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Setting Plato StraightTranslating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance$
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Todd W. Reeser

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226307008

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226307145.001.0001

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The Gates of Germania

The Gates of Germania

Space, Place, and Sexuality in Cornarius

Chapter:
(p.207) Chapter Seven The Gates of Germania
Source:
Setting Plato Straight
Author(s):

Todd W. Reeser

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226307145.003.0007

Because medicine was central to the reception of Platonic sexuality and because a change in place implied a consequent change in cultural humors, questions of space and cultural customs are relevant to how same-sex sexuality was read in or out. Greek pederasty could be understood as a manifestation of a delineated cultural character or humour, and by extension other cultures, with their own distinct humours, may not be susceptible to, or capable of, the institution of pederasty. This chapter focuses on relations between space, place, and Platonic sexuality. If medical discourse allowed for this possibility to be imagined, to what extent do Renaissance Platonists imagine that pederasty can be contained in Greece, or in Florence, a city famous for sodomy? This chapter analyzes the only major discussion of space and Plato from the period, Janus Cornarius’s Latin translation of the Symposium. Clearly anxious about pederasty and ancient Greek “customs,” Cornarius includes a lengthy introduction to his translation of Plato’s Symposium in which he considers pederasty culturally impossible in a German cultural context. In the same way that the institution of pederasty cannot be imported into a German context, problematic homoerotic terms or concepts cannot be semantically imported into his spatially-coded text.

Keywords:   Janus Cornarius, Germania, Tacitus, Germany, Pederasty, Rhine, symposium, Xenophon, medicine

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