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Essays on Eros, Ancient and Modern

Erotikon brings together leading contemporary intellectuals from a variety of fields for an expansive debate on the full meaning of eros. Renowned scholars of philosophy, literature, classics, psychoanalysis, theology, and art history join poets and a novelist to offer fresh insights into a topic that is at once ancient and forever young. Restricted neither by historical period nor by genre, these contributions explore manifestations of eros throughout Western culture, in subjects ranging from ancient philosophy and baroque architecture to modern literature and Hollywood cinema.

An idea charged with paradox, eros has always defied categorization, and yet it cannot—it will not—be ignored. Erotikon aims to raise the difficult question of what, if anything, unifies the erotic manifold. How is eros in a sculpture like eros in a poem? Does the ancient story of Cupid and Psyche still speak meaningfully to modern readers, and if so, why? Is Plato’s eros the same as Freud’s? Or Proust’s? And what is the erotic dimension in Nietzsche’s thought? While each essay takes on a specific issue, together they constitute a wide-ranging conversation in which these broader questions are at play. A compilation of the latest, best efforts to reckon with eros, Erotikon will appeal not just to scholars and educators, but also to artists and critics, to the curious and the disillusioned, to the prurient and the prudent.

See video clips from the Erotikon conference.

352 pages | 16 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2005

Ancient Studies

Film Studies

Gender and Sexuality

History: European History

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Philosophy: General Philosophy

Religion: Comparative Studies and History of Religion


Erotikon offers a very interesting collection of high quality essays on a subject of more than usual interest. . . . As is the case with much current work that comes from classics in Chicago, Erotikon offers a striking demonstration of the relevance and importance of our discipline as a catalyst for contemporary debate.”

Peter Toohey | Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of Contents

Shadi Bartsch & Thomas Bartscherer
What Silent Love Hath Writ: An Introduction to Erotikon
Susan Mitchell
Glenn W. Most
Six Remarks on Platonic Eros

David M. Halperin
Love’s Irony: Six Remarks on Platonic Eros
Shadi Bartsch
Eros and the Roman Philosopher

Catharine Edwards
Response to Shadi Bartsch
David Tracy
The Divided Consciousness of Augustine on Eros

Valentina Izmirlieva
Augustine Divided: A Response to David Tracy
James I. Porter
Love of Life: Lucretius to Freud

Richard Wollheim
Response to James I. Porter
Ingrid D. Rowland
The Architecture of Love in Baroque Rome

Anthony Grafton
Architectures of Love and Strife
Mark Strand
Selection of Poems Read at the Erotikon Symposium
Robert B. Pippin
The Erotic Nietzsche: Philosophers without Philosophy

Eric L . Santner
Was will der Philosoph?
Jonathan Lear
Give Dora a Break! A Tale of Eros and Emotional Disruption

Slavoj Zizek
The Swerve of the Real

Jonathan Lear
On the Wish to Burn My Work
Martha C. Nussbaum
People as Fictions: Proust and the Ladder of Love

Peter Brooks
Proust’s Epistemophilia
Philippe Roger
All Love Told: Barthes and the Novel

Eric Marty
Response to Philippe Roger
Tom Gunning
The Desire and Pursuit of the Hole: Cinema’s Obscure Object of Desire

Robert B. Pippin
Vertigo: A Response to Tom Gunning

A Gallery of Images from Vertigo
J. M. Coetzee
Eros and Psyche
List of Contributors

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