Classical to Medical

  • Tracy Hargreaves


This chapter takes as its starting point the translation into English in 1871 of Plato’s Symposium, a series of dialogues devoted to the praise and nature of love. Benjamin Jowett, the distinguished classics scholar, introduced Plato to the University of Oxford in his reform of the Greats Curriculum, enshrining Plato, as Linda Dowling has argued, ‘at the institutional heart of elite Victorian values’.1 Around the same time, the Symposium was reaching a wider audience: in 1839, Mary Shelley was in the process of arranging the posthumous publication of a complete edition of Shelley’s works, including the translation of the Symposium that she had transcribed for him in the late summer of 1818. She was necessarily guarded about Plato’s unequivocal validation of homosexuality, though, encountering objections to its publication in full (it would not be published in unexpurgated form until 1931). Within the university, Greek studies operated as a ‘homosexual code’.2 ‘You’ve read the Symposium?’ Clive Durham asks Maurice, in E.M. Forster’s posthumously published novel of same-sex love. Maurice, responding to their embryonic desire, had not known that ‘it’ could be mentioned, ‘and when Durham did so in the middle of the sunlit court a breath of liberty touched him’.3


Sexual Object Modern Literature Sexual Aberration Male Genital Creation Myth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Tracy Hargreaves 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy Hargreaves
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EnglishUniversity of LeedsUK

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