The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

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Longinus has observed, that this Description of Love in Sappho is an exact Copy of Nature, and that all the Circumstances which follow one another in such an Hurry of Sentiments, notwithstanding they appear repugnant to each other, are really such as happen in the Phrenzies of Love.

I wonder, that not one of the Criticks or Editors, through whose Hands this Ode has passed, has taken Occasion from it to mention a Circumstance related by Plutarch.  That Author in the famous Story of Antiochus, who fell in Love with Stratonice, his Mother-in-law, and (not daring to discover his Passion) pretended to be confined to his Bed by Sickness, tells us, that Erasistratus, the Physician, found out the Nature of his Distemper by those Symptoms of Love which he had learnt from Sappho’s Writings. [4] Stratonice was in the Room of the Love-sick Prince, when these Symptoms discovered themselves to his Physician; and it is probable, that they were not very different from those which Sappho here describes in a Lover sitting by his Mistress.  This Story of Antiochus is so well known, that I need not add the Sequel of it, which has no Relation to my present Subject.


[Footnote 1:  The Belvidere Torso.]

[Footnote 2:  The other translation by Ambrose Philips.  See note to No. 223.]

[Footnote 3:  Wanting in copies then known, it is here supplied by conjecture.]

[Footnote 4:  In Plutarch’s Life of Demetrius.

When others entered Antiochus was entirely unaffected.  But when Stratonice came in, as she often did, he shewed all the symptoms described by Sappho, the faltering voice, the burning blush, the languid eye, the sudden sweat, the tumultuous pulse; and at length, the passion overcoming his spirits, a swoon and mortal paleness.]

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No. 230.  Friday, Nov. 23, 1711.  Steele.

  Homines ad Deos nulla re propius accedunt, quam salutem Hominibus


Human Nature appears a very deformed, or a very beautiful Object, according to the different Lights in which it is viewed.  When we see Men of inflamed Passions, or of wicked Designs, tearing one another to pieces by open Violence, or undermining each other by secret Treachery; when we observe base and narrow Ends pursued by ignominious and dishonest Means; when we behold Men mixed in Society as if it were for the Destruction of it; we are even ashamed of our Species, and out of Humour with our own Being:  But in another Light, when we behold them mild, good, and benevolent, full of a generous Regard for the publick Prosperity, compassionating [each [1]] others Distresses, and relieving each others Wants, we can hardly believe they are Creatures of the same Kind.  In this View they appear Gods

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