This article presents cultural and literary-historical conditions for the topos of dying of love, or, Love as Death, as an erotic language cliché. As a starting point, it is indicated that despite any appearances, the formula is not hyperbolic in nature, as it refers one to the Ancient medical knowledge and the conviction - also developed in the Mediaeval and modern-age culture - that love is a 'sui generis' existential crisis, a sort of sickness attacking the lovers' souls and bodies. Also, subsequent stages of erotic initiation tended sometimes to be interpreted as moments of momentary parting of the soul and the body, moments of ecstasy that was, after all, essentially affiliated with death. The present article shows how such convictions concerning love inspired poetic images in Old-Polish verse, and how convictions like those penetrated into Polish poetry from foreign literatures, particularly owing to the Renaissance neo-Catullian current and Romanesque patterns.
M. Hanusiewicz, Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski, Katedra Literatury Staropolskiej, al. Raclawickie 14, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
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