The Ambivalence of Love: from Physiologic Need to Disease of the Soul and of the Body

Martino Menghi


In this writing we intend to examine the Epicurean notion of love as Lucretius presents it, both in the light of the prospective open by Jackie Pigeaud in an article on the erotic dream in antiquity and in a comparison with the Stoic view. We will notice the curious relationship there is between Lucretius' notion of simulacra and Stoic conception of phantasiai, but also the fundamental difference there is in their respective perception with what follows concerning the responsibility of the individual in his action. A passage of Seneca will show us that man can be morally corrumpted to such an extent as to be able to shape up by himself negative phantasiai. But the portrait we will try to make of Epicurean and Stoic theory of love will give us the opportunity to see its integration into the medical thought of Roman imperial age. The attention of the most eminent physicians of I-II century to the pathologic issues both for the soul and for the body of an excessive arotic life, indeed, not only depends on the heritage of Aristotelian acquisitions in the field of biology and psychology, but also presents some interesting links with Epicurean and Stoic theory of love, coherently with the pretension of some of these physicians to become the tutors of both physic and moral health of humanity.

Key words: Love sickness - Greek and Roman Philosophy - Ancient medicine

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