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Concupiscence

Posted by kazvorpal on October 10, 2009


Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, an allegorical painting by Agnolo Bronzino (1545)

Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, an allegorical painting by Agnolo Bronzino (1545)

Concupiscence

Any ardent desire, but especially sexual desire; lust.

Good men seek it by the natural means of the virtues; evil men, however, try to achieve the same goal by a variety of concupiscences, and that is surely an unnatural way of seeking the good. Don’t you agree?
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

Under a forehead roughly comparable to that of the Javanese or the Piltdown man are visible a pair of tiny pig eyes, lit up alternately by greed and concupiscence.
S. J. Perelman, The Best of S. J. Perelman, Introduction (1947)

Like the use of the word ‘concupiscence‘ in an earlier age to describe sexual desire, the use of the word ‘pollution’ to describe essential aspects of the productive activities of an industrial society represents an attempt to defame an entirely proper human capacity by means of using an evil sounding name for it.
George Reisman, Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (1996)

Etymology
Neoclassical euphemism, adopted from Latin concupiscens, very desirous: com; an intensifier, and cupere, meaning “to long for”. Easy to remember, because Cupid comes from the same root.

Note
With the rise of sexual repression in Christianity, this word sometimes took on a pejorative connotation as a sexual euphamism, but is originally a poetic term for desire in general.

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2 Responses to “Concupiscence”

  1. […] Concupiscence « High-Vocabulary Word of the Day highvocab.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/concupiscence – view page – cached Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, an allegorical painting by Agnolo Bronzino — From the page […]

  2. Alan Fisk said

    If you’re interested, Bronzino’s Allegory is the subject of my historical novel Cupid and the Silent Goddess, which imagines how the painting might have been created in Florence in 1544-5.

    See:
    http://www.twentyfirstcenturypublishers.com/index.asp?PageID=496

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