Sunday, March 15, 2015

Plato, Augustine, and Traditional Christianity

We are used to thinking of Calvinism and Catholicism as adversaries.  Catholics like to define all Protestants (and Evangelicals who they don't consider distinct) based on Calvinism, calling it "Reformed Theology".  And Calvinists too like to see themselves as the only true full rebels from Popery and label belief in Free Will as inherently Catholic.

However the truth is Catholicism and Calvinism are two sides of the same coin.  That coin being Augustine, and the mint in which it was forged was Plato.

Calvinists are among the Protestants who in my view made a serious mistake by only rejecting about 1000 years worth of institutionalized error, and choose to prop up the "Early Church Fathers" as authoritative just as much as the Catholic Church does.  And they may indeed in some areas agree with what those early fathers originally taught more then Catholic dogma does.  But I still feel the early fathers were just as guilty of following the doctrine of the Nicolatians.  Some I agree with more then others but none I consider authoritative.

Pretty much all of the major doctrinal issues Evangelicals have with Catholicism have their roots in Augustine's teachings.  He may not have been the first to teach any of them but he played a major role is refining and popularizing them long before the Vatican really formalized any.  His main gripe with the Pelegians was their rejection of Infant Baptism.  On Mary he affirmed that the Virgin Mary "conceived as virgin, gave birth as virgin and stayed virgin forever". (Augustine of Hippo, De Sancta Virginitate, 18).

Calvin was quite open about how much he drew on Augustine.  “Further, Augustine is so much at one with me that, if I wished to write a confession of my faith, it would abundantly satisfy me to quote wholesale from his writings.”  (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.63).

Augustine originally believed in premillennialism, namely that Christ would establish a literal 1,000-year kingdom prior to the general resurrection, but later rejected the belief, viewing it as carnal. He was the first theologian to expound a systematic doctrine of amillennialism, although some theologians and Christian historians believe his position was closer to that of modern postmillennialists. The medieval Catholic church built its system of eschatology on Augustinian amillennialism, where Christ rules the earth spiritually through his triumphant church, (Blomberg, Craig L. (2006). From Pentecost to Patmos. Apollos. p. 519.).  Dominionism follows the same basic error.  At the Reformation, theologians such as John Calvin accepted amillennialism.  Augustine is also credited with being the father of the Catholic notion of Purgatory, though the gist of that he borrowed from Tertullian, the first Church Father to write in Latin.

Augustine was also the first to try and reconcile Christianity with Evolution.
In Augustine's De Genesi contra Manich√¶os, on Genesis he says: "To suppose that God formed man from the dust with bodily hands is very childish. ...God neither formed man with bodily hands nor did he breathe upon him with throat and lips." Augustine suggests in other work his theory of the later development of insects out of carrion, and the adoption of the old emanation or evolution theory, showing that "certain very small animals may not have been created on the fifth and sixth days, but may have originated later from putrefying matter." Concerning Augustine's De Trinitate (On the Trinity), White wrote that Augustine "...develops at length the view that in the creation of living beings there was something like a growth—that God is the ultimate author, but works through secondary causes; and finally argues that certain substances are endowed by God with the power of producing certain classes of plants and animals."(White 1922, p. 53)
Augustine is also a major factor in developing the prudish attitudes towards sexual morality of "traditional" Christianity I have spent much time on this blog objecting to.  While by no means the first to hold such views, he majorly popularized them.  He even goes further with it then most modern Evangelicals or Catholics will at least admit to going.  Stating outright it is a Sin to enjoy sex, even between a Husband and Wife for the purpose of reproduction.  He also committed the error of thinking Sodom's main Sin was their sexual preferences.

None of this means I consider Augustine wrong on everything, even a broken clock is right twice a day.  I'm certainly not questioning his Salvation.  But since he's also put a lot of Bad Fruit into Christian history, I feel we should examine his roots.

Augustine had been before he converted to mainstream Christianity a follower of Manicheism, a form of Gnosticism.  And one that believed quite strongly in both Determinism (Predestination) and that the flesh is inherently evil.  Like other Gnostic sects it rejected the Old Testament.  Whether or not they were among those that believed the Old Testament God to be an Evil Demiurge I'm unsure.  But it seems Augustine's preference was for just rejecting the Old Testament narrative altogether.

Many people who convert from one religion to another still bring the baggage of their old Religion with them.  And this does include some Christians after getting Saved.  Most who don't go over the top trying to be the opposite of how they were before, will still bring all kinds of ideas with them.  What evidence is there Augustine brought Gnostic baggage with him?  Some I think is already apparent but there is more.

The main thing that kept him from fully embracing mainstream Christianity was his dislike of the Old Testament characterization of an Emotional God who in some areas changes.  It was Ambrose convincing him that those Emotions could be allegorized away that converted him.

Gnosticism was among many Philosophical traditions influenced either directly or indirectly by Plato.  Even Philosophical traditions that predicated themselves on rejecting (at least some of) Plato (like the Epicureans) were still influenced by him (for example Epicurus shared Plato's distaste for Homosexuality).  Aristotle, Plato's most notorious direct pupil, also broke with Plato in many areas while agreeing in others.

The various descendants of Plato often disagreed with each other.  Plotinus, the founder of Neo-Platonism, spent much time attacking the Gnostics, even though he was more similar to the Gnostics then some other Platonists like the Stoics.

Plato in Timaeus originates the idea of the Demiurge.  A "creator deity" of sorts, but not truly, he merely rearranged and refashioned preexisting chaotic matter.  To the Gnostics the Demiurge was an Evil god responsible for cursing humanity with fleshly bodies.  Many Gnostics who presented themselves as a form of Christianity identified the Demiurge with the God of the Old Testament, and believed Jesus wasn't that God but a higher deity.  But that isn't the only rout to twist Christianity into being Gnostic.

Augustine fully admits to being okay with adopting some of those pagan Philosophical ideas into "Traditional" Christianity.

Augustine writes: “Moreover, if those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it. For, as the Egyptians had not only the idols and heavy burdens which the people of Israel hated and fled from, but also vessels and ornaments of gold and silver, and garments, which the same people when going out of Egypt appropriated to themselves, designing them for a better use, not doing this on their own authority, but by the command of God, the Egyptians themselves, in their ignorance, providing them with things which they themselves were not making a good use of; in the same way all branches of heathen learning have not only false and superstitious fancies and heavy burdens of unnecessary toil, which every one of us, when going out under the leadership of Christ from the fellowship of the heathen, ought to abhor and avoid; but they contain also liberal instruction which is better adapted to the use of the truth, and some most excellent precepts of morality; and some truths in regard even to the worship of the One God are found among them. Now these are, so to speak, their gold and silver, which they did not create themselves, but dug out of the mines of God’s providence which are everywhere scattered abroad, and are perversely and unlawfully prostituting to the worship of devils. These, therefore, the Christian, when he separates himself in spirit from the miserable fellowship of these men, ought to take away from them, and to devote to their proper use in preaching the gospel. Their garments, also, that is, human institutions such as are adapted to that intercourse with men which is indispensable in this life, we must take and turn to a Christian use.” (On Christian Doctrine, Book 2, Chapter 40, Section 60).  

Augustine adds: “But they gave their gold and their silver and their garments to the people of God as they were going out of Egypt, not knowing how the things they gave would be turned to the service of Christ. For what was done at the time of the exodus was no doubt a type prefiguring what happens now.”  (On Christian Doctrine, Book 2, Chapter 40, Section 61).

Augustine is forgetting that that Gold was used to make the Golden Calf.

Augustine is not the only means by which Gnostic and/or Platonic ideas entered the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Many of the Greek Church fathers felt comfortable drawing on Greek writings to appeal to their Greek flocks.  Justin Martyr claimed that Socrates and Plato were "unknowing Christians" and the Alexandrian Bishops are also an interesting case.  In fact I don't know of an example of an Early Church Father who's writings have survived who was hostile to Plato.

Philo of Alexandria was a Hellenized Jew who adopted much of Platonism into his writings.  Christians have from very early on liked to cherry pick certain teachings of his to make him sound almost Christian, he did happen to like some of the same key Greek words John did, but those are the same words the Gnostics also liked, like Logos.  He is also credited with being the first to interpret the Sin of Sodom as being Homosexuality.  Though whether or not he meant all Homosexual acts are a Sin is debatable. 

There is also Valentinus, who followed a different brand of Gnosticism, and was prominent in Rome around 100-160 AD.  According to Tertulian he almost became Bishop of Rome.

Bob Hill explains: “The Manichaeans stressed rational inquiry over authority. Augustine agreed with this method of ascertaining truth. The Manichaeans disliked the Old Testament because it revealed an angry emotional God. ... The Manichaeans believed God could not be mutable and retain his perfection. Augustine accepted this rationalistic philosophy as true and attempted to prove this doctrine with Scripture.”

 “Augustine agreed with the Manichaeans that a mutable God was totally unacceptable. In this conflict between the Platonic doctrine of immutability and the literal interpretation of Scriptures, what had to change? Augustine’s answer was that the literal interpretation of Scripture had to change. For Augustine the plain narratives of Scripture had to be reinterpreted by spiritual or allegorical methods to agree with his philosophical presuppositions. The Manichaeans believed the Old Testament revealed a God who was mutable or could repent. Since the Platonists believed that God was immutable this idea of God repenting was a source of ridicule for the Church. Augustine was so embarrassed by these arguments that he chose to reinterpret Scripture rather than refute the Platonic philosophy.” (Calvinism Unmasked, chapter 2).

Even many modern Catholics and Protestants are unashamed of their Greek Philosophical influences.

Webster Tarply, is a sort of Conspiracy Theorist who's research I find interesting.  He is regardless a devout Catholic, who condemns the Protestant Reformation for "rejecting Plato in favor of Aristotle".  He's talking about the Politics mainly which confuses me because he seems to have the Politics of Plato and Aristotle switched around.

Plato's Republic was the original Communist Utopia (and I suspect a strong influence on Thomas Moore's (who advocated Freedom of Speech yet burned 6 Protestants at The Stake) Utopia).  Aristotle directly criticized the Communism of The Republic.  Republic was a very Statist form of Comunism.  Laws was the system he actually more realistically expected to implement.  It recommends laws restricting every area of life. 

I've also seen Plato and Aristotle quoted by Christians on WVCY as supporting their call for Censorship of Rock and other Secular Music. 

People are often mistakenly led to believe Plato was a pro Same-Sex love author because of the Homoerotisism in his Dialogues.  But only one character generally in each Dialogue represents Plato's own views (and that character is presented as the wisest).  usually this is "Socrates", but in The Laws it's the unnamed Athenian.  In Aristotle's critique of Laws he refers to this person as Socrates, which has caused some scholars to think he wasn't originally unnamed.

Although the character "Socrates" concedes the supreme status of chaste love between males, any positive statements about homosexual sex all come from the less wise characters, never from "Socrates" himself. On the contrary, the wise character is confronted with a society in which same-sex sexuality is prevalent, and wishes to find ways to discredit it with an aim to abolishing it altogether. If Plato's work has a lot of seemingly positive ancient characterizations of homosexuality, that is only because those positive characterizations were current in his world. They are the starting point from which Plato wishes to lead his followers and his society into exclusive heterosexuality in marriage.

The original definition of "Platonic Love" was not how it's commonly used today, love that isn't romantic or sexual.  It was originally Plato's ideal of Love that was Romantic and maybe even Erotic to a certain extent but ultimately Chaste, no sex or at least no orgasm, and certainly no penetration.

In the Republic, the Laws, and his other works, Plato sought to devise a system of education that would promote what he considered to be the qualities of an ideal man: wisdom, justice, temperance, and courage. Sexuality was fundamentally dangerous and antithetical to his project, so he said, because it was characterized by mental frenzy as opposed to rationality (Republic 403) and because sexual acts failed to teach courage to one partner (the passive) and temperance to the other (the active) (Laws 836). The only justification for sexuality to exist at all was for procreation. Therefore, all sexuality outside of marriage should be forbidden by law (Laws 838-9). "If only that were possible!" he laments (Laws 835). Getting everyone to agree to this moral code would be difficult, but once it was established it would perpetuate itself, if only all people could somehow be prevented from ever contradicting or denying it (Laws 838). He offers various potential means for establishing the acceptance of such a moral code, including telling children at an impressionable age that non-marital sex is hated by God (Laws 838), that abstinence from sex represents a victory even more glorious than any athletic or military victory, and that failure to be abstinent is ugly and makes you lower than the animals (Laws 840). He also suggests requiring that people hide their sexual practice, so that the sight of some people enjoying sex would not become an enticement to others (Laws 841). Finally, one could simply enact a law forbidding all homosexual sex and all sex outside of marriage or concubinage (Laws 841).

Two books on the subject of Homophobia originating with Plato are Classical Origins of Modern Homophobia by Robert H. Allen and Plato or Paul?: The Origins of Western Homophobia by Theodore W., Jr. Jennings.

I shall copy the part of Laws in question here.
CLEINIAS: What is this, Stranger, that you are saying? For we do not as yet understand your meaning.
ATHENIAN: Very likely; I will endeavour to explain myself more clearly. When I came to the subject of education, I beheld young men and maidens holding friendly intercourse with one another. And there naturally arose in my mind a sort of apprehension—I could not help thinking how one is to deal with a city in which youths and maidens are well nurtured, and have nothing to do, and are not undergoing the excessive and servile toils which extinguish wantonness, and whose only cares during their whole life are sacrifices and festivals and dances. How, in such a state as this, will they abstain from desires which thrust many a man and woman into perdition; and from which reason, assuming the functions of law, commands them to abstain? The ordinances already made may possibly get the better of most of these desires; the prohibition of excessive wealth is a very considerable gain in the direction of temperance, and the whole education of our youth imposes a law of moderation on them; moreover, the eye of the rulers is required always to watch over the young, and never to lose sight of them; and these provisions do, as far as human means can effect anything, exercise a regulating influence upon the desires in general. But how can we take precautions against the unnatural loves of either sex, from which innumerable evils have come upon individuals and cities? How shall we devise a remedy and way of escape out of so great a danger? Truly, Cleinias, here is a difficulty. In many ways Crete and Lacedaemon furnish a great help to those who make peculiar laws; but in the matter of love, as we are alone, I must confess that they are quite against us. For if any one following nature should lay down the law which existed before the days of Laius, and denounce these lusts as contrary to nature, adducing the animals as a proof that such unions were monstrous, he might prove his point, but he would be wholly at variance with the custom of your states. Further, they are repugnant to a principle which we say that a legislator should always observe; for we are always enquiring which of our enactments tends to virtue and which not. And suppose we grant that these loves are accounted by law to the honourable, or at least not disgraceful, in what degree will they contribute to virtue? Will such passions implant in the soul of him who is seduced the habit of courage, or in the soul of the seducer the principle of temperance? Who will ever believe this? or rather, who will not blame the effeminacy of him who yields to pleasures and is unable to hold out against them? Will not all men censure as womanly him who imitates the woman? And who would ever think of establishing such a practice by law? certainly no one who had in his mind the image of true law. How can we prove that what I am saying is true? He who would rightly consider these matters must see the nature of friendship and desire, and of these so-called loves, for they are of two kinds, and out of the two arises a third kind, having the same name; and this similarity of name causes all the difficulty and obscurity.
CLEINIAS: How is that?
ATHENIAN: Dear is the like in virtue to the like, and the equal to the equal; dear also, though unlike, is he who has abundance to him who is in want. And when either of these friendships becomes excessive, we term the excess love.
CLEINIAS: Very true.
ATHENIAN: The friendship which arises from contraries is horrible and coarse, and has often no tie of communion; but that which arises from likeness is gentle, and has a tie of communion which lasts through life. As to the mixed sort which is made up of them both, there is, first of all, a difficulty in determining what he who is possessed by this third love desires; moreover, he is drawn different ways, and is in doubt between the two principles; the one exhorting him to enjoy the beauty of youth, and the other forbidding him. For the one is a lover of the body, and hungers after beauty, like ripe fruit, and would fain satisfy himself without any regard to the character of the beloved; the other holds the desire of the body to be a secondary matter, and looking rather than loving and with his soul desiring the soul of the other in a becoming manner, regards the satisfaction of the bodily love as wantonness; he reverences and respects temperance and courage and magnanimity and wisdom, and wishes to live chastely with the chaste object of his affection. Now the sort of love which is made up of the other two is that which we have described as the third. Seeing then that there are these three sorts of love, ought the law to prohibit and forbid them all to exist among us? Is it not rather clear that we should wish to have in the state the love which is of virtue and which desires the beloved youth to be the best possible; and the other two, if possible, we should hinder? What do you say, friend Megillus?
MEGILLUS: I think, Stranger, that you are perfectly right in what you have been now saying.
Athenian: I knew well, my friend, that I should obtain your assent, which I accept, and therefore have no need to analyze your custom any further. Cleinias shall be prevailed upon to give me his assent at some other time. Enough of this; and now let us proceed to the laws.
MEGILLUS: Very good.
ATHENIAN: Upon reflection I see a way of imposing the law, which, in one respect, is easy, but, in another, is of the utmost difficulty.
MEGILLUS: What do you mean?
ATHENIAN: We are all aware that most men, in spite of their lawless natures, are very strictly and precisely restrained from intercourse with the fair, and this is not at all against their will, but entirely with their will.
MEGILLUS: When do you mean?
ATHENIAN: When any one has a brother or sister who is fair; and about a son or daughter the same unwritten law holds, and is a most perfect safeguard, so that no open or secret connexion ever takes place between them. Nor does the thought of such a thing ever enter at all into the minds of most of them.
MEGILLUS: Very true.
ATHENIAN: Does not a little word extinguish all pleasures of that sort?
MEGILLUS: What word?
ATHENIAN: The declaration that they are unholy, hated of God, and most infamous; and is not the reason of this that no one has ever said the opposite, but every one from his earliest childhood has heard men speaking in the same manner about them always and everywhere, whether in comedy or in the graver language of tragedy? When the poet introduces on the stage a Thyestes or an Oedipus, or a Macareus having secret intercourse with his sister, he represents him, when found out, ready to kill himself as the penalty of his sin.
MEGILLUS: You are very right in saying that tradition, if no breath of opposition ever assails it, has a marvellous power.
ATHENIAN: Am I not also right in saying that the legislator who wants to master any of the passions which master man may easily know how to subdue them? He will consecrate the tradition of their evil character among all, slaves and freemen, women and children, throughout the city: that will be the surest foundation of the law which he can make.
MEGILLUS: Yes; but will he ever succeed in making all mankind use the same language about them?
ATHENIAN: A good objection; but was I not just now saying that I had a way to make men use natural love and abstain from unnatural, not intentionally destroying the seeds of human increase, or sowing them in stony places, in which they will take no root; and that I would command them to abstain too from any female field of increase in which that which is sown is not likely to grow? Now if a law to this effect could only be made perpetual, and gain an authority such as already prevents intercourse of parents and children—such a law, extending to other sensual desires, and conquering them, would be the source of ten thousand blessings. For, in the first place, moderation is the appointment of nature, and deters men from all frenzy and madness of love, and from all adulteries and immoderate use of meats and drinks, and makes them good friends to their own wives. And innumerable other benefits would result if such a law could only be enforced. I can imagine some lusty youth who is standing by, and who, on hearing this enactment, declares in scurrilous terms that we are making foolish and impossible laws, and fills the world with his outcry. And therefore I said that I knew a way of enacting and perpetuating such a law, which was very easy in one respect, but in another most difficult. There is no difficulty in seeing that such a law is possible, and in what way; for, as I was saying, the ordinance once consecrated would master the soul of every man, and terrify him into obedience. But matters have now come to such a pass that even then the desired result seems as if it could not be attained, just as the continuance of an entire state in the practice of common meals is also deemed impossible. And although this latter is partly disproven by the fact of their existence among you, still even in your cities the common meals of women would be regarded as unnatural and impossible. I was thinking of the rebelliousness of the human heart when I said that the permanent establishment of these things is very difficult.
MEGILLUS: Very true.
ATHENIAN: Shall I try and find some sort of persuasive argument which will prove to you that such enactments are possible, and not beyond human nature?
CLEINIAS: By all means.
ATHENIAN: Is a man more likely to abstain from the pleasures of love and to do what he is bidden about them, when his body is in a good condition, or when he is in an ill condition, and out of training?
CLEINIAS: He will be far more temperate when he is in training.
ATHENIAN: And have we not heard of Iccus of Tarentum, who, with a view to the Olympic and other contests, in his zeal for his art, and also because he was of a manly and temperate disposition, never had any connexion with a woman or a youth during the whole time of his training? And the same is said of Crison and Astylus and Diopompus and many others; and yet, Cleinias, they were far worse educated in their minds than your and my citizens, and in their bodies far more lusty.
CLEINIAS: No doubt this fact has been often affirmed positively by the ancients of these athletes.
ATHENIAN: And had they the courage to abstain from what is ordinarily deemed a pleasure for the sake of a victory in wrestling, running, and the like; and shall our young men be incapable of a similar endurance for the sake of a much nobler victory, which is the noblest of all, as from their youth upwards we will tell them, charming them, as we hope, into the belief of this by tales and sayings and songs?
CLEINIAS: Of what victory are you speaking?
ATHENIAN: Of the victory over pleasure, which if they win, they will live happily; or if they are conquered, the reverse of happily. And, further, may we not suppose that the fear of impiety will enable them to master that which other inferior people have mastered?
CLEINIAS: I dare say.
ATHENIAN: And since we have reached this point in our legislation, and have fallen into a difficulty by reason of the vices of mankind, I affirm that our ordinance should simply run in the following terms: Our citizens ought not to fall below the nature of birds and beasts in general, who are born in great multitudes, and yet remain until the age for procreation virgin and unmarried, but when they have reached the proper time of life are coupled, male and female, and lovingly pair together, and live the rest of their lives in holiness and innocence, abiding firmly in their original compact: surely, we will say to them, you should be better than the animals. But if they are corrupted by the other Hellenes and the common practice of barbarians, and they see with their eyes and hear with their ears of the so-called free love everywhere prevailing among them, and they themselves are not able to get the better of the temptation, the guardians of the law, exercising the functions of lawgivers, shall devise a second law against them.
CLEINIAS: And what law would you advise them to pass if this one failed?
ATHENIAN: Clearly, Cleinias, the one which would naturally follow.
CLEINIAS: What is that?
ATHENIAN: Our citizens should not allow pleasures to strengthen with indulgence, but should by toil divert the aliment and exuberance of them into other parts of the body; and this will happen if no immodesty be allowed in the practice of love. Then they will be ashamed of frequent intercourse, and they will find pleasure, if seldom enjoyed, to be a less imperious mistress. They should not be found out doing anything of the sort. Concealment shall be honourable, and sanctioned by custom and made law by unwritten prescription; on the other hand, to be detected shall be esteemed dishonourable, but not, to abstain wholly. In this way there will be a second legal standard of honourable and dishonourable, involving a second notion of right. Three principles will comprehend all those corrupt natures whom we call inferior to themselves, and who form but one class, and will compel them not to transgress.
CLEINIAS: What are they?
ATHENIAN: The principle of piety, the love of honour, and the desire of beauty, not in the body but in the soul. These are, perhaps, romantic aspirations; but they are the noblest of aspirations, if they could only be realised in all states, and, God willing, in the matter of love we may be able to enforce one of two things—either that no one shall venture to touch any person of the freeborn or noble class except his wedded wife, or sow the unconsecrated and bastard seed among harlots, or in barren and unnatural lusts; or at least we may abolish altogether the connection of men with men; and as to women, if any man has to do with any but those who come into his house duly married by sacred rites, whether they be bought or acquired in any other way, and he offends publicly in the face of all mankind, we shall be right in enacting that he be deprived of civic honours and privileges, and be deemed to be, as he truly is, a stranger. Let this law, then, whether it is one, or ought rather to be called two, be laid down respecting love in general, and the intercourse of the sexes which arises out of the desires, whether rightly or wrongly indulged.
There is speculation that Plato's ideas on Sexual Morality and many other things came from Zoroastrianism.  Manicheism drew even more on Zoroastrianism having developed in Persia (modern Iran) for much of it's history.  Zoroastrianism is often called the first Monotheistic religion (by those who teach the deception that Judaism wasn't always Monotheistic) but it's really Dualisim.  It's Satan figure and God figure are equal, unlike in the Abrahamic Faiths.

Another theory is Plato got it from the Pathagoreans.  The strict reproductive sex only morality Laws sought to codify does seem consistent with the cosmology laid out by the title character in Timaeus who was a Pathagorean.  Timaeus is also the main Platonic text that was drawn on by the Gnostics in forming their cosmology.

The primary work taken to label Plato as approving of Same-Sex love is Symposium.  Symposium is one of his early works while Republic, Timaeus, Critias and Laws are much later works.  Thus some have suggested that Plato's view of Homosexuality changed at some point, perhaps as a result of encountering Pathagorens in Italy, like Robert H. Allen.

But I also think Symposium is being a bit satirical, the drunk pretentious partiers wax poetical about male-male love (and it even includes in Aristophanes speech the only positive statement about female same-sex love from a male Greek writer) when it's an abstract.  But at the end once someone starts actually trying to get laid it shows it's trues color (in Plato's eyes) as being embarrassing and demeaning.

Diodorus Sicilus was another Philosophically minded Ancient Greek who wrote against Homosexuality.  In his History,

Pagan Roman culture was very socially conservative, contrary to our popular modern stereotypes.  And Ovid, an important Roman poet of the first century BC argued that Homosexuality was unnatural in his Metamorphosis 9.758.  Also from Ovid, Ars Amatoria 2.683–684; Pollini, "Warren Cup," p. 36.

All the accusations of homosexual activity leveled against the "Decadent" Emperors come down to us from Senatorial class sources that wanted to make those Emperors look bad.  Suetonius was essentially an Ancient Tabloid reporter.  Juvenal's second Satire also links Homosexuality to what he saw as wrong with the Rome of his day.

There are websites out there attempting to say Epicureanism was "Hedonistic" this is never based on any actual quote of Epicurus about sexuality.  They are unaware of quotes like "Sexual intercourse never did anyone any good and it is fortunate if it does no harm."  Lucretius was an Epicurean who was a major influence on Rome.  The Epicureans were the chief promoters of the ancient equivalent of the Theory of Evolution.  They were naturalists and materialists, and the NT allusions to them practically treat them as the Greek equivalents to the Sadducees.

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