Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

English, MA


English poetry--Early modern, 1500-1700--History and criticism; Friendship in literature


Just what is the meaning of Platonic love? It is a term that has caught the attention of scholars, poets, and plain men, in many countries and during many centuries. Perhaps its wide appeal accounts for the varied and tortuous shapes its meaning has assumed as it has passed through the inquisitive and often callous fingers of the multitudes. It is a term applied popularly today to a kind of abstract, passionless friendship, which, to the practical-minded American, can exist only in theory. Few who use the term Platonic love or Platonic friendship have paused first to read the pages of the Symposium, where its significance is carefully explained to Socrates by the remarkable Kantinean woman, Diotima. One would expect to find Plato, of all persons, a Platonic lover, and is for the moment startled by Walter Pater's assertion that "Plato himself had not been always a mere Platonic lover; was rather, nature ally, as he makes Socrates say to himself, subject, to the influence of fair persons and knew all the ways of lovers in the literal sense."