The Thumotic and the Erotic Soul by Ronna Burger

Ronna Burger, "The Thumotic and the Erotic Soul: Seth Benardete on Platonic Psychology," Interpretation, Vol. 32, no. 1 (2004): 57-76.

In the poem, “Ode to Aphrodite,” Sappho gives expression to her “raging heart,” suffering from the experience of unrequited love. Summoned by the poet, Aphrodite comes down from heaven and asks, “Who has committed an injustice against you, Sappho?” In the end, Sappho seeks the promise of the goddess to be her ally in war. In this poem, Seth Benardete comments, love is understood “in terms of right and Aphrodite as a goddess of revenge. The issues of justice and love are presented together, and there is no suggestion that they could be separated once Sappho asks a god to alleviate her suffering.” Benardete discerned in the poem what he took to be the two fundamental principles of Platonic psychology: “Eros and moral indignation seem to be the alternative grounds for what constitutes the nature of man.”

Interpretation [pdf]