chapter  2
40 Pages

“The Nature of Love and Friendship”

Ecotones and Other Fine Lines in Percy Shelley’s Writings on Romantic Friendship
WithColin Carman

Percy Bysshe Shelley offered a theory to account for the predominance of same-sex love in ancient Greece and it involved the environment. By citing the climate as a possible “cause” of male eros in classical Athens, Shelley raises the question of homosexuality’s causes and whether it originates in nature, counterculture, or some intermixture of the two. For Plato, love leads to the contemplation of the Idea, or Form, after passing through a number of preliminary stages, one of which involves beauty as it is manifested in the male physical form. Plato’s dialogue is foundational in Western philosophy for its bridging of sexual desire and such universal Forms as the beautiful and the good. In his study of Thomas Gray and masculine friendship, Robert F. Gleckner notes that the bonds between young English aristocrats began inside Eton’s Long Chamber wherein pupils were locked in for 11 hours straight and left to socialize in alternately violent and sexual ways.