Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality In The Renaissance

Hardcover | December 28, 2015

byTodd W. Reeser

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When we talk of platonic love or relationships today, we mean something very different from what Plato meant. For this, we have fifteenth and sixteenth-century European humanists to thank. As these scholars—most of them Catholic—read, digested, and translated Plato, they found themselves faced with a fundamental problem: how to be faithful to the text yet not propagate pederasty or homosexuality.

In Setting Plato Straight, Todd W. Reeser undertakes the first sustained and comprehensive study of Renaissance textual responses to Platonic same-sex sexuality. Reeser mines an expansive collection of translations, commentaries, and literary sources to study how Renaissance translators transformed ancient eros into non-erotic, non-homosexual relations. He analyzes the interpretive lenses translators employed and the ways in which they read and reread Plato’s texts. In spite of this cleansing, Reeser finds surviving traces of Platonic same-sex sexuality that imply a complicated, recurring process of course-correction—of setting Plato straight.

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From the Publisher

When we talk of platonic love or relationships today, we mean something very different from what Plato meant. For this, we have fifteenth and sixteenth-century European humanists to thank. As these scholars—most of them Catholic—read, digested, and translated Plato, they found themselves faced with a fundamental problem: how to be fait...

Todd W. Reeser is professor of French and director of the gender, sexuality, and women’s studies program at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Moderating Masculinity in Early Modern Culture and Masculinities in Theory.

other books by Todd W. Reeser

Format:HardcoverDimensions:416 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:December 28, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022630700X

ISBN - 13:9780226307008

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Table of Contents

Preface: Strictly Platonic
Note on Translations Used
Introduction

1: Solving the Problem with Plato
2: The Antitheses of Same-Sex Sexuality in Bruni
3: Ficino and the Theory of Purging Same-Sex Sexuality
4: Ficino and the Practice of Purging Same-Sex Sexuality
5: Importing Ficino: Gender Balance in Champier
6: Seducing Socrates: The Silenus in Erasmus and Rabelais
7: The Gates of Germania: Space, Place, and Sexuality in Cornarius
8: Fractured Men: Feminism and Neoplatonism in Mid-Sixteenth-Century France
9: Orientations: Female-Female and Male-Male Eros in Dialogue
10: Reading Sexuality Skeptically in Montaigne

Conclusion: Bending Plato
Appendix: Major Translations of Plato’s Erotic Dialogues
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“This book is a landmark study that will reward a careful study. . . . Despite its academic nature, Setting Plato Straight should be read by social policy makers of today, and of course any student of the Renaissance. But most of all it should read by anyone who thinks they know what love is. Hint: Plato knew.”