Virgil’s Ecologue and Plato’s Symposium: A Greek View of Gender
In Plato’s Symposium Aristophanes talks about the origins of mankind. There were originally three species – male, female, and androgynous. Because of their pride, the gods punished them by dividing them in half so that they would always walk the earth looking for their other half in their quest to be whole. Those who were of the divided male species were always looking for their other male half – thus male-male homosexual love; those of the divided female species were always looking for their other female half – thus female-female homosexual love; those of the divided androgynous species were always looking for the other sex – male for female and female for male, or heterosexual love.
“Those who dwell in Arcadia seek out that secret Eden because of its isolation from the troubled world and its safety from the arrogant demands of those who would deny freedom, curtail human action, and destroy innocence and love.” – Byrne R.S. Fone
Arcadia as a Uranian Ideal
During the European Renaissance, Arcadia emerged as an ideal of unspoiled, remote, wilderness. It was further idealized by Uranian (their contemporary term for homosexual) men as a homosexual Eden or a utopia of male-male love. To these men, Arcadia was a metaphor for what homosexual life could be without the stigma and constraints of mainstream heterosexual society. They pictured Arcadia as a hidden and isolated leafy grove, a remote pastoral land, or even as an island far from the hustle and bustle and every day cares of the mundane world. For them, Arcadia feeds the homosexual spirit. The love of men for men is natural there. It is even divinely sanctioned as a means to understand all that is good and beautiful. In Arcadia, homosexual love and sexuality is the ideal. It is noble, inspired, virtuous, and spiritually uplifting. Arcadia features untrodden paths, secluded spots, and hidden waters. There are rivers flowing through the land and the element of water purifies and enhances the innocence of the place. Rites of the sea, purification, and transformation by water are central to the rituals of life in Arcadia. Symbolic sexual consummation takes place in or near the water. These rituals celebrate male friendship, our mythologies, the union and consummation of lovers, coming together in a loving and sexual fraternity of men, and washing away any sense of guilt brought on by society at large. These rites often include offering gifts from nature and purification by water. The men of Arcadia are naturally nude, or at least they wear skimpy clothing. The climate is such that this is comfortable.
These Renaissance men idealized Arcadia as a place where homosexual sensibilities, love, and sexuality can be practiced without fear or punishment. In Arcadia, it is safe to come out and to be gay. In this Utopia of male love and sexuality, gay and bi men are free from the stigma and the “outlaw” status that society confers on us.
Look out for part 3 coming soon… To find out more about the Arcadia Gathering, please visit: