Plato and Pederasty

Plato and Pederasty
Antinoös
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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 8:23 AM:
Subject: Plato and Pederasty
Plato idealizes pederasty in the Symposium and the Phaedrus, but condemns it in the Laws. Is there any tenable explanation as to the reason for this reversal? I've heard people argue that what Plato really idealized was a chaste pederasty of simply kissing the beloved and thigh-fuckery and that what was being condemned in the Laws was anal penetration and the effeminacy of the passive partner which this entailed, which is certainly not chaste by any means. Hence, according to these interpreters, there is no contradiction between the erotic dialogues and this final dialogue of Plato's.
Thatwhichis
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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 8:39 AM:

Antinoös wrote:
Plato idealizes pederasty in the Symposium and the Phaedrus

What? Is that how you interpreted Achilles's love for Patroclus? Patroclus was his beloved comrade as brother-in-arms.

In dialog Phaedo Socrates said "The philosophers abstain from all the bodily desires. They stand firm and do not give in to them." and "Philosophy offers a calm retreat from all that and invites a philosopher to gather his soul completely by itself and free himself from earthly pleasures." He regards intellectual inquiry as a "food for soul" or as minds pleasure as opposed to bodily pleasure.

Edited by Thatwhichis on Mar 23, 2012 - 8:45 AM
Antinoös
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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 9:08 AM:

Thatwhichis wrote:

What? Is that how you interpreted Achilles's love for Patroclus? Patroclus was his beloved comrade as brother-in-arms.

In dialog Phaedo Socrates said "The philosophers abstain from all the bodily desires. They stand firm and do not give in to them." and "Philosophy offers a calm retreat from all that and invites a philosopher to gather his soul completely by itself and free himself from earthly pleasures." He regards intellectual inquiry as a "food for soul" or as minds pleasure as opposed to bodily pleasure.


Our knowledge of the erotic relationship between Patroclus and Achilles comes from the fragments of Aeschylus' Myrmidons, where the protagonist yearns for the thighs of his beloved. It seems that Plato idealized this kind of relationship, and he explicitly refers to Aeschylus portrayal of this relationship in the Symposium
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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 9:36 AM:

Antinoös wrote:

Our knowledge of the erotic relationship between Patroclus and Achilles comes from the fragments of Aeschylus' Myrmidons, where the protagonist yearns for the thighs of his beloved. It seems that Plato idealized this kind of relationship, and he explicitly refers to Aeschylus portrayal of this relationship in the Symposium

Yes it was portrayed in Symposium yet that fact doesn't imply that it was idealized. In Symposium the speech of Socrates, relating the ideas attributed to the prophetess Diotima, was of particular importance. It presents love as a means of ascent to contemplation of the divine. For Diotima, and for Plato generally, the most correct use of love of other human beings is to direct one's mind to love of divinity. In short, with genuine platonic love, the beautiful or lovely other person inspires the mind and the soul and directs one's attention to spiritual things. " Plato actually proposed that men's love of boys should avoid all carnal expression and instead progress from admiration of their specific virtues to love of virtue itself in abstract form.

Edited by Thatwhichis on Mar 23, 2012 - 10:46 AM
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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 12:00 PM:

Well, I hope at least this post is not censored for whatever strange ideological dogmatism I am rubbing against, but it is a verified fact Plato abominated pederasty and homosexual union of mere beastly connection, and in his last work explicitly specified in his ideal state all homosexuals would be punitively exiled or expelled. Perhaps you are confusing the masculine spiritual friendship bond Plato praises so highly with modern-type notions? I hope the moderators allow me to cite from the Internet Classics Archive in relation to the matter, wherein Plato expresses his feelings on the subject unveiled in his last work, "The Law" or "The Laws":

http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/laws.8.viiii.html

"...But how can we take precautions against the unnatural loves of either sex, from which innumerable evils have come upon individuals and cities? How shall we devise a remedy and way of escape out of so great a danger? Truly, Cleinias, here is a difficulty. In many ways Crete and Lacedaemon furnish a great help to those who make peculiar laws; but in the matter of love, as we are alone, I must confess that they are quite against us. For if any one following nature should lay down the law which existed before the days of Laius, and denounce these lusts as contrary to nature, adducing the animals as a proof that such unions were monstrous, he might prove his point, but he would be wholly at variance with the custom of your states. Further, they are repugnant to a principle which we say that a legislator should always observe; for we are always enquiring which of our enactments tends to virtue and which not. And suppose we grant that these loves are accounted by law to be honourable, or at least not disgraceful, in what degree will they contribute to virtue? Will such passions implant in the soul of him who is seduced the habit of courage, or in the soul of the seducer the principle of temperance? Who will ever believe this?-or rather, who will not blame the effeminacy of him who yields to pleasures and is unable to hold out against them? Will not all men censure as womanly him who imitates the woman? And who would ever think of establishing such a practice by law? Certainly no one who had in his mind the image of true law. ..."

I hope this is not my last post here, for documentation of "politically incorrect" ideas of the ancients. I hope I am not myself banned for merely citing Plato in a thread about Plato.

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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 12:12 PM:

Thatwhichis wrote:

Yes it was portrayed in Symposium yet that fact doesn't imply that it was idealized. In Symposium the speech of Socrates, relating the ideas attributed to the prophetess Diotima, was of particular importance. It presents love as a means of ascent to contemplation of the divine. For Diotima, and for Plato generally, the most correct use of love of other human beings is to direct one's mind to love of divinity. In short, with genuine platonic love, the beautiful or lovely other person inspires the mind and the soul and directs one's attention to spiritual things. " Plato actually proposed that men's love of boys should avoid all carnal expression and instead progress from admiration of their specific virtues to love of virtue itself in abstract form.


So, Plato distinguished between a chaste and an unchaste pederasty? But surely it didn't exclude the physical entirely? Isn't Patroclus used as an example of the lover who is inspired by God, despite his physical desire for Achilles? Also, later biographers of Plato spoke of him as a pederast, did they not?
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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 12:32 PM:

phoenix1 wrote:
Well, I hope at least this post is not censored for whatever strange ideological dogmatism I am rubbing against, but it is a verified fact Plato abominated pederasty and homosexual union of mere beastly connection, and in his last work explicitly specified in his ideal state all homosexuals would be punitively exiled or expelled.


Are you sure about this? Plato never speaks in his own voice in any of his writings.

Also, the tale of Aristophanes in the Symposium about the original hermaphroditism of mankind seems to naturalize homosexual relations.
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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 12:34 PM:

Antinoös wrote:


So, Plato distinguished between a chaste and an unchaste pederasty? But surely it didn't exclude the physical entirely? Isn't Patroclus used as an example of the lover who is inspired by God, despite his physical desire for Achilles? Also, later biographers of Plato spoke of him as a pederast, did they not?

Would you call a teacher who is impressed by virtues of his pupil a pederast? It doesn't involve yearning for the one who has virtue rather it praises virtue itself. Those mystical "biographers of Plato" you referencing interpreted Plato's texts according to their own conception, just like you interpreting it according to yours.

If you are looking to find an "exemplary pederast" it is easy to find among those who pertained to popular tendencies in ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Plato's ideal of a philosopher was Socrates, who's "popularity" among masses led to his condemnation and it is no wonder why. He exemplified the renunciation from petty human desires and tendencies.
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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 12:45 PM:

Thatwhichis wrote:

Would you call a teacher who is impressed by virtues of his pupil a pederast? It doesn't involve yearning for the one who has virtue rather it praises virtue itself. Those mystical "biographers of Plato" you referencing interpreted Plato's texts according to their own conception, just like you interpreting it according to yours.

If you are looking to find an "exemplary pederast" it is easy to find among those who pertained to popular tendencies in ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Plato's ideal of a philosopher was Socrates, who's "popularity" among masses led to his condemnation and it is no wonder why. He exemplified the renunciation from petty human desires and tendencies.


No, I'm not trying to read anything into Plato, sir. I'm just interested in getting to the bottom of this connection between Plato and pederasty, that's all.

I believe that it was the Platonists who described Plato as a pederast, right? So there's no ancient ideological bias here..

Now of all loves, Uranian love between two males is seen as the highest form of love, but is it not true that any carnal love between males, although much debased by physical lust, is superior to any attraction between male and female, according to one of the characters of the Symposium? You also never answered my question concerning Patroclus and Achilles..
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Posted Mar 23, 2012 - 1:41 PM:

Antinoös wrote:

I'm just interested in getting to the bottom of this connection between Plato and pederasty, that's all.

Connection which is taken out from thin air. Homosexuality is mentioned in Bible and Quran as well but it does not imply anything about those who wrote those texts. Yet you substantiate your claim on a fact that Plato belonged to a culture in which these tendencies were popular within aristocratic circles.

Antinoös wrote:
I believe that it was the Platonists who described Plato as a pederast, right?

Again an unsubstantial claim.

Antinoös wrote:
Now of all loves, Uranian love between two males is seen as the highest form of love, but is it not true that any carnal love between males, although much debased by physical lust, is superior to any attraction between male and female, according to one of the characters of the Symposium?


One of the characters of Apology, Maletus, have persecuted Socrates. Does a mention of his opinion implies that his opinion was "idealized" by Plato? The fact that Plato presented an opinion of one of the characters in Symposium does not imply anything about his disposition to that opinion.

Antinoös wrote:

You also never answered my question concerning Patroclus and Achilles..


I believe question was:
Antinoös wrote:

Isn't Patroclus used as an example of the lover who is inspired by God, despite his physical desire for Achilles?

Yes. By one of the characters he is illustrated as inspired by one of the many gods of Greek mythology - Eros. Eros is also a Greek word for desire. But I'm not going to substantiate my claim on an interpretation, like some of us do. You think that because one of the characters said something on a subject of pederasty it presupposes something more than what was originally implied?

Edited by Thatwhichis on Mar 25, 2012 - 11:44 AM
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