Table of Contents:
Summary of my thesis: The reception and modification of Plato’s concept of Eros in French literature from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century considering the classical, Arabic and Italian tradition.
The title reveals the scope of my investigation, which consists of uncovering a continuous
but previously unacknowledged trend. My “holistic” research, which begins with the ancient world, offers perspectives which have, until now, been incomplete. First of all, Plato’s concept of Love (Eros) is precisely characterized on the basis of his Erotic dialogues.
The special structure of Eros, to which Plato has left his indelible mark, becomes the paradigm for the texts analysed in this work.
In ancient Roman literature, certain features of the Platonic Eros disappear, but its other characteristics are still retained by Roman authors. These gaps have been filled by my research.
The greatest change to the Platonic conception of Eros occurred with its interpretation by the Christian New Platonists, mainly Plotinus, who adapted it to his theology and ideas about morality. Ficino, who was strongly influenced by Plotinus’ writings as well as other contemporary philosophical trends, deals with the original Platonic text in a unique manner. The essential characteristics of Platonic Eros during the Middle Ages can be especially recognized within the Love Poetry of Arabic Literature, and above all within the lyrics of the Troubadours in Southern France. The importance of cultural relations between the Arabic world and France during the Middle Ages were recognized many years ago.
Dante’s works, as well as Italian Renaissance poetry, are clearly influenced by the Platonic Eros. Genuine features unique to Platonic Eros also frequently occur in literature during the French Renaissance: In addition to Ficino’s interpretation, circles of cultured poets were also acquainted with the Platonic original texts.
During the seventeenth century, despite numerous contemporary philosophical tendencies, the interest in Plato’s dialogues remains. Honoré d’Urfé as well as Madeleine de Scudéry and the theologian-philosopher Fénélon, integrate the Platonic Eros with his unmistakable features into their ethics, love concepts and philosophical ideas.
The authors considered in my research cannot be regarded (in the sense of a “collective”) as typical of a certain era or century. It is quite clear that everyone receives and interprets the different characteristics of the Platonic Eros concept in his or her own way, based upon his or her or educational background and interest.