email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAlways Forever MaybeAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond SpeechBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting OffGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalItís Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot My ShameNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePhilosophy of Love, Sex, and Marriage: An IntroductionPin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRelax, It's Just SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in AntiquitySex in CrisisSex in the World of MythSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureTestosterone RexThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Dangerous Art of Blending InThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Evolution of BeautyThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe PervertThe Phenomenology of Sex, Love, and IntimacyThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe State of AffairsThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebUntrue VirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Does Consent Really Mean?What Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshYou Know Me WellZen Sex
From Foucault, we know clearly enough
that human sexuality cannot be reduced to the field of just natural phenomena.
Sexuality has its history. It is, after
all, something socially constructed and there is a lot of symbolism and
narrative in its roots. Eroticisation
of some peculiar body is always done in somebody’s particular social context.
Thanks to Martha C. Nussbaum and Juha
Sihvola today we have one excellent volume dedicated to the problems of the
erotic and sexual in Ancient Greece and Rome. This volume derives from a
conference held at the Finnish Institute at Rome (Institutium Romanum Finlandiae) and it consists of fifteen really
provocative and enriching chapters. The
common line of this work is a heighten attention the ethical, culturological
and political, philosophical and medical dimensions of ancient erotic theories
and practices. All of the texts are well written and documented. All of the
classical (Greek or Latin) citations are translated.
As it is stated in the introduction of
this volume: To do good scholarship on
ancient Greek and Roman philosophy it is necessary to link the writings of the
philosophers to their historical and social context. This need is less acute
when the topic is logic, mathematics, cosmology, or the philosophy of language,
for these are all, in a way, specialized philosophical topics, and philosophers
were not so greatly in conversation with other cultural practitioners when they
addressed them. But when the topic is ethics or politics, the need to do
interdisciplinary scholarship becomes very great. It is extremely difficult to
understand the force of meaning of Plato’s and Aristotle’s proposals, or even
their terminology, without an extensive study of popular morality, difficult
though that is to study well. When the topic is sex, the need is perhaps
greatest of all, for it is really next to impossible to understand what the
philosophers are saying without extensive study of cultural paradigms, of a
sort that requires familiarity with history, literature and visual art. Greek
and Roman philosophers talking about sex are likely to be indirect, discrete,
and elliptical, so if we look only at what they say, we are likely to miss many
insights that a study of the Greek orators, of Atistophanes, and of vase
painting will reveal to us, insights that ultimately prove essential to the
full decoding of what philosophers say.
As we can see, the erotic domain is no
longer a silent space, or terra incognita, for classical scholars. Erotic life
has become their scholarly preoccupation par excellence. Sex acts, sexual
desires and fantasies, ethics of sexual conduct are today very important
subjects of the great number of studies, dissertations, books and the other
academic contributions. This volume, The
Sleep of Reason: Erotic Experience and Sexual Ethics in Ancient Greece and Rome,
could be seen as an excellent example of these modern trends in classical
studies today. The works of Foucault,
Kenneth Dover, John Winkler, Froma Zeitlin, David Halperin, CraigWilliams,
Miriam Griffin and this book could serve as fruitful provocation for even some
further considerations about human sexuality.
Even the list of authors and their
contributions could be illustrative.
David M. Halperin has contributed two chapters “Forgetting Foucault:
Acts, Identities, and the History of Sexuality” and “The First Homosexuality?”;
Martha C. Nussbaum had also two chapters: “Erôs and Ethical Norms: Philosophers
Respond to a Cultural Dilemma”, and “The Incomplete Feminism of Musonius Rufus,
Platonist, Stoic and Roman”; Maarit Kamio has written “Erotic Experience in the
Conjugal Bed: Good Wives in Greek Tragedy”; Stephen Halliwell has text
“Aristophanic Sex: The Erotics of Shamelessness”; David Letio: “The Legend of
the Sacred Band”; Price A. W. has “ Plato, Zeno, and the Object of Love”; Juha
Sihvola “ Aristotle on Sex and Love”; Kenneth Dover “ The Women of Samos”; Eva
Cantarella: “ Marriage and Sexuality in Republic Rome: A Roman Conjugal Love
Story”; Samuel J. Hauser: “Eros and Aphrodisia in the works of Dio Chrysostom”;
David Konstan: “Enacting Erôs”; Simon Godhill: “The Erotic Experience of Looking:
Cultural Conflict and the Gaze in Empire Culture”, and Christopher A Faraone
has his “ Agents and Victims: Constructions of Gender and Desire in Ancient
Greek Love Magic”.
This book could be of interest for all
those concerned with the topics of gender and sexuality. Several chapters discuss the ancient
conceptions of male homosexuality, lesbian love and conjugal love. Many chapters provide material relevant to
the ancient conceptions of normality and pathology. In the light of that
thinking we could think and rethink our own conceptions of the sex and gender,
normality and pathology. Every time and
culture has its own ways of rationalization and control for sexual drives. Most ancient Greeks and Romans would have
agreed with with Socrates and Glaucon: the appetites are very difficult to
manage by reason, and the sexual appetite perhaps most difficult of all. There could be no culture (primitive or
modern) that could escape this basic (ontologically fundamental) confrontation
with passionate and corporeal in human condition.
For ancients, sexuality was a matter of
appetite. Its function was appetitive.
The question of controlling and organizing sexuality was for them a
question of socially structured appetite. In our days sexuality is a mater of
medicine. There is a predominantly
medical regulation of sexual in the age of modernity. Just as Plato’s Socrates proposes an elaborate program of
philosophical discipline to control the erotic content of dreams, so in
countless ways the Greeks and Romans reasoned ethically about sex calling
philosophy or medicine for help. From
the time of Socrates onward, philosophy and science of one sort or another was
ubiquitous in discussions of sexual ethics and its various practices.
In the same manner, today we are thinking
about medicine, psychoanalysis, psychology, or biology as referent points for
our understanding of our own sexual ideas, fantasies, theories and
practices. Having all this in mind, it
could be for us really enriching experience to see and to understand some Other
(in this case ancient Greek and Roman) order of sexual functioning. The Sleep of Reason could be a helpful
guide in this specific adventure of insight.
© 2003 Petar Jevremovic
Petar Jevremovic: Clinical psychologist and practicing psychotherapist, author of two books (Psychoanalysis and Ontology, Lacan and Psychoanalysis), translator of Aristotle and Maximus the Confessor, editor of the Serbian editions of selected works of Heintz Kohut, Jacques Lacan and Melane Klein, author of various texts that are concerned with psychoanalysis, philosophy, literature and theology. He lives in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.