Louis le Roy's Sympose De Platon and Three Other Renaissance Adaptions of Platonic Eros*

By Schachter, Marc | Renaissance Quarterly, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Louis le Roy's Sympose De Platon and Three Other Renaissance Adaptions of Platonic Eros*


Schachter, Marc, Renaissance Quarterly


On 24 April 1558 Francois, Dauphin of France (1544-60) and Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87) were married in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. (1) Among the gifts prepared for the newlyweds, one might at first blush seem rather peculiar--a French version of Plato's Symposium. Translated and extensively glossed by Louis Le Roy (1510?-77), Le Sympose de Platon, ou de l'amour et de beaute is divided into three books, the first addressed to the royal couple, the second to Francois, and the third to Mary. (2) Insofar as the general topic of the Symposium is eros, the dialogue could be considered an appropriate wedding present, partaking in the fiction that romantic, rather than political, interest determined the marriage. That, however, the eros in question, at least in the original, is almost exclusively pederastic, might lead us to ask how a text comprised primarily of speeches celebrating relationships whose consummation was punishable by death in sixteenth-century France could be reconfigured in the same time and place for such a paradigmatically straight and officially-sanctioned context as a royal wedding--until we recall that the dominant trajectory of Renaissance theories of eros inspired by the Symposium was one of progressive heterosexualization. (3) But halting the inquiry here with memory refreshed would only be to beg the question, for this heterosexualization, however naturalized its results may have become, was an elaborate process of cultural transformation whose realization in different texts was hardly uniform and whose modalities varied in ways that continue to merit attention.

The process of heterosexualization involved not only the obvious replacement of the lover and the beloved in the pederastic model with a man and a woman, but also a necessary translation from one set of institutional and social contexts into another. Contexts varied widely for the Renaissance reception of Plato's dialogue on love, and so did the motives informing its recuperation. It would be misleading to suggest that the end result of the various translations and reworkings of Platonic eros for a Christian Renaissance audience was, or is, self-evident. Indeed, Le Roy's translation and commentary pursue a unique agenda and, of the major translations and commentaries, his effort is the only one to efface or transform almost entirely the pederastic original. In fact, close scrutiny shows that, with the exception of Le Roy's Sympose, the familiar narrative of heterosexualization is far more fully realized in the Neoplatonic tradition inspired by Platonic theories of eros that it is in direct commentaries on the Symposium.

Before turning to the Sympose de Platon, I will consider at some length the two other major Renaissance translations of, and commentaries on, the Symposium, and a Neoplatonic passage in a highly influential Renaissance dialogue. This survey will enable me to highlight some differences in a tradition too-often considered homogeneous and to emphasize in particular the innovations in Le Roy's contribution. Most striking in this regard is his suturing of the Platonic original to the exigencies of the mid-sixteenth-century French monarchic state. In his reworking of certain elements central to Plato's discussion of pederasty and through his ascription of meaning to biological reproduction and the institution of marriage, Le Roy contributes, I will argue, to what we might call a metaphysics of procreation and matrimony, one closely aligned to state interest. The specifics of this metaphysics respond to numerous factors. My emphasis here will be on questions about the authenticity of the so-called Salic law. (4) I will also contend that other elements of Plato's discussion, some perhaps less amenable to the process of heterosexualization, are taken up by Le Roy to valorize the contributions of his own practice as translator, commentator, and philosopher. My goal, then, is less to demonstrate the "fact" of the transfer of Platonic love from pederasty to heterosexuality during the Renaissance (something that has already been amply established), than it is to explore some of the implications of, and dynamics behind, this transfer in particular instances without taking for granted a terminus ad quem.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Louis le Roy's Sympose De Platon and Three Other Renaissance Adaptions of Platonic Eros*
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.