Plutarch from Essay on Love

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§ IV. And some laughter ensuing, Protogenes replied, "Do I really seem
to you now to be hostile to love, and not to be fighting for love
against ungovernable lust, which with most disgraceful acts and emotions
assumes the most honourable of titles?" Whereupon Daphnæus, "Do you call
the marriage and union of man and woman most disgraceful, than which no
holier tie exists nor ever did?" Protogenes replied, "Why, as all this
is necessary for the human race to continue, our legislators do not act
amiss in crying up marriage and eulogizing it to the masses, but of
genuine love there is not a particle in the woman's side of a house;[64]
and I also say that you who are sweet on women and girls only love them
as flies love milk, and bees the honey-comb, and butchers and cooks
calves and birds, fattening them up in darkness.[65] But as nature leads
one to eat and drink moderately and sufficiently, and excess in this is
called gluttony and gormandizing, so the mutual desires between men and
women are natural; but that headlong, violent, and uncontrollable
passion for the sex is not rightly called love. For love, when it seizes
a noble and young soul, ends in virtue through friendship; but these
violent passions for women, at the best, aim only at carnal enjoyment
and reaping the harvest of a beauteous prime, as Aristippus showed in
his answer to one who told him Lais loved him not, 'No more,' he said,
'do meat and wine love me, but I gladly enjoy both.'[66] For the end of
passion is pleasure and fruition: but love, when it has once lost the
promise of friendship, will not remain and continue to cherish merely
for beauty that which gives it pain, where it gives no return of
friendship and virtue. You remember the husband in the play saying to
his wife, 'Do you hate me? I can bear that hatred very easily, since of
my dishonour I make money.' Not a whit more really in love than this
husband is the one, who, not for gain but merely for the sexual
appetite, puts up with a peevish and unsympathetic wife, as Philippides,
the comic poet, ridiculed the orator, Stratocles, 'You scarce can kiss
her if she turns her back on you.' If, however, we ought to give the
name of love to this passion, then is it an effeminate and bastard love,
and like at Cynosarges,[67] taking us to the woman's side of the house:
or rather as they say there is a genuine mountain eagle, which Homer
called 'black, and a bird of prey,' and there are other kinds of
spurious eagles, which catch fish and lazy birds in marshes, and often
in want of food emit an hungry wail: so the genuine love is the love of
boys, a love not 'flashing with desire,' as Anacreon said the love of
maidens was, nor 'redolent of ointment and sprightly,' but you will see
it plain and without airs in the schools of the philosophers, or perhaps
in the gymnasiums and wrestling-schools, keenly and nobly pursuing
youths, and urging on to virtue those who are well worthy of attention:
but that soft and stay-at-home love, spending all its time in women's
bosoms and beds, always pursuing effeminate delights, and enervated by
unmanly, unfriendly, and unimpassioned pleasures, we ought to condemn as
Solon condemned it: for he forbade slaves to love boys or to anoint them
with oil, while he allowed them to associate with women. For friendship
is noble and refined, whereas pleasure is vulgar and illiberal.
Therefore, for a slave to love boys is neither liberal or refined: for
it is merely the love of copulation, as the love of women."

§ V. Protogenes was intending to go on at greater length, when Daphnæus
stopped him and said, "You do well, by Zeus, to mention Solon, and we
too may use him as the test of an amorous man. Does he not define such a
one in the lines, 'As long as you love boys in the glorious flower of
their youth for their kisses and embraces.' And add to Solon the lines
of Æschylus, 'You did not disdain the honour of the thighs, O thankless
one after all my frequent kisses.'[68] For some laugh at them if they
bid lovers, like sacrificing priests and seers, to inspect thighs and
loins; but I think this a mighty argument in behalf of the love of
women. For if the unnatural commerce with males does not take away or
mar the amorous propensity, much more likely is it that the natural love
of women will end in friendship after the favour. For, Protogenes, the
yielding of the female to the male was called by the ancients the
favour. Thus Pindar says Hephæstus was the son of Hera 'without any
favours':[69] and Sappho, addressing a girl not yet ripe for marriage,
says to her, 'You seemed to me a little girl, too young for the favour.'
And someone asks Hercules, 'Did you obtain the girl's favour by force or
by persuasion?' But the love of males for males, whether rape or
voluntary--pathicks effeminately submitting, to use Plato's words, 'to
be treated bestially'--is altogether a foul and unlovely favour. And so
I think Solon wrote the lines quoted above 'in his hot youth,' as Plato
puts it; but when he became older wrote these other lines, 'Now I
delight in Cyprus-born Aphrodite, and in Dionysus, and in the Muses: all
these give joys to men': as if, after the heat and tempest of his boyish
loves, he had got into a quiet haven of marriage and philosophy. But
indeed, Protogenes, if we look at the real facts of the case, the love
for boys and women is really one and the same passion: but if you wish
in a disputatious spirit to make any distinction, you will find that
this boy-love goes beyond all bounds, and, like some late-born and
ill-begotten bastard brat, seeks to expel its legitimate brother the
older love, the love of women. For indeed, friend, it is only yesterday
or the day before, since the strippings and exposures of the youths in
the gymnasiums, that this boy-love crept in, and gently insinuated
itself and got a footing, and at last in a little time got fully-fledged
in the wrestling-schools, and has now got fairly unbearable, and insults
and tramples on conjugal love, that love that gives immortality to our
mortal race, when our nature has been extinguished by death, kindling it
again by new births. And this boy-love denies that pleasure is its aim:
for it is ashamed and afraid to confess the truth: but it needs some
specious excuse for the liberties it takes with handsome boys in their
prime: the pretext is friendship and virtue. So your boy-lover wallows
in the dust, bathes in cold water, raises his eyebrows, gives himself
out for a philosopher, and lives chaste abroad because of the law: but
in the stillness of night

'Sweet is the ripe fruit when the guard's withdrawn.'[70]

But if, as Protogenes says, there is no carnal intercourse in these
boy-familiarities, how is it Love, if Aphrodite is not present, whom it
is the destiny of Love to cherish and pay court to, and to partake of
just as much honour and power as she assigns to him? But if there is any
Love without Aphrodite, as there is drunkenness without wine in drinks
made from figs and barley, the disturbing it will be fruitless and
without effect, and surfeiting and disgusting."

§ VI. At the conclusion of this speech, it was clear that Pisias was
vexed and indignant with Daphnæus; and after a moment's silence he
began: "O Hercules! what levity and audacity for men to state that they
are tied to women as dogs to bitches, and to banish the god of Love from
the gymnasiums and public walks, and light of day and open intercourse,
and to restrict him to brothels[71] and philtres and incantations of
wanton women: for to chaste women, I am sure, it belongs not either to
love or be loved." At this point our father told me he interposed, and
took Protogenes by the hand, and said to him:

"'This word of yours rouses the Argive host,'

and of a verity Pisias makes us to side with Daphnæus by his extravagant
language, charging marriage with being a loveless intercourse, and one
that has no participation in divine friendship, although we can see that
it is an intercourse, if erotic persuasion and favour fail, that cannot
be restrained by shame and fear as by bit and bridle." Thereupon Pisias
said, "I care little about his arguments; but I see that Daphnæus is in
the same condition as brass: for, just as it is not worked upon so much
by the agency of fire as by the molten and liquid brass fused with it,
so is he not so much captivated by the beauty of Lysandra as by his
association with one who is the victim of the gentle passion; and it is
plain that, if he doesn't take refuge with us, he will soon melt away
in the flame altogether. But I see, what Anthemion would very much like,
that I am offending the Court, so I stop." "You amuse us," said
Anthemion: "but you ought from the first to have spoken to the point."

§ VII. "I say then," continued Pisias, "and give it out boldly, as far
as I am concerned, let every woman have a lover; but we ought to guard
against giving the wealth of Ismenodora to Baccho, lest, if we involve
him in so much grandeur and magnificence, we unwittingly lose him in it,
as tin is lost in brass. For if the lad were to marry quite a plain and
insignificant woman, it would be great odds whether he would keep the
upper hand, as wine mixed with water; and Ismenodora seems already
marked out for sway and command; for otherwise she would not have
rejected such illustrious and wealthy suitors to woo a lad hardly yet
arrived at man's estate, and almost requiring a tutor still. And
therefore men of sense prune the excessive wealth of their wives, as if
it had wings that required clipping; for this same wealth implants in
them luxury, caprice, and vanity, by which they are often elated and fly
away altogether: but if they remain, it would be better to be bound by
golden fetters, as in Ethiopia, than to a woman's wealth."

§ VIII. Here Protogenes put in, "You say nothing about the risk we run
of unseasonably and ridiculously reversing the well-known advice of

'If seasonable marriage you would make,
Let about thirty be the bridegroom's age,
The bride be in the fifth year of her womanhood:'[72]

if we thus marry a lad hardly old enough for marriage to a woman so many
years older, than himself, as dates and figs are forced. You will say
she loves him passionately: who prevents her, then, from serenading at
his doors, singing her amorous ditty, putting garlands on his statues,
and wrestling and boxing with her rivals in his affections? For all
these are what people in love do. And let her lower her eyebrows, and
give up the airs of a coquette, and assume the appearance of those that
are deeply smitten. But if she is modest and chaste, let her decorously
stay at home and await there her lovers and sweethearts; for any
sensible man would be disgusted and flee from a woman who took the
initiative in love, far less would he be likely to marry her after such
a barefaced wooing." ...

§ XXI. * * * Now the origins and causes of Love are not peculiar to
either sex, but common to both. For those attractions that make men
amorous may as well proceed from women as from boys.[131] And as to
those beautiful and holy reminiscences and invitations to the divine and
genuine and Olympian beauty, by which the soul soars aloft, what hinders
but that they may come either from boys or lads, maidens or grown women,
whenever a chaste and orderly nature and beauteous prime are associated
together (just as a neat shoe exhibits the shapeliness of the foot, to
borrow the illustration of Aristo), whenever connoisseurs of beauty
descry in beautiful forms and pure bodies clear traces of an upright and
unenervated soul.[132] For if[133] the man of pleasure, who was asked
whether "he was most given to the love of women or boys," and answered,
"I care not which so beauty be but there," is considered to have given
an appropriate answer as to his erotic desires, shall the noble lover of
beauty neglect beauty and nobility of nature, and make love only with an
eye to the sexual parts? Why, the lover of horses will take just as much
pleasure in the good points of Podargus, as in those of Æthe,
Agamemnon's mare,[134] and the sportsman rejoices not only in dogs, but
also rears Cretan and Spartan bitches,[135] and shall the lover of the
beautiful and of humanity be unfair and deal unequally with either sex,
and think that the difference between the loves of boys and women is
only their different dress? And yet they say that beauty is a flower of
virtue; and it is ridiculous to assert that the female sex never
blossoms nor make a goodly show of virtue, for as Æschylus truly says,

'I never can mistake the burning eye
Of the young woman that has once known man.'[136]

Shall the indications then of a forward wanton and corrupt character be
found in the faces of women, and shall there be no gleam of chastity and
modesty in their appearance? Nay, there are many such, and shall they
not move and provoke love? To doubt it would be neither sensible nor in
accordance with the facts, for generally speaking, as has been pointed
out, all these attractions are the same in both sexes.... But, Daphnæus,
let us combat those views which Zeuxippus lately advanced, making Love
to be only irregular desire carrying the soul away to licentiousness,
not that this was so much his own view as what he had often heard from
morose men who knew nothing of love: some of whom marry unfortunate
women for their dowries, and force on them economy and illiberal saving,
and quarrel with them every day of their lives: while others, more
desirous of children than wives, when they have made those women they
come across mothers, bid farewell to marriage, or regard it not at all,
and neither care to love nor be loved. Now the fact that the word for
conjugal love differs only by one letter from the word for endurance,
the one being [Greek: stergein] the other [Greek: stegein], seems to
emphasize the conjugal kindness mixed by time and intimacy with
necessity. But that marriage which Love has inspired will in the first
place, as in Plato's Republic, know nothing of _Meum_ and _Tuum_, for
the proverb, 'whatever belongs to a friend is common property,'[137] is
especially true of married persons who, though disunited in body, are
perforce one in soul, neither wishing to be two, nor thinking themselves
so. In the second place there will be mutual respect, which is a vital
necessity in marriage. For as to that external respect which has in it
more of compulsion than choice, being forced by the law and shame and

"Those needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,"[138]

that will always exist in wedlock. But in Love there is such
self-control and decorum and constancy, that if the god but once enter
the soul of a licentious man, he makes him give up all his amours,
abates his pride, and breaks down his haughtiness and dissoluteness,
putting in their place modesty and silence and tranquillity and decorum,
and makes him constant to one. You have heard of course of the famous
courtesan Lais,[139] how she set all Greece on fire with her charms, or
rather was contended for by two seas,[140] and how, when she fell in
love with Hippolochus the Thessalian, 'she left Acro-Corinthus washed by
the green sea,'[141] and deserted all her other lovers, that great army,
and went off to Thessaly and lived faithful to Hippolochus. But the
women there, envious and jealous of her for her surpassing beauty,
dragged her into the temple of Aphrodite, and there stoned her to death,
for which reason probably it is called to this day the temple of
Aphrodite the Murderess.[142] We have also heard of servant girls who
have refused the embraces of their masters, and of private individuals
who have scorned an amour with queens, when Love has had dominion in
their hearts. For as in Rome, when a dictator is proclaimed, all other
magistrates lay down their offices, so those over whom Love is lord are
free henceforward from all other lords and masters, and pass the rest of
their lives dedicate to the god and slaves in his temple. For a noble
woman united by Love to her lawful husband would prefer the embraces of
bears and dragons to those of any other man."

§ XXII. "Although there are plenty of examples of this virtue of
constancy, yet to you, that are the festive votaries of the god,[143] it
will not be amiss to relate the story of the Galatian Camma. She was a
woman of most remarkable beauty, and the wife of the tetrarch Sinatus,
whom Sinorix, one of the most influential men in Galatia, and
desperately in love with Camma, murdered, as he could neither get her by
force or persuasion in the lifetime of her husband. And Camma found a
refuge and comfort in her grief in discharging the functions of
hereditary priestess to Artemis, and most of her time she spent in her
temple, and, though many kings and potentates wooed her, she refused
them all. But when Sinorix boldly proposed marriage to her, she declined
not his offer, nor blamed him for what he had done, as though she
thought he had only murdered Sinatus out of excessive love for her, and
not in sheer villany. He came, therefore, with confidence, and asked her
hand, and she met him and greeted him and led him to the altar of the
goddess, and pledged him in a cup of poisoned mead, drinking half of it
herself and giving him the rest. And when she saw that he had drunk it
up, she shouted aloud for joy, and calling upon the name of her dead
husband, said, 'Till this day, dearest husband, I have lived, deprived
of you, a life of sorrow: but now take me to yourself with joy, for I
have avenged you on the worst of men, as glad to share death with him as
life with you.' Then Sinorix was removed out of the temple on a litter,
and soon after gave up the ghost, and Camma lived the rest of that day
and following night, and is said to have died with a good courage and
even with gaiety."[144]

§ XXIII. "As many similar examples might be adduced, both among
ourselves and foreigners, who can feel any patience with those that
reproach Aphrodite with hindering friendship when she associates herself
with Love as a partner? Whereas any reflecting person would call the
love of boys wanton and gross lasciviousness, and say with the poet:

'This is an outrage, not an act of love.'

All willing pathics, therefore, we consider the vilest of mankind, and
credit them with neither fidelity, nor modesty, nor friendship, for as
Sophocles says:

'Those who shall lose such friends may well be glad,
And those who have such pray that they may lose them,'[145]

But as for those who, not being by nature vicious, have been seduced or
forced, they are apt all their life to despise and hate their seducers,
and when an opportunity has presented itself to take fierce vengeance.
As Crateus, who murdered Archelaus, and Pytholaus, who murdered
Alexander of Pheræ. And Periander, the tyrant of the Ambraciotes,
having asked a most insulting question of his minion, was murdered by
him, so exasperated was he. But with women and wives all this is the
beginning of friendship, and as it were an initiation into the sacred
mysteries. And pleasure plays a very small part in this, but the esteem
and favour and mutual love and constancy that result from it, proves
that the Delphians did not talk nonsense in giving the name of Arma[146]
to Aphrodite, nor Homer in giving the name of friendship[147] to sexual
love, and testifies to the fact that Solon was a most experienced
legislator in conjugal matters, seeing that he ordered husbands not less
than thrice a month to associate with their wives, not for pleasure, but
as states at certain intervals renew their treaties with one another, so
he wished that by such friendliness marriage should, as it were, be
renewed after any intervening tiffs and differences. But you will tell
me there is much folly and even madness in the love of women. Is there
not more extravagance in the love of boys?

'Seeing my many rivals I grow faint.
The lad is beardless, smooth and soft and handsome,
O that I might in his embraces die,
And have the fact recorded on my tomb.'

Such extravagant language as this is madness not love. And it is absurd
to detract from woman's various excellence. Look at their self-restraint
and intelligence, their fidelity and uprightness, and that bravery
courage and magnanimity so conspicuous in many! And to say that they
have a natural aptitude for all other virtues, but are deficient as
regards friendship alone, is monstrous. For they are fond of their
children and husbands, and generally speaking the natural affection in
them is not only, like a fruitful soil, capable of friendship, but is
also accompanied by persuasion and other graces. And as poetry gives to
words a kind of relish by melody and metre and rhythm, making
instruction thereby more interesting, but what is injurious more
insidious, so nature, investing woman with beautiful appearance and
attractive voice and bewitching figure, does much for a licentious woman
in making her wiles more formidable, but makes a modest one more apt
thereby to win the goodwill and friendship of her husband. And as Plato
advised Xenocrates, a great and noble man in all other respects, but too
austere in his temperament, to sacrifice to the Graces, so one might
recommend a good and modest woman to sacrifice to Love, that her husband
might be a mild and agreeable partner, and not run after any other
woman, so as to be compelled to say like the fellow in the comedy, 'What
a wretch I am to ill-treat such a woman!' For to love in marriage is far
better than to be loved, for it prevents many, nay all, of those
offences which spoil and mar marriage. ...

§ XXVI. Here my father said that the conversation about Love which took
place at Thespiæ ended. And at this moment Diogenes, one of Pisias'
companions, was noticed coming up at a faster pace than walking. And
while he was yet a little way off, Soclarus hailed him with, "You don't
announce war, Diogenes," and he replied, "Hush! it is a marriage; come
with me quickly, for the sacrifice only waits for you." All were
delighted, and Zeuxippus asked if Pisias was still against the marriage.
"As he was first to oppose it," said Diogenes, "so he was first to yield
the victory to Ismenodora, and he has now put on a crown and robed
himself in white, so as to take his place at the head of the procession
to the god through the market-place." "Come," said my father, "in
Heaven's name, let us go and laugh at him, and worship the god; for it
is clear that the god has taken delight in what has happened, and been



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Revised Date: 12/07