Tuesday, April 25, 2017

4a Plato’s Symposium in the light of its dating, with references to his Second and Seventh Letter, to Plutarch’s Dion, and to Xenophnon’s Symposium

Pausanias resumes his praise of the Eros associated with the Heavenly Aphrodite: ‘Those who are inspired by this love turn to the male (hothen dê epi to arren trepontai hoi ek toutou tou erôtos epipnoi), and delight in him who is the more valiant and intelligent nature (to phusei errômenesteron kai noun mallon echon agapôntes, 181c4-6).

Jowett again misrepresents Plato, if I correctly understand his English. For Plato’s Pausanias still dwells in his mind on the contrast between the Heavenly and the common Aphrodite. The lovers inspired by the Eros associated with the Heavenly Aphrodite ‘delight in (agapôntes) that which is more valiant by nature (to phusei errômenesteron) and more intelligent (kai noun mallon echon)’: they delight in the male.

Pausanias continues: ‘anyone may recognize (kai tis an gnoiê̢) the pure enthusiasts in the very character of their attachments (kai en autê̢ tê̢ paiderastia̢ tous eilikrinôs hupo toutou tou erôtos hôrmêmenous). For they love not boys (ou gar erôsi paidôn), but intelligent beings whose reason is beginning to be developed (all’ epeidan êdê archôntai noun ischein), much about the time at which their beards begin to grow (touto de plêsiazei tô̢ geneiaskein). And starting from such a choice, they are ready, I apprehend, to be faithful to their companions (pareskeuasmenoi gar oimai eisin hoi enteuthen archomenoi eran), and pass their whole life with them (hôs ton bion hapanta sunesomenoi kai koinê̢ sumbiôsomenoi), not to take them in their inexperience, and deceive them, and make fools of them (all ouk exapatêsantes, en aphrosunê̢ labontes hôs neon katagelasantes), and then run away to others of them (oichêsesthai ep’ allon apotrechontes) (181c7-d7) … Now here and in Lacedaemon the rules about love are perplexing, but in most cities they are simple and easily intelligible (Kai dê kai ho peri ton erôta nomos en men tais allais polesi noêsai ra̢dios, haplôs gar hôristai, ho d’ enthade kai en Lakedaimoni poikilos). In Elis (en Êlidi men gar) and Boeotia (kai en Boiôtois), and in countries with no gifts of eloquence (kai hou mê sophoi legein), they are very straightforward (haplôs nenomothetêtai); the law is simply in favour of these connexions (kalon to charizesthai erastais), and no one, whether young or old, has anything to say to their discredit (kai ouk an tis eipoi oute neos oute palaios hôs aischron); the reason being (hina), as I suppose (oimai), that they are men of few words in those parts, and therefore the lovers do not like the trouble of pleading their suit (mê pragmat’ echôsin logô̢ peirômenoi peithein tous neous, hate adunatoi legein). In Ionia and other places, and generally in countries which are subject to the barbarians, the custom is held to be dishonourable (tês de Iônias kai allothi pollachou aischron nenomistai, hosoi hupo barbarois oikousin).’ (182a7-b7)

On the margin of my Oxford text I wrote Bury’s note: ‘After the peace of Antalkidas (387 B. C.) the Greeks in Asia Minor were again reduced to subjection to the Great King.’

Pausanias continues: ‘because of their despotic governments, loves of youth share the evil repute in which philosophy and gymnastics are held (tois gar barbarois dia tas turannidas aischron touto ge kai hê ge philosophia kai hê philogumnastia), for the interests of the rulers require, I suppose, that their subjects should be poor in spirit (ou gar oimai sumpherei tois archousi phronêmata megala engignesthai tôn archomenôn), and that there should be no strong bond of friendship or society among them (oude philias ischuras kai koinônias), which love, above all other motives, is likely to inspire (ho dê malista philei ta te alla panta kai ho erôs empoiein) – a lesson that our Athenian tyrants learned by experience (ergô̢ de touto emathon kai hoi enthade turannoi), since the love of Aristogeiton (ho gar Aristogeitonos erôs) and the constancy of Harmodius (kai hê Harmodiou philia bebaios genomenê) had a strength which undid their power (katelusen autôn tên archên).’ (182b7-c7)

Viewed against the background of what Plutarch says about pre-Plato life of Dionysius – ‘his courtiers were ever contriving for him sundry amours, idle amusements (aei tinas erôtas kai diatribas emêchanônto rembôdeis) with wine and women (peri potous kai gunaikas), and other unseemly pastimes (kai paidias heteras aschêmonas, Dion VII, 4)’, – and what Plutarch says about his subsequent infatuation with Plato – ‘Dionysius was seized with a keen and even frenzied passion (eschen erôs ton Dionysion oxus kai perimanês) for the teachings (tôn te logôn) and companionship of Plato (kai tês sunousias tou Platônos, Dion XI, 1, tr. B. Perrin)’ – and against the background of what Plato himself says about Dionysius’ attachment to him – ‘Dionysius became indeed more and more devoted as time advanced (êspazeto men aei proïontos tou chronou mallon), according as he grew familiar with my disposition and character (kata tên tou tropou te kai êthous sunousian), but he was desirous that I should praise him more than Dion (heauton de epainein mallon ê Diôna ebouleto me) and regard him rather than Dion as my special friend (kai philon hêgeisthai mallon ê keinon), and this triumph he was marvellously anxious to achieve (kai thaumastôs ephilonikei pros to toiouton, Letter VII, 330a3-6, tr. Bury)’ – we can see Phaedrus’ and Pausanias’ speeches as Plato’s exerting positive influence on Dionysius – and in fact on any reader of the dialogue.

Xenophon appears to have had a very different view of the matter, for Socrates says in his Symposium: ‘Pausanias (Pausanias ge), the lover of the poet Agathon (ho Agathônos tou poiêtou erastês), has said in his defence of those who wallow in lasciviousness (apologoumenos huper tôn akrasia̢ enkalindoumenôn eirêken) that the most valiant army, even, would be one recruited of lovers and their favourites (hôs kai strateuma alkimôtaton an genoito ek paidikôn te kai erastôn)! For these, he said, would in his opinion (toutous gar an ephê oiesthai) be most likely to be prevented by shame from deserting one another (malista aideisthai allêlous apoleipein), – a strange assertion (thaumasta legôn), indeed, that persons acquiring an habitual indifference to censure and to abandoned conduct toward one another (ei ge hoi psogou te aphrontistein kai anaischuntein pros allêlous ethizomenoi) will be most likely to be deterred by shame from any infamous act (houtoi malista aischunountai aischron ti poiein). But he went further and adduced as evidence in support of his position both the Thebans and the Eleans, alleging that this was their policy (kai marturia de epêgeto hôs tauta egnôkotes eien kai Thêbaioi kai Êleioi); he stated, in fine, that though sharing common beds they nevertheless assigned to their favourites places alongside themselves in the battle-line (sunkatheudontas goun autois homôs paratattesthai ephê ta paidika eis ton agôna). But this is a false analogy (ouden touto sêmeion legôn homoion); for such practices, though normal for them (ekeinois men gar tauta nomima), with us are banned by the severest reprobation (hêmin d’ eponeidista).’ (VIII, 32-34, tr. O. J. Todd)

There can be little doubt that Xenophon had Plato’ Symposium in front of his eyes when he wrote these lines. He got his picture of Pausanias by amalgamating Phaedrus’ and Pausanias’ speeches, as they stand in Plato’s Symposium. I believe that in doing so he viewed Plato as Pausanias and Dionysius as Agathon.

Phaedrus says in his speech that those inspired by Eros are ready ‘to die for’ (huperapothnê̢skein, 179b4) their beloved, pointing to Alcestis as an example (179b5-d2), and even ‘to die for the lover after he had died’ (epapothanein, 180a1), as Achilles did for Patroclus (179e1-180b4). Diotima in Socrates’ speech refers to these examples in order to show the power of Eros in a new light. She asks the young Socrates: ‘Do you imagine (oiei su) that Alcestis would have died to save Admetus (Alkêstin huper Admêtou apothanein an), or Achilles to avenge Patroclus (ê Achillea Paroklô̢ epapothanein), if they had not imagined (mê oiomenous) that the memory of their virtues, which still survives among us, would be immortal (athanaton mnêmên aretês peri heautôn esesthai, hên nun hêmeis echomen;)? I am persuaded (all’ oimai) that all men do all things, and the better they are the more they do them, in hope of the glorious fame of immortal virtue (huper aretês athanatou kai toiautês doxês eukleous pantes panta poiousin, hosô̢ an ameinous ôsi, tosoutô̢ mallon); for they desire the immortal (tou gar athanatou erôsin).’ (208d2-e1)
Plato in these passages enlarges on the theme with which he in the Second Letter appealed to Dionysius that they should  rebuild and put right their relationship: ‘When we ourselves die men’s talk about us will not likewise be silenced (ouk, epeidan hêmeis teleutêsômen, kai hoi logoi hoi peri hêmôn autôn sesigêsontai); so that we must be careful about it (hôst’ epimelêteon autôn estin). We must necessarily (anankê gar), it seems (hôs eoike), have a care also for the future (melein hêmin kai tou epeita chronou), seeing that (epeidê), by some law of nature (kai tunchanousin kata tina phusin), the most slavish men (hoi men andrapodôdestatoi) pay no regard to it (ouden phrontizontes autou), whereas the most upright (hoi d’ epieikestatoi) do all they can (pan poiountes) to ensure that they shall be well spoken of in the future (hopôs an eis ton epeita chronon eu akousôsin). (311c1-7)

No comments:

Post a Comment