Aristophanes Views on Love

Topics: Homosexuality, Love, Human Pages: 3 (1152 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Aristophanes Views on Love

In the Symposium, a most interesting view on love and soul mates are provided by one of the characters, Aristophanes. In the speech of Aristophanes, he says that there is basically a type of love that connects people. Aristophanes begins his description of love by telling the tale of how love began. He presents the tale of three sexes: male, female, and a combination of both. These three distinct sexes represented one's soul. These souls split in half, creating a mirror image of each one of them. Aristophanes describes love as the search for the other half of your soul in this quote: "When a man's natural form was split in two, each half went round looking for its other half. They put their arms around one another, and embraced each other, in their desire to grow together again. Aristophanes theme is the power of Eros and how not to abuse it. Aristophanes thinks that a human's love is clearly "a lack" – a lack of one's other half- and having no meant to satisfy themselves they begin to die. Zeus, having failed to foresee this difficulty repairs the damage by inventing sexual reproduction (191 b-c). Any "embracements" of men with men or of women with women would of course be sterile – though the participants would at least "have some satiety of their union and a relief," (191 c) and therefore would be able to carry on the work of the world. Sex, therefore, is at this stage a drive, and the object is defined only as human. Sexual preferences are to emerge only as the human gains experience, enabling them to discover what their "original form" had been. Aristophanes has mildly insulted the previous speakers in two ways. By claiming that one of the original forms was androgynous, he has suggested that heterosexuality is at least as natural as male homosexuality – as is being a lesbian. In contrast, Empedokles in fact did hold to a theory of sorts based on fitness to the environment, the description at 191c strongly...
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