User:Jahsonic/AHE/Greco-Roman/In praise of love
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
From the obscene graffiti on the walls of ancient Rome it is but a small step to the sometimes very cynical poems of Juvenal, Martial, Catullus and Propertius. Satirist Juvenal, who lived between approximately 60 and 135 AD is known as a misogynist. In his infamous Sixth Satire - also known as Against Women- he writes about the character flaws of the opposite sex: they are adulterous, nymphomaniac, pretentious, quarrelsome, rude, superstitious and know no restraint. Above all the sixth satire is a pamphlet against marriage. The poet advises men not to marry: "You might as well commit suicide or sleep with a boy." That same love-hate relationship to women is also evident in the amusing and often obscene epigrams of Martial (40 - 103? AD).
That the more lyrical Catullus (84-54 BC.), who thanks his Carmina Catulli is known as the Roman love poet, is sometimes challenged in his love encounters with women can be seen in the following lines of poetry, perhaps his most famous ones:
- "I hate and love. Why so I cannot tell
- I feel it and endure the pains of hell"
Although Catullus, just like Martial and Juvenal, sometimes deals with the bitter aftermath of a love relationship, his poems are more amorous:
- Let us live, my Lesbia, and love.
- As for all the rumors of those stern old men,
- Let us value them at a mere penny.
- Suns may set and yet rise again, but
- Us, with our brief light, can set but once.
- The night which falls is one never-ending sleep.
- Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred.
- Then, another thousand, and a second hundred.
- Then, yet another thousand, and a hundred.
- Then, when we have counted up many thousands,
- Let us shake the abacus, so that no one may know the number,
- And become jealous when they see
- How many kisses we have shared.
--(Carmen 5 - WP translation)
But despite the occasional setbacks that the quest for love may engender, they all go for it (ervoor gaan), and Propertius (47-15 BC.) writes in his Elegies, "The humbler I behave in love, the more I have of her to expect." The 19th-century English poet Alfred Tennyson paraphrases the poet when he says: "Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."