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Love. Chapter 13. Eros. Romantic Love (physical lust) Lust in classical myth- poems that caution against and recommend. Venus in mythology cursed love after Adonis (her love) died, will cause suffering, war, misery

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Chapter 13



  • Romantic Love (physical lust)

    • Lust in classical myth- poems that caution against and recommend.

    • Venus in mythology cursed love after Adonis (her love) died, will cause suffering, war, misery

    • Lust in Medieval times-although strongly Christian times, lust creeps into poems and songs(Canterbury Tales)

    • Lust in Shakespeare- Romeo and Juliette pursue their physical attraction, disregarding everything else, people embraced hedonism at this time

Eros in eastern culture

Eros in eastern culture

  • A Thousand and One Nights-Scheherezade is the young bride of a Sultan. After their wedding nights, the Sultan has his new brides executed. In order to avoid her fate, Scheherezade tells his stories for 1001 nights until he sees her as a human and not to be killed

  • Tells of wild love , scandalized their Victorian counterparts



  • 18th century-it was expected men kept mistresses

  • Common theme in arts of the time-

    • The Marriage of Figaro

    • Don Giovanni



  • Greek for “love”

  • Platonic Love- Plato’s term for nonphysical love (family and friendship fall under this category), the highest form of love is the love of a beautiful mind

  • Platonic love (Agape)was taken on by Christians to refer to the love God shows humanity, and human spiritual love

  • Few can live up to these standards, transcend physical, passage of time, ideal of perfection

Family love

Family love

  • Expect loyalty and favors without asking why

  • Family dynamics have changed over time

  • Role of step siblings/parents, non-traditional families, biological vs. adopted

  • How important are blood ties, less about blood, more about family bonds

  • Families still have conflict

Family in religion

Family in religion

  • Hebrews developed father-child relationship with god, set standard for families (love/fear/respect)

  • Wives join new families

  • Honor thy father and thy mother (restatement of tribal requirements)

  • Confucius wants an elder-centered home, very different from today’s child-centered



  • According to Plato, friendship is among the highest goods of the happy life.

  • “kin by choice”

  • Increased importance in a world where the “nuclear family” (parents, kids, grandkids) is deteriorating.

  • Now have “extended family” which includes blood relatives, life-long friends, recent acquaintances

  • American fear of isolation in modern society

    • Commercial example

Romantic love

Romantic love

  • Archetype of “The One”, common in Western culture, but not universal

  • Belief in “true love” which transcends physical attraction, or social advantage

  • Basis of hopes and dreams for millions

  • Willing to suffer for it

  • Rooted in 3 sources-

    • Mariolatry,

    • Chivalry,

    • Romance genre

Romance has its roots in

Romance has its roots in…

  • Idolatry of Mary

  • People were fascinated by her purity and glory

  • Held women to the same standards

  • Romance as a literary genre came from this time

  • Chivalry-knights code of honor, protect, placing the lady first in any order of events

  • True love was made in heaven and therefore above earthly concerns (physical)


Romance and Chivalry

Love as amusement

Love as amusement

  • Set of rules for proper courtship

  • Man would declare passionate love for a lady, attempt a series of tasks to perform to earn her love

  • High-bred woman was meant to be adored, man was her slave

  • “love is a game of seduction”

  • 17th century aristocrats would start verbal matches, then over time end in physical or physical-romantic relationships

  • Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew

Courtly Love

Love as a Game

Love and marriage

Love and marriage

The Victorian Model

  • Very strict code of conduct

  • Specific gender roles-

    • male is the breadwinner, make the big decisions, decide who their daughters married

    • Female ran the household, dealt with the servants, chose the menu, wore costly clothing and jewels to show off husband’s wealth

  • Double standard-women must be chaste, still exists today


New versions- no longer confined to same religion, ethnic group, class level, opposite gender, children before marriage, marriage never

Love in a time of health hazards

Love in a time of health hazards

  • Pairing of love and disease has a long history in the humanities

  • Losing love to aids, consumption, or other illnesses

  • Love and old age

Imagining a world in which only sex exists

Imagining a world in which only sex exists

  • Warnings about separating love and sex are evident in literary works that attack utopianism (belief that there are ideal ways to plan and run a society)

    • Plato’s The Republic

    • Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

    • Orwell’s 1984

    • Atwood’s The Handmaiden’s Tale

  • All of these show that love is a natural instinct that cannot be denied or controlled by outside forces

In conclusion

In conclusion…

  • Humanities teach us that we are free to choose, and that includes the freedom to define love

  • What is most meaningful for us?

  • May choose to remain single

  • May decide love is not to be defined at all

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