“The first sexual pervert in history.”

[Plato] cites the example of Leontius, torn between a desire to look at corpses, and a repugnance at doing so ([Republic 4] 439e7-10). This is not just a case of a weak contrariety of appetites, say curiosity versus squeamishness. When Leontius cries out, as it were to his eyes, ‘There, you wretches, take your fill of the fine spectacle’, he ‘recoils’ from looking even as he does look, and ‘is angry’ with himself for looking, thus confronting the desire (439e9-440a3). (It is evident from a fragment of Theopompus, if emended, that Leontius, whom we may call the first sexual pervert in history, was notoriously susceptible to pale complexions, whether as a cause or as a consequence of necrophilic tendencies, and it is doubtless these tendencies that he is really confronting in Plato’s anecdote…)

A.W. Price. 1995 Mental Conflict. London: Routledge, pg. 52-53.

Someone really needs to write a book called “kinky sex in Plato.” And what a way to be remembered! “That guy? He was the first sex pervert.”

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3 Responses to ““The first sexual pervert in history.””

  1. Kenny Says:

    In 2003, The Monist did release a special issue on the topic of “perversion”. None of the articles happen to mention Plato in their titles, though one is supposed to be “neo-Aristotelian.” I just finished reading the one on Kant for a paper I am working on. Unfortunately, the author twice criticizes Kant for making emotional appeals, then devotes more of his paper to an emotional/rhetorical attack on Kant’s character/rationality than to a criticism of Kant’s arguments, then ends with an irrelevant personal anecdote. Lara Denis’s article on the subject was much better.

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    I’m waiting for one of those philosophy and pop culture books to come out on this. “Philosophy and kinky sex.”

  3. Kenny Says:

    I did see a CFA for “College Sex and Philosophy” – perhaps they are still accepting submissions? Then again, one hopes that Plato’s pederasty and necrophilia are not particularly associated with ‘college’ per se.

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