I keep seeing this quote about the mythological origins of love be blogged and it is not accurate:
“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with 4 arms, 4 legs & a head with 2 faces. fearing their power Zeus spilt them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”
This was not a common belief in classical Greece. What this is referring to is a quote from Aristophanes which has been handed down to us by Plato in his work Symposium.
Plato’s Symposium is (supposedly) a written account of an actual conversation that took place before a drinking party in classical Athens. Every guest has an opportunity to speak about love, and when Aristophanes has his turn he makes a long speech about how in the beginning humans had 4 legs, 4 arms, 2 head, and so on. He also explains that there were 3 types of these beings. Ones were made of 2 men, ones that were made of 2 women, and ones that were made of 1 man and 1 woman. He then went on to say that these beings were split into separate people and once separated these halves longed to be whole again. This longing, according to Aristophanes, is called “love” and the three different types of beings is the origin of sexual orientation.
Now I’m not going to claim to know what Aristophanes was thinking when he said this, but it’s important to note that Aristophanes was a comedian and could have been mocking the opinions of the other guests. This strange idea of the origins of love was not a common view at all, and probably would have seemed bizarre even to the Athenians at the party. Aristophanes might not even have believed it himself.
That is of course assuming that Aristophanes actually said this, and it wasn’t just Plato making it up, but that’s another story all together. The point is, there are a lot of Greek myths about the origins of humans, but this was not a common belief if it was believed at all.
Thank you for clearing that up. It drives me crazy every time I see that. I’ve been studying mythology for 12 years and I never heard that until twitter & tumblr & FB… AND IT HAS BEEN REBLOGGED 20,000,000 TIMES!!!
I know. It’s unfortunate that the quote just keeps coming back. Its always floating around in the Greek mythology tag.
What’s almost worse is that now a lot of them have the quote in quotation marks and attribute it to Plato or Symposium. You know, like Plato would have started a sentence with “According to Geek mythology…”
Drives me crazy.
Tumblr Tuesday: YeOlde Internet Edition
Pixel Art + Windows 95 Themes = Windows Fantasy. Loosely defined mixed-media art at it’s best.
Photo via One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age
Phew! Here it is folks, cobbled together from two weeks worth of free time. I don’t really know what to say, so I’ll just hope it’s as fun to read and look thru as it was to make.
by paul reinwand, me
my former roommate runs a blog that’s nothing but recommendations of yaoi featuring solely consensual couples
he is the savior of our generation