Parallel Treatises on Love

February 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

John Steinbeck has these words of wisdom to say about love, to his teenage son when he fell in love with a girl at school:

There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

Scholar Anna Lydia Motto studied the works of Roman philosopher and poet Seneca, amongst others.
She highlights Seneca’s stand on love and friendship in an essay that portrays the often-misunderstood Stoic philosopher’s stand regarding this important emotion.

In Seneca’s letters to Lucilius, a friend of his, he quotes from the philosopher Hecato, who says

Ego tibi monstrabo amatorium
sine medicamento, sine
herba, sine ullius veneficae
carmine: si vis amari, ama.’
(Epist., 9,6)

I shall show you a love
potion without a drug, without
a herb; without the incantation
of any sorceress: if you want
to be loved, love.

*John Steinbeck’s letter from here
*Anna Lydia Motto’s essay from here


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