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JetSettingAro

Did Aromanticism Used to be "the Norm" in Western Society?

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It's a weird question, I know, but hear me out. I have been deep in thought about aromanticism and its place in the world, and I keep coming back to the idea that being aro actually used to be pretty common (at least in Western Society).

 

When I look at history, and examine classical cultures, I see very little evidence that romantic relationships were mainstream. In most societies people were either forced into arranged relationships, or married for power and social status. Nothing I read indicates to me that people commonly exchanged love letters, went on dates, displayed PDA, fawned over their prospective partners, or did any of the things that we associate with modern romantic love. That is not to say that sexual desire wasn't common (it was very common), or that romantic love didn't exist at all, but it seems that most historical societies were oriented around the idea that having a partner was more about procreation, creating bonds between families, and fulfilling sexual needs; not about romance. Most of the romantic overtures that I have seen from this period actually seem to be pretty demiromantic, partners grew deep emotional bonds and then fell in love...they were not in love from the start.

 

Starting in the high middle ages, and then moving into the European Renaissance, this all seems to have changed. Romantic attraction became normal in Europe, and spread its way into other cultures. Leading us to the present day. Now I'm not saying that Western Society should bring back arranged marriages or try to emulate medieval and classic cultures, but it would be nice for people to at least acknowledge that romance has not always been as important to society as it is today. It would also be nice for people to acknowledge that it isn't some blasphemous thing to want to form non-romantic partnerships with other people.

 

Thoughts?

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I could see it. I remember back when my class was reading Hamlet, and Hamlet had casually said I love you to Horatio or something like that, our English teacher explained that back then friendship was a powerful bond. It was common to love your friends, and you could say it without seeming gay. With all of this socially acceptable platonic love floating around, maybe romantic love was less desired. Or people just made less of a big deal about their flippy floppy romo feelings back then. Although I suppose that's renaissance times?

 

This might be the aro in me talking, but were people from the Middle Ages and Dark Ages not worried about bigger things? Like plagues, and food supply, and war and stuff? I feel like that would cramp a romance. Although people in post-apocalyptic movies always seem to have time for a few sparks on the side. *shrug*

 

 

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6 hours ago, JetSettingAro said:

It would also be nice for people to acknowledge that it isn't some blasphemous thing to want to form non-romantic partnerships with other people.

 

Blasphemous is an interesting word choice! Considering that for hundreds of years in the western world monasteries were commonplace, so it was perfectly normal for people to structure their entire lives within a community context of 'non-romantic partnerships with other people.' And this still is commonplace in much of Asia, although not coming from a western cultural heritage.

 

4 hours ago, Naegleria fowleri said:

back then friendship was a powerful bond.

It makes sense to me. You mentioned wars. A war buddy is somebody you could literally trust with your life and you might only be alive because of them ( and vice-versa) which you could expect to create a powerful bond. Also, maybe modern societies are largely able to provide for people's basic needs through abstract market mechanisms, so there is less explicit need to rely on friends and communities. Which is probably a mixed bag, psychologically speaking (communities can have tyrannical tendencies towards oppressing the individual, sure, but people can also get lonely)

 

4 hours ago, Naegleria fowleri said:

This might be the aro in me talking, but were people from the Middle Ages and Dark Ages not worried about bigger things? Like plagues, and food supply, and war and stuff? I feel like that would cramp a romance. Although people in post-apocalyptic movies always seem to have time for a few sparks on the side. *shrug*

Maybe. Then again, maybe a bit of romance would be a welcome distraction from such things? (like using hard drugs? definitely the aro in me talking there! xD)

 

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11 hours ago, JetSettingAro said:

It's a weird question, I know, but hear me out. I have been deep in thought about aromanticism and its place in the world, and I keep coming back to the idea that being aro actually used to be pretty common (at least in Western Society).

The concept of "romantic love" originated in Western Society. Quite recently in historical terms.There also dosn't appear to be any obvious parallels from Africa, Asia, Oceania or The Americas. 

 

11 hours ago, JetSettingAro said:

When I look at history, and examine classical cultures, I see very little evidence that romantic relationships were mainstream. In most societies people were either forced into arranged relationships, or married for power and social status.

Traditionally marriage was also about property and (assumed) paternity. Nor are forced marriages confined to classical cultures. Here's a rather well know forced marriage of two British people in 1981
 

11 hours ago, JetSettingAro said:

Nothing I read indicates to me that people commonly exchanged love letters, went on dates, displayed PDA, fawned over their prospective partners, or did any of the things that we associate with modern romantic love. That is not to say that sexual desire wasn't common (it was very common), or that romantic love didn't exist at all, but it seems that most historical societies were oriented around the idea that having a partner was more about procreation, creating bonds between families, and fulfilling sexual needs; not about romance. Most of the romantic overtures that I have seen from this period actually seem to be pretty demiromantic, partners grew deep emotional bonds and then fell in love...they were not in love from the start.

These could also involve philia, ludus, storge or pragma.
It's also possible for modern authors/translators to have tried to retcon romance into older texts.

 

11 hours ago, JetSettingAro said:

Starting in the high middle ages, and then moving into the European Renaissance, this all seems to have changed. Romantic attraction became normal in Europe, and spread its way into other cultures.

Romantic love appears to have derived from the  Medieval Courtly Love. However, whilst it certainly existed within the Renaissance period, it dosn't appear to become mainstream and normative until the mid 19th century. It's even possible that the Victorians may have treated it it as an invented tradition. Which would certainly explain why so few people realise just how new amantonormativity is, even withing Western Society.

 

10 hours ago, Naegleria fowleri said:

I could see it. I remember back when my class was reading Hamlet, and Hamlet had casually said I love you to Horatio or something like that, our English teacher explained that back then friendship was a powerful bond. It was common to love your friends, and you could say it without seeming gay. With all of this socially acceptable platonic love floating around, maybe romantic love was less desired. Or people just made less of a big deal about their flippy floppy romo feelings back then. Although I suppose that's renaissance times?

Someone from Shakespear's time just wouldn't understand the idea of "seeming gay" in the first place. They probably wouldn't have used the term "platonic love" either.
The Shakespear play which does show Elizabethan/Renaissance attitudes towards romance being Romeo and Juliet

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Actually, I think you will find people have coupled up all the back through caveman times. Listen, I appreciate the attempt to make aromantic people the norm, but we’re not. There is NOTHING WRONG with being different. Embrace it and accept it. 

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okay, so being a (most likely misinformed) bored person who trawled the internet one night I came across a discussion about dating. One person had pulled a set of quotes from some historical correspondence. I don't know the original context of the correspondence, and being of classical origin, it is doubtful anyone knows what the context really was...I guess we are all stuck with supposition? anyway I'll post the stuff I directly saved from the conversation (the top line is a hyperlink to the original Tumblr post) they were obviously interpreting it all as romantic, and holding these classical examples as being a benchmark of a good romantic relationship. So as time goes on, because we don't know for certain much of the context of history, the modern views will be skewing our sense of history anyway. I sort of forgot what my point was....I'll probably be back to clear up points or edit this post of something when I am feeling more clear

Spoiler

Date someone who writes letters to you like Cicero writes to Atticus

  • I decided to write this letter with no real point to it so that it would be almost as if I were speaking to you- the one thing in which I find solace.- letters to atticus 9.10
  • Now I have need of your advice, your love, your devotion. So, fly to me- everything will be easy for me if I have you.- letter 2.22
  • I’ve just heard that your fever has left you. On my life, I would not have been happier if I myself had recovered.- letter 8.6
  • I am waiting for you, and I beg you to hasten to come here and come with the mindset that you’re not going to allow me to be without your advice…I’m pining for you very much.- letter 4.1
  • I’m a little annoyed that you did not invite me to Epirus- I’m not a troublesome companion- but farewell. For as you must walk and have your anointment, so must I sleep. As a matter of fact, your letters have made sleep possible for me.- letter 9.7
  • On my life, my Atticus, not just my Tusculan villa- where I am in all other respects happy- but even the Isles of the Blessed are not worth enough to me for me to be there so many days without you.- letter 12.3
  • I did not want them to go without a letter from me, even though I have nothing to write about to you- especially because you are already nearly here- but that I might show you this very thing, that your arrival is the sweetest and most anticipated thing to me. So, fly to me with this mindset, that as you love me, you know that I love you.- letter 4.4

 

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@Apathetic Echidna One way to interpret those letters is that somebody like Cicero might be relatively starved of people he considered as intellectual equals and so the letters express the joy of being able to converse and develop ideas with an intellectual equal (they twice reference being in need of Atticus' 'advice', suggesting they had a lot of in-depth political and philosophical discussions?). So that needn't be interpreted as romantic love. I think there is a modern tendency to want the greatest romantic/erotic and intellectual love, etc,  we can have for another person to all be found combined in one person (i.e. 'The One'), which is an idea that people from Cicero's culture might have found peculiar? 

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Personally, I believe romantic love did exist in the past, if anything because it is connected to certain peculiar feelings and I don't see how feelings could be "invented" at some point in history. What changed is the importance people gave to love. Once marriage was more of a contract, and if the people involved were in love good for them, otherwise they'd have to suck it up. Love happened but it was of secondary importance, not like now where it's one of people's life goals

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I think romantic love was common in all societies of all times, but amatonormativity was not.

I don't read much historical texts but I like reading historical fiction and it's interesting when the author captures the view of relationships. For example in Kan Follet's Fall of Giants, which takes place before and during WWI, two of the female characters both fall in love and get pregnant by men that then abandons them. Each of the women finds another man who loves them and even though they don't love them back, or even find them particularly attractive, they marry them because they know they will treat them well and help take care of their child. This might seem sad to people in a modern audience (where romantic love and sexual satisfaction is held as the highest of bliss) but to these women it was clearly the right choice in their situations and they seem to be relatively satisfied with their lives, certainly much more than they would have had they ended up with the lovers of their youths. I think historically theses kind of practical aspects of a marriage was much more important. At least to women, maybe men could afford the luxury of marrying for romantic love, unless they were noble and had to marry for political alliances.

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On 7/30/2018 at 9:50 AM, Apathetic Echidna said:

okay, so being a (most likely misinformed) bored person who trawled the internet one night I came across a discussion about dating. One person had pulled a set of quotes from some historical correspondence. I don't know the original context of the correspondence, and being of classical origin, it is doubtful anyone knows what the context really was...I guess we are all stuck with supposition? anyway I'll post the stuff I directly saved from the conversation (the top line is a hyperlink to the original Tumblr post) they were obviously interpreting it all as romantic, and holding these classical examples as being a benchmark of a good romantic relationship. So as time goes on, because we don't know for certain much of the context of history, the modern views will be skewing our sense of history anyway.

This can be a common way to support an invented tradition.

 

6 hours ago, Holmbo said:

I think romantic love was common in all societies of all times, but amatonormativity was not.

I think it was fairly rare. Also without amantonormativity people would have been open to non-romantic intimate relationships, even if they did experience romance. 

 

6 hours ago, Holmbo said:

I don't read much historical texts but I like reading historical fiction and it's interesting when the author captures the view of relationships. For example in Kan Follet's Fall of Giants, which takes place before and during WWI, two of the female characters both fall in love and get pregnant by men that then abandons them. Each of the women finds another man who loves them and even though they don't love them back, or even find them particularly attractive, they marry them because they know they will treat them well and help take care of their child. This might seem sad to people in a modern audience (where romantic love and sexual satisfaction is held as the highest of bliss) but to these women it was clearly the right choice in their situations and they seem to be relatively satisfied with their lives, certainly much more than they would have had they ended up with the lovers of their youths. I think historically theses kind of practical aspects of a marriage was much more important. At least to women, maybe men could afford the luxury of marrying for romantic love, unless they were noble and had to marry for political alliances.

This is very recent history. About a century ago. Which might be an indicator of how quickly amantonormativity has developed.

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On 7/30/2018 at 1:50 AM, Apathetic Echidna said:

okay, so being a (most likely misinformed) bored person who trawled the internet one night I came across a discussion about dating. One person had pulled a set of quotes from some historical correspondence. I don't know the original context of the correspondence, and being of classical origin, it is doubtful anyone knows what the context really was...I guess we are all stuck with supposition? anyway I'll post the stuff I directly saved from the conversation (the top line is a hyperlink to the original Tumblr post) they were obviously interpreting it all as romantic, and holding these classical examples as being a benchmark of a good romantic relationship. So as time goes on, because we don't know for certain much of the context of history, the modern views will be skewing our sense of history anyway. I sort of forgot what my point was....I'll probably be back to clear up points or edit this post of something when I am feeling more clear

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Date someone who writes letters to you like Cicero writes to Atticus

  • I decided to write this letter with no real point to it so that it would be almost as if I were speaking to you- the one thing in which I find solace.- letters to atticus 9.10
  • Now I have need of your advice, your love, your devotion. So, fly to me- everything will be easy for me if I have you.- letter 2.22
  • I’ve just heard that your fever has left you. On my life, I would not have been happier if I myself had recovered.- letter 8.6
  • I am waiting for you, and I beg you to hasten to come here and come with the mindset that you’re not going to allow me to be without your advice…I’m pining for you very much.- letter 4.1
  • I’m a little annoyed that you did not invite me to Epirus- I’m not a troublesome companion- but farewell. For as you must walk and have your anointment, so must I sleep. As a matter of fact, your letters have made sleep possible for me.- letter 9.7
  • On my life, my Atticus, not just my Tusculan villa- where I am in all other respects happy- but even the Isles of the Blessed are not worth enough to me for me to be there so many days without you.- letter 12.3
  • I did not want them to go without a letter from me, even though I have nothing to write about to you- especially because you are already nearly here- but that I might show you this very thing, that your arrival is the sweetest and most anticipated thing to me. So, fly to me with this mindset, that as you love me, you know that I love you.- letter 4.4

 

See, none of that seems inherently romantic to me. I feel like it was a very strong and loving friendship - it was way more common in those days for people to treasure platonic love. I feel like there's way too much of a tendency for modern day people to project romance onto historical figures - probably because amatonormativity devalues friendships, and most people can't comprehend feeling or being that articulate about love for 'just a friend'. Personally, I feel like that post should be renamed 'write to your close friends like Cicero writes to Attics'.

 

I think romantic love and attraction has always been around, but it just had less emphasis in culture, society, and relationships because it was outweighed by practicality, survival, and different cultural norms. You married (or were married off) for power, security, and reproduction. Amatonormativity hadn't been integrated into society or culture as a 'norm'. Personally, I think we have the Victorians to thank for introducing and beginning to normalize that nonsense. 

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2 hours ago, ladyasym said:

See, none of that seems inherently romantic to me. I feel like it was a very strong and loving friendship - it was way more common in those days for people to treasure platonic love. I feel like there's way too much of a tendency for modern day people to project romance onto historical figures

The term "platonic love" might be just as much projection, especially in the case of anything pre 16th century.

 

2 hours ago, ladyasym said:

probably because amatonormativity devalues friendships, and most people can't comprehend feeling or being that articulate about love for 'just a friend'. Personally, I feel like that post should be renamed 'write to your close friends like Cicero writes to Attics'.

A major part of amantonormativity is to lionise and hype romantic relationships as somehow superior to other kinds of relationships. Including conflating "relationship" with "romantic (monogamous, co-habiting, etc) relationship". Another part of this is to conflate "friendship" with "platonic friendship". Probably because these kind of friendships are least "threatening" to the cult of romance superiority. Whereas intimate (sexual, sensual or affectionate) friendships could otherwise be seen as an alternative for many alloromantics.

 

2 hours ago, ladyasym said:

I think romantic love and attraction has always been around, but it just had less emphasis in culture, society, and relationships because it was outweighed by practicality, survival, and different cultural norms.

If it's always been around you'd expect it to be mentioned more within classical literature. The only obvious example being Helen of Troy. 

 

2 hours ago, ladyasym said:

Amatonormativity hadn't been integrated into society or culture as a 'norm'. 

It's not fully integrated even now. The likes of arranged, even forced, marriages are very much still around. Including in parts of Western culture.
There's also the way in which the Japanese people appear to be rejecting both traditional Japanese marriage customs and amantonormativity.

 

2 hours ago, ladyasym said:

Personally, I think we have the Victorians to thank for introducing and beginning to normalize that nonsense. 

That definitely appears to be the right time period. Also Victorian England had a huge social influence on the USA, which became an Imperial power through winning the Spanish American war. Though it's unclear how much effect Victorian England had on France, Portugal or The Netherlands.

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On 7/28/2018 at 6:13 PM, Mark said:

It's also possible for modern authors/translators to have tried to retcon romance into older texts.

 

 

I found an example for it in this article:

https://electricliterature.com/did-translators-of-sophocles-silence-ismene-because-of-her-sexual-history-7a918b217040

The article is mostly about how by attributing one line in the tragedy "Antigone" by Sophokles to the protagonist instead of her sister, the sister's sexual history is silenced - with the side-effect of Antigone expressing her "pure romantic love" (really?!)  towards her future husband:

 

Quote

But in Dawe’s Greek text, Antigone steps in and speaks the line: O most beloved Haemon, how your father dishonors you. That made sense too, because Antigone would naturally address her future husband as “dearest” or “most beloved,” while the endearment seemed a little on the strong side for timid, reserved Ismene. So what was the deal here? Why had the line flipped? To which of the sisters had Sophocles actually given the line?

 

Quote

The true basis for the change is the propensity of male editors — nearly all the editors of Sophocles have been men — to idealize and sentimentalize Antigone, and the discomfort of the editors at a heroine who, in a play culminating in the dual suicides of her and her betrothed, doesn’t once explicitly profess her love for him. Putting line 572 in Antigone’s mouth thrusts her forward, heroically, into the spotlight at a key pivot in the drama, and transforms her into a character who, conventionally, apostrophizes her lover in explicit endearment: O dearest Haemon.

 

Quote

But if Antigone speaks the line, then, in Jebb’s words, “this solitary reference to her love heightens in a wonderful degree our sense of her unselfish devotion to a sacred duty.” The duty — the burial of her brother — is performed by a woman distinguished by, again in Jebb’s words, “intense tenderness, purity, and depth of domestic affection.” The word “purity” is curious here because the play itself touches only lightly on themes of purity of character. “Purity” seems instead to reflect the editor’s awareness of the contrast between the two sisters in their histories outside the play’s frame. To transfer the line to Antigone reinforces this contrast of sexual histories: the editorial decision removes troublesome Ismene in favor of allowing Antigone to speak from her heart in a burst of “pure” romantic love.

 

 

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i'm with @awra and others who said that romantic attraction has always existed but historically it was less of a big deal.  it's a fact that marriage purely for love was very uncommon until maybe a couple hundred years ago, maybe less.  i think this could be compared to the complaint about "modern hookup culture" in that sexual attraction and even casual sexual relationships have always existed but are more talked about and maybe more common nowadays.  or even how the conversation about diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity, mental illness, etc. opening up doesn't mean that these are new things, rather that they're newly accepted (at least more so than before).  it's a change in society, not in feelings.

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On 8/2/2018 at 8:46 AM, Mark said:

If it's always been around you'd expect it to be mentioned more within classical literature. The only obvious example being Helen of Troy. 

What about Pyramus and Thisbē, the poems of Catullus and Tibullus… or in the Bible the Song of Songs or what David says after Jonathan's death (2 Samuel 1:26)?

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1 hour ago, DeltaV said:

What about Pyramus and Thisbē, the poems of Catullus and Tibullus… or in the Bible the Song of Songs or what David says after Jonathan's death (2 Samuel 1:26)?

 

I agree with you about Pyramus and Thisbe and Catullus. Don't know enough about the other texts, but that line from Samuel could (more likely?!) be about non-romantic companionship 🤔

Not every kind of affection and not everything that is translated as "love" has to be romantic love.

 

And if we're collecting evidence of romantic love in antiquity, I want to add Sappho:

https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Greek/Sappho.php#anchor_Toc76357041

https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Greek/Sappho.php#anchor_Toc76357049

 

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I want to say up front that after reading the Wikipedia article for romantic attraction I was confused and thought it was saying that romantic love was invented in the middle ages and romantic attraction was just a strong emotional bond + societal norms attached until I asked some of my friends and they confirmed love wasn't invented in the middle ages for me and told me love stories have been found in early stories. So I know where you are at with the confusion. 

 

On that note, to answer your question, no, aromanticism was not the norm. Not at all. In societies where people have arranged marriages, you are expected to learn to love the person you marry. In Shakespeare's time, it was considered unhealthy for a woman to marry without loving her husband and arranged marriages would be arranged by having the eligible bachelor woo the woman over time because it was thought if she was unhappy, she would be unhealthy. If you married someone and didn't learn to love them and your partner was not abusive, mentally ill, or completely financially irresponsible then you should try harder and stick through it because you probably already have children and dowrys need to be returned if marriages fall apart. Beauty and the beast originally started out as something to ease young girls into the idea of marrying a stranger. This isn't always the case, as some arranged marriages are heirachial and polygamous, but monogamous ones generally expect love to develop. 

 

As for PDA, Pride and Prejudice, Pictures of Victorian couples that aren't actually just staying still and frowning because the camera needs to be set for 10 minutes long (PDA), any source of media from ye olden days where someone doesn't like the person they are being forced to marry, etc. is my answer. 

 

> "but it seems that most historical societies were oriented around the idea that having a partner was more about procreation, creating bonds between families, and fulfilling sexual needs; not about romance. Most of the romantic overtures that I have seen from this period actually seem to be pretty demiromantic, partners grew deep emotional bonds and then fell in love...they were not in love from the start." 

 

Yes about the former but no for the latter. It was incredibly common for people to want to marry other people than those they were supposed to marry, and lots of tragic/depressive literature from the time was based on this. People had crushes on people they barely met. Demiromantic is a uniquely terrible description of the norm of forced marriages in any society considering the atmosphere of sexism, ableism, homophobia, and more than required people to learn to love whoever they were married off to for the sake of their family unless they had certain socially acceptable reasons to not love them. It wasn't "falling in love after forming an emotional bond" so much as "falling in love JUST for marriage, and just for marriage for practical reasons first, and tough shit if you don't like that*. Demiromantic is only a concept that makes sense in a society that believes that the inklings of any romantic attraction can and should come before you truly know someone and it is, therefore, weird to only fall in love with people you have a strong emotional bond to and does not belong in discussions of general cultures where arranged marriages are normal. 

 

>spreading into other cultures

 

This is racist. Granted I'm being a bit hypocritical, considering my first paragraph, but I will say the Wikipedia article only mentioned the west and while I should not have forgotten the rest of the world in my panicked questioning, you didn't forget. The Philippines has a creation story where a God had an argument with his wife (a goddess) and she left, and in trying to find her/get her back he took basically dirt and clouds and made the stars, oceans, mountains, forests, and everything else. China used to heavily romanticise an emporer that cut his robe rather than wake his sleeping (male) lover. There is absolutely no reason to think that after the Renaissance and after colonialism/mercantilism/better forms of communication the west spread its new idea of falling in love before you were married/marrying for love to the rest of the world. 

 

but it would be nice for people to at least acknowledge that romance has not always been as important to society as it is today

They do. It is common knowledge that people used to generally marry for social status, money, and practical reasons. Every discussion about arranged marriage either assumes this or will blatantly state this and it is well known that in certain important periods of western history you did not marry without permission. 

 

Edit: basically what @awra and @aro_elise said. 

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21 hours ago, November said:

I agree with you about Pyramus and Thisbe and Catullus. Don't know enough about the other texts, but that line from Samuel could (more likely?!) be about non-romantic companionship 🤔

Not every kind of affection and not everything that is translated as "love" has to be romantic love.

There are at least eight classical Greek words which are translated as "love" in English. None of them clearly equate to "romantic love".
This kind of  many to one situation also exists with Latin, Arabic and, probably, Aramaic.

So a classical text which appears to be "romantic" might be describing something else. 

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On 9/2/2018 at 9:37 PM, November said:

but that line from Samuel could (more likely?!) be about non-romantic companionship 🤔

Yes, that's the simplest reading, but then it very obviously is a comparison of platonic vs. romantic love:


I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
 

It could also be about homo- vs. heteroromantic love (see here); either way that passage doesn't make sense without recurring to romantic love.

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On 9/3/2018 at 7:26 PM, Mark said:

There are at least eight classical Greek words which are translated as "love" in English. None of them clearly equate to "romantic love".
This kind of  many to one situation also exists with Latin, Arabic and, probably, Aramaic.

So a classical text which appears to be "romantic" might be describing something else. 

 

 I really wish this was acknowledged in translations more often - even if it seems odd at first when translators use phrases like "feeling-an-erotic-passion-for" or "Conceiving-a-passion" instead of "falling in love" like here: https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/a-placeholder-for-the-love-story-of-phaedra-and-hippolytus-whats-love-got-to-do-with-it/

 

 

 

And here's Plutarch's description of love (eros) - seems romantic to me, but what do you all think about it?

Quote

Love is said to be clever at every kind of audacity and at furnishing ingenuity, just as Plato calls love “speedy” and “prepared for everything”. Indeed, love makes a quiet man talkative and the withdrawn man solicitous; it makes the carefree and easygoing person serious and sedulous. And what is especially wondrous, a cheap and miserly man, after he falls in love, becomes soft, compliant, and persuadable just as iron in fire.  Thus what seems like a joke is not completely absurd in the proverb “a lover’s purse is locked by an onion leaf”.

It has also been said that being in love is like being drunk. For it makes people hot, happy, and troubled–after they come into this state, they fall into speech that sounds like songs or verse. People claim Aeschylus wrote his tragedies while drinking, even completely drunk. My grandfather Lamprias was himself most innovative and insightful when he was drinking. He was in the habit of saying that just as with incense, he too was activated by warmth.

 In addition, people see the ones they want most sweetly—and are no less moved to praise them than to see them. In praise, love, voluble in everything, is the most effusive. When people are in love they want to persuade everyone how beautiful and good are the ones they love, because they believe it themselves.

https://sententiaeantiquae.com/2017/11/15/avoiding-politics-and-religion-at-dinner-try-love-instead/

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15 hours ago, DeltaV said:

Yes, that's the simplest reading, but then it very obviously is a comparison of platonic vs. romantic love:


I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
 

It could also be about homo- vs. heteroromantic love (see here); either way that passage doesn't make sense without recurring to romantic love.

 

I thought it was simply an example of ancient misogyny ... at least to me that made sense without recurring to romantic love but I'm sometimes really ignorant towards romantic love.

And after reading the Wikipedia article I really don't know what to think about it. It feels like amatonormativity to see them in a homoromantic relationship - and it feels like homophobia not to interpret it this way :/

 

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5 hours ago, November said:

I thought it was simply an example of ancient misogyny ...

Often some misogyny is admixed in the ancient examples where something negative is said about romantic love.

But it seems also somewhat unavoidable to unintentionally sound like that if it's not written in a gender-neutral way.

5 hours ago, November said:

And after reading the Wikipedia article I really don't know what to think about it. It feels like amatonormativity to see them in a homoromantic relationship - and it feels like homophobia not to interpret it this way :/

Regardless how we interpret it, in my opinion this verse does not make sense without interpreting “[love] of women” = romantic love.

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On 9/5/2018 at 10:11 PM, DeltaV said:

Yes, that's the simplest reading, but then it very obviously is a comparison of platonic vs. romantic love:

Actually that isn't "obvious" at all. Since the Book of Samuel was written before Plato was born :)
Whatever definition of "romantic" or "platonic" used this is going to involve a false dichotomy.

 

On 9/5/2018 at 10:11 PM, DeltaV said:

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
 

It could also be about homo- vs. heteroromantic love (see here); either way that passage doesn't make sense without recurring to romantic love.

To me it makes little sense to see romance in any classical writing. People in these cultures just didn't think that way.

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8 hours ago, Mark said:

Whatever definition of "romantic" or "platonic" used this is going to involve a false dichotomy. 

Well, maybe. But more so than it's always the case with psychological classifications?

 

How would you interpret the verse?

 

Surely it's not about a comparison “male friend” vs. “female friends”.

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