This quote is from Shakespeare’s play, Troilus and Cressida.
Cressida has just confessed her love to Troilus and is feeling like she should have been more coy with him and less boldly honest. With this line, she is expressing that she hopes he is also in love with her and thus, not quite able to think rationally.
She doesn’t want him to be able to think so clearly that he knows he has the upper hand and will exploit her love in some way. In the context of their conversation, she points out that only the gods are strong enough to be wise and love, that to do both exceeds a mere human’s strength.
But that is not all this quote says to me. Having first read it out of context, I saw it as a metaphor for developing personal strength. I interpreted “being wise” to mean knowing what is going on around you, to perhaps even be aware that someone is doing something or has committed a wrong against you, as opposed to pretending it is not going on or glossing it over.
Then with that awareness, to still LOVE, still stay in a loving space toward that someone or that situation. In this sense, “love” here could also mean forgiveness and compassion toward the person or situation that you feel wronged by. In being able to “be wise” – to be able to look at a situation and feel the full power of a hurt or other feeling that it gives you – and to maintain, or at least begin to cultivate, a peaceful feeling about it, without animosity to either the circumstances or to people, this can give you a power that EXCEEDS the harm that is being caused.
“Men’s might” strikes me as a metaphor for the egoic part of the human self. When one party harms another, whether on a personal scale or right on up to a global scale, these attacks or injustices or betrayals, come out of the small, egoic self who believes that it has to put someone down, or take something away in order to feel security.
If we are on the receiving end of such actions, one way we can reduce the effect it might have on us is by removing or reducing our reaction. We actually can surpass what is merely “might” – brute strength, if you will – by staying aware of the situation *and* making the choice to remain in a state of love. You could even think of it as a state of neutrality. This is just as effective – to simply not be at the effect of our own reactions. This really can “exceed men’s might!”
I’m not saying this is easy, by any means! But!……what a good thing to realize there may be a choice in how we perceive certain situations. One of the beautiful things about William Shakespeare’s writings, or anyone’s words that have a deep truth to them, you can find even deeper truths in them, just by being open to them.
I hope you have a beautiful week!
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