Introduction to the Treatise on Love
WE MUST first consider what love is, whence it gets its name, what the effect of love is, between what persons love may exist, how it may be acquired, retained, increased, decreased, and ended, what are the signs that one's love is returned, and what one of the lovers ought to do if the other is unfaithful.
CHAPTER 1. WHAT LOVE IS
Love is a certain inborn suffering derived from the sight of and excessive meditation upon the beauty of the opposite sex, which causes each one to wish above all things the embraces of the other and by common desire to carry out all of love's precepts in the other's embrace.
That love is suffering is easy to see, for before the love becomes equally balanced on both sides there is no torment greater, since the lover is always in fear that his love may not gain its desire and that he is wasting his efforts. He fears, too, that rumors of it may get abroad, and he fears everything that might harm it in any way, for before things are perfected a slight disturbance often spoils them. If he is a poor man, he also fears that the woman may scorn his poverty; if he is ugly, he fears that she may despise his lack of beauty or may give her love to a more handsome man; if he is rich, he fears that his parsimony in the past may stand in his way. To tell the truth, no one can number the fears of one single lover. This kind of love, then, is a suffering which is felt by only one of the persons and may be called "single love." But even after both are in love the fears that arise are just as great, for each of the lovers fears that what he has acquired with so much effort may be lost through the effort of someone else, which is certainly much worse for a man than if, having no hope, he sees that his efforts are accomplishing nothing, for it is worse to lose the things you are seeking than to be deprived of a gain you merely hope for. The lover fears, too, that he may offend his loved one in some way; indeed he fears so many things that it would be difficult to tell them.
That this suffering is inborn I shall show you clearly, because if you will look at the truth and distinguish carefully you will see that it does not arise out of any action; only from the reflection of the mind upon what it sees does this suffering come. For when a man sees some woman fit for love and shaped according to his taste, he begins at once to lust after her in his heart; 3 then the more he thinks about her the more he burns with love, until he comes to a fuller meditation. Presently he begins to think about the fashioning of the woman and to differentiate her limbs, to think about what she does, and to pry into the secrets of her body, and he desires to put each part of it to the fullest use. 4 Then after he has come to this complete meditation, love cannot hold the reins, but he proceeds at once to action; straightway he strives to get a helper and to find an intermediary. He begins to plan how he may find favor with her, and he begins to seek a place and a time opportune for talking; he looks upon a brief hour as a very long year, because he cannot do anything fast enough to suit his eager mind. It is well known that many things happen to him in this manner. This inborn suffering comes, therefore, from seeing and meditating. Not every kind of meditation can be the cause of love, an excessive one is required; for a restrained thought does not, as a rule, return to the mind, and so love cannot arise from it.
But I do not tell you this, my friend, with the idea of indicating by what I say that you should follow avarice, which, as all agree, cannot remain in the same dwelling with love, but to show you that you should by all means avoid prodigality and should embrace generosity with both arms. Note, too, that nothing which a lover gets from his beloved is pleasing unless she gives it of her own free will.
CHAPTER 111. WHERE LOVE GETS ITS NAME
Love gets its name (amor) from the word for hook (amus), which means "to capture" or "to be captured,"
for he who is in love is captured in the chains of desire and wishes to capture someone else with his hook. Just as a skillful fisherman tries to attract fishes by his bait and to capture them on his crooked hook, so the man who is a captive of love tries to attract another person by his allurements and exerts all his efforts to unite two different hearts with an intangible bond, or if they are already united he tries to keep them so forever.
Now, in love you should note first of all that love cannot exist except between persons of opposite sexes. Between two men or two women love can find no place, for we see that two persons of the same sex are not at all fitted for giving each other the exchanges of love or for practicing the acts natural to it. Whatever nature forbids, love is ashamed to accept.
Every attempt of a lover tends toward the enjoyment of the embraces of her whom he loves; he thinks about it continually, for he hopes that with her he may fulfill all the mandates of love‑that is, those things which we find in treatises on the subject. Therefore in the sight of a lover nothing can be compared to the act of love, and a true lover would rather be deprived of all his money and of everything that the human mind can imagine as indispensable to life rather than be without love, either hoped for or attained. For what under heaven can a man possess or own for which he would undergo so many perils as we continually see lovers submit to of their own free will? We see them despise death and fear no threats, scatter their wealth abroad and come to great poverty. Yet a wise lover does not throw away wealth as a prodigal spender usually does, but he plans his expenditures from the beginning in accordance with the size of his patrimony; for when a man comes to poverty and want he begins to go along with his face downcast and to be tortured by many thoughts, and all joyousness leaves him.
And when that goes, melancholy comes straightway to take its place, and wrath claims a place in him; so he begins to act in a changed manner toward his beloved and to appear frightful to her, and the things that cause love to increase begin to fail. Therefore love begins to grow less, for love is always either decreasing or increasing. I know from my own experience that when poverty comes in, the things that nourished love begin to leave, because "poverty has nothing with which to feed its love." 5
CHAPTER IV. WHAT THE EFFECT OF LOVE IS
Now it is the effect of love that a true love cannot be degraded with any avarice. Love causes a rough and uncouth man to be distinguished for his handsomeness; it can endow a man even of the humblest birth with nobility of character; it blesses the proud with humility; and the man in love becomes accustomed to performing many services gracefully for everyone. O what a wonderful thing is love, which makes a man shine with so many virtues and teaches everyone, no matter who he is, so many good traits of character! There is another thing about love that we should not praise in few words: it adorns a man, so to speak, with the virtue of chastity, because he who shines with the light of one love can hardly think of embracing another woman, even a beautiful one. For when he thinks deeply of his beloved the sight of any other woman seems to his mind rough and rude.
I wish you therefore to keep always in mind, Walter my friend, that if love were so fair as always to bring his sailors into the quiet port after they had been soaked by many tempests, I would bind myself to serve him forever. But because he is in the habit of carrying an unjust weight in his hand, I do not have full confidence in him any more than I do in a judge whom men suspect. And so for the present I refuse to submit to his judgment, because "he often leaves his sailors in the mighty waves." But why love, at times, does not use fair weights I shall show you more fully elsewhere in this treatise .7
We must now see what persons are fit to bear the arms of love. You should know that everyone of sound mind who is capable of doing the work of Venus may be wounded by one of Love's arrows unless prevented by age, or blindness, or excess of passion. Age is a bar, because after the sixtieth year in a man and the fiftieth in a woman, although one may have intercourse his passion cannot develop into love; because at that age the natural heat begins to lose its force, and the natural moisture is greatly increased, which leads a man into various difficulties and troubles him with various ailments, and there are no consolations in the world for him except food and drink. Similarly, a girl under the age of twelve and a boy before the fourteenth year do not serve in love's army.' However, I say and insist that before his eighteenth year a man cannot be a true lover, because up to that age he is overcome with embarrassment over any little thing, which not only interferes with the perfecting of love, but even destroys it if it is well perfected. But we find another even more powerful reason, which is that before this age a man has no constancy, but is changeable in every way, for such a tender heart cannot think about the mysteries of love's realm. Why love should kindle in a woman at an earlier age than in a man I shall perhaps show you elsewhere.
Blindness is a bar to love, because a blind man cannot see anything upon which his mind can reflect immoderately, and so love cannot arise in him, as I have already fully shown. But I admit that this is true only of the acquiring of love, for I do not deny that a love which a man acquires before his blindness may last after he becomes blind.
An excess of passion is a bar to love, because there are men who are slaves to such passionate desire that they cannot be held in the bonds of love ‑ men who, after they have thought long about some woman or even enjoyed her, when they see another woman straightway desire her embraces, and they forget about the services they have received from their first love and they feel no gratitude for them. Men of this kind lust after every woman they see; their love is like that of a shameless dog. They should rather, I believe, be compared to asses, for they are moved only by that low nature which shows that men are on the level of the other animals rather than by that true nature which sets us apart from all the other animals by the difference of reason. Of such lovers I shall speak elsewhere.
,CHAPTER VI. IN WHAT MANNER LOVE MAY BE ACQUIRED,
AND IN HOW MANY WAYS
It remains next to be seen in what ways love may be acquired. The teaching of some people is said to be that there are five means by which it may be acquired: a beautiful figure, excellence of character, extreme readiness of speech, great wealth, and the readiness with which one grants that which is sought. But we hold that love may be acquired only by the first three, and we think that the last two ought to be banished completely from Love's court,9 as I shall show you when I come to the proper place in my system.
From the seventh dialogue, book I: a man of the higher nobility speaks with a woman of the simple nobility
The man says: "I admit it is true that your husband is a very worthy man and that he is more blest than any man in the world because he has been worthy to have the joy of embracing Your Highness. But I am greatly surprised that you wish to misapply the term `love' to that marital affection which husband and wife are expected to feel for each other after marriage, since everybody knows that love can have no place between husband and wife. They may be bound to each other by a great and immoderate affection, but their feeling cannot take the place of love, because it cannot fit under the true definition of love. For what is love but an inordinate desire to receive passionately a furtive and hidden embrace? But what embrace between husband and wife can be furtive, I ask you, since they may be said to belong to each other and may satisfy all of each other's desires without fear that anybody will object? Besides, that most excellent doctrine of princes shows that nobody can make furtive use of what belongs to him. Do not let what I have said seem absurd to you, for husband and wife may be joined together by every sort of affection, but this feeling cannot take the place of love. In friendship we see the same thing. Father and son may feel every sort of affection for each other, but there is no true friendship between them, because, as Cicero tells us, the feeling that offspring of the blood have for each other is affection.45 It is clear then that there is just as much difference between every kind of affection of husband and wife and the obligation of lovers as there is between the mutual affection of father and son and the strongest friendship between two men, so that in the one case we say there is no love, just as in the other we say friendship is lacking. So then you see clearly that love can by no means exercise its functions between husband and wife, but has wished to withdraw its privileges completely.
"But there is another reason why husband and wife cannot love each other and that is that the very substance of love, without which true ' love cannot exist‑I mean jealousy‑is in such a case very much frowned upon and they should avoid it like the pestilence; but lovers should`: always welcome it as the mother and the nurse of love. From this you may see clearly that love cannot possibly flourish between you and your husband. Therefore, since every woman of character ought to love prudently, you can without doing yourself any harm accept the prayers of a suppliant and endow your suitor with your love."
The woman says: "You are trying to take under your protection what all men from early times down have agreed to consider very reprehensible and to reject as hateful. For who can rightly commend envious jealousy or speak in favor of it, since jealousy is nothing but a shameful and evil suspicion of a woman? God forbid, therefore, that any worthy man should feel jealous about anyone, since this proves hostile to every prudent person and throughout the world is hated by everybody good. You are trying also, under cover of defining love, to condemn love between husband and wife, saying that their embraces cannot be furtive, since without fear that anyone may object they can fulfill each other's desires. But if you understood the definition correctly it could not interfere with love between husband and wife, for the expression `hidden embraces' is simply an explanation in different
words of the preceding one, and there seems to be no impossibility in husband and wife giving each other hidden embraces, even though they can do so without the least fear that anybody may raise an objection. Everyone should choose that love which may be fostered by security for continual embraces and, what is more, can be practiced every day without any sin. I ought therefore to choose a man to enjoy my embraces who can be to me both husband and lover, because, no matter what the definition of love may say, love seems to be nothing but a great desire to enjoy carnal pleasure with someone, and nothing prevents this feeling existing between husband and wife."
The man says: "If the theory of love were perfectly clear to you and Love's dart had ever touched you, your own feelings would have shown you that love cannot exist without jealousy, because, as I have already told you in more detail, jealousy between lovers is commended by every man who is experienced in love, while between husband and wife it is condemned throughout the world; the reason for this will be perfectly clear from a description of jealousy. Now jealousy is a true emotion whereby we greatly fear that the substance of our love may be weakened by some defect in serving the desires of our beloved, and it is an anxiety lest our love may not be returned, and it is a suspicion of the beloved, but without any shameful thought. From this it is clear that there are three aspects of jealousy. A truly jealous man is always afraid that his services may not be sufficient to retain the love of the woman he loves, and he is afraid that she may not love him as he loves her, and he is so tormented with anxiety that he wonders whether she doesn't have another lover, although he believes that this cannot possibly be. But that this last aspect of jealousy is not proper for a married man is clearly apparent, for a husband cannot suspect his wife without the thought that such conduct on her part is shameful. Pure jealousy, in the case of a husband, takes a stain from the defect of its subject and ceases to be what it was. Water likewise may be beautifully clear, but if it begins to run over a sandy bed it becomes cloudy from the sand and loses its natural clearness; so charity, although by nature it deserves the reward of eternal blessedness, if given to the poor by a hypocrite or out of desire for empty glory loses its efficacy and causes the man to forfeit both what he gives and his reward for giving it. It is therefore plain enough that we have clearly demonstrated that jealousy cannot have its natural place between husband and wife and that therefore love between them must necessarily cease, because these two things always go together. But between lovers this jealousy is said to be preservative of love, because all three aspects which we have attributed to it are necessary to a lover; therefore jealousy between lovers is not condemned. We find many, however, who are deceived in this matter and say falsely that a shameful suspicion is jealousy, just as many often make the mistake of saying that an alloy of silver and lead is the finest silver. Wherefore not a few, being ignorant of the origin and description of jealousy, are often deceived and led into the gravest error. For even between persons who are not married this false jealousy may find a place and then they are no longer called glovers' but gentleman friend' and lady friend.' As for what you tried to prove by your answer that the love which can be practiced without sin is far preferable that, apparently, cannot stand. For whatever solaces married people extend to each other beyond what are inspired by the desire for offspring or the payment of the marriage debt '46 cannot be free from sin, and the punishment is always greater when the use of a holy thing is perverted by misuse than if we practice the ordinary abuses. It is a more serious offense in a wife than in another woman, for the too ardent lover, as we are taught by the apostolic law, is considered an adulterer with his own wife.47 But it seems that no one should approve your
interpretation, which you draw from the definition of love, for, all the greater authors have told us that explanatory words must not be used in the actual definitions of things. From this everybody can see clearly that I have taken all the force out of your explanation, because that seems to be contrary to the meaning of the definition. But neither does your definition, which I admit you took from Love, have any reason back of it, for it includes the blind and the insane who, as the teaching of Andreas the Lover, chaplain of the royal court, shows us clearly, are to a completely banished from the court of love. Since, therefore, you cannot raise a reasonable objection to my application, no man will consider it to your credit if you make me languish for love of you and suffer so many torments on your account."
The woman says: "You haven't advanced any argument, so far as I can see, that would weaken my opinion or properly compel me to assent to your desire. However, since those duties you impose on me look so very much as though they were real ones, in order to deprive you of any opportunity to make a charge against me I shall not refuse to have the decision given by any lady or any man of character whom you may select, on the points at issue between us: namely, whether love can have any place between husband and wife and whether jealousy between lovers may properly be praised, for it seems to me that we can never settle this discussion or bring it a proper end."
The man says: "I do not care to seek the decision of anybody else in this case if you will only examine properly what you yourself have said."
The woman says: "The world never heard of anyone passing judgment on his own case, so I refuse to have anything to do with the matter, and I leave it to be entrusted to someone else."
The man says: "I give you full power to appoint the arbiter in this dispute; however, I want to be judged by a woman, not by a man."
The woman says: "If it suits you, it seems to me that the Countess of Champagne ought to be honored in this affair and should settle the disagreement."
The man says: "I promise forever to abide by her decision in every respect and to keep it absolutely inviolate, because no one could ever have any reason to raise a question about her wisdom or the fairness of her decision. Let us then by common consent and desire write a letter showing the nature of our disagreement and the pledge we have made to abide by her decision. Let us do it in this fashion:
To the illustrious and wise woman M., Countess of Champagne, the noble woman A. and Count G. send greeting and whatever in the world is more pleasing.
Ancient custom shows us plainly, and the way of life of the ancients demands, that if we are to have justice done we should seek first of all in the place where Wisdom is clearly known to have found a home for herself and that we should seek for the truth of reason at its source, where it is abundant, rather than beg for its decisions where it flows scantily in small streams. For a great poverty of possessions can scarcely offer to anyone a wealth of good things or distribute an abundance of fertility. Where the master is oppressed by great want it is wholly impossible for the vassal to abound in wealth.
"Now on a certain day, as we sat under the shade of a pine tree of marvelous height and great breadth of spread, devoted wholly to love's idleness and striving to investigate Love's mandates in a good tempered and spirited debate, we began to discern a twofold doubt, and we wearied ourselves with laborious arguments as to whether true love can find any place between husband and wife and whether jealousy flourishing between two lovers ought to be approved of. After we had argued the matter back and forth and each of us seemed to bolster up his position with reasonable arguments, neither one would give in to the other or agree with the arguments he brought forward. We ask you to settle this dispute, and we have sent you both sides of the question in detail, so that after you have carefully examined the truth of it our disagreement may be brought to a satisfactory end and settled by a fair decision. For knowing clearly and in manifest truth that you have a great abundance of wisdom and that you would not want to deprive anyone of justice, we believe that we will in no wise be deprived of it; we most urgently implore Your Excellency's decision, and we desire with all our hearts, begging you most humbly by our present address, that you will give continued attention to our case and that Your Prudence will render a fair decision in the matter without making any delay in giving the verdict."
The Letter sent back by the Countess o f Champagne
"To the prudent and noble woman A. and the illustrious and famous Count G., M., Countess of Champagne, sends greeting.
"Since we are bound to hear the just petitions of everybody, and since it is not seemly to deny our help to those who ask what is proper, especially when those who go wrong on questions of love ask to be set right by our decision‑which is what the tenor of your letter indicates ‑we have tried diligently and carefully to carry this out without any extended delay.
`Now your letter has shown that this is the doubt that has arisen between you: whether love can have any place between husband and wife and whether between lovers jealousy is blameworthy; in both questions each of you falls back on his own opinion and opposes that of the other, and you want us to give our opinion which side properly should get the decision. We have therefore examined carefully the statements of both sides and have in very truth inquired into the matter by every possible means, and we wish to end the case with this decision. We declare and we hold as firmly established that love cannot exert its powers between two people who are married to each other. For lovers give each other everything freely, under no compulsion of necessity, but married people are in duty bound to give in to each other's desires and deny themselves to each other in nothing. Besides, how does it increase a husband's honor if after the manner of lovers he enjoys the embraces of his wife, since the worth of character of neither can be increased thereby, and they seem to have nothing more than they already had a right to? And we say the same thing for still another reason, which is that a precept of love tells us that no woman, even if she is married, can be crowned with the reward of the King of Love unless she is seen to be enlisted in the service of Love himself outside the bonds of wedlock. But another rule of Love teaches that no one can be in love with two men. Rightly, therefore, Love cannot acknowledge any rights of his between husband and wife. But there is still another argument that seems to stand in the way of this, which is that between them there can be no true jealousy, and without it true love may not exist, according to the rule of Love himself, which says, `He who is not jealous cannot love.' 4s
"Therefore let this our verdict, pronounced with great moderation and supported by the opinion of a great many ladies, be to you firm and indubitable truth.
"The first day of May, in the year 1174., the seventh of the indiction."
from Book I dialogue eight
"I want to explain to you something else that is in my mind, something which I know many keep hidden in their hearts, but which I do not think you are ignorant of, and that is that one kind of love is pure, and one is called mixed. It is the pure love which binds together the heart of two lovers with every feeling of delight. This kind consists in the contemplation of the mind and the affection of the heart; it goes as far as the kiss and the embrace and the modest contact with the nude lover, omitting the final solace, for that is not permitted to those who wish to love purely.°$ This is the kind that anyone who is intent upon love ought to embrace with all his might, for this love goes on increasing without end, and we know that no one ever regretted practicing it, and the more of it one has the more one wants. This love is distinguished by being of such virtue that from it arises all excellence of character, and no injury comes from it, and God sees very little offense in it. No maiden can ever be corrupted by such a love, nor can a widow or a wife receive any harm or suffer any injury to her reputation. This is the love I cherish, this I follow and ever adore and never cease urgently to demand of you. But that is called mixed love which gets its effect from every delight of the flesh and culminates in the final act of Venus. What sort of love this is you may clearly see from what I have already said, for this kind quickly fails, and lasts but a short time, and one often regrets having practiced it; by it one's neighbor is injured, the Heavenly King is offended, and from it come very grave dangers.s8$ But I do not say this as though I meant to condemn mixed love, I merely wish to show which of the two is preferable. But mixed love, too, is real love, and it is praiseworthy, and we say that it is the source of all good things, although from ìt grave dangers threaten, too. Therefore I approve of both pure love and mixed love, but I prefer to practice pure love. You should therefore put aside all fear of deception and choose one of the two kinds of love"
The woman says: "You are saying things that no one ever heard or knew of, things that one can scarcely believe. I wonder if anyone was ever found with such continence that he could resist the promptings of passion and control the actions of his body. Everybody would think it miraculous if a man could be placed in a fire and not be burned.°° But if any man should be found with this faith and purity of love which you mention and this physical continence that you talk about, I would praise and approve his determination and consider it worthy of every honor, yet without any intention of condemning that mixed love which most of the world enjoys. But although other men may choose either kind of love, you ought not enter into the service of either, for a clerk ought to concern himself only with the services of the Church and to avoid all the desires of the flesh.'° He ought to be a stranger to all forms of delight and above all to keep his body unspotted for the Lord '71 since the Lord has granted him privileges of such great dignity and rank that he may consecrate His flesh and blood with his own hands and by his words he may absolve the offenses of sinners. If you should see my mind inclining to a lapse of the flesh, you are bound by virtue of the office God has granted you to call me back from the errors I am starting to commit, and to persuade me to be chaste in every respect, and to set me such an example that you may freely castigate the sins of others.
After they had fought in this fashion for a long time, the vision of the knight of the palace, whom the Briton had struck on the head with two shrewd blows in rapid succession, began to be so disturbed that he could see almost nothing. When the Briton perceived this, he leapt boldly upon him and quickly struck him, beaten, from his horse. Then he seized the hawk, and, glancing as he did so at the two dogs, he saw a written parchment, which was fastened to the perch with a little gold chain. When he inquired carefully concerning this, he was told, "This is the parchment on which are written the rules of love which the King of Love himself, with his own mouth, pronounced for lovers. You should take it with you and make these rules known to lovers if you want to take away the hawk peaceably." He took the parchment, and after he had been given courteous permission to depart, quickly returned, without any opposition, to the lady of the wood, whom he found in the same place in the grove where she was when he first came upon her as he was riding along. She rejoiced greatly over the victory he had gained and dismissed him with these words, "Dearest friend, go with my permission, since sweet Britain desires you. But, that your departure may not seem too grievous to you, I ask you to come here sometimes alone, and you can always have me with you." He kissed her thirteen times over and went joyfully back to Britain. Afterward he looked over the rules which he had found written in the parchment, and then, in accordance with the answer he had previously received, he made them known to all lovers. These are the rules.
I. Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
II. He who is not jealous cannot love.
III. No one can be bound by a double love.
IV. It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
V. That which a lover takes against the will of his beloved has no relish.
VI. Boys do not love until they arrive at the age of maturity.
VII. When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.
VIII. No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
IX. No one can love unless he is impelled by the persuasion of love.
X. Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.
XI. It is not proper to love any woman whom one would be ashamed to seek to marry.
XII. A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.
XIII. When made public love rarely endures.
XIV. The easy attainment of love makes it of little value;‑ "'Iii faculty of attainment makes it prized.
XV Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
XVI. When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates.
XVII. A new love puts to flight an old one.
XVIII. Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.
XIX. If love diminishes, it rarely revives.
XX. A man in love is always apprehensive
XXI. Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love.
XXII. Jealousy, and therefore love, are increased when one suspects his beloved.
XXIII. He whom the thought of love vexes eats and sleeps very little.
XXIV. Every act of a lover ends in the thought of his beloved.
XXV. A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
XXVI. Love can deny nothing to love.
XXVII. A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.
XXVIII. A slight presumption causes a lover to suspect his beloved.
XXIX. A man who is vexed by too much passion usually does not love.
XXX. A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
XXXI. Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women.
These rules, as I have said, the Briton brought back with him on behalf of the King of Love to the lady for whose sake he endured so many perils when he brought her back the hawk. When she was convinced of the complete faithfulness of this knight and understood better how boldly he had striven, she rewarded him with her love. Then she called together a court of a great many ladies and knights and laid before them these rules of Love, and bade every lover keep them faithfully under threat of punishment by the King of Love. These laws the whole court received in their entirety and promised forever to obey in order to avoid punishment by Love. Every person who had been summoned and had come to the court took home a written copy of the rules and gave them out to all lovers in all parts of the world.
The Rejection of Love
Now, FRIEND WALTER, if you will lend attentive ears to those things which after careful consideration we wrote down for you because you urged us so strongly, you can lack nothing in the art of love, since in this little book we gave you the theory of the subject, fully and completely, being willing to accede to your requests because of the great love we have for you. You should know that we did not do this because we consider it advisable for you or any other man to fall in love, but for fear lest you might think us stupid; we believe, though, that any man who devotes his efforts to love loses all his usefulness. Read this little book, then, not as one seeking to take up the life of a lover, but that, invigorated by the theory and trained to excite the minds of women to love, you may, by refraining from so doing, win an eternal recompense and thereby deserve a greater reward from God. For God is more pleased with a man who is able to sin and does not, than with a man who has no opportunity to sin.
Now for many reasons any wise man is bound to avoid all the deeds of love and to oppose all its mandates. The first of these reasons is one which it is not right for anyone to oppose, for no man, so long as he devotes himself to the service of love, can please God by any other works, even if they are good ones. For God hates, and in both testaments commands the punishment of those whom he sees engaged in the works of Venus outside the bonds of wedlock or caught in the toils of any sort of passion. What good therefore can be found in a thing in which nothing is done except what is contrary to the will of God?