Hunks Of Plato: The Top Ten
Socrates – ironist, moral philosopher and the most outrageous flirt in antiquity. But he certainly knew how to pick 'em. NB. All translations from Plato, Complete Works, ed. John M. Cooper and D. S. Hutchinson (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1997).
10. Eleatic Stranger
'Are you bringing a visitor, Theodorus?' asks Socrates. 'Or are you bringing a god without realizing it instead, like the ones Homer mentions' (Sophist 216a). Socrates can't resist a mysterious Italian stranger. But who can?
9. Theodorus of Cyrene
Distinguished geometer and the ultimate thinking boy's pin-up. Socrates is desperate to see what this Cyrenaic bruiser's hiding under that chiton. 'You don't let any comer go till you have stripped him and made him wrestle with you in an argument', Theodorus complains (Theaetetus 169b). Not any comer Teddy, not just any comer.
Another one for the gerontophiles: the original hunk in uniform. Everyone loves a decorated general, especially one who's up for it. For an elenctic inquiry into the nature of courage that is. 'So say whatever you like,' he tells Socrates, 'and don't let the difference in our ages concern you at all' (Laches 189bc).
Speaking of being up for it, here's Phaedrus. 'Where, then, is the boy to whom I was speaking? …' 'He is here [Socrates], always right by your side, whenever you want him' (Phaedrus 243e). No playing hard to get for him, no sir. His idea of a good afternoon out? Paddling in the river, listening to cicadas, and talking about lurve.
All-round bad boy; scourge of moralists everywhere. We meet him sweating away on a hot summer's day in the Piraeus. Claims that justice is just the advantage of the stronger. And that anger management is for wimps: 'he coiled himself up like a wild beast about to spring, and he hurled himself at us as if to tear us to pieces' (Republic 336b). Who's up for having him transvalue your values?
Gets a lot of bad press for being a sort of 5th-century pankration thicko, but it can't have been easy growing up with Plato for a brother. Socrates, ever the connoisseur, doesn't miss his appeal: '… won't someone with a nature like that be first among the children in everything, especially if his body has a nature that matches that of his soul?' asks Socrates. 'How could he not be?' says Adeimantus, quite oblivious to Socrates' blates flirting (Republic 494b). Bless.
You know what they say about men from Thessaly. Meno comes to us fresh from an education in oratory at the feet of none other than Gorgias himself. 'Even someone who was blindfolded would know from your conversation that you are handsome and still have lovers,' says Socrates. 'Because you are forever giving orders in a discussion, as spoiled people do, who behave like tyrants as long as they are young' (Meno 76b). With a tyrant this fit, who needs philosopher-kings?
Sorry boys and girls, this son of Ariston is taken. But judging by his current boyfriend's poetry – 'godlike offspring of a famous man' (Republic 368a), yawn – you might be in with a chance. Loves playing devil's advocate. His biggest turn-on? Justice pursued for its own sake. Biggest turn-off: question-begging arguments against the amoralist.
'Well, Socrates,' says creepy Critias, 'what do you think of the young man? Hasn't he a splendid face? ... But if he were willing to strip ... you would hardly notice his face, his body is so perfect' (Charmides 154d). Not even Mr Temperance can resist: 'when everyone in the palaestra surged all around us in a circle, ... I saw inside his cloak and caught on fire and was quite beside myself' (155d). Pro tip: the way to his heart is a hangover cure that works.