Xenophon's Socrates calls attention to this correlation when he advises young people to exercise their bodies regularly by practicing gymnastics. He sees this as a means of ensuring that they will be able to defend themselves better in warfare, to avoid earning a coward's reputation as a soldier, to best serve their native land, and to obtain high rewards (and hence to bequeath wealth and status to their descendants). He believes the practice will provide protection against illnesses and infir- mities of the body; but he also points up the good effects of gymnastics that accrue, he says, where one would least expect to see them: in the mind, for an unhealthy body causes forget- fulness, loss of courage, bad temper, and madness, so that in the end the knowledge one has acquired may even be dis- lodged from the soul. 10 But it was also the case that the severity of a physical regimen, with the determination that was required in order to keep to it, called for an essential moral firmness, which made its observance possible. Moreover, as Plato saw it, this was the real justification for these practices by which one sought to acquire strength, beauty, and physical health. Not only will the judicious man, says Socrates in Book IX of the Republic, "not abandon his body to the irrational pleasure of the beast"; not only will he not "turn himself that way"; he will do more: "It is not even health he aims at, nor does he consider it important that he should be strong, healthy, or beautiful, unless he acquires moderation as a result." The physical regi- and stouter, then thinner and leaner; and by his expression, his soul always showed the same character [to homoion ethos]." It seems that Pythagoras also gave advice on regimen to athletes.'
104 The Use of Pleasure men ought to accord with the principle of a general aesthetics of existence in which the equilibrium of the body was one of the conditions of the proper hierarchy of the soul: "He will cultivate harmony in his body for the sake of consonance in his soul" -which will enable him to conduct himself like a true musician (mousikos). II Physical regimen must not, there- fore, be too intensely cultivated for its own sake. The possibility of a danger in the very practice of "diet" was readily acknowledged. For if the aim of regimen was to pre- vent excesses, one might exaggerate the importance one lent to it and the autonomy one permitted it to assume. This risk was generally perceived as having two forms. There was the danger of what might be called "athletic" excess; this was due to repeated workouts that overdeveloped the body and ended by making the soul sluggish, enveloped as it was within a too-powerful musculature; on several occasions Plato finds fault with this athletic forcing, declaring that he would want nothing of the sort for the young people of his city. * But there was also the danger of what could be called "valetudinary" excess; that is, the constant vigilance that one applied to one's body, one's health, to the least ailment. The
- Spring '17
- Human Sexuality, Sexual intercourse, Human sexual behavior, The History