«Something else too abominable to be nam’d». David Hume and Greek Love

Author/s Emilio Mazza
Publishing Year 2022 Issue 2022/1
Language English Pages 30 P. 51-80 File size 221 KB
DOI 10.3280/SF2022-001004
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«Greek Love is a modern invention», asserts the classical scholar. David Hume can claim the title of inventor. In his 1751 Dialogue on morals he used the phrase to account for the relationship between a university boy and a man of merit. How did Hume come to this expression? Pederasty was a traditional sceptical topic against a universal standard for morals. What did Hume think of this practice and its origin? When he accounts for pederasty and homosocial arrangements by negative epithets, is Hume seriously condemning them or he is «only» and prudentially following the common use? The Article tries to give a first answer to these questions by examining Hume’s writings and their sources (Plato, Plutarch, Cornelius Nepos and Cicero), and the views of the modern authors (Hobbes, Mandeville, Montesquieu, Charlemont, Smollet and Voltaire). The Article delineates the eighteenth-century debate, without projecting on it our views, and maintains that, like some ancient philosophers according to Sextus Empricus, and possibly like Smith, Hume would have declared practice in itself «indifferent».

Keywords: David Hume, «Greek Love», pæderasty, homosocial arrangements, relativism, «A Dialogue»

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Emilio Mazza, «Something else too abominable to be nam’d». David Hume and Greek Love in "RIVISTA DI STORIA DELLA FILOSOFIA" 1/2022, pp 51-80, DOI: 10.3280/SF2022-001004