The Erotic Madness That Has No Cure

Plutarch, Dialogue on Love Moralia 759 b-c

“When erotic madness grabs a hold of a person truly and sets him on fire, there’s no poetry, no magic spell, nor any change of place that can restore. So people lust when present and long when absent and pursue at day or prowl around outside doors at night. They invite pretty people over when sober and sing about them while drinking. Someone has also said that the poetic fantasies are waking dreams because of their intensity—but this is more true of the notions of lovers who speak with people as if they are present, embrace them, or even rebuke them.”

τὴν δ᾿ ἐρωτικὴν μανίαν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καθαψαμένην ἀληθῶς καὶ διακαύσασαν οὐ μοῦσά τις οὐκ ἐπῳδὴ θελκτήριος οὐ τόπου μεταβολὴ καθίστησιν· ἀλλὰ καὶ παρόντες ἐρῶσι καὶ ἀπόντες ποθοῦσι καὶ μεθ᾿ ἡμέραν διώκουσι καὶ νύκτωρ θυραυλοῦσι, καὶ νήφοντες καλοῦσι τοὺς καλοὺς καὶ πίνοντες ᾄδουσι.

“Καὶ οὐχ ὥς τις εἶπεν αἱ ποιητικαὶ φαντασίαι διὰ τὴν ἐνάργειαν ἐγρηγορότων ἐνύπνιά εἰσιν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον αἱ τῶν ἐρώντων, διαλεγομένων ὡς πρὸς παρόντας, ἀσπαζομένων, ἐγκαλούντων.

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Harley 4431 f. 128