Plato and the Greek Novel

An Authoritative Model to Inverse

GIULIA SARA CORSINO (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)

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Abstract: For the ancient Greek novel, Plato was at the same time an unavoidable and problematic model. The purpose of the paper is to demonstrate how, on the one hand, specific points of the Platonic theory of eros were reemployed by the novelists by means of allusion and intertextual references to ennoble a recent literary genre such as the novel, which put love at the heart of its thematic concerns. On the other hand, the paper intends to offer some evidence about the process of substantial cleansing that Plato’s doctrine underwent at the hands of the novelists. In the Imperial Age, a new erotic model, based on heterosexual love, family and procreation, and celebrated in the so-called ‘ideal novels’, opposed the erotic views expressed mainly in the Symposium: eros as a male-male flourishing in the context of the hetairia and the drinking party, aiming at the transmission of certain skills and seeking to bestow immortality through “reproduction and birth in Beauty” (206e).


About the Author: Giulia Sara Corsino is a Ph.D student at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, in Italy. She is working, under the supervision of Glenn W. Most, on the language of mystery and initiation in Plato in order to understand the relation between Platonic philosophical thought and mystery-ecstatic rites in Ancient Greece. She also attended University in Pavia and Cambridge, where her supervisors have been Mario Vegetti and David Sedley.