62 II The Prosecution of Timarkhos

 

 

Apart from the 'nature' (Muses) of the human species, each human

being has his own 'nature', i.e. the way in which he has developed

mentally and physically; and whatever characteristic anyone has, he

is likely to have it more than some people and less than others. Greek

recognition that some people are more homosexual than others need

not surprise us. It is clearest in the story put into the mouth of

Aristophanes by Plato in S'mp. 189c-193d: human beings were

originally double, each with two heads, four legs, two genital systems.

and so on, but Zeus ordered their bisection, and ever since (a

commonly in the folktale genre, the time-scale is ignored and the

distinction between species and individual is blurred) 4 each of us goes

round seeking his or her 'other half' and falling in love with it when we

find it. In this story the products of an original double male are

homosexual males (191e-192c), who marry and beget children 'under

the compulsion of custom, without natural inclination' (192b); the

products of an original double female are homosexual females (191e

and the rest are heterosexual, the products of an original male-female.

The variability of people in respect of their sexual orientation

(genetically determined, in Aristophanes' story) is incidentally

recognised in Aiskhines' reference to the 'extraordinary enthusiasm '

of Misgolas for homosexual relations (41) and in Xenophon's use. of

tropos 'way', 'character', 'disposition', 'inclination' in describing

the behaviour of the extravagant paiderastes Episthenes (cf. p. 51); cf.

also Aiskhines' use of prohairesis (p. 32). Aiskhines contemplates

(140) substituting tropos for 'eros' as the appropriate word for the

emotion which inspired Harmodios and Aristogeiton (it is, of course.

to his advantage if he can deprive the defence of such support as it

might gain from the magic names of the tyrannicides):

Those whose valour has remained unsurpassed, Harmodios and

Aristogeiton, were educated by their chaste and law-abiding is 'eros '

the right word, or 'inclination'? to be men of such a kind that anyone

 

3. Cf. Dover (1973a) 65. On sexual 'compulsion' cf. Schreckenburg 54-61.

4. Cf. Dover ( 1966) 4 I -?.

 

who praises their deeds is felt never to do justice. in his encomium, to

what they accomplished.

(It should however be mentioned that Aiskhines may have written

'law-abiding Bros. or however one should call it, to be men ...').'

Aphrodite and Eros are both, in somewhat different ways,

personifications of the forces which make us desire people and fall in

love with them. In so far as the term aphrodisia, lit., 'things of

Aphrodite', denotes sexual intercourse, and the verb aphrodisiazein is

have sexual intercourse', there is some justification for the

generalisation that genital activity as a whole is the province of

Aphrodite and the obsessive focussing of desire on one person, which

we call ' falling in love', the province of Eros. Not surprisingly, the

distinction, though implicit in much Greek literature, is nowhere

made explicit, nor was there a consistent Greek view of the relation

between Aphrodite and Eros as personal deities; in the archaic period

Eros is regarded as having come into being at a much earlier stage of

the world's history than Aphrodite, the classical period tends to treat

him as her minister or agent, and in Hellenistic literature he is often

her spoilt and unruly son. Nlorcover, the notion that the female deity

inspires heterosexual passion and the male deity homosexual appears

only as a Hellenistic conceit, in Meleagros 18:

 

Aphrodite. female (sc. deity), ignites the fire that makes one mad for a

woman, hut Eros himself holds the reins of male desire. Which way am

T to incline? To the boy or to his mother? I declare that even Aphrodite

herself will say: 'The bold lad is the winner!'

 

In Theognis 1304, 1319f. the beauty of the eromenos is a 'gift of

Aphrodite', and among the Hellenistic epigrams we find several (e.g.

Asklepiades 1, Meleagros 119) in which it is Aphrodite who has

caused a man to fall in love with a boy.

Aphroduia can denote homosexual copulation, as in Xen. Hiero 1.29

(contrasting paidika aphrodi-sia with 'child-begetting aphrodi-sia'), 1.36,

Mein. i 3.8. indeed, a general reference to aphrodtsia may be followed by a homosexual exemplification and by no other. So Xen. Ages. 5.4, speaking of the superhuman self-restraint which characterised the

Spartan king Agesilaos in respect of aphrodisia, chooses as his example

an occasion on which the king avoided kissing a certain young

5 .' Whatever !moth ' means 'however'. and the insertion of'whatever' was suggested

by Baiter and Sauppe in 1840. to give the sense '... law-abiding eros. or however one should call it. to be men ...'. This emendation, however. is not required by grammar, Style or sense.

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