Saturday, February 18, 2012
Love according to ancient Greece
I'm working away on my second series for Sourcebooks. It's a spin-off of the Strange Neighbors series. What does that have to do with ancient Greece?
Only a smidgeon, but a smidgeon is all a writer needs for inspiration.
In my new cast of characters, I've included Gaia, a major Greek Goddess who we know as Mother Nature. For the fun of it, I'm including the occasional Greek God who fits with the story. No...I'm not writing historicals. Hopefully, I'm writing an hysterical!
Anyway, in my research, I came upon some interesting information. At least it's interesting to me. Maybe you'll find it dry, but I'm going to share it in the hope that maybe you, like me, have heard these words bandied about, but didn't really know the difference between them.
Greek distinguishes several different senses in which the word love is used. For example, Ancient Greek has the words philia , eros , agape , storge and xenia . However, with Greek as with many other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words totally. At the same time the Ancient Greek text of the Bible has examples of the verb agapo being used with the same meaning as phileo .
Agape (ἀγάπη agápē ) means love in modern day Greek. The term s'agapo means I love you in Greek. The word agapo is the verb I love . It generally refers to a "pure", ideal type of love rather than the physical attraction suggested by eros . However, there are some examples of agape used to mean the same as eros . It has also been translated as "love of the soul".
Eros (ἔρως érōs ) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Greek word erota means in love . Plato refined his own definition. Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth by eros. Some translations list it as "love of the body".
Philia (φιλία philía ), a dispassionate virtuous love, was a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. Philia is motivated by practical reasons; one or both of the parties benefit from the relationship. Can also mean "love of the mind".
Storge (στοργή storgē ) is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring.
Xenia (ξενία xenía ), hospitality, was an extremely important practice in Ancient Greece. It was an almost ritualized friendship formed between a host and their guest, who could previously be strangers. The host fed and provided quarters for the guest, who was only expected to repay with gratitude. The importance of this can be seen throughout Greek mythology, in particular Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.
With that, I give you all much philia and wish you eros and/or agape…whichever fits with your story.