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Old 06-06-2011, 12:13 PM   #811
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Not so sure about that one. The (SPOILER ALERT!) dual suicide of the main characters at the end would seem to indicate far more than the antics of two really, really horny teenagers.

well, teenagers are nothing if not melodramatic, no? besides, it's got to end with either a wedding (comedy) or a funeral (drama).



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And anyone familiar with the poetry of Blake, Shelly, Moore, Shakespeare, (or even a really old dude like Solomon) knows that the notion of romantic love is not exactly a new concept.

but was romantic love a prerequisite for marriage?

most of these guys had their female (or, in Shakespeare's case, male) muses. their marriages were often different things.

also, our notion of romantic love is absolutely informed by our understanding of women as legal equals to men, certainly not the case back then as well.
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:33 PM   #812
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well, teenagers are nothing if not melodramatic, no? besides, it's got to end with either a wedding (comedy) or a funeral (drama).
Romeo and Juliet has both. And love is nothing if not melodramatic either.

And lines like: "O my love, my wife! Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath/Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty" and "Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!/ For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night" are pretty much in the Hall of Fame as far as pledges of romantic love.

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but was romantic love a prerequisite for marriage?
The point of a story like Romeo and Juliet is that, even among upper class families of the time, where marriage was a legal contract used to consolidate power and property, romantic love is still more powerful (for better or worse) than established social hierarchies and distinctions. It's an ancient myth -- the young farmer who loves the princess, and who (against all odds and reason) loves him back, or the reverse (the poor girl who falls for the handsome prince). The role of these myths in our human tapestry is a sign of the enduring role that romantic love has played in our larger human story. It's certainly older than 50 years.

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also, our notion of romantic love is absolutely informed by our understanding of women as legal equals to men, certainly not the case back then as well.
Given that most of the romantic poets wrote before our modern notions of equality, one might actually wonder if romantic love is the ultimate equalizer, and if -- long before feminism and civil rights drove the national and international conversation about egalitarianism -- the poets had it right first.
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:58 PM   #813
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the point is that the view of marriage as the ultimate expression of romantic love is a new concept.
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Old 06-06-2011, 03:03 PM   #814
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the point is that the view of marriage as the ultimate expression of romantic love is a new concept.
You're going to have to define "new." Greek notions of love incorporated four distinct elements -- agape (unconditional love), phileo (friendship), storge (affection), or eros (passionate love -- where we get our notions of romance). In the New Testament (written two thousand years ago, more or less, and to a primarily Greek audience), St. Paul describes Christ's love for His followers using the illustration of marriage, primarily because marriage incorporates all four elements, including romantic. Again, this was two thousand years ago -- the Song of Songs was written at least five hundred years before that, and this is just within a Biblical context.

So I'm not convinced that romance is a new idea, nor is it new within the context of marriage.
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Old 06-06-2011, 03:45 PM   #815
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You're going to have to define "new." Greek notions of love incorporated four distinct elements -- agape (unconditional love), phileo (friendship), storge (affection), or eros (passionate love -- where we get our notions of romance). In the New Testament (written two thousand years ago, more or less, and to a primarily Greek audience), St. Paul describes Christ's love for His followers using the illustration of marriage, primarily because marriage incorporates all four elements, including romantic. Again, this was two thousand years ago -- the Song of Songs was written at least five hundred years before that, and this is just within a Biblical context.

So I'm not convinced that romance is a new idea, nor is it new within the context of marriage.



i think you answered this yourself:



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The point of a story like Romeo and Juliet is that, even among upper class families of the time, where marriage was a legal contract used to consolidate power and property, romantic love is still more powerful (for better or worse) than established social hierarchies and distinctions.


and here's what wikipedia has to say:

Quote:
Historical definition

Historians believe that the actual English word "romance" developed from a vernacular dialect within the French language meaning "verse narrative"—referring to the style of speech, writing, and artistic talents within elite classes. The word was originally an adverb of the Latin origin "Romanicus," meaning "of the Roman style." The connecting notion is that European medieval vernacular tales were usually about chivalric adventure, not combining the idea of love until late into the seventeenth century.[citation needed]

The word "romance" has also developed with other meanings in other languages such as the early nineteenth century Spanish and Italian definitions of "adventurous" and "passionate", sometimes combining the idea of "love affair" or "idealistic quality."

In primitive societies, tension existed between marriage and the erotic, but this was mostly expressed in taboo regarding the menstrual cycle and birth.[1]

Anthropologists such as Claude Lévi-Strauss show that there were complex forms of courtship in ancient as well as contemporary primitive societies. There may not be evidence, however, that members of such societies formed loving relationships distinct from their established customs in a way that would parallel modern romance.[2]

Before the 18th century, as now, there were many marriages that were not arranged – having risen out of more or less spontaneous relationships. After the 18th century, illicit relationships took on a more independent role. In bourgeois marriage, illicitness may have become more formidable and likely to cause tension.[citation needed] In Ladies of the Leisure Class, Rutgers University professor Bonnie G. Smith depicts courtship and marriage rituals that may be viewed as oppressive to modern people. She writes "When the young women of the Nord married, they did so without illusions of love and romance. They acted within a framework of concern for the reproduction of bloodlines according to financial, professional, and sometimes political interests." Subsequent sexual revolution has lessened the conflicts arising out of liberalism, but not eliminated them.

Anthony Giddens, in his book The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Society, states that romantic love introduced the idea of a narrative into an individual's life. He adds that telling a story was one of the meanings of romance. According to Giddens, the rise of romantic love more or less coincided with the emergence of the novel. It was then that romantic love, associated with freedom and therefore the ideals of romantic love, created the ties between freedom and self-realization.
David R. Shumway, in his book Romance, Intimacy, and The Marriage Crisis, states that the discourse of intimacy emerged in the last third of the 20th century and that this discourse claimed to be able to explain how marriage and other relationships worked.
For the discourse of intimacy emotional closeness was much more important than passion. This does not mean by any means that intimacy is to replace romance. On the contrary, intimacy and romance coexist.[3]

The 21st century has seen the growth of globalization and people now live in a world of transformations that affect almost every aspect of our lives, and love has not been the exception. One example of the changes experienced in relationships was explored by Giddens regarding homosexual relationships. According to Giddens since homosexuals were not able to marry they were forced to pioneer more open and negotiated relationships. This kind of relationships then permeated the heterosexual population.

Shumway also states that together with the growth of capitalism the older social relations dissolved, including marriage. Marriage meaning for women changed as they had more socially acceptable alternatives and were less willing to accept unhappy relations and, therefore, divorce rates severely increased.

The discourse of romance continues to exist today together with intimacy. Shumway states that on the one hand, romance is the part that offers adventure and intense emotions while offering the possibility to find the perfect mate. On the other hand, intimacy offers deep communication, friendship, and long lasting sharing.

Popularization of love

The concept of romantic love was popularized in Western culture by the game of courtly love. Troubadours in the Middle Ages engaged in trysts—usually extramarital—with women as a game created for fun rather than for marriage. Since at the time marriage was a formal arrangement,[4] courtly love was a way for people to express the love typically not found in their marriage.[5] In the context of courtly love, "lovers" did not refer necessarily to those engaging in sex, but rather in the act of emotional loving. These lovers had short trysts in secret that escalated mentally but never physically.[6] Rules of the game were even codified. For example, De amore or The Art of Courtly Love, as it is known in English, was written in the 12th century. It lists such rules as "Marriage is no real excuse for not loving", "He who is not jealous cannot love", "No one can be bound by a double love", and "When made public love rarely endures".[7]

Some believe that romantic love evolved independently in multiple cultures. For example, in an article presented by Henry Grunebaum, he argues "therapists mistakenly believe that romantic love is a phenomenon unique to Western cultures and first expressed by the troubadours of the Middle Ages."[8]

The more current and Western traditional terminology meaning "court as lover" or the general idea of "romantic love" is believed to have originated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, primarily from that of the French culture. This idea is what has spurred the connection between the words "romantic" and "lover," thus coining English phrases for romantic love such as "loving like the Romans do." The precise origins of such a connection are unknown, however. Although the word "romance" or the equivalents thereof may not have the same connotation in other cultures, the general idea of "romantic love" appears to have crossed cultures and been accepted as a concept at one point in time or another.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:07 PM   #816
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i think you answered this yourself:
Yes. As the Wikipedia page you posted pointed out, romantic love wasn't much of a factor for upper classes, who were primarily focused on the socio-economic/classist benefits of marriage. Romeo and Juliet turned that notion on its head, elevating love -- not class -- as the primary reason for marriage. In this, the story was hardly revolutionary, since it was simply a re-telling of a tragic romance that stretched at least back to antiquity, and served as an indictment to upper-class values (as Shakespeare's plays were wont to do). The romance novel as a genre certainly came later, but as with most narratives, had its roots much, much earlier.

Your contention was that "up until 50 years ago, love had very little to do with most marriages", something you've said in other threads. While I don't disagree that romance was hardly the defining element of relationships before the turn of this century, to say that it's a new idea doesn't hold up historically. As I said, Christian writings from two thousand years ago discuss love and marriage, and have a much broader definition of love than simply romance. And that's just within a Christian context.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:53 PM   #817
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Your contention was that "up until 50 years ago, love had very little to do with most marriages", something you've said in other threads. While I don't disagree that romance was hardly the defining element of relationships before the turn of this century, to say that it's a new idea doesn't hold up historically. As I said, Christian writings from two thousand years ago discuss love and marriage, and have a much broader definition of love than simply romance. And that's just within a Christian context.


and my contention is the modern reader projecting his own modern prejudices onto old writings.

i do think, absolutely, that marriage as the ultimate (and also only legitimate) expression of romantic love is a generally new idea.

you can cast a wider net, certainly, but the central assertion really hasn't been challenged. the idea that, well, "love is a force of nature" as a more modern version of R&J (in cowboy boots!) would tell is is certainly as old as the tale of said "star crossed lovers," but as it pertains to marriage, it's something very modern.
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:28 PM   #818
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i do think, absolutely, that marriage as the ultimate (and also only legitimate) expression of romantic love is a generally new idea.
The nature of love itself has been debated as long ago as Plato's Symposium, and was a continuous source of discussion throughout Greek writings. Because I believe that what we now refer to as romance would be closest to the Greek notion of "eros," I would say again that romantic love -- as an ideal or as a reality -- is hardly a new or novel notion.

Quote:
the idea that, well, "love is a force of nature" as a more modern version of R&J (in cowboy boots!) would tell is is certainly as old as the tale of said "star crossed lovers," but as it pertains to marriage, it's something very modern.
I hesitate to raise the issue of religion in this thread, in part because I believe that the issue of same-sex marriage is primarily a civil issue. But there are a number of texts in the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament, that stress love as central to the marriage relationship -- again, because Saint Paul had the insight that marriage is, at its core, a picture of God's great unconditional love for us. This is not just a Judeo-Christian construct either, since Confucius is quoted as saying "Marriage is the union of two different surnames, in friendship and in love".

To say that love is a new concept in marriage overlooks thousands of years of philosophy, theology, poetry and artistry that say the opposite.
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:56 PM   #819
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again: i'm not saying love is new. i'm saying that marriage as the ultimate expression of romantic love is a new thing.

you're painting with a much broader brush than i am.
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:05 PM   #820
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i'm saying that marriage as the ultimate expression of romantic love is a new thing.
Not for Christians....
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:14 PM   #821
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Oh yes, for Christians too.
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:23 PM   #822
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Not for Christians....
What do you mean by this? Of course "new thing" is relative, but there were plenty of arranged marriages and polygamy during the beginning of Christian history.
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:25 PM   #823
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What do you mean by this? Of course "new thing" is relative, but there were plenty of arranged marriages and polygamy during the beginning of Christian history.
The bible actually speaks of polygamy as common practice quite a bit..
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:38 PM   #824
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Yes. As the Wikipedia page you posted pointed out, romantic love wasn't much of a factor for upper classes,
Frankly it wasn't for the lower classes either.

My grandmother, when she was alive, would have told you how she (and the rest of her sisters) were basically married off because they came from a large family (6 kids survived into adulthood, another 2 died as children) and that's just what you did with your girls since they had no means of generating an income in rural areas of poor (and probably not-so-poor) countries.

I think that love has always been around, but marriage was mostly a business or a pragmatic decision throughout history. And that most certainly includes Christians.
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:47 PM   #825
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What do you mean by this? Of course "new thing" is relative, but there were plenty of arranged marriages and polygamy during the beginning of Christian history.
No doubt, but the question is what is descriptive of nomadic cultures vs. what is prescriptive by God. Tradition holds that Jesus affirmed marriage by performing His first miracle at the wedding of Cana in John 2. Monogamy is affirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7. Ephesians 5 is Paul's words about the picture of marriage as an illustration of God's love for us.

Again, I'm not interested in getting into a religious discussion about what is essentially a secular issue. Merely pointing out that notions of marriage for romantic love aren't a construct of the last 50 years, or even the last 100.
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