- Love at first sight
Love at first sight is an emotional condition whereby a person feels romantic attraction for a stranger on the first encounter with the stranger. The term may be used to refer to a mere
sexual attractionor crush, but it usually refers to actually falling in lovewith someone literally the very first time one sees him or her, along with the deep desire to have an intimate relationshipwith that person. The stranger may or may not be aware that the other person has any such notion, and may not even be aware of the other person's presence (such as in a crowded place). Sometimes two people experience this phenomenon towards each other at the same time, usually when their eyes meet. "See also" love.
In the classical world, the phenomenon of "love at first sight" was understood within the context of a more general conception of passionate love, a kind of madness or, as the Greeks put it, "theia mania" ("madness from the gods"). [cite journal
last = Tallis
first = Frank
title = Crazy for You
journal = The Psychologist
volume = 18
issue = 2
month = February | year = 2005
url = http://www.bps.org.uk/publications/thepsychologist/search-the-psychologist-online.cfm?fuseaction=inc_getFile&ID=809&Publication_ID=1
accessdate = ] This love passion was described through an elaborate metaphoric and mythological psychological schema involving "love's arrows" or "love darts", the source of which was often given as the mythological Eros or
Cupid, [See, for example, the " Amores" and the " Heroides" of Ovidwhich frequently refer to the overwhelming passion caused by Cupid's darts.] , sometimes by other mythological deities (such as Rumor[See Ovid's letter from Paris, below.] ). At times, the source of the arrows was said to be the image of the beautiful love object itself. If these arrows were to arrive at the lover's eyes, they would then travel to and 'pierce' and 'wound' his or her heart and overwhelm him/her with desire and longing ( love sickness). The image of the "arrow's wound" was sometimes used to create oxymorons and rhetorical antithesisconcerning its pleasure and pain.
"Love at first sight" was explained as a sudden and immediate beguiling of the lover through the action of these processes. "Love at first sight" occurs in numerous Greek and Roman works. In
Ovid's " Metamorphoses", Narcissus becomes immediately spellbound and charmed by his own (unbeknownst to him) image. In Achilles Tatius's " Leucippe and Clitophon", the lover Clitophon describes his own experience of the phenomenon thusly: "As soon as I had seen her, I was lost. For Beauty's wound is sharper than any weapon's, and it runs through the eyes down to the soul. It is through the eye that love's wound passes, and I now became a prey to a host of emotions..." [In B. P. Reardon, ed. "Collected Ancient Greek Novels", translation of "Leucippe and Clitophon" by John J, Winkler, Berkeley: U of California Press, 1989, p. 179. ISBN 0-520-04306-5] "Love at first sight" was not, however, the only mode of entering into passionate love in classical texts; at times the passion could occur after the initial meeting or could precede the first glimpse.
Another classical interpretation of the phenomenon of "love at first sight" could be found in
Plato's "Symposium" in Aristophanes' description of the separation of primitive double-creatures into modern men and women and their subsequent search for their missing half: "... when [a lover] ... is fortunate enough to meet his other half, they are both so intoxicated with affection, with friendship, and with love, that they cannot bear to let each other out of sight for a single instant." [Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, eds. The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Bollinger Series LXXI. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1961. p. 545.]
Medieval and Renaissance conceptions
The classical conception of love's arrows were elaborated upon by the
Provençal troubadourpoets of southern France in the eleventh and twelfth centuries and became part of the European courtly lovetradition. In particular, a glimpse of the woman's eyes was said to be the source of the love dart. [See the introduction by Nathaniel Edward Griffin to "The Filostrato" of Giovanni Boccaccio(New York: Bilbo and Tannen, no date. ISBN 0-8196-0817-X): "This doctrine of the immediate visual perception of one's lady as a prerequisite to the birth of love originated among the "beaux esprits" de Provence. [...] According to this description, love originates upon the eyes of the lady when encountered by those of her future lover. The love thus generated is conveyed on bright beams of light from her eyes to his, through which it passes to take up its abode in his heart." (p.76, note 2)] In some medieval texts, the gaze of a beautiful woman is compared to the sight of a basilisk.
These images of the lover's eyes, the arrows and the ravages of "love at first sight" continued to be circulated and elaborated upon in the
Renaissanceand Baroqueliterature [For a full discussion of the scene of "love at first sight" in fiction, see Jean Rousset, "Leurs yeux se rencontrèrent" : la scène de première vue dans le roman", Paris: José Corti, 1981.] and pictorial imagery. Boccaccio for example, in his " Il Filostrato" mixes the tradition of love at first sight, the eye's darts and the metaphor of Cupid's arrow. [Giovanni Boccaccio, "The Filostrato" (see "supra"): "In the desription of the enamorment of Troilus is a singular blending of the Provençal conception of the eyes as the birthplace of love with the classical idea of the God of Love with his bows and quiver..." (p.77, note 2)] : "Nor did he ( Troilus) who was so wise shortly before... perceive that Love with his darts dwelt within the rays of those lovely eyes... nor notice the arrow that sped to his heart." ["Ibid.", canto 1, strophe 29; translation by Nathaniel Edward Griffin and Arthur Beckwith Myrick, p. 147.]
Love at first sight in fiction
Other works of fiction which use these tropes include:
*The first sight of the beautiful princess
Angelica (character)in Ariosto's " Orlando furioso" and the witch Armidain Tasso's " Jerusalem Delivered" enchant the knights that perceive them; Giovanni Boccaccio's "Elegy of Lady Fiammetta" describes the ravages of love at first sight on a woman.
* Love at first sight occurs in "
Romeo and Juliet", by William Shakespeare.
* In the French novel "
Les Misérables" by Victor Hugo, the characters Marius Pontmercy and Cosette fall in love after glancing into each others' eyes.
Love at first sight in songs
*The song "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" contains the statement: "I loved you at first glance."
*The song "
With a Little Help From My Friends" has the lyric: "Would you believe in a love at first sight? Yes, I'm certain it happens all the time."
*The popular song "
Love At First Sight" by Kylie Minogue describes this phenomenon.
Love at first sight in movies and television
* In the well known cartoon "
The Simpsons", Homer falls in love with Marge at his first sighting of her.
* Renton Thurston from
Eureka Sevenfalls in love with Eureka on first sight.
Imagine Me And You, the two main characters Rachel and Luce fall in love at their first meeting (which is Rachel's wedding day).
References and notes
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