Giving Love a Bad Name

Passion in the form of love is given a stark negative connotation in both Philokalia and Arcadia because it has the ability to lead a human being away from solid reasoning and all that is considered Divine. In Philokalia, St. Gregory of Sinai agrees with Theologians who claim the body created in the image of God originated as incorruptible containing a passionless soul. He then continues to compare passions to devouring demons which entice the body to become, “unreasoning and senseless, subject to anger and lust” (Kadloubovsky, 52). Specifically, the tendency of voluptuous passion in a sexually charged relationship is said to be, “the chief cause of lustful burnings, confusion of thoughts and darkening of the soul” (Kadloubovsky, 50). Thus, no saint can know passion; because no saint surrenders to passions without forfeiting a saint’s character. * In addition. St. Gregory asserts that “self-love” is the worst passion of the excitable part (Kadloubovsky, 51). This claim is in slight disagreement when love is brought up by Musidorus in Arcadia who claims loving another is, the “basest and fruitlessness of all passions” (Sidney, 133). 

While there is disagreement between the two works of literature on which type of love is worse, both works of literature are claiming that love is not something one should give into due to all the negative consequences that come along and ultimately eternal damnation. In Arcadia, the evil passion of loving an individual presents itself in multiple scenes. One example where love is explicitly cited as an evil passion is when Musidorus reprimands Pyrcoles in the arbor. Musidorus searched everywhere he could think of for his dear friend Pyrcoles, only to find him disguised as an Amazon woman in efforts to be near the princess of Arcadia, Philoclea, who he loved deeply. Musidorus tells his friend that this “Bastard love” is “engendered betwixt lust and idleness,” which are two evil passions themselves (Sidney, 133). Later it becomes clear that the passion Pyrcoles holds for Philoclea contains sensual pleasure rooted in voluptuous passion as well. This is seen when Pyrcoles reveals his true identity and stopping at a kiss with Philoclea is described as a “great war” (Sidney, 357). Nevertheless, one who disagrees with love being written about in a negative sense might claim that love is all that is good and give the example of loving God. However, this love of the incorporeal God cannot compare to loving oneself or another human composed of flesh. This is because loving God does not include inescapable passions that arise when loving the human body such as lust, jealousy, and anger that cause one to stray away from God. Hence, loving God should be its own separate category. **

*Conduplicatio (of the word saint); Farnsworth Book

** Refutation; May Book