Plato’s ‘The Symposium’ and ‘The Phaedrus’

Doing a bit more reading towards Western classical literature, Plato, in his writing The Phaedrus, Botticelli’s Venus could have been inspired by the idea of androgyny.

According to Plato, the prime being was both male and female. That this is man’s perfect state. There are suggestions that Botticelli modeled his Venus on a noble woman, and the ‘Queen of Beauty’ of the whole of Florence, Simonetta Vespucci. All admired her and loved her. Her possible androgynous looks and demeanour could have been the reason for her popularity. Think about it. Today, we are just discovering the beauty an individual who possesses both male and female qualities can have. Even mainstream media through high fashion models that have an ambiguous look are becoming increasingly popular.

Botticelli would have, as part of his education, been taught the classics. Now, pardon my assumption it was from Eastern philosophy, although similar, Botticelli would have learnt from Plato rather than writings by Hindu gurus. More logical, yes.

This is my attempt at reconciling Eastern and Western philosophy; I believe Botticelli portrayed this beautifully, whether intentionally or not, in ‘The Birth of Venus’.

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