Archive for the ‘3 Pausainias’ Speech’ Category


The Birth of Venus - Sandro Boticcelli provided by Wikipedia Commons

The Birth of Venus - Sandro Botticcelli provided by Wikipedia Common

Phaedrus made no attempt to define eros and referred only to its benefits. Pausanius now looks a little closer and asserts that there is a bad as well as a good side to it. He points out, first, that there is another god (whom Phaedrus did not mention), closely connected with Eros – Aphrodite. If Eros is the god of sexual desire, Aphrodite is the goddess of sexual fulfulment (τὰ Ἀφροδίσια is the general term for sexual intercourse). However, there are two Aphrodites: the ‘Heavenly’ Aphrodite who was born from the foam of the sea (Ἀφροδίτη Οὐράνια) and a later ‘Common’ Aphrodite (Ὰφροδίτη Πάνδημος), the child of Zeus and Dione (Pausanias is here drawing on two different accounts of Aphrodite’s origin, Hesiod’s Theogony, 188-202, and the Iliad, 5.370-430). Since these gods are so closely connected (there can be no sex without desire) it follows that there must be two Erotes (Ἔρωτε – a lovely dual!): Ἔρως οὐράνιος and Ἔρως Πάνδημος.
Deriving from these two Erotes, Pausanias identifies two attitudes to sex and sexual desire. There are those who, inspired by Common Eros, are interested only in sexual gratification; their desire is directed indiscriminately towards women, men and young boys and does not lead to any lifelong commitment. Those, however, who are inspired by Heavenly Eros look to older boys, boys approaching puberty who have acquired some level of intelligence, and are as interested in their character as their good looks (we should remember, here, that Greek boys reached puberty later than we do: see The World of Athens (JACT), 5.32).
Pausanias goes on to discuss the codes of behaviour associated with Eros in various Greek cities and in Athens itself, but admits that they are not easily comprehensible. In some ways I found this the most interesting part of the speech, because of what it tells us about Greek attitudes. He does, however, have a slight problem: how can any god be bad? He skates round this by saying that eros is not of itself good or bad, but takes on these qualities from the use to which it is put, but this seems to go against his contention that there are two gods.
Hamilton says that ‘Pausanias, though hardly more profound [than Phaedrus], is a good deal more subtle’. My feeling was that, although he makes a good attempt, he is somewhat confused in his contrived theology. How far, I wonder, does this speech reflect the attitudes of the Athenian in the Agora?

[Mageiros kindly provided this summary]

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