In this paper I discuss the changing literary depictions of "eros of education" in relation to male same-sex mentor-pupil relationships through an analysis of three works from three different periods: Plato's Symposium, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Alan Bennett's The History Boys. The contentious relationship between intimacy (both mental and sexual) and education is a major concern of this paper. Using Rene Girard's theory of triangular desire and a modified version of Girard's original triangle, I trace the development of male same-sex mentor-pupil relationships starting in fifth-century Athens. From Athens I follow the tradition of Platonic pedagogy into nineteenth-century Victorian England, and finally to modern academic depictions, here specifically Thatcherite England. Through a close analysis of each text, in relation to the key concepts paideia and paederasty within a homosocial environment, I conclude that ultimately, while the Platonic pedagogical model is still esteemed, as values and educational aims have changed, there is less and less of a place for it and there is an increasing desire to be distanced from it.


Florence, Monica

Second Advisor

Prendergast, M. Teresa


Classical Studies; English



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2009 Megan Grundtisch