Jul 23, 2015

Phaedrus in the Symposium

This is the Phaedrus part of our version of the Symposium, which we put up here temporarily (we'll explain later):


Panel 2:

PH, in upper corner (half-stylized?), blending into the next panel

PH: Eros is a great and wonderful god…

Panel 3:

Chaos as background, Gaia rising, Eros hovering overhead


PH (cut into the panel, speechifying (arms raised)): Eros is a great and wonderful god, for he is one of the oldest gods. Hesiod says that Chaos came first---followed by Gaia, and Eros…

CAPTION (bottom): Hesiod goes on: “…who is the most beautiful among the immortal gods. He is the dissolver of care, he who overpowers the mind and the thoughtful council of gods and humans alike.”

Panel 4:

Dark background, PH stylized (black and white), holding on to a canted erastes-eromenos scene that borders into the next panel.

PH: Eros is also the source of the greatest benefits. I know of no greater blessing for a young man than to have a good lover, and for a lover, to have a beloved.

Panel 5:

Dining room; PH and ER winking at each other (PA between the two)

PH: The principle that ought to guide men who strive to live nobly---the principle of honor---is best fostered by love, not by birth, money, or other means.

Panel 6:

Dark background, PH stylized (black and white), holding on to a canted erastes-eromenos scene that borders into the next panel.

PH in off: A lover who is doing anything dishonorable---he will be most pained when found out by his beloved, rather than his father or other people.

Panel 7:

PH, trying to squeeze his speech bubble into a tight space, background somehow blending into next panel

PH:  And the same holds for the beloved with respect to his lover. And if there were some way of contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their beloveds, they would be the very best governors of their own city, emulating each other in honor…


Panel 1:

Band of Thebes in battle formation, (PH in upper left corner, speechifying?)

CAPTION (bottom): The Sacred Band of Thebes, a battalion composed of 150 pairs of male lovers, was organized in 378 BC. It’s disputed whether Plato got the idea from the Thebans, or they from him. The Band acted as a single unit of shock troops to cripple the enemy by engaging and killing their best men and leaders in battle.

PH: …and when at each other’s side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world…

Panel 2:

Left: Tomb of Iolaus with a pair of Theban’s taking the oath in front of Iolaus’ altar

CAPTION: The band derived it’s epitaph “sacred” from the oath sworn by each pair of lovers unto the tomb of Iolaus, Heracles’ lover, pledging to follow the example of the über-heroes.

 PH (in off):...a real man would hate to be seen by his beloved throwing away his weapons…

Panel 3:

Opposing phalanxes, word graphic “Stand at ease,” shields clinking, polling noises, Band phalanx standing at ease.

CAPTION (right): During their first engagement, at the opening of the Boeotian War in 378 BC, the Band joined the main Theban forces in an unheard-of maneuver. As the Spartan forces were advancing toward the Theban ranks---with the Band in avant-garde position---Chabrias, the Theban leader, unexpectedly gave his most famous command. The audacity of the maneuver and the discipline of the execution was such that Agesilaus, the Spartan king, halted his advance, and eventually withdrew.

PH (in off):…he would prefer to be many times dead before that happened. And, to say nothing of abandoning one’s beloved or not coming to his aid when he’s in danger…

Panel 4 and 5:

Left: battle sketch

PH (in off):…there’s no one so bad that, once in the grip of Eros, he would not be directed toward virtue…


CAPTION: The battle opened with cavalry charges that kicked up a lot of dust, and the Spartans were unable to observe the advance of the Theban army until the last moment. The Theban leader Epaminondas had ordered his troops to advance diagonally, the first recorded instance of the military formation later known as the oblique order. By the time the Spartans realized that something unusual was amiss, it was too late. The Spartans hastily stretched their right wing in an attempt to outflank and engulf the rapidly approaching Thebans (the standard tactic) but the Band ahead of the Theban left wing interfered, keeping the Spartans in place until the rest of the Theban heavy infantry smashed into the enemy’s right wing. The sheer number of Thebans overwhelmed the Spartan right wing quickly. Most Spartan leaders were killed on the spot, including the king. This was the first defeat of the Spartan forces in open battle ever.


Panel 1:

Battlefield confusion, Macedonian cavalry (Alexander) in evidence.

CAPTION: Defeat finally came in the battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, when Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander put an end to the Theban hegemony. The Theban army fled, but the Sacred Band held their ground and died a hero’s death. 

PH (in off):…love will make men dare to die for their beloved---love alone…

Panel 2:

Back in the dining room

PH: …and this applies to women as well; Alcestis, is a monument to all of Hellas…

Panel 3:

Heracles reclaiming Alcestis from Hades

PH (in off):…for she was willing to die on behalf of her husband.

CAPTION (bottom): King Admetus, Alcestis’ husband, enraged the Fates, who wanted to see him dead. Apollo got them drunk and convinced to let somebody else die instead of Admetus. Nobody else volunteered, so Alcestis came forward. The gods were so impressed by her sacrifice that Heracles was sent to reclaim her from the underworld.

Panel 4:

Back in the dining room; PH straddling both panels, holding on to a mildly canted panel of Achilles dressing Patrocles’ wound (alternatively: somebody’s being served wine from jug in foreground with said picture).

PH: So the gods, too, admire the zeal and virtue of Love…

…the honored Achilles they rewarded for his true love towards his lover Patroclus---his lover, not his beloved, by the way…

Panel 5:

Left: Brad Pitt and Garrett Hedlund from the movie Troy (2004), color values of the vase painting) (or something better, this is not a good picture)

CAPTION (bottom, PH continues) …The notion that Patroclus was the beloved one is a foolish error, for Achilles was surely the fairer of the of the two, and, as Homer informs us, he was still beardless, and younger than Patroclus…

CAPTION (right) (COMMENT) Achilles---the archetypical hero and perfect fighting machine---had himself and his lover Patroclus enlisted on the Greek side of the Troyan war, having been told by his mother, sea-goddess Thetis, of the stark choice between fame and ignominious long life.  (Patroclus left, Achilles right, on their way to Troy in the 2004 rendering of the eponymous movie).


Panel 1:

Love scene between Achilles and Patroclus

CAPTION (PH continues):…And greatly as the gods honor the virtue of love….

Panel 2:

Love scene between Achilles and Patroclus evolves, Patroclus rears Achilles

CAPTION (PH continues):…the return of love on the part of the beloved is most admired and rewarded by the gods….

Panel 3:

Love scene between Achilles and Patroclus at climax

PH (in off):…but the lover is more divine because he is inspired by the gods.

Panel 4:

Achilles in tent, resisting entreaties by his comrades to rejoin the fight

Achilles: This is not my war

CAPTION (COMMENT): Planned as a short campaign to snatch Helen (wife of Spartan king), from the arms of Paris (brother of Hector and son of Priam, the king of Troy), the Troyan war dragged on for 10 years. Achilles, miffed by Agamemnon the leader of the Greek forces, goes on strike…

Panel 5:

Troyan’s setting fire to the Greek ships stranded on the shore

CAPTION (COMMENT): …at a bad moment, it appears, since the Troyans have started a dangerous attack, setting fire to the Greek ships stranded on the shore.}

Panel 6:

Patroclus, in Achilles’ armor leading the Greek forces

CAPTION (COMMENT): Patroclus dons Achilles’ armor, and, posing as his hero-lover, thrusts the Troyans back

Panel 7:

Greeks pursuing Troyans through the gates of the city, while Apollo (mirage in the sky) (?) watches on

CAPTION (COMMENT): Giddy with success, the Greeks press on. Apollo, siding with the Troyans, sneaks up behind Patroclus and wounds him, enabling Hector to finish off Achilles’ lover.


Panel 1:

Achilles mourning over Patroclus’ dead body

CAPTION (COMMENT): Achilles swears revenge: Hector must be destroyed; Achilles enters the battle and prevails, as usual

Panel 2:

Hector dragged through the dust

CAPTION (COMMENT): Hector is destroyed, but now it’s the turn of the Fates…

Panel 3:

Achilles struck by arrow

CAPTION (COMMENT): …to verify Thetis’ prophesy: Achilles is struck by Paris’, arrow and dies.

Panel 4:

Back in the dining room; PH continues

PH: The gods honored Achilles and sent him to the Islands of the blessed.

Panel 5:

Dining room; PH continues

PH:  These are my reasons for praising Eros as the eldest and mightiest of the gods; the principle source virtue in life and of happiness after death.

Panel 6:

Dining room; people look at Pausanias, who rises. The guests drink}

CAPTION (COMMENT): The next speaker is Pausanias, Agathon’s life-long companion. One of the many ironies here: Plato’s Symposium is to codify “Greek love” for posterity--- ann erastes (the older “lover”), seeking out his (younger) eromenos (“beloved”)---but none of the pairings in the text corresponds to the pattern.

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