previous next

VI. The Discourse of Eryximachus: 185 E-188 E.

Prologue: Pausanias was right in asserting the dual nature of Eros; but he failed to observe that the god's sway extends over the entire universe.

a The body, with its healthy and diseased appetites, exhibits the duality of Eros; and medicine is “the science of bodily erotics in regard to replenishment and depletion.” It is the object of “the Art” of Asclepios to produce the Eros which is harmony between the opposite elements—the hot and the cold, the wet and the dry, etc. Eros is, likewise, the patron-god of gymnastics and husbandry.

b Similarly with music. The “discordant concord” of Heraclitus hints at the power of music to harmonize sounds previously in discord, and divergent times. Thus music is “the science of Erotics in regard to harmony and rhythm.” It is less in the pure theory than in applied music (metrical compositions and their educational use) that the dual nature of Eros comes to light; when it does, the Eros Pandemos must be carefully guarded against.

c Again, in the spheres of meteorology and astronomy we see the effects of the orderly Eros in a wholesome temperate climate, of the disorderly Eros in blights and pestilences; for astronomy is “the science of Erotics in regard to stellar motions and the seasons of the year.”

d Lastly, in religion, it is the disorderly Eros which produces the impiety which it is the function of divination to cure; and religion may be defined as “the science of human Erotics in regard to piety.”

Epilogue: To Eros, as a whole, belongs great power; to the virtuous Eros great influence in effecting human concord and happiness.—If my eulogy is incomplete, it is for you, Aristophanes, to supplement it, if you choose.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: