1.Apsara Combing Her Hair 
2. Kandariya-Mahhadeva Temple, India 
3. Aphrodite Rising from the Sea 
4. Aphrodite 
5. The Birth of Venus

Traditional Concepts of Love:

Idealist Conception of Love From the Courtly to the Romantic

  • Characteristics of idealistic love (Singer 6-7)

  • 1. merging of the lovers into one; 
    --derived from religious mysticism or the union between man and God; 
    --not through sex, but through the sudden exchange of glances, the touching of fingers, etc.; 
    2. the existence of magic; e.g. the arrows of Cupid 
    3. metaphysical
    6. Birth of Venus
    Courtly Love
    Neo-Platonic Love in Renaissance: John Donne
    Romeo and Juliet
     Please go to Romantic Passion page for Romantic concepts of Love.
    • Courtly Love--originally the kind of love between the knight and his lady in Medieval Legends
     For C. S. Lewis in The Allegory of Love: four characteristics--humility, courtesy, adultery, religion of love. 
    Courtly love-- 
    1. sexual love between men and women is in itself something splendid, an ideal worth striving for;
    2. love enobles both the lover and the beloved;
    3. being an ethical and aesthetic attainment, sexual love cannot be reduced to mere libidinal impulse;
    4. love pertains to courtesy and courtship but is not necessarily related to the institution of marriage;
    5. love is an intense, passionate relationship that establish a holy oneness between man and woman. (Singer 22-23)
    • Neo-Platonic Love in Renaissance--John Donne as an example
    Its governing ambiguity: things and persons in the world are to be loved only for the sake of a spiritual beauty that transcends them, and yet the beautiful cannot be appreciated unless we love its manifestations in matter (Singer 195. 
    John Donne-- . . . starting as a Catholic and ending as an Anglican prelate, in his youth an adventurous Dan Juan and in his maturity a devoted husband, Donne was singularly equipped to appreciate the contrasting attitutdes toward love. 
  • Donne's Platonism--the preeminence of soul over body, the distinction between love and lust, and the goodness of striving for perfection through devotion to a woman's beauty.
  • Donne's Doubts--about the permanence of love, about the likelihood of achieving reciprocity, and about the value of fidelity--expressed in his Ovidian libertine poems (Singer 196-98).

  • Shakespeare: Religious elements in Romeo and Juliet

  • In shakespeare the ideal of married love is more completely developed than ever before, while various Romantic concepts appear as if in a prliminary approximation (Singer xiv). 
    1. two types of Venus (Rosaline & Juliet)
    2. the suffering of the young couple serves as a Christ-like sacrifice eliminating evil by means of love

    3. the first courting sonnet in Romeo and Juliet--Before the sonnet (their first conversation),  Romeo, like Byron in "She Walks in Beauty," compares Juliet to light or jewels at night and describes her as "true beauty," "beuty too rich for use, for earth too dear" (I.5 ll. 43-52).  What kind of love (at first sight) is this?  Religious and pure?  Rashful?  Bear in mind that Romeo goes to the ball to find his girlfriend Rosaline, but not Juliet.  (Please go to Shakespeare page for other questions.) 
    4. Juliet: "My bounty is as boundless as the sea,/My love as deep; the more I give to thee, /The more I have, for both are infinite."--an incarnation of agape.
    5. The use of religious metaphors, their tryst at night, as well as the fact that their love is forbidden, put Romeo and Juiliet in the tradition of religious and courtly love (Singer 221).
     Please go to Romantic Passion page  for Romantic concepts of Love. 

    Contemporary Interpretations of Courtly Love: 

    Cowboy Junkie's 

    7. Barbarians' Venus, Paul Klee
    8. Black Venus
    9. Poster for the film "Blode Venus"