The Sleep of Reason: Erotic Experience and Sexual Ethics in Ancient Greece and Rome

December 2, 2020
The Sleep of Reason: Erotic Experience and Sexual Ethics in Ancient Greece and Rome

Sex is beyond reason, and yet we constantly reason about it. So,too, did the peoples of ancient Greece and Rome. But until recentlythere has been little discussion of their views on eroticexperience and sexual ethics.The Sleep of Reason brings together an internationalgroup of philosophers, philologists, literary critics, andhistorians to consider two questions normally kept separate: how iserotic experience understood in classical texts of various kinds,and what ethical judgments and philosophical arguments are madeabout sex? From same-sex desire to conjugal love, and from Platoand Aristotle to the Roman Stoic Musonius Rufus, the contributorsdemonstrate the complexity and diversity of classical sexuality.They also show that the ethics of eros, in both Greece and Rome,shared a number of commonalities: a focus not only on self-mastery,but also on reciprocity; a concern among men not just forpenetration and display of their power, but also for being gentleand kind, and for being loved for themselves; and that women andeven younger men felt not only gratitude and acceptance, but alsojoy and sexual desire.Contributors:Eva CantarellaKenneth DoverChris FaraoneSimon GoldhillStephen HalliwellDavid M. HalperinJ. Samuel HouserMaarit KaimioDavid KonstanDavid LeitaoMartha C. NussbaumA. W. PriceJuha Sihvola