PLATO:  AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY

 

REPUBLIC:

 

(Socrates:)  Do you know of greater or keener pleasure than that associated with Aphrodite?

            (Glaucon:)  I don't, he said, nor yet of any more insane.

            S:  But is not the right love a sober and harmonious love of the orderly and the beautiful?

            G:  It is indeed, said he.

            S:  Then nothing of madness, nothing akin to license, must be allowed to come nigh the right love?

            G:  No.

            S:  Then this kind of pleasure may not come nigh, nor may lover and beloved who rightly love and are loved have anything to do with it?

            G:  No, by heaven, Socrates, he said, it must not come nigh them.

            S:  Thus, then, as it seems, you will lay down the law in the city that we are founding, that the lover may kiss and pass the time with and touch the beloved as a father would a son, for honorable ends, if he persuade him.  But otherwise he must so associate with the objects of his care that there should never be any suspicion of anything further, on penalty of being stigmatized for want of taste and true musical culture.

            G:  Even so, he said.

            S:  Do you not agree, then, that our discourse on music has come to an end? It has certainly made a fitting end, for surely the end and consummation of culture is the love of the beautiful (Republic III 403a-c).

 

LAWS:

 

Ah, my friends, how difficult it seems to ensure that the working of an institution shall be as unquestionable as its theory!  Presumably it is with states as it is with human bodies – one cannot prescribe one definite treatment for one subject which involves no physically injurious consequences along with its beneficial effects.  For example, these physical exercises and common meals you speak of, though in many ways beneficial to a city, provide dangerous openings for faction, as is shown by the cases of the Milesians, Boeotians, and Thurians.  And, in particular, this practice is generally held to have corrupted the ancient and natural rule in the matter of sexual indulgence common to mankind with animals at large, and the blame for these corruptions may be charged, in the first instance, on your two cities and such others as are most devoted to physical exercises.  Whether these matters are to be regarded as sport, or as earnest, we must not forget that this pleasure is held to have been granted by nature to male and female when conjoined for the work of procreation; the crime of male with male, or female with female, is an outrage on nature and a capital surrender to lust of pleasure.  And you know it is our universal accusation against the Cretans that they were the inventors of the tale of Ganymede; they were convinced, we say, that their legislation came from Zeus, so they went on to tell this story against him that they might, if you please, plead his example for their indulgence in this pleasure too.  With the tale we have no further concern, but the pleasures and pains of communities and of private lives are as good as the whole subject of a study of jurisprudence. (Laws I 636a-d)

 

That was exactly my own meaning when I said I knew of a device for establishing this law of restricting procreative intercourse to its natural function by abstention from congress with our own sex, with its deliberate murder of the race and its wasting of the seed of life on a stony and rocky soil, where it will never take root and bear its natural fruit, and equal abstention from any female field whence you would desire no harvest (Laws VIII 838e-839a).

 

[Note:  Also, do not forget that (1) Plato says that sexual intercourse even for heterosexuals is not really a great thing and should not be over-indulged in; and (2) Plato does not here or elsewhere condone any violence against homosexuals.  However, these are passages for which people who believe that Plato was a homosexual need to account.]