Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Plato_Symposium excerpt/myth of the Androgynous

...for the original human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were
not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was
man, woman, and the union of the two, having a name corresponding
to this double nature, which had once a real existence, but is now
lost, and the word "Androgynous" is only preserved as a term of reproach.
In the second place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides
forming a circle; and he had four hands and four feet, one head with
two faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely
alike; also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond.
He could walk upright as men now do, backwards or forwards as he pleased,
and he could also roll over and over at a great pace, turning on his
four hands and four feet, eight in all, like tumblers going over and
over with their legs in the air; this was when he wanted to run fast.
Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them; because
the sun, moon, and earth are three;-and the man was originally the
child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the
moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and
moved round and round: like their parents. Terrible was their might
and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they
made an attack upon the gods;

...At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way. He
said: "Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and improve
their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in
two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in
...And when one of them meets with his other
half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or
a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love
and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other's sight,
as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their
whole lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire
of one another. For the intense yearning which each of them has towards
the other does not appear to be the desire of lover's intercourse,
but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and
cannot tell, and of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment
..human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.

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