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Plato��s Symposium, And Ovid's The Art Of Love

Decent Essays
Destiny or Deception
Lao Tzu, one of ancient China’s greatest philosophers once said when asked to explain what love is, “[it] is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses.” Since the beginning of time, writers and philosophers have been trying to discover the origins of this “attack,” and many attribute different reasons for this immense feeling. In both Plato’s Symposium, and Ovid’s The Art of Love, Aristophanes and Ovid attempt to address the genesis of love by asking: what is the feeling that drives us towards another human: Is it physical attraction? Sexual desire? Experience in the field of dating? Or is this attack of the senses due to something beyond our comprehension,
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The whole premise of his book, is to give advice to the “man who needs instruction in loving” (105). If love were something destined, the chase would simply be unnecessary, and the advice on how to love would be useless.
Aristophanes defines love as the “pursuit of wholeness,” implying that true love eventually leads you to goodness. He goes on to say that once one finds their other half, they are “overwhelmed, to an amazing extent, with affection, concern, and love.” This rather positive view of love is quite opposite from Ovid’s view. Ovid treats love like a realist, recognizing that it can be heartbreaking, even going on to compare it to war. Ovid also warns his readers about the dangers of love by saying “if you’re uncertain at all, never step over the sill” (183). In other words, he is encouraging them to love rationally, because he is aware of the dangers of heartbreak. In fact, Ovid wrote an entire book about how to deal with heartbreak, titled “The Remedies for Love.” There is nothing in Aristophanes speech, or The Symposium itself that mentions how to deal with getting over someone, further emphasizing the idea that the greeks had a rather idealistic view of the emotion, not fully recognizing its detrimental effects.
When it comes to approaching love, Ovid recognizes that the right person is not going to “come to you floating down from the heavens” (106), and that is why he writes his book in the first place: to guide others in finding a match of sorts.
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