Death in Venice Part Five: The Smile of Tadzio

Thomas Mann

Part Five: The Smile of Tadzio

Study Questions
1. After returning to his hotel, does Aschenbach still want to leave Venice?

2. As which Greek philosopher does Aschenbach imagine himself?

3. As which student does Aschenbach imagine Tadzio?

4. What was the relationship between Socrates and Phaedrus?

5. Whom did Socrates say was superior, the lover or the beloved?

6. What personal conflict does Aschenbach experience?

7. How does Aschenbach think the relationship with Tadzio has progressed?

8. How did Hyacinthus die?

9. Why does Aschenbach think of so many stories from Greek mythology?

10. How serious are the allusions to Greek mythology intended?

Answers
1. No, after his return, Aschenbach only wants to stay and observe Tadzio.

2. Aschenbach imagines himself as Socrates.

3. Aschenbach imagines Tadzio as Phaedrus.

4. Socrates was the teacher of Phaedrus. He was sexually attracted to the young man, but he restrained himself and only talked about the philosophy of love.

5. Socrates said the lover was superior to the beloved since only the lover was divinely inspired.

6. Aschenbach is torn between his infatuation with Tadzio and his conscience.

7. Though they have not exchanged any words, Aschenbach thinks a bond has developed between Tadzio and him since their eyes meet occasionally.

8. Hyacinthus was killed when Zephyr, the west wind, murdered him out of jealousy by deflecting a discus thrown by the sun god Apollo.

9. Aschenbach uses Greek mythology to make his passion for Tadzio appear respectable, at least to himself.

10. The allusions to Greek mythology are only partially serious. Much of the time, Thomas Mann is using them satirically.