Here Symonds frankly discusses the customs of ancient Greek paiderastia
that informed Plato's ideal of love and then shows that this homoerotic passion is the original model for an eminent cultural tradition, of which Dante's writings are a later development.
The story of the Pergamene Boy is an account of Greek paiderastia
, the usus formosorum (Sat.
He is authoritative about the homoerotic underworld of rent boys, telegraph lads, and Mary Anns, as well as the upper-middle and aristocratic Uranian cabals--the entire gamut of paiderastia
, the Dorian confraternity, the Cleveland Streeters, is dealt with sexually explicitly.
He documents the accepted practice of paiderastia
(a mentor relationship between an older man and a younger sexually adult male--not to be confused with modern pedaphilia) that "implied a relationship that combined the roles of teacher and student with those of lover and beloved, and ...
While for Jowett Plato served as a surrogate source of transcendental truth, his translations of the Dialogues making the speakers use 'the recognizable accents - so reassuring to Victorian readers - of the Authorized Version of the Bible', Pater and Symonds found in Plato a justification and celebration of paiderastia
and 'spiritual procreancy'.
Nevertheless, perhaps because she works in the original Greek herself, Dowling is one of the few critics writing on Wilde today to appreciate the extent of his engagement with ancient Greece: "the conventions of Greek life -- paiderastia
, symposia, dialekke -- would assume the status of lived categories for Wilde ...