Freud and the Golden Fliess
The "fable," of course, is Aristophanes's comic account in Plato's Symposium. The degree to which it is a "popular view" is augmented by Freud's own editorial excision or repression. Implying in his retelling that the original beings were each half male and half female, Freud goes on to tell us, "It comes as a great surprise, therefore, to learn that there are men
whose sexual object is a man and not a woman, and women whose sexual object is a woman and not a man." Yet in Aristophanes's original fable, that is exactly what one would have expected:
In the beginning we were nothing like we are now. For one thing, the race was divided into three, that is to say, besides the two sexes, male and female, which we have at present, there was a third which partook of the nature of both, and for which we still have a name, though the creature itself is forgotten. For though "hermaphrodite" is only used nowadays as a term of contempt, there really was a manwoman in those days, a being which was half male and half female.