Through his encounters with beautiful young men, Winckelmann becomes a Socratic figure who transfers the practices of ancient paiderastia
to a modern setting: 'knowing' young men, he starts on the path to knowledge of the philosophic lover, which in the Phaedrus is described through the mythic imagery of the soul growing back its wings.
'My position is that we are dealing here with a friendship relation which imaginary-narratively posits the classical ideal of paiderastia
In Section II, taking the point further than either Veyne or Cantarelia did, I consider the extent to which this association was actually made, offering a review of the sources that contradicts claims such as Cantarella's to the effect that `for the Romans, pederasty was "the Greek vice"'.(10) I will demonstrate that Roman images of the Greeks--even the most negatively biased ones--failed to give prominence to the tradition of paiderastia. In Section III, I will further explore the central reason for the Roman identification of pederasty as an alien practice: not the younger partner's sex but his free-born status, because of which pederastic relationships constituted a traditionally disapproved behaviour often called stuprum.
As Veyne and Cantarella have insisted, those Roman texts that explicitly identify certain sexual practices as `Greek', simultaneously implying disapproval,(38) refer not to male homosexual behaviour as a whole but specifically to the Greek tradition of paiderastia or pederasty: romantic and sexual relations with free-born young men that came equipped with an entire array of expectations and conventions, including an educational and sometimes specifically philosophical overlay.(39) But neither scholar provides support for this contention by means of a comprehensive review of those sources that point to `Greek custom' in this regard, and I here offer such a review in order to demonstrate the validity of their thesis.
Holly Sypniewski (2008, 13) demonstrates that this scene is structured around Greek paiderastia
: "Each man courts the other with age-appropriate behaviors according to ancient Greek norms: Luther plays the erastes in active pursuit, and Hansel the eromenos, the coy prize to be won." (4) But Berlin is not Athens, and the outcome of the encounter warns off those who are over-eager to find a golden age of same-sex liberation in classical antiquity.
True, in The Symposium the dialogue starts with the topic of erotic love (paiderastia
) in the speech of Phaedrus, but it ends up with "Platonic love" when Socrates refuses to have erotic love with Alcibiades, despite the pleasure Socrates might have had with the beautiful young man.