Priest: “Serafina, the ladies only want to be your friends… I think you imagine too much. The ladies want to be your companions.”
Serafina: “Companions. Them ladies. The dummies I got in my house make better companions. Because they don’t make up no lies. No, no. What kind of ladies are them women? At 30 years old they’ve got no more use for the marriage except for the money, the shoes, the food. What do you call these kind of ladies?”
Serafina (Anna Magnani, image above), during her anguish, has a cynical view of love in the movie version of Tennessee Williams’ play, “The Rose Tattoo”.
Lysias had also expressed a cynical view of love in Plato’s Phaedrus: “Consider this, fair youth, and know that in the friendship of the lover there is no real kindness; he has an appetite and wants to feed upon you: ‘As wolves love lambs so lovers love their loves.’”
But Socrates differed with Lysias. Love was to Socrates a divine madness. Sometimes madness is simply an evil, “but there is also a madness which is a divine gift, and the source of the chiefest blessings granted to men.”
The soul is self-moving and “through all her being is immortal, for that which is ever in motion is immortal.” The soul is described as a pair of winged horses and a charioteer. One of the horses is noble; the other is ignoble. In the heavenly realm, the soul had seen indescribable beauty. On earth, when the soul sees someone who reminds her of the heavenly beauty, she is transported with the recollection of the true beauty. This is the divine madness. The soul then becomes “like a bird fluttering and looking upward and careless of the world below” and the man or woman is therefore thought to be mad.
The soul, which “has been the spectator of many glories in the other world”, is amazed when it sees any one having a godlike face or form, which is the expression of divine beauty; and at first a shudder runs through him or her, and again the old awe steals over the man or woman; then looking upon the face of the beloved as of a god the soul reverences that person, and if the man or woman were not afraid of being thought downright insane, they would sacrifice to the beloved as to the image of a god.
This was what had happened to Serafina. Her late husband had been her glory, much more than was the case with “them ladies” who’ve “got no more use for the marriage except for the money, the shoes, the food.” Sighs Serafina, “To me the marriage was beautiful, like a religion. Now my marriage is dreams and memories only.”
Those are the “two horses” of the charioteer, the one noble (Serafina), the other ignoble (“them ladies”).