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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Plato's Symposium
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0596  Tuesday, 13 March 2001

[1]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Mar 2001 18:13:41 -0600
        Subj:   SHK 12.0584 Timon Query

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Mar 2001 19:59:26 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0584 Timon Query

[3]     From:   Marti Markus <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Mar 2001 09:56:58 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0584 Timon Query


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Mar 2001 18:13:41 -0600
Subject: Timon Query
Comment:        SHK 12.0584 Timon Query

>Plato's Symposium?  The
>question is, of course, how far the Symposium was known in Jacobean
>England.  It was not available in English.  Sidney and Chapman both
>apparently knew of it, but possibly only by repute.  Does anyone have
>any other information about the extent to which the Symposium was known
>in early modern England?

Don't overlook Xenophon while investigating.   I don't know the path of
transmission into England for either work, but will follow this thread
with interest.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Mar 2001 19:59:26 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.0584 Timon Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0584 Timon Query

At one time, I had a great deal of information on this topic (*The
Symposium* in early modern England), but my relevant notes and citations
are now, alas, lost due to the death of one computer, loss of custody of
another, and a recent hard-drive crash in the current machine.  Sigh.

So I am going on (unreliable) memory.

The first thing that I think I remember is that a year and a half or so
ago on the FICINO listserv there was an extended discussion of this very
topic.  I no longer belong to FICINO, and I don't remember if they have
a website with searchable archives, but if you're really interested you
could subscribe to that list (if you don't already) and then request
appropriate archival messages.  Write me off-list and I can provide you
with the subscription email address if you like.

Again, AS I RECALL, Marsilio Ficino translated the Symposium into Latin
and (Tuscan) Italian, as well as writing a commentary on the text.  The
commentary, I believe, was translated into French and published in Paris
in 1546 (?).  I don't think the Ficino translation(s) were printed
outside of Italy until after Shakespeare's death.  It is certainly
possible that Italian (or Latin) translations may have found their way
north.  It would have been even easier for copies of Ficino's commentary
in French to have been brought from Paris to London.

I am sure others will respond with more precise information.  I hope
they do: it would be helpful to me as well.  But if they don't,
well...my meagre offering for what it's worth.

Cheers,
Karen E. Peterson

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marti Markus <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Mar 2001 09:56:58 +0100
Subject: 12.0584 Timon Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0584 Timon Query

> I have a query.  In Timon of Athens 1.2, the banquet scene, Alcibiades
> enters in the middle of proceedings and joins the feast.

Does he? The first words addressed to him (by Timon) are  "Captain
Alcibiades, your heart's in the field now", immediately after Apemantus'
grace (1.2.70). This sounds to me more like a host's attempt to start a
new conversation (after a silence among his guests) than like a welcome.
I could imagine that Alcibiades is now drawn into a conversation after
he has been sitting there silently and absentmindedly (his heart being
in the field) for some time. For a late entrance there is hardly time
within the preceding lines - and, if he really joined the party only
now, would he and Timon not great each other in the same homoerotic
manner as in I.1.245ff ("Sir, you have saved my longing and I feed most
hungrily on your sight...")?

I also think that the Symposium plays a role but I would rather see its
influence in the first scene: A homoerotic Alcibiades can not be found
in Plutarch (the "Plutarchian" Alcibiades appears with Phrynia and
Timandra in act IV). But for the homoerotic component among the gay
Merrygreeks of act I a very superficial knowledge of the symposium would
have done.

Markus Marti
University of Basel
 

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