Transformation of the Notion of Marriage (Audio: Lecture III.2.5)
The problem of love is to yield to the relationship. You’re not yielding to the other, you’re yielding to the two of you together! And so you’re in it yourself. You are sacrificing to yourself. And I say, love is not a long love affair at all: it is an ordeal. It’s an ordeal in which that ego which is bound to come forth with its impulses should be bridled. What’s being bridled is not nature, but the ego, in terms of this recognition of the transcendent metaphysical one. — Joseph Campbell
How did marriage go from being a political and economic affair in the ancient world to becoming the pinnacle of two individuals’ quest for love? In this talk from 1985, Joseph Campbell looks at the great love stories of Middle Ages — Tristan and Iseult, Parzival, and more — and shows how a new spirit, one dedicated to following amor rather than the dictates of society — flowered in Western Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Touching on the poetry of the troubadours and of the poets who gave birth to the Arthurian Romances, he shows us how society came to place “the gentle heart” above the pursuit of duty, and how the “ordeal” of love can help us each discover ourselves.
This talk is cataloged in the Joseph Campbell Archive as L0863.