Ancient Advice for a Good Life

Need some life advice? (I know I do.) Unsure about how best to handle love, longing, academics, et al.? (Yes to all of the above.) Why not ask the ancients for advice? BU’s very own Professor Varhelyi asked this final question when confronted with students’ concerns, and decided to pursue it further. In collaboration with Arts & Sciencesmagazine, she created a sort of advice column, treated as though it were wisdom from ancient thinkers (all told through the mouth of the goddess Athena herself!). Varhelyi not only answers common life questions with the all the sage wisdom a professor of ancient thinkers can provide, she then adds a short discussion about the philosopher she referenced in her answer.An excerpt:

“Dear Athena: My boyfriend and I have great chemistry, but its a different story beyond the bedroom. We dont have anything to talk about at restaurants, so we end up on our phones. We really have nothing in commonbut Ive never been so attracted to anyone. How can I turn lust into love?

Athena: Plato (427347 BCE, Greece) would have us believe that humans were originally spherical, with four arms, four legs, and a single head with two faces. They ran by turning cartwheels. When these foolish creatures got too cocky and took on the gods, Zeus split them in two. Now, we roam the Earth in search of our other halves, longing to be whole again. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man, wrote Plato in Symposium (translation by Benjamin Jowett). Thats why it isnt enough to have a partner who only offers physical pleasure, and why it does matter that you and your boyfriend have nothing in common. This man is not your other half, so dont waste your time on him. Go find the one person on this planet who will complete you.”

Bet you never thought to apply Platonic values to your sex life, but Professor Varhelyi did. Check it out here!

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