The Loves of Achilles

In the twilight of antiquity, an obscure grammarian copied down a few lines of a Sophocles play, The Loves of Achilles. Time and the chaos of the Middle Ages swept away manuscripts and most of Sophocles was lost. But one fragment was saved. The line is often quoted, notably in Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love, as love is like ice in the hands of children. The full line is below. It's all we have of something beautiful. It's enough.

When ice appears out of doors, and boys seize it up while it is solid, at first they experience new pleasures. But in the end their pride will not agree to let it go, but their acquisition is not good for them if it stays in their hands. In the same way an identical desire drives lovers to act and not to act.

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