contempt for incels and men dying from lovesickness must cease

Ah, good and desirable love,
a body well-formed, slender and smooth,
young, fine-hued flesh
that God has fashioned with his hands.
I have always desired you,
for nothing other pleases me.
I want no other love at all.

{ Ai, bon’ amors encobida,
cors be faihz, delgatz e plas,
frescha chara colorida,
cui Deus formet ab sas mas,
totz tems vos ai dezirada,
que res autra no m’agrada.
Autr’ amor no volh nien. }[1]

Many men find young, beautiful, warmly engaging women overwhelmingly attractive. Thousands of men thus died horrendous deaths in the Trojan War for one beautiful woman: Helen of Troy. Involuntarily celibate men (incels) are subject to vicious social disparagement, yet men die from lovesickness. Men’s deaths, whether from violence against men, the gender gap in lifespan, or men being socially compelled to remain on sinking ships and socially gender-segregated into the most dangerous occupations, generate relatively little public concern. That must change to have progress toward a humane society. Men dying from lovesickness deserve compassion and care, not ridicule.

Oh! Love conquers all.
Love is a blessed affliction!
Ah! I am faint from a sweet disease,
from this I happily die!

{ O! vincit amor omnia.
Felix amor miseria!
Ha! dulci morbo langueo,
quo sic beate pereo! }[2]

The phrase “love conquers all {omnia vincit Amor}” is more than two thousand years old. It probably originated in Cornelius Gallus’s influential love elegy. Gallus promoted the horrific, men-destroying figure of “love’s warfare {militia amoris}.” Many person today take as proverbial truth that “love is war.” The persons killed in wars are overwhelmingly men. When love is war, men are overwhelmingly the ones who are conquered, subjugated, and killed.

When Joam Garcia inquired
what death it is I’m dying,
I answered while expiring:

“I’m dying a death of passion
for Guiomar Affonso Gata,
woman and assassin.”

He kept wanting to know
the nature of my woe,
and this is what I told:

“I’m dying a death of passion
for Guiomar Affonso Gata,
woman and assassin.”

I said to him, “My friend,
I will indeed explain
the reason for my pain:

I’m dying a death of passion
for Guiomar Affonso Gata,
woman and assassin.”

{ Preguntou Johan Garcia
da morte de que morria;
e dixe-lh’eu todavia:

“A morte d’esto se mata:
Guiomar Afonso Gata
est a dona que me mata.”

Pois que m’ouve preguntado
de que era tan coitado,
dixe-lh’eu este recado:

“A morte d’esto se mata:
Guiomar Afonso Gata
est a dona que me mata.”

Dixe-lh’eu “Já vus digo
a coita que ei comigo
per bõa fé, meu amigo:

a morte d’esto se mata:
Guiomar Afonso Gata
est a dona que me mata.” }[3]

Bernart de Ventadorn, a twelfth-century man trobairitz who loved in season and out of season, also faced death in love. He understood men’s anguish of remembering and men’s desperate hope. He understood men’s despair. A warm-hearted medieval woman saved a man dying of lovesickness. That’s unusual. Bernart felt that God alone was his hope:

Strange news
from me you can hear:
now when I see the beautiful lady
who used to welcome me,
she no longer calls me
nor asks me to come to her.
My heart afflicts me with her.
It wants to break me from grief.
God, who rules the world,
please, let me have joy from her,
who to me is so unyielding
that I can do nothing but die.

{ Estranha novela
podetz de me auzir,
que can vei la bela
que·m soli’ acolhir,
ara no m’apela
ni·m fai vas se venir.
Lo cor sotz l’aissela
m’en vol de dol partir.
Deus, que·l mon chapdela,
si·lh platz, m’en lais jauzir,
que s’aissi·m revela
no·i a mas del morir. }[4]

Bernart knew where to place blame for men’s deaths in lovesickness:

Since I see that pleading or begging
or serving can gain nothing for me,
for the love of God may my lady
do something good to please me.
A little joy from you does great good
to one who suffers such great bad as I feel,
and if I die, she will be charged under law.

{ Pois vei que preyars ni merces
ni servirs no·m pot pro tener,
per amor de Deu me fezes
ma domna cal que bo saber.
Que gran be fai us paucs de jauzimen
a cel que trai tan gran mal com eu sen.
e s’aissi mor requisitz li serai. }[5]

In reality, criminal law has long been biased against men. Women are much more readily forgiven for their crimes. Lack of compassion for men undergirds gynocentric gender injustice.

Whenever my boyfriend comes to visit,
he claims to be losing his mind
over me, and he says he’s dying
with desire, but I’m unconvinced,

since I have yet to see him dead
or see him really lose his head.

He goes on weeping about how much
he’s out of his head with love,
and for me, he says, he’d leave
this life, but I guess he’s in no rush,

since I have yet to see him dead
or see him really lose his head.

I wonder how he will respond
when next he comes, in perfect health,
and I ask, “Hasn’t love killed you yet?”
I hope he’ll give up coming around,

for I doubt I’ll ever see him dead
or see him really lose his head.

Until he dies, not in word but in fact,
he’ll only convince me he knows how to act.

{ Cada que ven o meu amig’ aqui
diz-m’, ai amigas, que perde o sen
por mi e diz que morre por meu ben,
mais eu ben cuido que non est assi,

ca nunca lh’eu vejo morte prender,
nen o ar vejo nunca ensandecer.

El chora muito e filha-s’a jurar
que é sandeu e quer-me fazer fis,
que por mi morr’e, pois morrer non quis,
mui ben sei eu que á ele vagar,

ca nunca lh’eu vejo morte prender,
nen o ar vejo nunca ensandecer.

Ora vejamos o que nos dirá,
pois veer viv’e pois sandeu non for;
ar direi-lh’eu: “Non morrestes d’amor?”
mais ben se quite de meu preito já,

ca nunca lh’eu vejo morte prender,
nen o ar vejo nunca ensandecer.

E ja mais nunca mi fará creer
que por mi morre, ergo se morrer. }[6]

Is it any wonder that sexist draft registration continues today amid deeply entrenched devaluation of men’s lives?

My boyfriend is dying of love
for me, but I don’t believe it,
and so he says he’ll come
and die right at my feet,

and I would really like to see
whether or not he dies for me.

He sent a message bidding
me, whom he admires,
to let him pay a visit
so I could watch him die,

and I would really like to see
whether or not he dies for me.

Women, don’t ever believe
the suitor who would die,
for I have yet to see it,
although I wish he’d try!

Yes, I would really like to see
whether or not he dies for me.

{ Morr’o meu amigo d’amor
e eu non no lhi creo ben,
e el mi diz logo por en
ca verrá morrer u eu fôr,

e a mi praz de coraçon,
por veer se morre, se non.

Enviou-m’el assi dizer:
que el por mesura de mi
que o leixasse morrer aqui
e o veja, quando morrer,

e a mi praz de coraçon,
por veer se morre, se non.

Mais nunca já crea molher
que por ela morren assi,
ca nunca eu esse tal vi,
e el moira, se lhi prouguer,

e a mi praz de coraçon,
por veer se morre, se non. }[7]

Men’s lives matter. But they don’t matter, because no one cares. To make matters clearer, everyone should chant together: men’s lives should matter!

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty can only be imposed through a legal process that isn’t arbitrary and discriminatory. In his concurring opinion, Justice Thurgood Marshall courageously observed:

There is also overwhelming evidence that the death penalty is employed against men and not women. Only 32 women have been executed since 1930, while 3,827 men have met a similar fate. It is difficult to understand why women have received such favored treatment since the purposes allegedly served by capital punishment seemingly are equally applicable to both sexes.[8]

After that 1972 Supreme Court decision through the year 2010, 1,222 men were executed under U.S. law, while only 12 women were. That’s an execution ratio of 102 men per woman. That’s an enormous gender protrusion in men put to death. Like the large gender protrusion in persons authoritatively held in penal incarceration, gender protrusions should be a central concern for social justice. Supreme Court decisions should matter. Men’s lives should matter.

Roi Queimado has died of love
— he swears by heaven in his verses —
because his beloved lady didn’t love him.
In his effort to convince her
what a great troubadour he is,
he died for her in a refrain,
but three days later was back again.

He’s a supernatural troubadour!
Determined to convince his lady
that he truly adores her
and can write great songs of love,
deathless dying became quite normal.
Surely no other creature on earth
can depart at will, and at will return.

Of his death he has no fear
— imagine, if he did, how great! —
because he knows he has that flair
for resurrecting from the grave.
Raising the dead is God’s affair,
but Roi Queimado, with his verses,
can bring on death, and then reverse it!

If I, like Roi, could always depend
on living tomorrow after dying today,
perhaps I too would not fear death.

{ Roy Queymado morreu con amor
en seus cantares, par Santa Maria!
por hunha dona que gran ben queria,
e por se meter por mays trobador,
por que lh’ ela non quis o ben fazer,
feze s’el en seus cantares morrer,
mays resurgiu depoys ao tercer dia.

Esto fez el por hunha sa senhor
que quer gram ben, e mays vus en dirya:
por que cuyda que faz i maestria,
enos cantares que fez á sabor
de morrer hy e des y d’ ar vyver.
Esto faz el que xo pode fazer,
mays outr’ omem per ren nono faria.

E non á ja de sa morte pavor,
se non sa morte mays la temeria,
mays sabe ben, per sa sabedoria,
que vyverá desquando morto for,
e faz en seu cantar morte prender,
des y ar vyv’ e vedes que poder
que lhi Deus deu! Mays queno cuydaria!

E se mi Deus a min desse poder
qual oj’ el á, poys morrer, de viver,
ja mays morte nunca temeria! }[9]

The systemic gender disparity in men’s deaths from love, from violence, and from all causes is a public health emergency. Listen and believe men!

To have begun something is already a small part toward completing it.

{ Incepisse aliquid iam pars est quantula facti. }[10]

*  *  *  *  *

Read more:


[1] Bernart de Ventadorn, “Time comes and goes and returns {Lo tems vai e ven e vire}” vv. 50-6 (stanza 8), Old Occitan text and English translation (adapted) from Nichols (1965) p. 131 (song 30); record at Corpus des Troubadours. English translations by James H. Donalson and by A. S. Kline. Bernart was a man trobairitz (troubadour) who sung his poems in southern France in the middle of the twelfth century. Seasons and time are major concerns in Bernart’s songs.

[2] “The power of warmth unlocks the way of the confined flower {Preclusi viam floris / vis reserat caloris}” (Arundel Lyrics 2), refrain, Latin text and English translation from McDonough (2010) pp. 10-1. The phrase “love conquers all: let us too yield to love {omnia vincit amor: et nos cedamus amori}” are words that Gallus speaks in Virgil, Eclogues 10.69. The Arundel Lyrics, which include many poignant songs of love, are Latin poems written no later than the twelfth century.

[3] Roi Queimado, love song {cantiga d’amor}, “Song of the Death I’m Dying,” Galician-Portuguese text and English translation from Zenith (1995), pp. 172-3 (song 80); record at Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas. Roi Queimado was a Portugese troubadour active in the second half of the thirteenth century. Twenty-four of his songs have survived. Id. p. 274.

The first verse names Joam Garcia. That’s Joam Garcia de Guilhade, a low-ranking noble who earned his living as a Galician-Portuguese troubadour. Joam Garcia de Guilhade was active in the mid-thirteenth century. Fifty-four of his songs have survived. Id. pp. 260, 270.

Guiomar Affonso Gata was the half-sister of Maria Pais Ribeirinha (María Pais de Ribeira “a Ribeiriña”). The latter was a mistress of King Sancho I of Portugal. King Sancho I reigned from 1185 to 1211. He himself may have been a troubadour.

In another song, Roi Queimado imagined Guiomar Affonso Gata’s contempt for his death:

When I die, she’s going to lay
her chin in palm and then exclaim:
“Guiomar Affonso is my name!”

{ Pois que eu morrer’, filhará
enton o seu queix’ e dirá:
“Eu sõo Guiomar Affonso!” }

Roi Queimado, “Song for a Troubadour Who Dies and Dies,” love song {cantiga d’amor}, incipit “When they tell her I have died {Pois que eu ora morto for’},” stanza 3 (last stanza), from Zenith (1995) pp. 174-5 (song 81); record at Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas. For Guiomar to “lay her chin in palm,” like her raising her nose, is a gesture of disdain.

Subsequent quotes of Galician-Portuguese troubadour songs are similarly sourced. The titles of the Galician-Portuguese troubadour songs are Zenith’s invention for ease of reference. I follow Zenith’s printed texts, with differ slightly from those of the Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas website. Regarding his published texts, Zenith stated:

The published versions have been taken from the best editions available, and no attempt has been made to standardize the transcriptions, which obey as many different criteria as there are editors. Punctuation is practically non-existent in the Songbooks, and the translations pay no special heed to the proposed punctuation of the edited versions.

Zenith (1995) p. xxxix. For some songs, Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas includes an English translation by Zenith. It sometimes differs from Zenith’s published English translation. I have prefered Zenith’s published translations, but have made a few small changes to them for clarity.

[4] Bernart de Ventadorn, “When I see the leaves {Lancan vai la folha}” vv. 13-24 (stanza 2), Old Occitan text and English translation (adapted) from Nichols (1965) pp. 110, 112 (song 25); record at Corpus des Troubadours. English translation by James H. Donalson.

Galician-Portuguese troubadours provided additional details about circumstances of dying in love. One significant circumstances was a lady’s arbitrary choice in love:

Like one who died for loving a woman
without ever seeing his love returned
and saw her give love to another
for whom it wasn’t and isn’t deserved,
that, dear lady, is how I die!

{ Como morreu quen amou tal
dona que lhe nunca fez ben,
e quen a viu levar a quen
a nom valia, nen a val:
Ay, mia senhor, assi moir’ eu! }

Pai Soarez de Taveirós, “Song of How I Die,” love song {cantiga d’amor}, beginning “Like one who died because he never {Como morreu quen nunca ben},” stanza 3, from Zenith (1995) pp. 4-5 (song 2); record at Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas. Pai Soarez de Taveirós belonged to a leading Portugese noble family. His songs date from about 1200. Id. p. 272-3.

Another issue prompting troubadours’ deaths was singing demands made without any appreciation for the troubadour’s bodily motive for love:

I know of no one else whose plight
can compare to the one I face:
Here I am dying for your sake,
and you, dear lady, red and white,
ask for songs with you in robes
when I saw you in simple clothes.
Had I only stayed in bed that day
or found you less well-built!

{ No mundo non sei parella
mentre me for como me vay,
ca ja moiro por vos e ay!
mia senhor brance vermella,
queredes que vos retraya
quando vus eu vj en saya.
Mao dia me levantey
que vus enton non vi fea! }

Pai Soarez de Taveirós, “Song to a Lady in Simple Clothes,” love song {cantiga d’amor}, stanza 1, from Zenith (1995) pp. 6-7 (song 3); record at Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas. Pai here addresses “the daughter of Pai Moniz {filla de don Paay Moniz}.” She has been thought to be Maria Pais Ribeirinha, the mistress of King Sancho I, but the implied early date for the song and the existence of several persons named Pai Moniz are reasons for doubt.

Even a woman fully clothed in extensive robes can present mortal danger to men:

Everyone knows to whom these eyes
belong, and although the one who
I’m speaking of resents the fact,
I’m dying of love – what can I do?
The green eyes that I saw
have made me what you see.

{ Pero quen-quer x’entenderá
aquestes olhos quaes son;
e d’est’ alguen se queixará;
mais eu, ja quer moira, quer non:
Os olhos verdes que eu vi
me fazem ora andar assi. }

Joam Garcia de Guilhade, “Song of the Green Eyes,” love song {cantiga d’amor}, beginning “My friends, I cannot hide from you {Amigos, non poss’ eu negar},” stanza 2, from Zenith (1995) pp. 54-5 (song 26); record at Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas.

[5] Bernart de Ventadorn, “My delight is to sing in this month {Bel m’es qu’eu chan en aquel mes}” vv. 15-21 (stanza 3, formerly 6), Old Occitan text and English translation (adapted) from Nichols (1965) pp. 68, 70 (song 10); record at Corpus des Troubadours. English translation by James H. Donalson. With respect to “e s’aissi mor requisitz li serai” (v. 21), Donalson notes:

He {Appel} points out that the poet is evidently saying that the lady will be guilty if she lets her lover die. His state will then become an indictment of her action: “I shall be her indictment.” A requisitoire is even today the accusation delivered by the state’s office of prosecution

Nichols (1965) p. 178, refering to Appel (1915).

Composing in the second half of the thirteenth century, the troubadour Adam de la Halle vigorously complained of dying of love in a rondeau:

I die, I die for love,
alas, ah me!
By lack of love
and mercy.

{ Je muir, je muir d’amourete,
las, aimi.
Par defaute d’amiete
de merchi. }

Adam de la Halle, Old French text from Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Fr. 25566, folio 32va, my English tranlation. Here’s the complete Old French text and an English translation. Here’s a recording of this rondeau.

[6] Joam Garcia de Guilhade, song about a beloved man {cantiga d’amigo}, “Song for a Dying Admirer,” Galician-Portuguese text and English translation from Zenith (1995), pp. 62-3 (song 30); record at Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas.

[7] Joam Garcia de Guilhade, song about a beloved man {cantiga d’amigo}, “Song for a Lover Who Would Die,” Galician-Portuguese text and English translation from Zenith (1995), pp. 60-1 (song 29); record at Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas.

In another song about men dying, Joam Garcia de Guilhade expressed the audacity of hope:

Men from all around the world
who, like me, endure great sorrow
for being in love say they’d sooner
die, and I believe their words.
But, my lady, while I may see you,

I will always want to live
and wait and see!

And anyway there is no cure,
because I see you with blind eyes,
and God does nothing to unbind me,
nor do you, still I’m sure
as long as I may see you, lady,

I will always want to live
and wait and see!

In my opinion, all of those
who know this sorrow and wish to die
because, like me, they vainly try
to open a heart that’s always closed
see it all wrong. Believe me, lady,

I will always want to live
and wait and see!

{ Quantos an gran coita d’amor
eno mundo, qual og’ eu ei,
querrian morrer, eu o sei,
e averian en sabor.
Mais, mentr’ eu vos vir’, mia senhor,

sempre m’eu querria viver,
e atender e atender!

Pero ja non posso guarir,
ca já cegan os olhos meus
por vos, e non me val i Deus
nen vos; mais por vos non mentir,
enquant’ eu vos, mia senhor, vir’,

sempre m’eu querria viver
e atender e atender!

E tenho que fazen mal sen
quantos d’amor coitados son
de querer sa morte, se non
ouveron nunca d’amor ben,
com’ eu faç’. E, senhor, por en

sempre m’eu querria viver,
e atender e atender! }

Joam Garcia de Guilhade, “Song of a Lover Who’d Rather Not Die,” love song {cantiga d’amor}, from Zenith (1995) pp. 64-5 (song 31); record at Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas. I’ve drawn considerably on Zenith’s translation there for this song.

[8] Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972) para. 276, concurring opinion of Justice Thurgood Marshall (notes omitted). Here’s a dataset of executions yearly by sex in America from 1608 to 2010. Vitally significant gender biases against men attract astonishingly little public concern.

[9] Pero Garcia Burgalês, song of mockery {cantiga d’escarnho}, “Song for a Troubadour Who Dies and Dies,” Galician-Portuguese text and English translation from Zenith (1995), pp. 176-7 (song 82); record at Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas. Pero Garcia Burgalês frequently attended the courts of the King Alfonso X (“The Wise”) in Castile and King Afonso III of Portugal in Lisbon in the mid-thirteenth century. Fifty-three of Pero’s songs have survived. Id. p. 273.

[10] Heiric of Auxerre, Life of the great Father Germanus of Auxerre {Vita magni patris Germani Autissiodorensis}, Book 1, v. 493, Latin text from Traube (1896) p. 451, my English translation. Auxurre is in Burgundy, which is now in the eastern part of France. Constantius of Lyon wrote the first Life of Germanus of Auxerre {Vita Germani Autissiodorensis} about 480. Heiric of Auxerre (died 876) was a Benedictine monk. “Incepisse aliquid iam pars est quantula facti” became a popular saying in medieval Europe.

[images] (1) Video performance adapting Pai Soarez de Taveirós, love song {cantiga d’amor}, “I know of no one else whose plight {No mundo non me sei parelha}.” Rudi Vilela, “Cantiga de Guarvaia,” from album Eu Lírico, released in 2012. Via YouTube. (2) Video performance of João Garcia de Guilhade, song of mockery {cantiga d’escarnho}, “Ugly lady, you’ve complained {Ai dona fea, fostes-vos queixar}.” Performance by Orpheu’s Band, video arranged by Luiz Otávio Tarasiuk Naufel in 2014. Via YouTube. Here’s a parodic-operatic orchestral version performed by Filipe Melo, Ana Cláudia, and Ensemble MPMP at the Festival Prémio Jovens Músicos, 2015.


Appel, Carl. 1915. Bernart von Ventadorn, seine Lieder, mit Einleitung und Glossar. Halle a. S.: Verlag von Max Niemeyer.

McDonough, Christopher J., ed. and trans. 2010. The Arundel lyrics; The poems of Hugh Primas. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 2. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Nichols, Stephen G. 1965. The Songs of Bernart de Ventadorn: complete texts, translations, notes, and glossary. Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures, no. 39. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Traube, Ludwig. 1896. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Poetae Latini Aevi Carolini. Vol. 3. Berlin: Weidmannos.

Zenith, Richard, trans. 1995. 113 Galician-Portuguese Troubadour Poems. Manchester: Carcanet, in association with Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Instituto Camões.

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