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Plato’s Hermaphrodite and a Vindication of the Sense of Touch in the Sixteenth Century

  • Pablo Maurette (a1)


This essay considers readings of Plato’s Symposium in sixteenth-century trattati d’amore (love treatises) — especially Francesco Patrizi’s L’amorosa filosofia — that offer an alternative to Marsilio Ficino’s pervasive interpretation as presented in his De amore. Against the backdrop of a larger debate concerning the role of the lower senses (touch, in particular) and the relationship between body and soul, these alternative readings of the Symposium attempt to redeem the role of tactility in love matters. Whereas Ficino and his most influential followers — Pico della Mirandola, Pietro Bembo, and Baldassare Castiglione — center their exegesis on Diotima’s speech and privilege sight as the most noble sense, Patrizi’s reading — to a large extent preceded by those of Sperone Speroni, Agnolo Firenzuola, and Flaminio Nobili — focuses on Aristophanes’s myth and the figure of the hermaphrodite as the model for a different kind of human love that is both sensual and spiritual.



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Plato’s Hermaphrodite and a Vindication of the Sense of Touch in the Sixteenth Century

  • Pablo Maurette (a1)


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