Homosexuality In King James's The Symposium

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King James I, the commissioner of the King James Bible and one of the first Stuart Kings of England, was widely known to have secret homosexual relationships. Some of his most famous courtiers were the Earl of Somerset and the Duke of Buckingham, the latter eliciting a slew of rumors and semi-fictitious stories. While some chose to ignore these rumors, others scoffed at James and used his possible homophobic desires as a reason to tarnish his legacy. King James’ 16th and 17th century England contrasts starkly with Ancient Greeks and the sexual culture described in Plato’s The Symposium. While homosexuality was a grievous offense in the Stuart period, it was to some the highest form of love in ancient Athenian considerations. Homosexuality …show more content…
Pausanias speaks of two type of love, a heavenly one and a “common” one. He finds that, “not every love, but only that which has a noble purpose, is noble and worthy of praise” (103). Pausanias describes unnoble acts to be the love of women, and clarifies that “the most foolish beings” are those who only look to gain sexual gratification through sex. It was thought that women were incapable of higher, intellectual discussion and connection and thus only available for sexual pleasure. For this reason, the love of women tends to be downgraded as “common love” in The Symposium and viewed as lesser than the love of a man or love of younger boys. Pausanias seems to believe that the love of women could be dangerous for young men, due to the sexual inhibitions driving that common love, as he discusses the “attempt to restrain them [young boys] from affixing their affection on women of free birth” …show more content…
Pausanias agrees with Phaedrus in this regard as he finds that love is better suited to be something distinct from physical attraction. At one point in Pausanias’ speech he chides those who love solely for sex, calling those “dishonorable” and “evil” who “loves the body rather than the soul” (104). The logic behind why the love of the body is dishonorable is that the body is a dynamic thing that can flourish and spoil, so love of such a thing is superficial while love of intellect or “of a noble disposition is lifelong” (104). Pausanias uses this same logic to rebuke “hasty attachments” as they do not provide a time framework to become noble, and can only be referred to as less than “common love” (104). Eryximachus has a similar opinion about the relationship between sex and love. He finds that while sex is not inherent to love it is acceptable in moderation, as long as it doesn’t progress to “licentiousness” (106). Given Pausanias’ and Eryximachus’ understanding of love and sex, it makes sense that Athenian’s were open to homosexuality as not just an outlet for sex, but more so for deeper, philosophical

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