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Erôs in Ancient Greece$
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Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

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Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium

Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium

(p.73) 6 Monstrous Love? Erotic Reciprocity in Aelian’s De natura animalium
Erôs in Ancient Greece

Steven D. Smith

Oxford University Press

In Aelian’s 3rd century miscellany De natura animalium (NA), the separation between the worlds of animal and human is not clearly demarcated when it comes to sexual desire. Several instances of human/animal erôs receive elaborate narrative treatments in the collection. For Aelian, what matters is the style in which animals and humans respond to erôs. Aelian appears to uphold the classical Platonic paradigm of a chaste, heavenly erôs, yet his allusive prose offers opportunities to peek behind that mask, teasing us with alternative possibilities and hinting at the ‘monstrous’ truths lurking beneath the surface of even the purest erôs. This ludic quality, reinforced by the variegated aesthetic of the NA, is a defining characteristic of Aelian’s sophistic text.

Keywords:   Aelian, animals, erôs, second Sophistic, Plato, miscellany, pederasty, dolphins

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