Thursday, April 29, 2010

Republic 475d-e

I'm still thinking on and off about Aristotle NE 10.4 and, more specifically, whether the simile offered at 1174b31–3 is a reference to beautiful young boys, the 'beloveds' of a homosexual couple or is simply a reference to the prime of life that a person might eventually achieve [1].

Here is the simile:

τελειοῖ δὲ τὴν ἐνέργειαν ἡ ἡδονὴ οὐχ ὡς ἡ ἕξις ἐνυπάρχουσα, ἀλλ' ὡς ἐπιγινόμενόν τι τέλος, οἷον τοῖς ἀκμαίοις ἡ ὥρα.

Christopher Rowe translates as follows:

Pleasure completes the activity, not in the way the disposition present in the subject completes it, but as a sort of supervenient end, like the bloom of manhood on those in their prime.

It seems to be that the crucial term here is ὥρα and, although there are Aristotelian texts where it seems not to carry an erotic charge, there are enough other texts to support the idea that here it does. I've gone on about this before more than once, but I've just found another text to throw on to the scales.

At Republic 475d-e Socrates insists that a ‘lover of boys’, a philopais, will love all of those who are ἐν ὥρᾳ (474d2, e4) whatever the various specific differences in their appearance. Whatever the precise age of the objects of attraction here, they are plausibly described both as being ‘in bloom’ and also being paides.

[1] As e.g. Hadreas, P. 1997. ‘Aristotle’s simile of pleasure at NE 1174b33’ Ancient Philosophy 17: 371–4.

No comments: