Love Born from a Glance

Erasmi, Adagia 1.179: Amor ex aspectu

Love from a glance:

Ἐκ τοῦ εἰσορᾶν γὰρ γίγνεται ἀνθρώποις ἐρᾶν

that is,

“From a glance, love is born in mortals.”

This proverb is a senarius claiming that the eyes foster the most potent love. The unknown is not loved, and mutual love is born from intimacy. The eyes are especially prone to falling in love, for they are in effect the peculiar throne of the soul. The poets say that Cupid makes his camp in the eyes, from which he hurls his darts. Vergil mentions this adage when he says,

‘As I saw, as I perished, as a wicked error took me away.’

Again in the Georgics, he writes

‘The woman burns by seeing.’

Similarly, in Terence, Charea begins to burn ineffectually when he saw a maiden. Juvenal, in place of a prodigy, relates of the blind lover:

‘Who was never burning from seeing a girl.’

We read that certain philosophers, including Democritus, took out his eyes as though they were the authors of all his suffering. For this reason it is characteristic of pious men to recall that it is hardly safe even to see that which one is not allowed to desire. Diogenianus makes note of this proverb.”

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Ex aspectu nascitur amor.lxxix

Amor ex aspectu

Ἐκ τοῦ εἰσορᾶν γὰρ γίγνεται ἀνθρώποις ἐρᾶν

, id est :

Amor ex videndo nascitur mortalibus.

Senarius proverbialis admonens oculos amorem potissimum conciliare. Non enim amatur incognitum, ex convictu nascitur amor mutuus. Et oculi praecipue sunt ad amandum illices. In his enim peculiaris animi sedes. Et in his aiunt poetae Cupidinem excubantem sua jacula mittere. Maro velut indicavit adagium cum ait :

Ut vidi, ut perii, ut me malus abstulit error.

Rursum in Georgicis : Uritque vidende / Femina. Item apud Terentium Chaerea visa dumtaxat virgine, quam impotenter coepit ardere. Juvenalis prodigii loco refert de caeco amante :

Qui nunquam visae flagrabat amore puellae.

Legimus, philosophos quosdam, et inter hos Democritum, sibimet oculos ademisse, tanquam omnium malarum cupiditatum auctores. Quapropter piorum hominum est meminisse, haudquaquam esse tutum videre, quod non licet concupiscere. Proverbii meminit Diogenianus.

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