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[192a] to lie with them and to be clasped in men's embraces; these are the finest boys and striplings, for they have the most manly nature. Some say they are shameless creatures, but falsely: for their behavior is due not to shamelessness but to daring, manliness, and virility, since they are quick to welcome their like. Sure evidence of this is the fact that on reaching maturity these alone prove in a public career to be men. So when they come to man's estate [192b] they are boy-lovers, and have no natural interest in wiving and getting children, but only do these things under stress of custom; they are quite contented to live together unwedded all their days. A man of this sort is at any rate born to be a lover of boys or the willing mate of a man, eagerly greeting his own kind. Well, when one of them—whether he be a boy-lover or a lover of any other sort— [192c] happens on his own particular half, the two of them are wondrously thrilled with affection and intimacy and love, and are hardly to be induced to leave each other's side for a single moment. These are they who continue together throughout life, though they could not even say what they would have of one another. No one could imagine this to be the mere amorous connection, or that such alone could be the reason why each rejoices in the other's company with so eager a zest: obviously the soul of each is wishing for something else that it cannot express, [192d] only divining and darkly hinting what it wishes. Suppose that, as they lay together, Hephaestus should come and stand over them, and showing his implements1 should ask: ‘What is it, good mortals, that you would have of one another?’—and suppose that in their perplexity he asked them again: ‘Do you desire to be joined in the closest possible union, so that you shall not be divided [192e] by night or by day? If that is your craving, I am ready to fuse and weld you together in a single piece, that from being two you may be made one; that so long as you live, the pair of you, being as one, may share a single life; and that when you die you may also in Hades yonder be one instead of two, having shared a single death. Bethink yourselves if this is your heart's desire, and if you will be quite contented with this lot.’ No one on hearing this, we are sure, would demur to it or would be found wishing for anything else: each would unreservedly deem that he had been offered just what he was yearning for all the time, namely, to be so joined and fused with his beloved that the two might be made one.

“The cause of it all is this, that our original form was as I have described, and we were entire; and the craving and pursuit


1 i.e. his anvil (Hom. Od. 8.274), bellows, tongs, and hammer (Hom. Il. 18.372ff., Hom. Il. 18.474ff.).

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 661
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