Pseudo-Lucian Affairs of the Heart

Text Access

Pseudo-Lucian. Affairs of the Heart. Trans. Mathew Donald Macleod. Lucian with an English Translation by M. D. McCleod. Vol. 8. Loeb Classical Library. London and Cambridge, Mass.: W. Heinemann and Harvard University Press, 1967. 147-235. Print.

Via Bb Course Site > PDF Readings.

Journal Prompt

Pick one of the two main speakers, Charicles ("KAR-i-cleez") or Callicratidas ("kal-li-KRA-ti-dahs"). Then pick one of our two legal brief writers, Finnis or Nussbaum.

  • How does the point of view represented by your chosen speaker in the dialogue relate to the world-view of your modern writer? Do you see common ground? Are they miles apart? Somewhere in between? Explain. . . .

Introduction to Work

The author of Affairs of the Heart (known as the Amores in Latin, and as Erōtes in Greek) is referred to as "Pseudo-Lucian" because, though the work came down to us in collections of the real Lucian's works, the piece just isn't by Lucian.

The work was written in Greek. As to its date, that is probably around the year 300 CE. The piece is thus roughly contemporary with Longus' novel Daphnis and Chloe, and is worth comparing with that work.

In structure, it is a narrated dialogue. That is, it has a framing conversation, where one Lycinus recounts to his friend Theomnestus an earlier conversation. Compare Plato's Symposium in that regard, a work that this piece resembles in other ways, not least, in featuring speakers exploring and extolling love, or better, desire — erōs.

It's topic may seem a familiar one: the best type of love. Thus the Athenian Callicratidas prefers the love of boys, while Charicles of Corinth (a Greek city) prefers women.

One way to approach the work is that followed by David Halperin, who, in his How to Do the History of Sexuality (2002) wants to know if the piece can help us understand sexual preference outside of "sexuality" in the sense meant by Foucault. (Halperin's chapter on the piece thus serves as an excellent example of a paper written as if for this class!)

The work therefore offers us the chance to ask such questions as:

  • Does either of the two main speakers admit to, or show evidence of, something like a biologically determined sexual preference, a "sexuality"?
  • Whether "yes" or "no" to the previous question, what reasons are given in the text for the preferences of each speaker? What value systems might be in evidence?
  • Do the values, does the system of sexual typing on display in the piece, suggest continuity with works read earlier in the semester? With realities familiar to us today?


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