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IV. The Discourse of Pausanias: 180 C-185 C.

Prologue: Eros being not single but dual, we must begin by defining which Eros is to be our theme.

a The dual nature of Eros follows from the dual nature of Aphrodite: as there is an Aphrodite Urania and an Aphrodite Pandemos, so there is Eros Uranios and Eros Pandemos.

b From the principle that no action is in the abstract good or bad but derives its moral quality solely from the manner of its execution it follows that Eros is bad or good according to the kind of love-making to which it prompts.

c The general characteristics (1) of Eros Pandemos are that it is directed to women as well as boys, to the body rather than the soul, to unscrupulous satisfaction of lust; (2) whereas Eros Uranios shuns females and seeks only such males as are noble and nearly mature both in mind and body. It is the followers of Eros Pandemos who have brought paederastia into disrepute.

d The varying νόμοι concerning Eros may be classified thus:—

(1) In all Greek states except Athens the νόμος is simple, either (α) approving paederastia, as in Elis and Boeotia; or (β) condemning it, as in Ionia and states subject to barbarian rule, where it is held to foster a dangerous spirit of independence (e.g. Harmodius and Aristogiton).

(2) At Athens the νόμος is complex. (α) Eros is approved, and its excesses condoned, when directed towards superior youths approaching manhood. (β) It appears to be condemned, in so far as parents forbid their boys to hold converse with “erastae.” The explanation of this ambiguous attitude must be sought in the principle laid down above, that the moral quality of an act depends upon the conditions of its performance. The Athenian νόμος provides a test for distinguishing between good and bad forms of Eros: the test of time shows whether or not the right motive (desire for ἀρετή) actuates both the lover and his object. This motive alone justifies all erotic pursuits and surrenders, even mutual deception: hence we conclude that καλὸν ἀρετῆς ἕνεκα χαρίζεσθαι.

Epilogue: This Eros Uranios, which inspires zeal for ἀρετή, possesses the highest value alike for the individual and for the State.


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