Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

AN AMERICAN, Cindy Jackson, feels 'liberated' now that she has transformed her body with 58,000 worth of plastic surgery. But if she thinks it will help her meet her dream partner, she had better think again.

In his Symposium (`Drinking Party'), Plato has his guests discussing the nature of love. One of the guests is the comic poet Aristophanes, and when he has recovered from his attack of hiccups, Plato gives him a typically Aristophanic contribution.

Originally, says Aristophanes, there were three sexes - male, female and hermaphrodite. But they were not like us. Each was a double person with two faces (though one brain), four arms and legs, four ears, and so on, like two ordinary humans joined back-to-back. Being very powerful, they decided to attack the gods.

Zeus, not wishing to destroy creatures who sacrificed to him, decided to weaken them fatally. So he told Apollo to slice them in half, turning the face and neck to the cut side. Apollo obeyed, slicing, smoothing and reshaping like a top plastic surgeon, drawing the skin together over the belly like a purse with strings (whence the navel) and providently moving the genitals to the front. …

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