Greek words for love

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There are a few Greek words for love, as the Greek language distinguishes how the word is used. Ancient Greek has four distinct words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. However, as with other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words. Nonetheless, the senses in which these words were generally used are given below.

  • Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē[1]) means love in a "spiritual" sense. In the term s'agapo (Σ'αγαπώ), which means "I love you" in Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of "true unconditional love" rather than the attraction suggested by "eros." This love is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the "love chapter," 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial and spiritual love. Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit). Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one's children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast. It can also be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard. Agape is used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God for us. This type of love was further explained by Thomas Aquinas as "to will the good of another."[2]
  • Éros (ἔρως érōs[3]) is "physical" passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. Romantic, pure emotion without the balance of logic. "Love at first sight". The Modern Greek word "erotas" means "intimate love;" however, eros does not have to be sexual in nature.[citation needed] Eros can be interpreted[by whom?] as a love for someone whom you love more than the philia, love of friendship.[citation needed] It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage. 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. Plato does not talk of physical attraction as a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, "without physical attraction." In the Symposium, the most famous ancient work on the subject, Plato has Socrates argue that eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth, the ideal "Form" of youthful beauty that leads us humans to feel erotic desire – thus suggesting that even that sensually based love aspires to the non-corporeal, spiritual plane of existence; that is, finding its truth, just like finding any truth, leads to transcendence. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth through the means of eros.
  • Philia (φιλία philía[4]) is "mental" love. It means affectionate regard or friendship in both ancient and modern Greek. This type of love has give and take. It is a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. In ancient texts, philos denoted a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers.
  • Storge (στοργή storgē[5]) means "affection" in ancient and modern Greek. It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in "loving" the tyrant.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ἀγάπη, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  2. ^ "St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 26, 4, corp. art". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  3. ^ ἔρως, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  4. ^ φιλία, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  5. ^ στοργή, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus

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