The homoerotics of the Phaedrus
- “Plato’s Phaedrus, as a text of high seduction, aimed at drawing the reader toward erotic life and therefore toward philosophy, plays with the edges of the Greek definitions of male and female to liberate the reader to a paradoxical sense of the fluidity of boundaries,” (p 9)
- Calls Plato’s work logocentric
- Derrida sees Plato in his emphasis on truth, presence and speaking, as aware of yet caught in the same contradiction as all thinkers who follow him.
- “He insists on truth of the living voice, yet writes, insists on the living presence of Socrates, yet writes only after Socrates’ death.” (p 9)
- “Furthermore and wrongly, I think, Derrida describes what he sees as an exclusively masculine lineage of philosophy, a phallocentric model of philosophical discourse, where the inheritance of dialectic passes patrilineally, from father to son” (9)
- Female in Phaedrus as another pharmakon, a supplemental whom Plato delicately controls and appropriates in order to center on the male and thus a homoerotic model for philosophy
- Plato’s text plays erotically with boundaries, with edges of space
- “Plato uses the tension between the sexes in Greek culture, perhaps to assert the authority of the male at the scene of philosophy, but that his own desire to reconcile male and female makes that resolution a very provisional one,” (p 10).
- The Phaedrus is a text of seduction
- Socrates – two discourses – designed to seduce his companion Phaedrus
- Logical method Socrates advocates – polymorphously erotic dimension
- Possibility of connection between reader-writer
- Erotic play Phaedrus – relations between men
- Excludes women
- ThePhaedrus (/ˈfiːdrəs/; Ancient Greek: Φαῖδρος, ‘Phaidros’), written by Plato, is a dialogue between Plato’s protagonist, Socrates, and Phaedrus, an interlocutor in several dialogues. The Phaedrus was presumably composed around 370 BC, about the same time as Plato’s Republic and Symposium. Although ostensibly about the topic of love, the discussion in the dialogue revolves around the art of rhetoric and how it should be practiced, and dwells on subjects as diverse as metempsychosis (the Greek tradition of reincarnation) and erotic love.
- Misogyny in Plato – consistent with his class
- According to Timaeus, women are only created after the first generation of men “prove themselves cowardly and “unjust” and are “born again” as women
- Male as A female as not A
- Attempt to establish boundaries
opposite, to enantion (262b) is put into question as
suspect in the dialogue. But Plato’s text provisionally unites man and man,
and man and woman, in an erotic gesture which teases the reader, which uses
the repressed impulses of Greek male sexual identity, the desire to be the
- female,apparently in order to cleanse the masculine soul of such impulses.
- Socrates plays with erection and growth of wings, “and as the nourishment, streams upon
he, the quills of the feathers swell and begin to grow from the roots over all the form of the soul” (251 a-b).
- Mother’s milk – ejaculatory stream – causes buds to sprout
- Image of the chariot – Parmedies
- Greek culture – repressive to women –
- Socrates – in line of poets from Homer –
- “Socrates’ delicate, literate gesture towards transvestism – belongs to a pattern of the Greek male’s fascination with and imitation of the socially suppressed female other,” (13)
- “The mimesis of the female in the Phaedrus is perhaps a way of implicitly suggesting again the theme of intercourse between Socrates and Phaedrus by establishing a difference between them, one displaced from the erastes/eromenos difference, since both presumably are erasti” (13)
- Erastes (Ancient Greece), an adult male in a relationship with an adolescent boy, also known as the philetor
- Eromenos – (historical) An adolescent boy in Ancient Greece who was courted by an older man, or was in an erotic relationship with him.
- Erasti – lover
- Garden metaphors
- Imagery Demeter, goddess of grain, of cereals, of fruitful human increase
- Women’s sexual organs to be plowed by her husband, a metaphor, a metaphor from Oedipus Rex. The imagery of fruitful field characteristically used only of women, crosses the sexes once again (14)
- Contains sperma, seed
- Philosopher erotically implants his seed, his words, in the soul of the beloved,
- Plato seductively uses the boundary between male and female, between homoerotic relationship among men and heterosexual intercourse. (p14)
- Imagery – homosexual and heterosexual is an aphrodisiac motion
- “Plato uses Socrates as a lure for the reader, who will conceive a desire for the older philosopher at his loveliest, carried off to the heavens in his vision of the good.”
- “Plato is the pander for philosophy, making all readers Socrates’ erastai” (p 14)
- The Greek titleErastai is the plural form of the term erastēs, which refers to the older partner in a pederastic relationship.
- Plato plays with mimesis, distance, motherhood and the hypocrisy of absence.
- He uses pharmakon and pharmakos