Thursday, March 02, 2006

Are You Capable of Love?

De Amore was written in 1184, “A Treatise of Courtly Love,” by Andreas Capellanus.

“Love is an unborn suffering,” he wrote, “proceeding from the sight and immoderate thought upon the beauty of the other sex, for which cause above all other things one wishes to embrace the other and, by common assent, in this embrace to fulfill the commandments of love…”

The word love (amor) is derived from the word “hook” (amar) which means “capture” or “be captured.” “For he who loves,” wrote Capellanus, “is caught in the chains of desire and wishes to catch another with his hook. Just as a shrewd fisherman tries to attract fish with his bait and … his curved hook, so he who is truly captured by love tries to attract another with his blandishments and with all his power tries to hold two hearts together with one spiritual chain or, if they be already united, to hold them always together …”

And what is the effect of love? Ah, this is beautiful: “This is the effect of true love: that the true lover cannot be corrupted by avarice; love makes an ugly and rude person shine with all beauty, knows how to endow with nobility even one of humble birth, can even lend humility to the proud; he who loves is accustomed to serve others. Oh, what a marvelous thing is love, which makes a man shine with so many virtues and which teaches everyone to abound in good customs…”

Now, who does he think is capable of love? Well, the girl must be 12, and the boy, 14, but for true love, the man must be between 18 and 60, and the woman, under 50. Blindness and “excessive passion” also impede it. He does not believe a man can fall in love with being able to see the woman, and the dating websites these day confirm that for men, love is largely visual.

“Excessive passion,” he defines as someone who is so “enslaved by desire that they cannot be restrained by the bonds of love” and will not be able to remain true, or to appreciate what he has received from one woman.

Fluency in speaking can bring about the fruition of love, and so he gives several passages of sample dialogue, if you can believe that: a plebian gentleman (gentry) speaking to an equal and then courting a woman of a higher social class. In the latter case, she criticizes his appearance and he counters with his manners, moral integrity, and shining virtue. “You should not ask about my legs and feet,” he says, “but what virtues I have acquired by my own deeds …”

Who should be avoided? Well, greedy women, prostitutes, and peasants. Peasant rarely love, he says. “They copulate like beasts of the field; moreover, they should not be instructed in love, since it would distract them from their labors.”

And what are the Rules of Love? He has 31:

1. Marriage is no excuse for not loving.
2. He who is not jealous can not love.
3. No one can be bound by two loves.
4. Love is always growing or diminishing.
5. It is not good for one lover to take anything against the will of the other.
6. A male cannot love until he has fully reached puberty.
7. Two years of mourning for a dead lover are prescribed for surviving lovers.
8. No one should be deprived of love without a valid reason.
9. No one can love who is not driven to do so by the power of love.
10. Love always departs from the dwelling place of avarice.
11. It is not proper to love one whom one would be ashamed to marry.
12. The true lover never desires the embraces of any save his lover.
13. Love rarely lasts when it is revealed.
14. An easy attainment makes love contemptible; a difficult one makes it more dear.
15. Every lover turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
16. When a lover suddenly has sight of his beloved, his heart beats wildly.
17. A new love expells an old one.
18. Moral integrity alone makes one worthy of love.
19. If love diminishes, it quickly leaves and rarely revives.
20. A lover is always fearful.
21. True jealousy always increases the effects of love.
22. If a lover suspects another, jealousy and the effects of love increase.
23. He who is vexed by the thoughts of love eats little and seldom sleeps.
24. Every action of a lover ends in the thought of his beloved.
25. The true lover believes only that which he thinks will please his beloved.
26. Love can deny nothing to love.
27. A lover can never have enough of the embraces of his beloved.
28. The slightest suspicion incites the lover to suspect the worse of his beloved.
29. He who suffers from an excess of passion is not suited to love.
30. The true lover is continuously obsessed with the image of his beloved.
31. Nothing prevents a woman from being loved by two men, or a man
from being loved by two women.

Have things changed centuries later? You be the judge, but one thing remains true. As Capellanus instructs the courting man to tell his beloved: “I admit that I ask to be loved, for to live in love is sweeter than anything else in life.”

If a man in love is apprehensive, he is always dating “up” and so it pays to know what you’re doing and besides, you don’t want to be copulating like a beast in the field, or ignorant of the joys of a true relationship so that you refuse to distract yourself from your work. A little bit of EQ (emotional intelligence) goes a long way. Love is always either waxing or waning, so requires your attention and skills; and if you cannot manage other emotions so that you suffer from “an excess of passion,” you will be “not suited for love.” True lovers desire only their beloved.

Develop the EQ competencies of authenticity and integrity. “Moral integrity alone makes one worthy of love,” in the grandest sense, and also makes us better people.

I wish you love in the grandest sense.

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