Archive for the ‘2 Phaedrus’ Speech’ Category


provided by Wikimedia Commons

Eros. Attic red-figure bobbin, ca. 470 BC-450 BC provided by Wikimedia Commons

Phaedrus is the first to speak, apparently because the whole thing was his idea. Eros is the oldest (or one of the oldest) of the gods. He has no parents: according to Hesiod, Eros and Gaia came into being after Chaos. Eros confers the greatest benefit upon us, for from him comes the bond between lover (ἐραστής) and beloved (ἐρωμένος); there can be no greater benefit for a boy than to have a worthy lover, nor for a lover to have a loved one worthy of him. From this bond comes all that is noble, for neither will wish to be caught in any shameful or cowardly act by the other. An army consisting of men united in this way would be practically invincible. Only lovers will give their lives for each other.

What exactly does Phaedrus mean by Eros/eros? He doesn’t spell it out; he assumes everyone knows. He seems to understand more than just sexual desire and fulfilment, for otherwise why would each member of a partnership care what the other thought of his character, or be prepared to sacrifice his life?

According to Dover, sexual desire is most commonly denoted by ‘ἐπιθυμία, love in general by φιλία, suggesting that there is indeed more to Eros than just sex.

The commentators are not kind to Phaedrus, pointing out several illogicalities and non sequiturs in his argument. For example, his claim that all are agreed that Eros has no parents is, as Rowse points out, disingenuous: we find an account of his parentage in Alcaeus. Rowse also says that he ‘tries to be clever without quite pulling it off’.

[Mageiros kindly provided this summary]


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