The assault of emotion is also regarded by ancient authors as an endangering wetness. Emotion is a liquid or liquefying substance that pours into a person and dissolves him. Fear is “wet” in Archilochos and causes Anakreon to “drizzle.” Anxiety “falls in drops” within the minds of a Greek tragic chorus. Envy melts the eyes and heart of the envious in a Hellenistic epigram. Of all the emotions, by far the most devastating are those of erotic desire, for love combines a liquescent effect with fiery heat: the lover who is not melted away by Eros is likely to be burned to a crisp. Thus desire is variously said to melt, flood, soften, loosen, boil, broil, roast, drown and disintegrate the lover who is his victim.

∆ Anne Carson, excerpt of “Dirt and Desire: Essay on the Phenomenology of Female Pollution in Antiquity”, in Men in the Off Hours