The Public Interest

Marriage envy

Diana Schaub

Winter 1996

A SAMMY Cahn song from the 1950s has it that “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.” Despite the song’s bold claim that “you can’t have one without the other,” for much of human history, the horses have followed their own heart and other agents have borne the institution of marriage along. In the ancient world, the purpose of marriage was to produce citizens for the state. Love was for lovers, not husbands and wives. Indeed, the division between love and marriage was so stark that women were not particularly thought of as objects of love. Plutarch epitomizes the homoerotic Greek view: “As for true love, women have no part in it.” Even when erotic desire centered on women, as in the age of chivalry, love was still essentially extramarital in nature. According to Andreus Capellanus’s twelfth-century manifesto of courtly love: “True love is impossible in the married state.”

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