered as beautiful, (p. 296) such as the plump body of Theodorus and his untouched limbs that are as chaste as a flower (3–4: τῇ μὲν γὰρ Θεόδωρος ἄγει ποτὶ πίονα σαρκὸς | ἀκμὴν καὶ γυίων ἄνθος ἀκηράσιον). The sight of Philocles’ bright face has a heightened effect on the speaker. The boy is not tall. Yet he blossoms with divine grace (5–6: τῇ δὲ Φιλοκλῆος χρύσεον ῥέθος, ὃς τὸ καθ’ ὕψος | οὐ μέγας, οὐρανίη δ’ ἀμφιτέθηλε χάρις). But, in the poet’s ascending scale of preferences, Leptines, who is significantly enough being presented as the third one in this tripartite structure, is the most fetching. As the speaker’s gaze moves from the first boy’s body to the second boy’s face and the third boy’s eyes, which appear thus as more significant than the body and the face, it emerges that Leptines’ eyes radiate a bright light into the eyes of his admirer and burn him from head to toe (9–10: τοῖον σέλας ὄμμασιν αἴθει | κοῦρος καὶ νεάτους ἐκ κορυφῆς ὄνυχας). As a result, his admirer is rendered incapable of moving away from him (7–10). The viewer may thus become conscious of being viewed by his object of desire. The light that comes from Leptines’ eyes exposes the older man to vision, while the returned gaze of the youth encapsulates his beauty and reflects like a mirror his admirer’s gaze and feelings. This reflection may lead the older man to a narcissistic self-awareness and multiply the emotional impact of the boy’s returned gaze upon him.12 Desire, generated by the visual perception of beauty and eye-contact, and conveyed through the metaphor of a bright burning light stemming from the youth’s eyes, becomes thus a tormenting emotion with a paralysing power.

Page 3 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology Similar patterns of thought are exemplified in many epigrams. In Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.126 the sight of Diophantus immobilizes the man who looks at him. Eros, who is described as ‘hot’ (2: θερμός), will generate emotions presented as a ‘sweet wound’ (3: γλυκὺ τραῦμα) and bring to the man both pleasure and suffering (4: λάβρῳ καιόμενος μέλιτι). In a poem by Julius Leonidas (Anth. Pal. 12.20) Zeus’ glimpse of the handsome Periander is enough to make the god fall in love and abduct the youth. According to Anth. Pal. 12.60, which is ascribed to Meleager, looking at Thero is a revealing emotional experience since it is equated to looking at the whole world. Looking at everything but him is, by contrast, tantamount to seeing nothing. In Callimachus Anth. Pal. 12.71 Cleonicus gazes with both eyes at the beautiful Euxitheus and is subsequently overwhelmed by the boy. In the anonymous Anth. Pal. 12.87 it is Eros himself who sets a kind of fire to the speaker as he looks at various boys. Εrôs is presented as a ‘lightning of burning longing for males’ (2: στεροπὴν καύματος ἀρσενικοῦ) and is distinguished from desire for females (1: θῆλυν…πόθον). The metaphor of fire or burning is suggestive of emotional intensity and suffering, while the reference to the external force of Eros implies that the feelings generated do not depend solely on the beauty (p.297) of the viewed object. The speaker of Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.81 parallels the flame fuelled by the desire for boys to bitter honey (2: πικροῦ…μέλιτος). This combination of bitterness and sweetness points towards the sorrow and joy which in Greek literature are often thought to accompany erôs.13 The speaker asks his addressees to throw cold water on him so as to extinguish the fire ignited by his gazing at Dionysius. Looking at the boy, the man suffers torment comparable to a fire ready to burn his heart and innards. In Polystratus Anth. Pal. 12.91 it is again Eros who sets the speaker’s soul on fire. Vision affords a gateway to the inner self of those who look at a beautiful boy. Hence this poem’s speaker addresses his eyes, in effect blaming them and subsequently his gaze for the fire that tortures his soul. A look at Antiochus was enough for erôs to emerge. Yet this erôs became double when the same eyes alighted on Stasicrates, another youth presented as the offspring of Aphrodite. In Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.92 the same idea is taken further when the speaker’s eyes are said to have betrayed his soul. In a telling metaphor from the realm of hunting, the speaker’s loving gazes are supposed to attract Eros and the tormenting emotions generated by him like a bird-lime covered with sticking glue.14 Eros is metaphorically described as a cook burning with beauty the older man’s eyes (7–8: ὀπτᾶσθ’ ἐν κάλλει, τύφεσθ’ ὑποκαόμενοι νῦν, | ἄκρος ἐπεὶ ψυχῆς ἐστὶ μάγειρος Ἔρως). The men of these epigrams suffer as their souls burn while surrounded by beauty. Their suffering becomes greater when their gazes are attracted to more than one potential lover. As Calame has pointed out, in these poems the male pederastic gaze is related to erotic suffering.15 Eye-contact, in particular, turns out to be a devastating experience for the man who looks at the eyes of godlike Lycinus in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.196. The rays which are supposed to emanate from the boy’s eyes and Page 4 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology shoot flames (2: ἀκτῖνας…πυρσοβόλους16) are so bright that the man who looks at them cannot do so for long: Thy eyes are sparks, Lycinus, divinely fair; or rather, master mine, they are rays that shoot forth flame. Even for a little season I cannot look at thee face to face, so bright is the lightning from both. As happens in the epigram of Rhianus (Anth. Pal. 12.93), the speaker’s gaze is thought to be observed by his object. The boy becomes thus a powerful active (p.298) agent. His returned gaze reflects his beauty as well as the older man’s gaze and emotions. It may be inferred from these lines that the latter finds it difficult to endure the boy’s gaze as much as he finds it difficult to endure his own feelings. This happens because these feelings are perhaps too intense and combine desire, joy, and sorrow especially when the boy does not respond in a fully reciprocal manner. In another poem, which is attributed to Meleager (Anth. Pal. 12.127), falling in love is once again compared with fire burning the man who looks at a boy. The burning rays of Eros issuing from the boy’s eyes are thought to sparkle and be as hot as those of the sun. Both kinds of rays inflame the man who looks at the young Alexis at midday in the hot summer (lines 3–4): And double rays burnt me, the rays of love from the boy’s eyes and others from the sun. The older man’s gaze is directed towards the boy under the gaze of the sun that perceives everything in a distanced manner and reflects the man’s gaze as much as this is reflected in that of the boy. The man’s emotions are inspired by Eros, but appear to stem from the boy’s eyes which reflect the boy’s beauty and the man’s loving gaze.17 Such patterns of thought occur also in Anth. Pal. 12.72, which is assigned to the same poet: Damis feels like wax on fire after casting his gaze on the brightness of Heraclitus’ eyes. In Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.110 flames are thought to spring from the eyes of the desired boy, whose beauty supposedly shines, attracting with its rays the look of every mortal man. In Anth. Pal. 12.63, which belongs to the same poet, tacit messages are conveyed by the eyes of Heraclitus and the chest of Diodorus. Sweet flames are supposed to spring from the former’s eyes and the latter’s body, and burn with desire those who look at them. Fire becomes part of a commonly used metaphor pertaining to the power of beauty as well as to the intensity and suffering of desire.18 It emerges as a metaphor related to the interest of Hellenistic poetry in the vivid depiction of emotional states.19 The idea that the boy’s eyes are capable of producing a kind of fire or rays that cause those who gaze at them to melt like wax is not unique to these epigrams. In Pindar fr. 123 S–M, which is probably part of a skolion, a drinking-song, meant perhaps for presentation in the homosocial context of a symposium and Page 5 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology reproducing a homoerotic ambience,20 the speaker notes (p.299) that the bright rays of light that spring from the young Theoxenus’ eyes generate desire in the hearts of those who gaze at him (lines 2–6): Ah! But any man who catches with his glance the bright rays flashing from Theoxenus’ eyes and is not tossed on the waves of desire, has a black heart of adamant or iron forged in cold flame.21 The speaker presents this as a tormenting experience by saying that he melts like beeswax under the hot sun whenever he beholds the youthful limbs of boys (lines 10–12): But I, by the will of the Love Goddess, melt like the wax of holy bees stung by the sun’s heat, whenever I look upon the fresh-limbed youth of boys.22 In an admirable study of the Pindaric fragment, Thomas Hubbard underlines the multiple functions of various types of the ‘gaze’ in this poem mainly through Lacan’s perspective.23 He also notes that the idea that desire may originate in a kind of fire coming from the eyes of the beloved, who may become thus an active agent, occurs also in Ibycus fr. 287.1–2 PMG, Aeschylus Toxotides fr. 243 TGF, and Sophocles Oinomaos fr. 474 TGF, and observes that the same idea has philosophical affiliations.24 Echoing perhaps pre-Socratic, and more specifically Empedoclean, views on vision as involving the extramission or intromission of light or fire, Plato presents desire in Phaedrus 251b–c as a kind of heat caused by the stream of beauty invading a man’s soul through his eyes. This is clearly related to the widespread literary and philosophical topos according to which erôs emanates from vision and the visual perception of beauty, while those in love focus their gaze mainly on the eyes of their beloved.25 As often happens in earlier Greek poetry, in the Greek Anthology’s twelfth book the returned gaze is capable of generating erôs, because this gaze may also function as a powerful kind of language that conveys messages to those gazed at, who may subsequently fall in love. In the anonymous Anth. Pal. 12.88 the boy’s eye makes meaningful gestures (4: ὀφθαλμὸς νεύει). In this poem as well as in Anth. Pal. 12.110 and 127 a look from the boy’s sparkling or (p.300) penetrative eyes is enough to arouse feelings in the speaker’s soul. Charidemus’ sweet and moist gaze may function as a gesture directed towards the poem’s speaker in Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.68. Such a gesture is considered as a positive response to the older man’s feelings. When the young Myiscus directs his tormenting eyes, which are compared to arrows (ὄμμασι τοξεύσας), towards the older man in Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.101.2, the man’s arrogance disappears. In the same poet’s Anth. Pal. 12.122 the eyes of the handsome Aristagoras are said to have the power to speak and give pleasure, even while he remains silent (4: καὶ σιγῶν ὄμμασι τερπνὰ λαλεῖ).26 In Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.159 Myiscus’ eyes can talk even to deaf people (3–4: τὰ καὶ κωφοῖσι λαλεῦντα | ὄμματα). When his Page 6 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology eyes are said metaphorically to be cloudy, they bring a winter storm to the soul of the man who looks at him, but when his eyes sparkle, they bring the spring.27 As has already been pointed out, the boys’ eyes are sometimes thought to emit a tormenting light which often reflects the older men’s feelings and is equated with the suffering of erôs. Visual communication by means of messages conveyed through the eyes may thus replace verbal communication and create emotions. Such a coded type of communication appears as an inherent feature of the pederastic subculture that is depicted in these poems.28 Once love for a youth has been generated in a man’s soul, vision may be confined to nothing but that youth. In Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.106 the speaker turns blind to everything but Myiscus, who appears as the sole object of beauty in the world, and dominates his vision as well as his mind.29 At the same time, the speaker wonders whether his eyes turn to the erômenos and try thus to flatter his soul: I know but one beauty in the world; my greedy eye knows but one thing, to look on Myiscus, and for all else I am blind. He represents everything to me. Is it just on what will please the soul that the eyes look, the flatterers? The man’s emotions are capable of directing his gaze towards the boy his soul desires as well as of summoning up the erômenos’ gratifying image as if it were the whole world.30 Vision is then governed by erôs, which has the power to turn a projection of the erastês’ soul into the unique object of vision. (p.301) In Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.127 the erôs generated in the narrator’s soul by the bright rays of light that spring from the youth’s eyes creates another kind of vision not in reality, but in the narrator’s dreams. The image of the boy appears in a dream and revives these rays, bringing even more pain to the dreamer’s soul. A similar visual projection of what the soul longs for appears in Anth. Pal. 12.125, which is also attributed to Meleager. This time the soul is described as ‘unfortunate in matters of erôs’ (7: δύσερως ψυχή). It is for this reason that it develops a kind of vision that creates in the narrator’s dream the picture of an imaginary 18-year-old boy with whom he supposedly has close contact.31 The link between erôs and vision as well as the concept of rays of light flowing from the eyes or the body of the desired boy to the eyes—and through the eyes to the soul—of the man who stares at him show erôs in the Musa puerilis to be an emotional response not to certain aspects of a boy’s character, but mainly to his visible features. Very often erôs is presented as a response to a boy’s physical attractiveness. Such an idea is also suggested by inscribed acclamations from homoerotic social contexts, such as those of vase-paintings and graffiti reflecting a male homoerotic subculture, which declare mainly the boy’s beauty (καλός, εὐπρόσωπος, καλλιπρόσωπος, εὐσχήμων, ὡραῖος etc.).32 In the minds of poets and audience this kind of beauty must have been culturally fixed and stereotyped to such an extent that it only receives schematic treatment. Many epigrams state that the desired boys are beautiful without further details concerning their features.33 At the same time, these epigrams are suggestive of Page 7 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology an obsession with beauty as the cause of the older men’s emotions. Quite often the boys are declared to be as beautiful as Eros himself,34 who stands as a deity associated—albeit not exclusively—with love for boys in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.2, the book’s second proem, as well as in the wider context of Greek myth and cult.35 The god epitomizes youthful boyish beauty, while he serves as the standard against which the mortal boys’ beauty may be measured. Beauty is sometimes thought to be a gift coming from the Graces or even from Aphrodite.36 It is not surprising that in a culture dominated by artistic forms such as sculpture or theatre a handsome youth may be compared with a visually perceived work of art created by Eros, as in (p.302) Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.56. Physical beauty is subsequently not differentiated from artistic beauty, while the erotic response to a handsome body is paralleled to the emotional response to a work of art.37 In some cases one may find more specific references to certain aspects of boyish beauty. In Rhianus Anth. Pal. 12.58 and Strato Anth. Pal. 12.195 young boys are compared with roses. In Polystratus Anth. Pal. 12.91 Antiochus emerges as a flower among handsome boys, while in the anonymous Anth. Pal. 12.151 Apollodotus is said to possess ‘the most desirable flower of boys’ (1: παίδων ἐρατώτατον ἄνθος).38 A significant element of the boys’ beauty is the fact that they are young.39 As happened in social contexts, their admirers are interested in boys between 12 and 18 years old.40 Body hair, signalling the onset of maturity, makes the body undesirable. This is the visible signifier of a more complex change which violates the codes of age and role endorsed by the pederastic subculture which these poems reflect. As Tarán has shown, such references to body hair are an especially common motif in the epigrams of the Musa puerilis.41 In Strato Anth. Pal. 12.234 a boy is compared with a rose not only because they presumably both possess the same kind of beauty, but also because their beauty is not meant to last due to the jealousy of Time. In the same poet’s Anth. Pal. 12.195 the young Milesius, who is depicted as a shining rose, is expected to lose his beauty with the first appearance of facial and body hair just like a rose in the heat. This type of the carpe diem motif is related to the knowledge of the right time and the principle that ‘everything is most desirable when it is at its peak’ (πάντα γὰρ ἀκμάζοντ’ ἐστὶν ἐραστότερα), as is noted in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.197.2.42 As a result, desire for a boy cannot but be brief and intense. The boy’s beautiful face in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.223 attracts the gaze of the narrator, who is indifferent to the boy’s back. Similarly in Rhianus Anth. Pal. 12.93 Philocles’ bright face becomes the focal point of the narrator’s attention. Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.122 mentions the boy’s beautiful face, which emits flames of desire, as well as his beautiful eyes, which can talk even when the boy (p.303) is silent. In the anonymous Anth. Pal. 12.96 the boy’s beauty consists of a perfect face, a modest gaze, and a graceful chest. In these poems reference is also made to the colour of the boys’ skin and eyes even though the narrators Page 8 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology exhibit no specific preference since they are fond of fair- and dark-skinned boys alike.43 In Anth. Pal. 12.165 Meleager invokes the etymology of his name in confirmation of his preferences for both types of boys. An important element of male beauty is the lack of artificiality and pretence. In Strato Anth. Pal. 12.192 the narrator’s attention is directed towards the rough beauty of a young wrestler in an image combining manly power with lack of feigned beauty. Pretence is thought to be peculiar to female attractiveness and erotic attitudes.44 The narrators of these epigrams may sometimes direct their male pederastic gazes in a voyeuristic way to specific parts of the male body. In these texts this prompts boys to articulate a kind of body language which functions in a manner complementary to that of the language conveyed by the boys’ eyes. At the same time, the relevant references function as projections of the older men’s preferences with respect not only to specific parts of these boys’ bodies, but also to the desiderated type of sexual encounter. The male body subsequently emerges as a cultural construct whose formation depends on the gender, sexual orientation, and cultural experience of those who gaze at it.45 Although the narrator of Strato Anth. Pal. 12.223 states that his gaze is focused on the boy’s beautiful face, since he is not interested in the boy’s back, the attention of several older men in these epigrams is drawn to the boys’ buttocks. Menecrates’ buttocks are personified and directly addressed by the speaker of Rhianus Anth. Pal. 12.38, where they are considered as the boy’s ornament blessed by the Seasons and the Graces. Similarly in Dioscorides Anth. Pal. 12.37 the creation of Sosarchus’ buttocks is attributed to Eros himself, who aims at the sexual arousal of Zeus. This is the kind of response Graphicus’ buttocks are said to excite in the speaker of Strato Anth. Pal. 12.15. Sexual arousal appears to be closely related to vision. In Scythinus Anth. Pal. 12.22 a handsome 16-year-old boy only lets the poem’s narrator gaze at him. As a result the older man foresees that he is going to spend the whole night masturbating (8: τῇ κενεῇ Κύπριδι χειρομαχῶν). Strato in Anth. Pal. 12.6 humorously notes that the figures indicated by the letters of the words πρωκτός (‘anus’) and χρυσός (‘gold’) add up to the same number (1570), implying that anus is as precious as gold. An interest in a boy’s buttocks may suggest a culturally determined aesthetic appreciation of this part of male (p.304) anatomy. It may also suggest the older man’s intention to anally penetrate a boy, as happens in Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.94, where the reference to the lovely buttocks of Uliades is followed by the observation that the boy is suitable for sexual intercourse. When in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.213 Cyris bends against a wall, the stones are thought to be tempted to have sex with him and this functions as a projection of the desire of the man who gazes at him. The image of a boy touching his chin, lips, and thighs with a book in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.208 may well be a projection of an older man’s sexual fantasies: Happy little book, I grudge it thee not; some boy reading thee will rub thee, holding thee under his chin, or press thee against his delicate lips, or will roll thee up resting on his tender thighs, O most blessed of books. Page 9 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology Often shalt thou betake thee into his bosom, or, tossed down on his chair, shalt dare to touch those parts without fear, and thou shalt talk much before him all alone with him; but I pray thee, little book, speak something not unoften on my behalf. This reference to the book points in a self-reflexive manner towards the bookculture that dominated the creation and reception of these poems.46 Yet, as Maxwell-Stuart has remarked, this epigram’s image of the book, which at the end of the first and the beginning of the second century CE 47 was a papyrus roll, has also phallic connotations. The book’s movements on the boy’s thighs may thus refer to intercrural copulation, while the youth’s tender lips, which are pressed by the book, may allude to his tender and tight anus (3–4: ἢ τρυφεροῖς σφίγξει περὶ χείλεσιν ἢ κατὰ μηρῶν | εἰλήσει δροσερῶν).48 Through this type of double entendre the movements of the papyrus roll may imply the boy’s penetration by an older male.49 The older men in Anth. Pal. 12.240, 11, and 232 refer to their penis or their erection in a way showing that in their homoerotic encounters they hold an active role.50 Although attention is sometimes paid to the boy’s penis,51 such an interest does not necessarily suggest that an active role was assumed by the boy. In Strato Anth. Pal. 12.7 the boy’s penis is something the older man may fondle while he holds an active role and has anal intercourse with the boy. It is nevertheless worth noting that the idea of an exchange of sexual roles is favourably presented in epigrams, such as Strato Anth. Pal. 12.238, where reference is made to a humorous metaphorical image of playful little dogs mounting on each other’s back in (p.305) succession, or 210, which describes a sexually explicit scene with three men penetrating one another. The one in the middle assumes both an active and a passive role.52 Yet in most epigrams erôs is presented as a devastating emotional experience far beyond the boundaries of penetrative lovemaking. Kissing, for instance, often appears as a more substantial means of bodily contact capable of bringing together the lovers’ souls.53 Although erôs in the Musa puerilis may turn out to be an obsession with a single boy, its association with male bodies and vision, which by nature cannot be confined for long to a single object, results in the generation of emotions by multiple potential partners. It is worth noting that the narrator of Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.106 describes his eye as ‘greedy’ (1: λίχνον). In Plato Symposium 183d desire for a body and not for a soul is associated with brevity and promiscuity. For the Stoics, exclusivity is dissociated from erotic relationships, especially when such relationships are determined by beauty.54 In Strato Anth. Pal. 12.198 beauty emerges as the only criterion governing the choice of boy. Since each boy is rendered beautiful by a different feature, the poem’s narrator cannot choose a boy and is carried away by youthfulness in general. The narrator of the anonymous Anth. Pal. 12.87 states that his gaze cannot remain fixed only on Damon and Ismenus, the boys he is in love with. As happens with

Page 10 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology all lovers of boys, his gaze is directed towards every single boy and is trapped as if in a net (lines 5–6): And not only on these have I looked, but my eye, ever madly roving, is dragged into the nets of all alike. In Polystratus Anth. Pal. 12.91 and Rhianus Anth. Pal. 12.93 a look at a handsome youth causes the speaker to fall in love with him. As a result, the speakers of both poems are in love with more than one boy at the same time. Promiscuity thus emerges as a typical attitude of these lovers whose feelings, though at times intense, even so focus on brief, in many cases sexual, relationships with many different boys.55 In Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.95 erotic happiness is epitomized in the image of a sexually charged simultaneous encounter with eight different boys, who are humorously compared to a full Roman dish. Some boys become in turn equally promiscuous and offer their company for gifts.56 (p.306) Gazing at someone relies on a distinction drawn between the viewer and the viewed. Such a distinction determines the identity of an asymmetrical power relationship and reflects the social roles of the older men who gaze and the boys who are gazed at. The male gaze, which in feminist theory is thought to encapsulate a kind of power and violence exercised by the male viewer to the male or female viewed,57 reflects the social role of the gazer and has the ability to turn the person gazed at into an object.58 This kind of dichotomy becomes apparent in the epigrams of the Greek Anthology’s twelfth book and, at the same time, it is being challenged by the power inherent in the returned gazes of the boys. The gazers, whose voices dominate the brief narratives of the poems, are free adult males with sexual experience and a certain social and financial standing, while the gazed at are inexperienced adolescent boys dependent upon their families. Gymnasts, teachers, and wealthy men are often thought to take advantage of the social power they have over boys in order to approach them erotically. In Automedon Anth. Pal. 12.34 the fact that Demetrius is a gymnast instructing young boys all day long in the gymnasia and the palaestrae is reflected in the type of erotic encounter he has with such boys in the evening in the context of a symposium. It is for this reason that the poem’s speaker asks him ironically at 6 whether he is a gymnast even at night. Training a young boy becomes an erotic experience for another gymnast who takes advantage of the social power he has over the boy in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.222. His sexual advances are interrupted by the boy’s father. Such poems echo socially produced views relating to the homoerotic relations between young athletes and their trainers in terms of pedagogical pederastic relations.59 Similarly, the power teachers have over boys as well as their ability to come close to these boys because of their social standing become a reason for envy in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.219.60 In the anonymous Anth. Pal. 12.123 it is the eminent social position of an older man Page 11 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology that enables him to crown with garlands and kiss a young boxing winner. In Callimachus Anth. Pal. 12.148 poverty is presented as an older man’s major flaw with respect to his ability to attract young lovers. On the other hand, the boys’ dependence upon their families, their lack of social experience, and their emotional immaturity make them socially and emotionally vulnerable, and this might affect their relations with the older men. In Strato Anth. Pal. 12.205 a boy, who is no more than 12, is described as ‘unguarded unripe grapes’ (3–4: ἀφύλακτοι ὄμφακες), because of his immaturity and inexperience. The boys in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.8, 222, 231, and 253 appear unable to respond to the older men’s advances, even though they (p.307) might want to, because of restrictions imposed by a vigilant father. The hegemonic norms of the male pederastic gaze, which imply that the gazer is more powerful than, and superior to, the gazed, appear to reflect this socially produced distinction. In social contexts, this type of social asymmetry has been projected by scholars, such as Dover, Foucault, Halperin, and Winkler, upon the sphere of erotic relationships between a boy and an older man where the older male is often supposed to assume an active role.61 Yet the ways in which desire is correlated with the gaze in these epigrams suggest that, despite the socially produced asymmetry between an older man and a boy, in their visual relationship the roles of active and passive agent may be assigned interchangeably to both parties. As has already been pointed out, the ability to survey another, which leads to the distinction between the viewer and the viewed or between subject and object, does not belong exclusively to the older men. Moreover, as has been argued by Calame, these poems’ descriptions of the older men’s gazes ‘contain a hint of reciprocity’.62 Quite often it is a boy who directs his eyes towards an older man, and is supposed to burn him with the light of his gaze, turning him into a victim of desire.63 Even if one supposes that the powerful gazes of the boys are a wishful projection of the older men’s desire,64 one must admit that these gazes and the suffering they cause form indispensable elements of those men’s perceptions of erôs and the subsequent representations of erôs that are offered by the epigrams of the Musa puerilis. This victimization process accounts for the fact that the older men’s erotic suffering becomes a recurrent motif in these poems.65 This type of ambivalence, which is attested in the interrelationship of vision and desire, is also obvious in the field of social interaction. The older men may be more experienced, emotionally mature, financially independent, and socially powerful, but the boys possess a different kind of power stemming from the fact that they are young and beautiful.66 It has been contested on various grounds by scholars, such as Thornton, Hubbard, or Davidson, that the conceptualization of Greek pederasty in terms of a pattern of penetration-centred power relations and subordination is rather schematic and tends to ignore similar (p.308) important aspects of such relationships.67 This becomes more apparent in post-Classical texts such as the epigrams of the Musa puerilis. Youth and beauty, both stressed in these poems, Page 12 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology are sometimes related to the boys’ arrogance, turning them into powerful agents in relationships where the older men are the powerless victims of often unrequited desire.68 In Strato Anth. Pal. 12.224 reference is made to a consummated pederastic relationship based on a balance between erôs and beauty: We walk together in a good path, Diphilus, and take care to keep it as it was from the beginning. To the lot of each has fallen a winged thing; for in thee is beauty and in me love; but both are fugitive. Now they remain in unison for a reason, but if they do not guard one another they take wing and are gone.69 Beauty belongs to the youth, whereas erôs belongs to the emotionally mature older man (3–4: ἔστι μὲν ἐν σοὶ | κάλλος, ἔρως δ’ ἐν ἐμοί). Both beauty and erôs are supposed to be equally essential to the relationship. They are both thought not to last for a long time (4: καίρια), while it is difficult to keep them together. A pederastic relationship is thus linked once more with the carpe diem motif. These elements safeguard the balance of a relationship which is so profound that the boy Diphilus is asked to consider the possibility of being in such a relationship for a long time.70 In an anonymous epigram (Anth. Pal. 12.103) the speaker insists on the importance of emotional symmetry in a relationship: I know well to love them who love me, and I know to hate him who wrongs me, for I am not unversed in both. Although there is nothing explicitly pederastic in this distich, apart from the masculine participle (1: φιλέοντας) that points towards a male beloved, it may well be related to the motif of adikein on the part of the potential lover, which often appears in homosexual poetry. Adikein in such contexts is related to the lack of a desired kind of reciprocity and may be remedied by philein.71 Mutual feelings and reciprocity sometimes appear to be an ideal projected as a model for pederastic relationships.72 In earlier philosophical discourse (p.309) reciprocal love in such relationships, most notably in the form of the Platonic anterôs felt by the erômenos as a response to the older man’s erôs, was a desideratum which was not rare and was associated not only with sexuality, but also with pedagogy.73 In Strato Anth. Pal. 12.183 the narrator underlines the importance of kisses suggestive of emotional reciprocity between the two lovers. Asclepiades Anth. Pal. 12.163 and Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.164 extol the relationship of two handsome youths in love with one another, while in Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.109 the tender Diodorus is said to generate erôs in boys of his own age. Relationships between boys of the same age were not alien to Greek culture.74 The emotional bonds of Achilles and Patroclus as well as of Idomeneus

Page 13 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology and Meriones feature as mythical paradigms of such desirable relationships in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.217 and 247 respectively. The procedure of gazing at someone is a device through which these epigrams offer specific views of bodies, emotions, or relationships, and reflect the interests of a pederastic subculture. It is a subculture formed especially within the boundaries of homosocial contexts such as symposia, the palaestrae, and the gymnasia.75 The action of many epigrams is set in contexts of this kind:76 fictional settings which may also suggest some of the actual settings—and especially those of symposia—for the presentation and reception of these poems, which must nevertheless have been primarily intended for reading. This subculture is formed by the community of all those attracted to junior males. The sense of community is being manifested through the first person plural, in which the narrative voices of many of these poems refer to pederastic desire.77 A group of lovers of boys is addressed as such (παιδοφίλαι) in Anth. Pal. 12.44.4 and 145.1. The same sense of community is conveyed through the direct reference to an audience of men aware of the flame for boys (1–2: ὅσοι φλόγα τὰν φιλόπαιδα | οἴδατε), who are called fellow slaves of such a desire (5: ὁμόδουλοι) in Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.81.78 The idea (p.310) of a community of men sharing the same sexual nature occurs also in the poetry attributed to Theognis and Archilochus.79 As in the epigrams of the Musa puerilis, a common sexual nature affects those men’s vision of the world as well as their interests, mentalities, lifestyles, and cultural identities.80 The speaker in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.205 is interested in his neighbour’s son who is no more than 12 years old. The boy is thought to smile at him in a way showing that he has undergone some sort of initiation into the secret rituals of pederastic courtship (2: οὐκ ἀμύητα γελᾷ).81 Sharing such specific attitudes and codes of communication is thus metaphorically compared to mystic initiation and renders both the older man and the boy members of a community of ‘initiates’ who in this case form a social subgroup of people involved in pederastic activities. In Strato Anth. Pal. 12.258, which is significantly enough the book’s closing epigram, the poet’s voice addresses his audience in a self-conscious manner: Perchance someone in future years, listening to these trifles of mine, will think these pains of love were all my own. No! I ever scribble this and that for this and that boy-lover, since some god gave me this gift. The poet’s voice states that all the glimpses of pederastic desire described in his poems are not related solely to his own experiences, but encapsulate the desires and values of a community of lovers of boys (3–4: ἄλλα δ’ ἐγὼν ἄλλοισιν ἀεὶ φιλόπαισι χαράσσω | γράμματ’). His ability to express the desires of such a community is a divine gift (4: τις ἐμοὶ τοῦτ’ ἐνέδωκε θεός). This reflects a common belief in the divine origins of poetic inspiration and composition, which is found in Greek poetry from Homer onwards. The same idea occurs also in Page 14 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology Strato Anth. Pal. 12.1, the twelfth book’s opening poem. This provides the book with a circular structure which inscribes its poems within the boundaries of a specific literary and cultural strand.82 In Anth. Pal. 12.1 the ability to express the desires of a pederastic community comes not from the Muses, but from Zeus.83 The supreme deity’s paradigmatic relationship with Ganymede crystallizes the interests of a pederastic subculture in the fields of myth and cult, and turns him into the inspiring patron god of the subgenre of pederastic epigrammatic poetry whose themes (p.311) are also hinted at in Strato Anth. Pal. 12.2.84 It is a subgenre which reproduces a particular kind of vision and articulates patterns of thought and action belonging to wider cultural constructs created over time by various pederastic communities. Poems like those of the Greek Anthology’s twelfth book form a part of a long literary tradition which reflects the concerns of such communities. At the same time, this literary tradition reinforces and perpetuates the elements that constitute those communities’ developing identities. (p.312) Notes:

Thanks are due to Professors D. Konstan and J. C. B. Petropoulos as well as to the editors of the volume for their comments on earlier versions of this chapter. (1) Yet epigrams on heterosexual themes crop up in the twelfth book, whereas pederastic epigrams are also found in other books of the Greek Anthology, which is often referred to as Anthologia Palatina, taking this name from the codex Palatinus (hence the abbreviation Anth. Pal.). For Cephalas’ contribution to the structure of the Greek Anthology and the twelfth book, in particular, see Gow and Page (1965) i. xvii–xxi; Cameron (1993) 121–59; González Rincón (1996) 25– 30; Gutzwiller (1998a) 281–301; Giannuzzi (2007) 41–2 with n. 2, 54–5; Floridi (2007) 38–9, 48–55. (2) Cf. Aubreton (1969) 35–9; Maxwell-Stuart (1972) 215; Giannuzzi (2007) 53– 63. (3) The term ‘scopophilia’ refers to the pleasure deriving from looking at people’s bodies which are treated as objects. See Freud (1962). For Foucault the ‘gaze’ is linked with the generation of desire as well as to a kind of power possessed by those who gaze. See Foucault (1992) 40–1 and (1977) 25, 155. For Lacan the ‘gaze’ is distinguished from the ‘look’ or the ‘eye’. The ‘gaze’ is not confined to the viewer, who may look at an object and at the same time become aware of the object’s gaze that is directed upon him or her. The viewer perceives him- or herself viewing as if in a mirror. The viewer may also see that object only by seeing or imagining that it is looking back at him or her. See Lacan (1977) 73–5, 84. (4) Berger (1972) 49; Mulvey (1975); Saco (1992); Barry (1997). When the ‘gaze’ is oriented towards a same-sex object, it becomes a ‘homosexual gaze’ and Page 15 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology embraces the codes of homosexual experience developed in homoerotic subcultures. See Pranger (1990); Wallace (1994); Evans and Gamman (1995). The term ‘subculture’ appears in this chapter as a technical term that refers to social and cultural subgroups with specific preferences, communicative codes, habits, attitudes, ideals, and values, which distinguish them up to a certain point from the mainstream culture of society. See Jenks (2005) 1–15; Gelder (2007) passim and esp. 19–21, 144. (5) Hence the use of the terms ‘pederasty’ and ‘pederastic’ in this chapter instead of the terms ‘homosexuality’ and ‘homosexual’, and relevant inclusive modern concepts. Cf. Dover (1989) 1–4, 15–17; Buffière (1980) 9–13; Halperin (1990) 15–16; Davidson (2007) 68–98, 122–39. (6) Cf. Webster (1964) 156–77; Goldhill (1994) 197–210; Zanker (2004) 4–7; Cairns (this volume). (7) For the relation between literary genre and the gender of those composing and performing poetry as well as of their audience before the Hellenistic period see Stehle (1997) 119–261. For the conscious play with such gendered narrative voices in Hellenistic epigrams see Gutzwiller (1998a) 55–88; Murray and Rowland (2007). (8) Cf. Goldhill (1994) 204–6. These pederastic subcultures were formed over time and were an example of a number of different homoerotic subcultures developed in the wider context of Greek culture. They occurred in various forms of institutionalized or non-institutionalized pederasty attested in places such as Sparta, Crete, or Athens, while they are often reflected in vase-paintings depicting pederastic scenes, in graffiti from places in Thasos, Thera, and Nemea, where the relevant social subgroups engaged in their activities, or in texts such as the Theognidea and Plato’s Phaedrus and Symposium, which articulate many aspects of their behaviour, beliefs, and values. Cf. Dover (1989) 135–70; Calame (1999) 101–9; Hubbard (2003b) 2–7; Davidson (2007) 300–43, 490–2. (9) The poem is thus invested with enargeia, while the reader or the listener is being integrated into its imagery and is subsequently asked to supplement accordingly the poem’s narrative. On this Hellenistic technique see Zanker (2004) 30, 33, 72–84, 109–23. (10) The text of the epigrams of the Greek Anthology, which appears in this chapter, is that of Beckby’s edition, while the translations are those of Paton’s Loeb edition. (11) For such catalogues of many favourites see Anth. Pal. 5.198; Carmina convivialia 904 PMG; Petropoulos (2003) 134–5. (12) Cf. Lacan (1977) 75. Page 16 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology (13) See Sappho fr. 130 L–P; Theognis 301–2, 1353–6 West. Cf. Solon fr. 1 West; Pl. Phdr. 251c–e; Carson (1986) 3–9; Calame (1999) 14–19, 57–8. (14) Hunting imagery, sometimes related to birds and bird-limes, is often used with respect to the pursuit of lovers. See Anth. Pal. 5.56, 96, 100, 12.92, 93, 109, 132; Gow and Page (1965) ii. 504; Buffière (1980) 310–11. (15) Calame (1999) 57–9, 61. Cf. Giannuzzi (2007) 251–5. In spite of their erotic aspect, these poems share many of the conventions of sepulchral epigram and this may be related to the element of suffering which is often stressed in them. See Tueller (2008) 125–31. (16) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.110. For the battle imagery of these lines, see Giannuzzi (2007) 251. (17) Cf. Hubbard (2002) 285. (18) See Anth. Pal. 5.15, 26, 176, 210, 7.31, 12.63, 72, 82, 83. Cf. Sappho fr. 48.2 L–P; Alcm. fr. 3.61–2 PMG; Pl. Chrm. 155d, Phdr. 251b; Theoc. Id. 2.82–3, 2.131– 4, 7.55–6; Ach. Tat. 1.17.1, 5.15.5, 5.26.2; Longus 1.29.1; Hld. 5.31.2. On inflammation as a stereotypical symptom of love in these texts as well as in the Greek magical papyri see Maehler (1990); Petropoulos (1997) 107–10. (19) Zanker (2004) 70. (20) Cf. also the skolia of Carmina popularia fr. 873 and Carmina Convivialia frr. 893–6 PMG; Hubbard (2002) 260–5. (21) Trans. Hubbard (2002) 255–6. (22) Trans. Hubbard (2002) 256. (23) Hubbard (2002) 283–8. (24) Hubbard (2002) 266–72, 288–90. (25) Cf. Sappho frr. 16, 31, 138 L–P; Alcm. frr. 1.21, 3.61–2 PMG; Anac. fr. 360 PMG; Simon. fr. 22 West; Hes. Theog. 910–11; Pind. Pyth. 10.55–60, Isthm. 8.27– 9, Ol. 1.25–7, Nem. 8.1–5; Aesch. Ag. 742–3; Soph. Ant. 795–801, fr. 157 TGF; Eur. Hipp. 27–8, 525–40, Tro. 891–2; Gorg. Hel. 15–18; Pl. Phdr. 247c–e, 249d– 251e, 255c–d, Tht. 156d–e, Cra. 420b, Ti. 45b–d, 67c–d; Arist. Eth. Nic. 1167a 3– 4, 1171b 29–31, fr. 96 Rose; Men. Dys. 50–2; Theoc. 2.82, 3.42; Ach. Tat. 1.9.4, 5.13.4; Hld. 3.7.5; West (1966b) 409; M. Davies (1980); Calame (1999) 4–5, 20– 3, 32–3; Hubbard (2002) 267 n. 31; Goldhill (2002); Giannuzzi (2007) 251–2; Floridi (2007) 237–8; Cairns (this volume). (26) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.63.1.

Page 17 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology (27) The feelings caused by the eyes of the erômenos are compared to a spring storm in the anonymous Anth. Pal. 12.156. For other effects of the boys’ gazes see Anth. Pal. 12.109, 113, 144. (28) For such a function of the gaze among homosexual men see Pranger (1990). (29) A variation on the same theme occurs in Anth. Pal. 12.60. See also Xen. Symp. 4.12; Gow and Page (1965) ii. 658; Maehler (1990). (30) Cf. Goldhill (1994) 214–16. In Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.52 and Callimachus Anth. Pal. 12.73, half of the speaker’s soul is thought to belong to the beloved boy. In Meleager Anth. Pal. 12.57, young Praxiteles is capable of instilling Eros in the erastês’ heart. The same boy is also capable of manipulating the erastês’ mind and character according to his will as well as of erecting in his soul a temple of Eros. For the power of erôs see Anth. Pal. 12.23, 37, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 86, 87, 112, 113, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 124, 140, 141, 142, 171, 249. (31) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.124 where the image of the beloved boy appeared in the speaker’s dreams soon after the latter had kissed another boy. (32) See Dover (1989) 120–1; Garlan and Masson (1982) 16–18; Calame (1999) 105–9; Hubbard (2003b) 12; Lear (2008b) 164–73. (33) Anth. Pal. 12.51, 59, 62, 66, 94, 110, 129, 130, 138, 154, 163, 164, 190. On the schematic physical description in erotic contexts in Greek poetry, see Petropoulos (2003) 23–4. (34) Anth. Pal. 12.54, 56, 75, 76, 77, 78, 97, 111; Calame (1999) 58. However, in Anth. Pal. 12.55 a handsome boy is compared to Apollo. (35) Cf. Steinbichler (1998) 30; Calame (1999) 59–60; Davidson (2007) 14–23; Stafford (this volume). (36) Anth. Pal. 12.121, 122, 195. Cf. [Theognis] 1304, 1319–20 West. (37) For such a parallelism between looking at works of art and looking at human objects of desire see Goldhill (1994) 210–16; Zanker (2004) 144–52; Giannuzzi (2007) 251. (38) Cf. Anth. Pal. 5.28, 35, 36, 144, 270, 11.36, 12.93, 256; Theoc. 23.28–9, 27.10; Ach. Tat. 1.8.9, 2.36.2. For the affinities of flowers (especially roses) and youthful beauty in Greek poetry see Petropoulos (2003) 32–5, 53–4, 62–5, 68. (39) Cf. Buffière (1980) 307–8. For the Platonic and Stoic associations between desire and youthful beauty see Nussbaum (2002) 78. For a similar appreciation of youthful boyish beauty in Roman social and literary contexts see Williams (1999) 72–7. Page 18 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology (40) See Anth. Pal. 12.4, 22, 125, 205; Dover (1989) 84–7; Buffière (1980) 605–7; Davidson (2007) 78–80; Cantarella (2008) 4–6. (41) Anth. Pal. 12.10, 12, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36, 39, 40, 41, 174, 176, 178, 186, 191, 195, 220, 229; Tarán (1985). Cf. Buffière (1980) 318–19; Steinbichler (1998) 73–6; Giannuzzi (2007) 244, 248–50; Floridi (2007) 231–7. (42) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.32. (43) See Anth. Pal. 12.5, 165, 244. (44) For the natural character of male kisses in contrast to the artificiality of female kisses see Ach. Tat. 2.38.5; Fountoulakis (2001). (45) As Goldhill (1994) 216 notes with respect to ekphrasis in Hellenistic epigram, ‘writing about viewing art is to engage in the construction of the viewing subject’. (46) Cf. Bing (1988) 30–1; Floridi (2007) 275. (47) For such a dating of Strato’s work see Floridi (2007) 1–13 (with a preference for the Flavian period). For a dating to the age of Hadrian see Giannuzzi (2007) 52–3. (48) Note the use of σφίγξει at 3 as an allusion to the boy’s sphincter. (49) See Maxwell-Stuart (1972) 222–3. Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.190; Steinbichler (1998) 188–9; Giannuzzi (2007) 303–4; Floridi (2007) 275–7. (50) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.243. (51) See Anth. Pal. 12.3 where different names are given to boys’ penises according to their state (soft, erect, etc.). For these names see W. M. Clarke (1994); Steinbichler (1998) 108–10; Giannuzzi (2007) 90–8; Floridi (2007) 123–9. (52) For a variation see Anth. Pal. 11.225. (53) Anth. Pal. 12.14, 16, 79, 123, 133, 177, 183, 188, 200, 203. (54) Cf. Sext. Emp. Math. 2.190, Pyr. 3.245–6; Diog. Laert. 2.99–100, 7.129–31; Lucr. 4.1065–6; Ath. 543d–f; Nussbaum (2002) 78–9, 92 with n. 64; Leontsini (this volume); Gill (this volume). (55) See Anth. Pal. 12.34, 43, 88, 94, 99, 145, 157, 169, 199, 210, 246, 254, 256. When in Anth. Pal. 12.104 the speaker states that he wants the boy he is in love with to be faithful, it is implied that what is normally expected is unfaithfulness. For promiscuity on the part of the older men not only in literature, but also in social contexts, see Buffière (1980) 635–42. Page 19 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology (56) Anth. Pal. 12.42, 44; Buffière (1980) 629–35. (57) See Mulvey (1975); Silverman (1984). (58) Cf. Foucault (1977) 25, 155. (59) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.206; Steinbichler (1998) 129–34; Hubbard (2003a). (60) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.187 where teaching a boy how to read may acquire erotic nuances. (61) Dover (1989) 84–91, 100–9; Foucault (1992) 187–225; Halperin (1990) 15– 40; Winkler (1990) 45–70. (62) Calame (1999) 61. Cf. Hubbard (2003b) 12. (63) According to Lacan (1977) 73–5, the viewer exists as a seeing subject when he or she realizes or imagines that he or she is being gazed at. The viewer’s desire is thus being formulated according to the supposed response of the object. (64) As regards a similar projection on the part of the erômenos, cf. Pl. Phdr. 255c–e for the stream of beauty that returns through the eyes to the soul of its possessor. (65) Anth. Pal. 12.71, 72, 73, 74, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 90, 91, 92, 93, 99, 101, 124, 125, 126, 134, 135, 143, 144, 145, 158, 166, 167, 169, 172, 174, 180, 181, 201, 218, 226, 241, 252, 253. Cf. Buffière (1980) 310–13. (66) Hubbard (2002) 288–90; Hubbard (2003b) 11–13. (67) Thornton (1997) 99–120; Davidson (1997) 168–72; Hubbard (2002) 288–9 and (2003b) 10–13; Davidson (2007) 68–98, 466–92. (68) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.145, 185, 186, 200. (69) Paton’s translation has been amended according to that of Hine. (70) Cf. Steinbichler (1998) 60–1; Giannuzzi (2007) 349–51; Floridi (2007) 324. (71) Cf. Sappho, fr. 1 L–P; [Theognis] 1283 West; Dover (1989) 176–7. (72) Cf. Konstan (2002); Cantarella (2008) 9–10. Since the older men and the boys are not equal in social standing and emotional maturity, their relationship could not be symmetrical. Despite Calame’s (1999) 60–1 assumptions, the reciprocal gazes of older men and boys suggest a kind of balance, such as that attested in Anth. Pal. 12.224, rather than symmetry. Cf. Konstan (1994) 26–30. Yet, as Calame (1999) 61 has shown on the basis of epigrams such as Anth. Pal. 12.4, 10, and 14, it is only when the upper age-limit of a pais is violated that the Page 20 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology erastês may expect some kind of reciprocity. For older men as objects of desire in Roman times see Williams (1999) 77–82. (73) See Pl. Phdr. 255c–e, although Plato’s anterôs, which is felt by the erômenos, is thought to be conceived by the boy not as erôs, but as philia. Cf. Arist. An. pr. 68a39–b7, Eth. Nic. 1159a–b; Ath. 561c; Halperin (1986); Nussbaum (2002) 70– 3; Hubbard (2003b) 12. (74) Cf. [Theognis] 1063–70, 1319–22 West; Pind. Pyth. 10.55–68; Pl. Chrm. 153a– 155d, Phdr. 227a–257b; Xen. Symp. 4.23; Hubbard (2002) 260 n. 14 and (2003b) 5; Davidson (2007) 86–8, 480–4. (75) Cf. Buffière (1980) 561–92; Furiani (1987); Bremmer (1990); Stewart (1997) 24–42; Golden (1998) 65–9; Hubbard (2003b) 3–4. It would be misleading to reduce these epigrams to ‘a purely literary game’ intended only for ‘sophisticated poetic amusement’, as Calame (1999) 61 does. For the formation of homosexual subcultures in Roman times see Taylor (1997) 320 and J. R. Clarke (1998) 83, despite the misgivings of Williams (1999) 218–24. (76) Anth. Pal. 12.34, 49, 50, 51, 85, 123, 134, 135, 175, 180, 206, 192, 199, 222, 253. Cf. Buffière (1980) 580–5. (77) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.16, 39, 50, 87, 124, 130, 145, 150, 160, 185, 245. (78) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.255; Furiani (1987); Jope (2005) 47–8. For the technique of the ‘integration’ of the viewer or the reader into the image see Zanker (2004) 33. (79) [Theognis] 1357–60, 1369–72 West; Archil. fr. 25.1–5 West; Hubbard (2003b) 2–3. (80) The sense of a community of people sharing the same identity is essential to the concept of a subculture. See Hebdige (1979). (81) Cf. Anth. Pal. 12.211.1; Steinbichler (1998) 39. (82) Cf. Aubreton (1969) 38–45; Gutzwiller (1998a) 282–301 (who notes the impact of Meleager’s Garland); Floridi (2007) 404–5. (83) For Strato’s variation on the Hesiodic Μουσάων Ἑλικωνιάδων ἀρχώμεθ’ ἀείδειν (Theog. 1) and his debt to Aratus, which is explicitly acknowledged in Anth. Pal. 12.1.1, see Steinbichler (1998) 28–9; Giannuzzi (2007) 77–8; Floridi (2007) 117–19. For such references to Zeus in Greek poetry see R. Hunter (2003) 96–9. (84) Cf. Tarán (1979) 7–9; Shapiro (1992) 58–64; Floridi (2007) 118–23; Davidson (2007) 169–200; Lear (2008a) 139, 146–7. It is for this reason that Zeus crops up Page 21 of 22

 

Male Bodies, Male Gazes: Exploring Erôs in the Twelfth Book of the Greek Anthology so often in these poems. See Anth. Pal. 12.1, 20, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 101, 115, 117, 179, 194, 220, 221, 230, 254. Cf. [Theognis] 1345–6 West.

Page 22 of 22

 

References

Erôs in Ancient Greece Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507 Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

(p.313) References Bibliography references: Adkins, A. W. H. (1982) ‘Values, goals, and emotions in the Iliad’, Classical Philology 77.4, 292–326. —— (1996) ‘The “Speech of Lysias” in Plato’s Phaedrus’, in B. Louden and P. Schollmeier (eds) The Greeks and us: Essays in honor of Arthur W. H. Adkins (Chicago) 224–40. Ahlrichs, B. (2005) ‘Prüfstein der Gemüter’: Untersuchungen zu den ethischen Vorstellungen in den Parallelbiographien Plutarchs am Beispiel des ‘Coriolan’ (Beiträge zur Altertumwissenschaft 16) (Hildesheim). Alesse, F. (2005) ‘Fonti Socratiche e Stoiche nella Vita Alcibiadis’, in L. De Blois, J. Bons, T. Kessels, and D. M. Schenkeveld (eds) The statesman in Plutarch’s work: Proceedings of the sixth international conference of the International Plutarch Society (Nijmegen/Castle Hernen, May 1–5, 2002), ii: The statesman in Plutarch’s Greek and Roman Lives (Leiden) 187–97. Alexandridis, A. (2008), ‘Wenn Götter lieben, wenn Götter strafen: zur Ikonographie der Zoophile im griechischen Mythos’, in A. Alexandridis, M. Wild, and L. Winkler-Horaček (eds) Mensch und Tier in der Antike: Grenzziehung und Grenzüberschreitung (Wiesbaden) 285–311. Allan, W. (2002) Euripides: Medea (London). Allen, D. S. (2003) ‘Angry bees, wasps, and jurors: The symbolic politics of ὀργή in Athens’, in S. Braund and G. W. Most (eds) Ancient anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (Cambridge) 76–98.

Page 1 of 45

 

References Aloni, A. (2009) ‘Elegy’, in F. Budelmann (ed.) The Cambridge companion to Greek lyric (Cambridge) 168–88. Anagnousta-Laoutides, E. (2005) Eros and ritual in ancient literature: Singing of Atalanta, Daphnis, and Orpheus (Piscataway, NJ). Anderson, G. (1982) Eros sophistes: Ancient novelists at play (American Studies 9) (Chico, CA). Annas, J. (1993) The morality of happiness (Oxford). Arafat, K. (1990) Classical Zeus: A study in art and literature (Oxford). Aubreton, R. (1969) ‘Le Livre XII de l’Anthologie Palatine: La muse de Straton’, Byzantion 39, 35–52. Bain, D. (1991) ‘Six Greek verbs of sexual congress’, Classical Quarterly 41, 51– 77. Baldry, H. C. (1959) ‘Zeno’s ideal state’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 79, 3–15. Baldwin, B. (1977) ‘Four problems in Agathias’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 70, 295–305. —— (1980) ‘The date of the Cycle of Agathias’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 73, 334– 40. Balot, R. K. (2001) Greed and injustice in Classical Athens (Princeton). Barnes, J. (1982) The Presocratic Philosophers (London). —— (1987) Early Greek philosophy (London). Barrett, W. S. (1964) Euripides: Hippolytos (Oxford). Barron, J. P. (1984) ‘Ibycus: Gorgias and other poems’, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 31, 13–31. (p.314) Barry, A. M. S. (1997) Visual intelligence: Perception, image and manipulation of visual communication (New York). Bartsch, S. (2006) The mirror of the self: Sexuality, self-knowledge, and the gaze in the early Roman Empire (Chicago). Baumann, H. (2007) Flora mythologica: Griechische Pflanzenwelt in der Antike (Kilchberg). Beckby, H. (ed.) (1965–8) Anthologia Graeca (Munich, 2nd edn, 4 vols).

Page 2 of 45

 

References Belfiore, E. (2006) ‘Dancing with the gods: The myth of the chariot in Plato’s Phaedrus’, American Journal of Philology 127.2, 185–217. Ben-Ze’ev, A. (2000) The subtlety of emotions (Cambridge, MA). Berg, S. (2010) Eros and the intoxications of enlightenment: On Plato’s Symposium (Albany, NY). Berger, J. (1972) Ways of seeing (London). Bermejo Barrera, J. C. (1980) ‘“Nérites”: Contribución al estudio de la mitología marina de la antigua Grecia’, Emerita 48, 127–31. Bertman, S. (2005) Erotic love poems of Greece and Rome (New York). Beta, S. (1999) ‘Madness on the comic stage: Aristophanes’ Wasps and Euripides’ Heracles’, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 40.2, 135–58. Betz, H. D. (1996) The Greek magical papyri in translation including the demotic spells (Chicago, 2nd edn). Billault, A. (1999) ‘Le Dialogue sur l’amour de Plutarque et les Dialogues de Platon sur l’amour’, in A. Pérez Jiménez, J. García López, and R. Ma. Aguilar (eds) Plutarco, Platón, y Aristóteles: Actas del V congreso internacional de la I. P. S. (Madrid) 201–13. Bing, P. (1988) The well-read muse: Present and past in Callimachus and the Hellenistic poets (Göttingen). —— and R. Cohen (eds) (1991) Games of Venus: An anthology of Greek and Roman erotic verse from Sappho to Ovid (New York). Bittrich, U. (2005) Aphrodite und Eros in der Antiken Tragodie (Berlin). Blaise, F., P. Judet de la Combe, and P. Rousseau (eds) (1996) Le Métier du mythe: Lectures d’Hésiode (Lille). Blundell, S. and N. S. Rabinowitz (2008) ‘Women’s bonds, women’s pots: Adornment scenes in Attic vase-painting’, Phoenix 62, 115–44. Bonnafé, A. (1985) Eros et Eris: Mariages divins et mythe de succession chez Hésiode (Lyon). Bonnano, M. G. (1973) ‘Osservazioni sul tema della “giusta” reciprocità amorosa da Saffo ai comici’, Quaderni urbinati di cultura classica 16, 110–20. Borg, B. E. (2002) Der Logos des Mythos. Allegorien und Personifikationen in der frühen griechischen Kunst (Münich).

Page 3 of 45

 

References —— (2005) ‘Eunomia or “Make love not war”? Meidian personifications reconsidered’, in E. J. Stafford and J. E. Herrin (eds) Personification in the Greek world (Aldershot) 193–210. Borthwick, E. K. (1979) ‘ΦΥΛΑΣΣΩ or ΛΑΦΥΣΣΩ? A note on two emendations’, Eranos 77, 79–83. Børtnes, J. (2000) ‘Eros transformed: Same-sex love and divine desire’, in T. Hägg and P. Rousseau (eds) Greek biography and panegyric in late antiquity (Berkeley). (p.315) Boudon-Millot, V. (2007) Galien, i: Sur l’ordre de ses propres livres; Sur ses propres livres; Que l’ excellent médecin est aussi philosophe (Ord. Lib. Prop.; Lib. Prop.; Opt. Med.) (Paris). Boulogne, J. (1999) ‘Trois eros? Comment Plutarque réecrit Platon’, in A. Pérez Jiménez, J. García López, and R. Ma. Aguilar (eds) Plutarco, Platón, y Aristóteles: Actas del V congreso internacional de la I.P.S. (Madrid) 215–26. Bowen, A. J. (1998) Xenophon: Symposium (Warminster). Bowie, A. (1993) Aristophanes: Myth, ritual, and comedy (Cambridge). Bowie, E. (1986) ‘Early Greek elegy, symposium, and public festival’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 106, 13–35. —— (1987) ‘One that got away’, in M. Whitby, M. Hardie, and M. Whitby (eds) Homo viator: Classical essays for John Bramble (Bristol) 13–24. Bowra, C. M. (1961) Greek lyric poetry: From Alcman to Simonides (Oxford, 2nd edn). —— (1963) ‘Arion and the dolphin’, Museum Helveticum 20, 121–34. Boys-Stones, G. (1998) ‘Eros in government: Zeno and the virtuous city’, Classical Quarterly 48, 168–74. Brandwood, L. (1976) A word index to Plato (Leeds). Braund, S. M. and C. Gill (eds) (1997) The passions in Roman thought and literature (Cambridge). —— and G. W. Most (eds) (2003) Ancient anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (Cambridge). Breitenberger, B. (2007) Aphrodite and Eros: The development of erotic mythology in early Greek poetry and cult (London).

Page 4 of 45

 

References Bremer, J. M. (1975) ‘The meadow of love and two passages in Euripides’ Hippolytus’, Mnemosyne 28, 268–80. —— A. M. van Erp Taalman Kip, and S. R. Slings (1987) Some recently found Greek poems (Leiden). Bremmer, J. (1990) ‘Adolescents, symposion, and pederasty’, in O. Murray (ed.) Sympotica: A symposium on the symposion (Oxford) 135–48. Brenk, F. E. (1988) ‘Plutarch’s Erotikos: The drag down pulled up’, Illinois Classical Studies 13.2, 457–71. —— (1998) ‘The Boiotia of Plutarch’s Erotikos beyond the shadow of Athens’, in F. E. Brenk (ed.) Relighting the souls: Studies in Plutarch, Greek literature, religion, and philosophy, and in the New Testament background (Stuttgart) 50–8. Brennan, T. (2003) ‘Stoic moral psychology’, in B. Inwood (eds) Cambridge companion to the Stoics (Cambridge) 257–94. —— (2005) The Stoic life: Emotions, duties, and fate (Oxford). Brès, Y. (1973) La Psychologie de Platon (Paris). Brisson, L. (2002) Sexual ambivalence: Androgyny and hermaphroditism in Greco-Roman antiquity (Berkeley). Broneer, O. (1932) ‘Eros and Aphrodite on the north slope of the Acropolis’, Hesperia 1, 31–55. —— (1933) ‘Excavations on the north slope of the Acropolis in Athens, 1931–2’, Hesperia 2, 329–49. —— (1935) ‘Excavations on the north slope of the Acropolis in Athens, 1933–4’, Hesperia 4, 109–88. (p.316) Brooten, B. (1996) Love between women (Chicago). Browne, T. (1969) Religio medici and other writings (London). Buffière, F. (1980) Eros adolescent: La pédérastie dans la Grèce antique (Paris). Bumke, H. (2004) Statuarische Gruppen in der frühen griechischen Kunst (Berlin). Burkert, W. (1985) Greek religion: Archaic and Classical (Oxford). Burn, L. (1987) The Meidias painter (Oxford). Burnett, A. P. (1998) Revenge in Attic and later tragedy (Berkeley). Page 5 of 45

 

References Cairns, D. L. (1993) AIDÔS: The psychology and ethics of honour and shame in ancient Greece (Oxford). —— (1996a) ‘“Off with her aidôs”: Herodotus 1.8.3–4’, Classical Quarterly 46, 78–83. —— (1996b) ‘Hybris, dishonour, and thinking big’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 116, 1–32. —— (1997) ‘The meadow of Artemis and the character of the Euripidean Hippolytus’, Quaderni urbinati di cultura classica 57, 51–75. —— (2001) ‘Anger and the veil in ancient Greek culture’, Greece and Rome 48, 18–32. —— (2002) ‘The meaning of the veil in ancient Greek culture’, in L. LlewellynJones (ed.) Women’s dress in the ancient Greek world (London) 73–93. —— (2003a) ‘Ethics, ethology, terminology: Iliadic anger and the cross-cultural study of emotion’, in Braund and Most (2003) 11–49. —— (2003b) ‘Myths and metaphors of mind and mortality’, Hermathena 175, 41– 75. —— (2005) ‘Bullish looks and sidelong glances: Social interaction and the eyes in ancient Greek culture’, in D. L. Cairns (ed.) Body language in the Greek and Roman worlds (Swansea) 123–55. —— (2008) ‘Look both ways: Studying emotion in ancient Greek’, Critical Quarterly 50.4, 43–63. —— (2009) ‘Weeping and veiling: Grief, display, and concealment in ancient Greek culture’, in T. Fögen (ed.) Tears in the Graeco-Roman world (Berlin) 37–57. —— (2011) ‘Looks of love and loathing: Cultural models of vision and emotion in ancient Greek culture’, Mètis: Anthropologie des mondes grecs anciens 9, 37–50. —— (forthcoming) ‘A short history of shudders’, in A. Chaniotis and P. Ducrey (eds) Emotions as historical factor (Stuttgart). Cairns, F. (1998) ‘Asclepiades and the Hetairai’, Eikasmos 9, 165–93. Calame, C. (1991) ‘Prairies intouchées et jardins d’Aphrodite’, in A. Moreau (ed.) L’Initation (Montpellier) 103–18. —— (ed.) (1997) L’amore in Grecia (Bari). —— (1999) The poetics of eros in ancient Greece (Princeton; trans. J. Lloyd).

Page 6 of 45

 

References Cameron, A. (1981) ‘Asclepiades’ girl friends’, in H. P. Foley (ed.) Reflections of women in antiquity (New York) 275–302; repr. revd. in A. Cameron (1995) Callimachus and his critics (Princeton) 494–519. —— (1993) The Greek Anthology from Meleager to Planudes (Oxford). —— and A. Cameron (1966) ‘The Cycle of Agathias’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 86, 6–25. Campbell, D. A. (1967) Greek lyric poetry (London). Cantarella, E. (1996) I supplizi capitali in Grecia e a Roma (Milan). —— (2008) ‘Introduction. Section I: Textual evidence’, in Lear and Cantarella (2008) 1–23. (p.317) Carone, G. R. (2006) ‘The virtues of Platonic love’, in J. Lesher, D. Nails, and F. C. C. Sheffield (eds) Plato’s Symposium: Issues in interpretation and reception (Hellenic Studies 22) (Cambridge, MA) 208–26. Carson, A. (1986) Eros the bittersweet (Princeton). —— (2001) Spartan reflections (Berkeley). Cartledge, P. (1981) ‘The politics of Spartan pederasty’, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 27, 17–36. —— (2001) Spartan reflections (Berkeley). Casanova, A. (1979) La famiglia di Pandora: Analisi filologica dei miti di Pandora e Prometeo nella tradizione esiodea (Florence). Cavallini, E. (1997) Nel giardino delle vergini (Lecce). Chaniotis, A. (ed.) (2012) Unveiling emotions: Sources and methods for the study of emotions in the Greek world (Stuttgart). Cingano, E. (2003) ‘“Genre” et performance de la lyrique grecque’, in J. Jouanna and J. Leclant (eds) La poésie grecque antique (Paris) 17–45. Clarke, J. R. (1998) Looking at lovemaking: Constructions of sexuality in Roman art 100 B.C.–A.D. 250 (Berkeley). Clarke, W. M. (1994) ‘Phallic vocabulary in Straton’, Mnemosyne 47, 466–72. Cohen, D. (1987) ‘Law, society, and homosexuality in Classical Athens’, Past and Present 117, 3–21.

Page 7 of 45

 

References —— (1990) ‘The social context of adultery at Athens’, in P. Cartledge, P. Millett, and S. Todd (eds) NOMOS: Essays in Athenian law, politics, and society (Cambridge). —— (1991) Law, sexuality, and society: The enforcement of morals in Classical Athens (Cambridge). Collard, C. and M. Cropp (2008) Euripides: Fragments (Cambridge, MA, 2 vols). Compton-Engle, G. (1999) ‘From country to city: The persona of Dicaeopolis in Aristophanes’ Acharnians’, Classical Journal 94.4, 359–73. Cooper, C. (1995) ‘Hyperides and the trial of Phryne’, Phoenix 49, 303–18. Cooper, J. (1999) ‘Aristotle on the forms of friendship’, in Reason and emotion (Princeton) 312–35. Cope, E. M. (1877) The Rhetoric of Aristotle, with a commentary (Cambridge, rev. and ed. J. E. Sandys). Cornell, T. (2003) ‘Coriolanus: Myth, history, and Performance’, in D. Braund and C. Gill (eds) Myth, history, and culture in republican Rome: Studies in honour of T. P. Wiseman (Exeter) 73–97. Corner, S. (2010) ‘Transcendent drinking: The symposium at sea reconsidered’, Classical Quarterly 60, 352–80. Corrigan, K. and E. Glazov-Corrigan (2006) Plato’s dialectic at play: Argument, structure and myth in the Symposium (University Park, PA). Craik, E. (1990) ‘Sexual imagery and innuendo in Troades’, in A. Powell (ed.) Euripides, women, and sexuality (London) 1–15. —— (1993) ‘Tragic love, comic sex?’, in A. Sommerstein (ed.) Tragedy, comedy, and the polis (Bari) 253–62. —— (2001) ‘Plato and medical texts: Symposium 185c–193d’, Classical Quarterly 51.1, 109–14. Crichton, A. (1993) ‘“The old are in a second childhood”: Age reversal and jury service in Aristophanes’ Wasps’, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 38, 59–80. (p.318) Cummins, W. J. (1981) ‘Eros, epithumia, and philia in Plato’, Apeiron 15, 10–18. Dale, A. M. (1969) Collected papers (London).

Page 8 of 45

 

References D’Alfonso, F. (1994) ‘Stesicoro versus Omero nel Fedro platonico’, Rivista di cultura classica e medioevale 36, 167–75. D’Angour, A. J. (2006) ‘Conquering love: Sappho 31 and Catullus 51’, Classical Quarterly 56, 297–300. Darwin, C. (1872) The expression of the emotions in man and animals (London). Davidson, J. (1997) Courtesans and fishcakes: The consuming passions of Classical Athens (London). —— (2001) ‘Dover, Foucault and Greek homosexuality: Penetration and the truth of sex’, Past and Present 170, 3–51. —— (2007) The Greeks and Greek love: A radical reappraisal of homosexuality in ancient Greece (London). —— (2013) ‘Politics, poetics, and eros in Archaic poetry’, in E. Sanders (ed.) Erôs and the polis (Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies supplement 119) (London). Davies, J. K. (1971) Athenian propertied families (Oxford). Davies, M. (1980) ‘The eyes of love and the hunting net in Ibycus 287 P.’, Maia 32, 255–7. —— (1986) ‘Symbolism and imagery in the poetry of Ibycus’, Hermes 114, 399– 405. Davies, M. I. (1978) ‘Sailing, rowing, and sporting in one’s cups on the wine-dark sea’, in T. L. Shear, Jr (ed.) Athens comes of age: From Solon to Salamis (Princeton) 72–95. Degani, E. (1974) ‘Il nuovo Archiloco’, Atene e Roma, 113–28. De Lacy, P. (1988) ‘Galen’s Platonism’, American Journal of Philology 93.1, 27–39. —— (ed., trans., and comm.) (2005) On the doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato (Berlin, 3rd edn, 3 vols) (= CMG V.4.1.2). Delivorrias, A. (1997) ‘A new Aphrodite for John’, in O. Palagia (ed.) Greek offerings: Essays on Greek art in honour of John Boardman (Oxford) 109–18. Del Re, R. (1955) ‘Marco Argentario’, Maia: Rivista di letterature classiche 7, 184–215. De Mauriac, H. M. (1949) ‘Alexander the Great and the politics of homonoia’, Journal of the History of Ideas 10, 104–14.

Page 9 of 45

 

References Demos, M. (1999) Lyric quotation in Plato (Lanham, MD). Depew, D. J. (1991) ‘Politics, music, and contemplation in Aristotle’s ideal state’, in D. Keyt and Fr. D. Miller (eds) A companion to Aristotle’s Politics (Oxford) 346–80. De Romilly, J. (1972) ‘Vocabulaire et propagande ou les premiers emplois du mot homonoia’, in Mélanges de linguistique et de philologie Grecques offerts à P. Chantraine (Paris) 199–209. —— (1982) ‘Les Conflits de l’âme dans le Phèdre de Platon’, Wiener Studien 95, 100–13. Desmond, W. (2008) Cynics (Stocksfield). DeVoto, J. G. (1992) ‘The Theban Sacred Band’, Ancient World 23, 3–19. De Wet, B. X. (1983) ‘An evaluation of the Trachiniae of Sophocles in the light of moral values in Athens of the 5th century B.C.E.’, Dioniso 54, 213–26. Dickie, M. W. (1991) ‘Heliodorus and Plutarch on the Evil Eye’, Classical Philology 86, 17–29. Dierichs, A. (1993) Erotik in der Kunst Griechenlands (Mainz). Dillon, M. (2002) Girls and women in Classical Greek religion (London). (p.319) Donini, P. (1995) ‘Struttura delle passioni e del vizio e loro cura in Crisippo’, Elenchos 16, 305–29. —— (2008) ‘Psychology’, in R. J. Hankinson (ed.) The Cambridge companion to Galen (Cambridge) 104–209. Dontas, G. S. (1983) ‘The true Aglaurion’, Hesperia 52, 48–63. Dover, K. J. (1964) ‘Eros and nomos (Plato, Symposium 182A–185C)’, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 11, 31–42. —— (1972) Aristophanic comedy (Berkeley). —— (1980) Plato: Symposium (Cambridge). —— (1988) ‘Greek homosexuality and initiation’, in The Greeks and their legacy: Collected papers, ii (Oxford) 115–34. —— (1989) Greek homosexuality (Cambridge, MA, 2nd edn, orig. 1978). —— (2002) ‘Two women of Samos’, in Nussbaum and Sihvola (2002) 222–8.

Page 10 of 45

 

References DuBois, P. (1982) ‘The homoerotics of the Phaedrus’, Pacific Coast Philology 17, 9–15. —— (1985) ‘Phallocentrism and its subversion in Plato’s Phaedrus’, Arethusa 18, 91–103. Duff, T. E. (1999) Plutarch’s Lives: Exploring virtue and vice (Oxford). —— (2003) ‘Plutarch on the childhood of Alkibiades (Alk. 2–3)’, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 49, 89–117. —— (2008) ‘Models of education in Plutarch’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 128, 1– 26. —— (2009) ‘Plato’s Symposium and Plutarch’s Alcibiades’, in J. Ribeiro Ferreira, D. Leão, M. Tröster, and P. Barata Dias (eds) Simposion and philantropia in Plutarch (Coimbra) 37–50. —— (2011) ‘Platonic allusion in Plutarch’s Alcibiades 4–7’, in P. Millet, S. P. Oakley, and R. J. E. Thompson (eds) Ratio et res ipsa: Classical essays presented by former pupils to James Diggle on his retirement (Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society supplement 36) (Cambridge) 27–43. Durup, S. (1997) ‘L’espressione tragica del desiderio amoroso’, in Calame (1997) 143–57. Düsing, E. and H.-D. Klein (2009) Geist, Eros, und Agape: Untersuchungen zu Liebesdarstellungen in Philosophie, Religion, und Kunst (Würzburg). Easterling, P. E. (1977a) ‘The infanticide in Euripides’ Medea’, Yale Classical Studies 25, 177–91. —— (1977b) ‘Literary traditions and the transformations of Cupid’, Didaskalos 5, 318–37. Ebert, T. (1993) ‘A Presocratic philosopher behind the Phaedrus: Empedocles’, Revue de philosophie ancienne 11, 211–27. Edelstein, L. (1945) ‘The role of Eryximachus in Plato’s Symposium’, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 76, 85– 103. Edmonds, L. (2009) ‘Tithonus in the “new Sappho” and the narrated mythical exemplum’, in Greene and Skinner (2009) 58–70. Eidinow, E. (2007) Oracles, curses, and risk among the ancient Greeks (Oxford).

Page 11 of 45

 

References Eitrem, S. (1991) ‘Dreams and divination in magical ritual’, in C. A. Faraone and D. Obbink (eds) Magika hiera: Ancient Greek magic and religion (New York) 175– 87. (p.320) Ekroth, G. (2009) ‘Why (not) paint an altar? A study of where, when, and why altars appear on Attic red-figure vases’, in C. Scheffer (ed.) The world of Greek vases (Rome) 89–113. Elderkin, G. W. (1936) ‘The seated deities of the Parthenon frieze’, American Journal of Archaeology 40, 92–9. Elster, J. (1999) Alchemies of the mind: Rationality and the emotions (Cambridge). Erskine, A. (1990) The Hellenistic Stoa: Political thought and action (London). —— (1993) ‘Review: The Stoic polis (The Stoic idea of the city by Malcolm Schofield)’, Classical Review 43.1, 92–3. Etchegoyen, R. H., B. M. Lopez, and M. Rabih (1987) ‘On envy and how to interpret it’, International Journal of Psychoanalysis 68, 49–61. Evans, C. and L. Gamman (1995) ‘The gaze revisited, or reviewing queer viewing’, in P. Burton and C. Richardson (1995) A queer romance: Lesbians, gay men, and popular culture (London) 13–56. Fabrini, P. and L. Ghilli (eds) (1998) Plutarco: Vite Parallele, Pelopida e Marcello (BUR Classici Greci e Latini) (Milan). Faraone, C.A. (1995) ‘The “performative future” in three Hellenistic incantations and Theocritus’ second Idyll’, Classical Philology 90, 1–15. —— (1999) Ancient Greek love magic (Cambridge, MA). —— (2002) ‘Agents and victims: Constructions of gender and desire in ancient Greek love magic’, in Nussbaum and Sihvola (2002) 400–26. Fasce, S. (1977) Eros: La figura e il culto (Genoa). Ferrari, G. R. F. (1987) Listening to the cicadas: A study of Plato’s Phaedrus (Cambridge). —— (1992) ‘Platonic love’, in R. Kraut (ed.) The Cambridge companion to Plato (Cambridge) 248–76. Finley, M. I. (1975) Use and abuse of history (London). Fisher, N. R. E. (1992) Hybris: A study in the values of honour and shame in ancient Greece (Warminster). Page 12 of 45

 

References —— (2013), ‘Erotic charis: What sorts of reciprocity?’, in E. Sanders (ed.) Erôs and the polis (Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies supplement 119) (London). Fitzgerald, J. T. (ed.) (2007) Passions and moral progress in Greco-Roman thought (London). Floridi, L. (ed.) (2007) Stratone di Sardi: Epigrammi (Alessandria). Foley, H. P. (1998) ‘“The mother of the argument”: Eros and the body in Sappho and Plato’s Phaedrus’, in M. Wyke (ed.) Parchments of gender: Deciphering the bodies of antiquity (Oxford) 39–70. Forsén, B. (1996) Griechische Gliederweihungen. Eine Untersuchung zu ihrer religions- und sozialgeschichtlichen Bedeutung (Helsinki) Fortenbaugh, W. W. (1966) ‘Plato Phaedrus 235c3’, Classical Philology 61, 108–9. Foster, B. O. (1899) ‘Notes on the symbolism of the apple in classical antiquity’, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 10, 39–55. Foster, G. (1972) ‘The anatomy of envy: A study in symbolic behavior’, Current Anthropology 13, 165–202. Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison (London; trans. A. Sheridan). (p.321) —— (1986) The history of sexuality, iii: The care of the self (New York; trans. R. Hurley). —— (1992) The history of sexuality, ii: The use of pleasure (London; trans. R. Hurley). —— (2008) History of madness (London). Fountoulakis, A. (2001) ‘A Theocritean echo in Achilles Tatius’, Classica et medievalia 52, 179–92. Fränkel, H. (1975) Early Greek poetry and philosophy (Oxford; trans. M. Hadas and J. Willis). Frazier, F. (2005) ‘La “Prouesse de Camma” et la fonction des exempla dans le dialogue sur l’amour’, in A. Pérez-Jimenez, and F. Titchener (eds) Historical and biographical values of Plutarch’s works: Studies devoted to Professor Philip Stadter by the International Plutarch Society (Malaga) 197–212. —— (2005/2006) ‘L’Érotikos: Un éloge du Dieu Éros? Une relecture du dialogue de Plutarque’, Ploutarchos 3, 63–101. Page 13 of 45

 

References French, R. (1994) Ancient history: Histories of nature (London). Freud, S. (1922) ‘Some neurotic mechanisms in jealousy, paranoia, and homosexuality’, Standard Edition xviii., 223–32. —— (1962) Three essays on the theory of sexuality (New York; trans. J. Strachey). Friedrich, R. (1993) ‘Medea apolis: On Euripides’ dramatization of the crisis of the polis’, in A. Sommerstein et al. (eds) Tragedy, comedy, and the polis (Bari) 219–39. Frijda, N. H. (2007) The laws of emotion (Mahwah, NJ). Frontisi-Ducroux, F. and J.-P. Vernant (1997) Dans l’œil du miroir (Paris). Funke, P. (1980) Homónoia und Arché: Athen und die griechische Staatenwelt vom Ende des peloponnesischen Krieges bis zum Königsfrieden (Wiesbaden). Furiani, P. L. (1987) ‘Omofilia e androcrazia nella società maschile di Stratone di Sardi’, Euphrosyne 15, 217–26. Furley, W. (2000) ‘“Fearless, bloodless…like the gods”: Sappho 31 and the rhetoric of godlike’, Classical Quarterly 50, 7–15. Gabriel, A. H. (1992) ‘Living with Medea and thinking after Freud: Greek drama, gender, and concealments’, Cultural Anthropology 7, 346–73. Gaca, K. (2000) ‘Early Stoic eros: The sexual ethics of Zeno and Chrysippus and their evaluation of the Greek erotic tradition’, Apeiron 33, 201–38. Gaca, K. L. (2003) The making of fornication: Eros, ethics, and political reform in Greek philosophy and early Christianity (Berkeley). Gallavotti, C. (1981) ‘La primavera di Ibico’, Bollettino dei classici 2, 120–35. Gallé Cejudo, R. J. (2007) ‘Tranformaciones genéricas en el Erótico de Plutarco’, in Nieto Ibáñez and López López (2007) 41–9. Galli Calderini, I. G. (1976) ‘Su un epigramma di Asclepiade (Anth. Pal. V 7 = 9 Gow-Page)’, Vichiana 5, 192–205. Ganson, T. S. (2009) ‘The rational/non-rational distinction in Plato’s Republic’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 36, 179–97. Gantz, T. (1993) Early Greek myth: A guide to literary and artistic sources (Baltimore). García Valdés, M. (2003) ‘Ciencia y moral: Eliano desde Aristoteles y a la luz des Estoicismo y la “zoofilia” moderna’, Emerita 71.1, 1–50. Page 14 of 45

 

References —— L. A. Llera Fueyo, and L. Rodríguez-Noriega Guillén (2009) De natura animalium (Berlin). (p.322) Garlan, Y. and O. Masson (1982) ‘Les Acclamations pédérastiques de Kalami (Thasos)’, Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 106, 3–22. Garrison, D. H. (1978) Mild frenzy: A reading of the Hellenistic love epigram (Hermes Einzelschriften 41) (Wiesbaden). Garvie, A. F. (1969) Aeschylus’ Supplices: Play and trilogy (Cambridge). Geier, A. (2002) Plato’s erotic thought: The tree of the unknown (Rochester, NY). Geiger, J. (1985) Cornelius Nepos and ancient political biography (Stuttgart). Gelder, K. (2007) Subcultures: Cultural histories and social practice (London). Gentili, B. (1972) ‘Il “letto insaziato” di Medea e il tema dell’adikia a livello amoroso nei lirici (Saffo, Teognide) e nella Medea di Euripide’, in Studi classici e orientali 21, 60–72. —— (1984) ‘Eros custode: Ibico, fr. 286 P. e Meleagro, Anth. P. 12, 157’, Estudios Clásicos, 191–8. —— (1988) Poetry and its public in ancient Greece: From Homer to the fifth century (Baltimore). —— (2000) ‘La Medea di Euripide’, in B. Gentili and F. Perusino (eds) Medea nella letteratura e nell’arte (Venice) 29–41. Georgiadou, A. (1997) Plutarch’s Pelopidas: A historical and philological commentary (Stuttgart). —— (2006) ‘T