Today I’ve just got one aphorism to discuss, and it’s not one that I took from a book of aphorisms.
It’s Virgil’s old time-honored quote “Omnia vincit amor” (Love conquers all) that has been on my mind recently (the sixteenth aphorism, by my count, that I will give my treatment to).
I went back and read the context of this one, in part because it’s important to make sure that you get the feel for the right kind of love that’s being discussed when you’re translating from classical languages.
In this case, Virgil’s talking about love in sort of the common English sense: romantic entanglement, mostly.
Whenever I hear a lot of discussion of love, my thoughts go to Corinthians and its breakdown of love, but Virgil here is talking about something distinct from what the Apostle Paul was talking about.
In this case, it’s talking about romantic love, but also about passion, and making a rather bold statement.
Now, I think there’s two ways to interpret this:
- This is bluster of the sort that lovers engage in.
- This is a philosophical statement about the world.
From the context, it almost seems like this is more the former than the latter. However, in a sort of Chesterton-choosing-to-enjoy-the-fine-things-of-life manner I think it’s also philosophical.
Omnia vincit amor could be viewed almost in a way as a sort of carpe diem, the notion that passion should be respected and followed rather than just suppressed.
I’m a life-long bachelor. It’s not that I’ve never contemplated having a romantic relationship, it’s just that I’m not hugely invested in getting into one.
I’m getting older, though, and I’m being forced to realize that I’m not necessarily on the path I want to be on forever. Especially as I look within myself I realize that I’m somewhat of a self-absorbed person, not in the sense that I’m necessarily vain and petty, since I am quite conscientious in most ways, but that I like to sort of plan around me and not necessarily other people.
And I often feel quite bad about that and get self-conscious about it, which is a sort of natural consequence. I’m capable of empathy and whatnot, I’m just very introverted and if I weren’t sort of naturally sensitive I’m sure I’d be a huge pain in the butt to be around (as it stands I’m usually able to avoid harming anyone’s feelings because I’m so soft, unless I get riled up).
All absolutes suck.
It’s a rule.
They’ll never account for everything.
As such, I don’t think I agree with Virgil’s statement. People are powerful, and passion can lead them to great things, but love isn’t some metaphysical guiding force.
However, I long for the state of mind in which I could agree with Virgil.
Don’t suppress passion.
Seek meaning outside myself.
Open my shell.