Why Eros and Illness Make Good Bedfellows

Illness can ignite our strongest lust for life.

“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick." Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (1978)

Eros and illness are abstract terms, with widely differing definitions, but equally undefined and unexpected they broke into my life as anything but abstractions.  I belong to the growing number of family members suddenly thrust into the role of caregivers: spouses, siblings, adult children looking after elderly parents, even (as in AIDS-devastated Africa) exhausted grandparents or overwhelmed teenagers left to care for disease-orphaned children.    

Eros is the classical god of desire, and classical writers did not think highly of his love-related activities.  “He ruins mortals and causes them every kind of disaster…”: so Euripides writes. Eros for Greek tragedians is a power that, simply put, can rip your life apart.  The Golden Ass, a late Latin romance, describes Eros (in his Roman form as Cupid) “r

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