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Love Sickness: Shakespeare, medicine and metaphors in a world of plague

historic painting of creature with child's head, wings and a man's body

Romantic love was long considered an illness — with some bizarre and harrowing treatments. 

In Shakespeare’s time, the plague and disease are metaphors for love — the overwhelming, intoxicating, love-at-first-sight kind of love. Remedies for this “love sickness” ranged from lettuce to surgery.

We talk to Ian Moulton, professor of English and cultural history in ASU's College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, who takes us on a journey from ancient Greece through the early modern period, and the literature and medical history of illness and love.