Love is strife. Or so asserts the title of the enigmatic Italian Renaissance epic Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, or The Strife of Love in the Dream of Poliphilo. Our hero, Poliphilo, falls asleep after being shunned by his love Polia, and dreams (and falls asleep to dream within the dream) of his fraught quest to attain her love. Ultimately compelled by Cupid, Polia returns Poliphilo’s love, only for Poliphilo to awaken alone.
Francesco Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Venice: Aldus Manutius for Leonardus Crassus, Dec. 1499. Purchased with the Irwin collection, 1900, PML 373.