English 2200-Fall 2000
English 2207-Fall 2000

Pretty Good Books

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Andreas Capellanus produced these helpful rules for his late twelfth-century Art of Courtly Love (less well known as the three-volume Liber de arte honeste amandi et reprobatione inhonesti amoris or "Book of the Art of Loving Nobly and the Reproving of Dishonourable Love"). While serving as chaplain for the court of Marie, Countess of Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Andreas Capellanus wrote the Latin Art of Courtly Love at his mistress' request. The full text delineates (but also modifies) the whole code of "courtly love," the medieval amalgam of Platonism and sensuality that develops more or less directly into modern notions of love. The passage below is drawn from J. J. Parry's translation (New York, Norton, 1969: 184-86). Read the rules that follow: Are you really in love?

The Rules of Courtly Love

1. Marriage is no excuse for not loving.

2. He who is not jealous cannot love.

3. No one can be bound by a double love.

4. It is well-known that love is always increasing or decreasing.

5. That which a lover takes against the will of his beloved has no relish.

6. Boys do not love until they arrive at the age of maturity.

7. When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.

8. No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.

9. No one can love unless he is impelled by the persuasions of love.

10. Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.

11. It is not proper to love any woman whom one would be ashamed to seek to marry.

12. A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.

13. When made public, love rarely endures.

14. The easy attainment of love makes it of little value; the difficulty of attainment makes it prized.

15. Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.

16. When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved, his heart palpitates.

17. A new love puts to flight an old one.

18. Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.

19. If love diminishes, it quickly fails and rarely survives.

20. A man in love is always apprehensive.

21. Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love.

22. Jealousy, and therefore love, are increased when one suspects his beloved.

23. He whom the thought of love vexes eats and sleeps very little.

24. Every act of a lover ends in the thought of the beloved.

25. A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.

26. Love can deny nothing to love.

27. A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.

28. A slight presumption causes a lover to suspect his beloved.

29. A man who is vexed by too much passion usually does not love.

30. A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.

31. Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women.


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Jeremy M. Downes
Department of English
Auburn University
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Last update: August 24, 2000