Plato's Erotic World: From Cosmic Origins to Human Death
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Plato's entire fictive world is permeated with philosophical concern for eros, well beyond the so-called erotic dialogues. Several metaphysical, epistemological, and cosmological conversations - Timaeus, Cratylus, Parmenides, Theaetetus, and Phaedo - demonstrate that eros lies at the root of the human condition and that properly guided eros is the essence of a life well lived. This book presents a holistic vision of eros, beginning with the presence of eros at the origin of the cosmos and the human soul, surveying four types of human self-cultivation aimed at good guidance of eros, and concluding with human death as a return to our origins. The book challenges conventional wisdom regarding the "erotic dialogues" and demonstrates that Plato's world is erotic from beginning to end: the human soul is primordially erotic and the well cultivated erotic soul can best remember and return to its origins, its lifelong erotic desire.
“divided line,” demarcating types of apprehension (and social ontology) as in Republic, Timaeus’s account of the world soul seems rather to describe more permeable boundaries among soul’s capacitiesÂ€– whether world soul or human soul. There is nous in both world soul and in the human soul, which links the two souls epistemically and, as Cornford describes, by desire, which inhabits both.41 38 39 40 41 aesthesis” (96). He makes a similar point, though denying that the world soul has
Erotic Distraction 71 Alcibiades himself talks in this passage about Socrates’ powerful memory and suggests that we ought to be wary of Socrates’ claims to forget things. We are set up then in the prologue of this dialogue to think about eros, and also to think about forgetting and remembering eros. We listeners had likely forgotten about Alcibiades at this point in the dialogue, as Socrates describes he had. Perhaps we had also forgotten what the question was, as happens to those listening to
man. He was ready to leave Callias’s house otherwise. It cannot only have been Protagoras who was the substituted erotic attraction; rather, it was questioning Protagoras.31 Socrates tells the Friend that turning his attention away from Alcibiades was strange or unusual (atopia), so it would have taken something unusually attractive to have diverted his erotic attention, for we know of Alcibiades’ beauty, his enduring connection to Socrates, and the intensity of that connection. The agreement to
Cyprian’s boundless net. 5.â•‡ ἦ μὰν τρομέω νιν ἐπερχόμενον, Ah, I tremble at his approach, as a â•…â•… champion horse 6.â•‡ ὥστε φερέζυγος ἵππος ἀεθλοφόρος bearing its yoke in old age â•…â•… ποτὶ γήραι 7.â•‡ ἀέκων σὺν ὄχεσφι θοοῖσ’ ἐς goes unwillingly with its swift car to â•…â•… ἃμιλλαν ἔβα. â•…â•… the race.31 Beginning boldly with the words Eros aute,32 the text of the poem, with which Parmenides’Â€– and presumably, Plato’sÂ€– audience is familiar, makes Parmenides’ reference unmistakably
or course of Peitho attends the truth: Πειθοῦς ἐστι κέλευθος (ἀληθείῃ γὰρ ὀπηδεῖ) (FragmentÂ€ 2, line 4).73 The goddess Peitho, or Persuasion, is traditionally conceived as Aphrodite’s companion, and so Peitho has a long-standing erotic dimension. “In erotic poetry from early lyric to the Hellenistic epigrammatists Peitho has a place in the mythology of love,”74 and we can include Parmenides’ own poem in that tradition. “[P]eitho is the seductive persuasion which may have been what induced Helen