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Ancient Greek Conceptions of Love: Aphrodite to St. Paul

Robert Mayhew

Presented at: OCON 2010

Date: Jul 02, 2010

Ayn Rand wrote that “one of the most evil consequences of mysticism . . . is the belief that love is a matter of ‘the heart,’ not the mind, that love is an emotion independent of reason, that love is blind and impervious to the power of philosophy.” This course will present a history of this conception of love in the ancient Greek world, and of the unsuccessful but influential attempts by philosophers—Platonic, Aristotelian and Hellenistic—to resist it.

The course focuses on the following six (sets of) texts: archaic Hymns to Aphrodite; Euripides’Hippolytus; Plato’s Symposium; selections from Aristotelians; selections from Hellenistic philosophers; and St. Paul’s First Corinthians. It highlights both crucial differences between Greek and Christian worldviews, as well as those features of the former that made the latter possible.


Parts: 3

Handout: none