Problems with Eros


  • Brane Senegačnik University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia



Eros, phenomenology, poetry genres, ethics, Hesiod, Theogony, Sophocles, Antigone, Sappho


Eros is one of the ‘basic phenomena of human existence’ (E. Fink), it exceeds the domain of literature and therefore its literary phenomenology is unmanageably broad. The first part of the essay draws on the relation between the pre-reflexive reality (Merleau-Ponty) of the manifestations of eros and on their conceptual and poetic expressions in the literature of the archaic and classical periods. These expressions are particularly related to the dynamism and form of erotic experiences, to their religious and cultural interpretations (this is true of the duality or unicity of Eros and Aphrodite and their cults), as well as to the literary conventions of the genre. Further in its development the essay addresses three extremely complex and heterogeneous ethical thematisations of the phenomenon of eros/Eros. The role played by Eros in the Theogony is not quite clear: obviously it is not limited to what is today called the biological world. Its cosmogonical power spreads also into the inorganic or geological reality on the one hand and into the domain of culture on the other. In the Antigone of Sophocles, eros is, as usually in the Greek tragedy, fatal; but in contrast to the conventional mentality which is expressed by the chorus, eros is not the source of wrongful behaviour but, at the beginning at least, surprisingly operates in a particular consonance with the great laws. Also the role of Aphrodite in Sappho’s fragment 16 Voigt has been the subject of extremely different interpretations, which evaluate it very positively: some of them may be found within the claim that erotic desire is the foundation of a new (female) moral subjectivity. Well-grounded and defensible or not, this claim testifies to the great dynamism and complexity of the erotic phenomenon, not just in the poetry of the archaic period but also in our contemporary literary and culturological criticism.


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How to Cite

Senegačnik, Brane. 2022. “Problems With Eros”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 24 (1): 7-33.