LOVE: The Ancient Greeks’ point of view


Photo by Stella

Written by: Vivian Liao, Daniela Ramirez and Stella Georgian
With Valentine’s Day just a couple weeks past, the concept of love is still fresh on our minds and hearts. But which kind of love? The Ancient Greeks described love in six different ways, because “I love you” and “I love pizza” have two very different meanings. Here’s our light spin on this ancient philosophy with brief descriptions, poetry, and art relating to each type of love.

Art By Vivian

Philia [Friendship]:

Brotherly love is one of the most valued and influential types of love to us and the ancient Greeks alike. Whether you’re more introverted or extroverted; we all need friendships to an extent. Having a loving camaraderie can allow us to grow deeper and care for others.

Η αγαπημένη μου φίλη
(My dearest friend)

We’ve both planted this garden and have seen it grow through the years
Though others have planted in it, our flowers are the only ones that have stayed alive
Against the rush of the circumstances because
This friendship is one that rides against
The current of the ocean between

Ludus [A playful love]:

Ludic love is a frolicsome, non-committal type of love, pursued with coltish antics. This kind of love is a casual affair where lovers are involved in a game-like relationship. Ludic love is fun and careless, and not always long-lasting.

Romeo and Juliet are ludic lovers who are held close to our hearts,
Teenage love which had a playful side,
That walks down school halls
Fingers laced in each other’s
Until later at a drive-in,
Where kisses are behind closed doors,
The lighthearted thrill of doing what you’re not supposed to
School dances, heartthrobs, first kisses and first break-ups
Are all part of the love we know now and have hope for it to transpire into something deeper

Philautia [Self love]:

Negatively, philautia can mean narcissistic pursuits of pleasure and fame. Positively, it is self-love and a happiness which stems from it. Achieving self-love is a road long and sometimes rocky, with days where self-hatred seems like an endless dominance, but with time comes confidence and self-acceptance. Philautia is an important aspect of self. Grow to realize your worth. Do not hold your failures against yourself.

Within me I hold the wisdom of Athena,
The beauty of Aphrodite,
The strength of Artemis,
The growth of Demeter, and the self-worth of Hera
Call me Narcissus but the only reflection of myself I now see is love
The love that fluctuates on good days and bad,
The love relies on no one but myself
This love is not one to be tampered with by outsiders, onlookers
This love is the love that separates me from Apollo and his muses
It is the love that has given me clarity,
For the only muse I need is myself

Agape [Love for everyone/unconditional love]:

Agape love is the rarest type of love. It is an altruistic, giving, selfless love. Because agapic love tends to put other’s needs in front of your own, it can result in negligence to your own needs. Agapic love may be viewed as pure and unconditional, but there are dangers to loving without thought to yourself.

Down the streets I watch it flood, ripple, and roar
Its passionate waves rumble the cobblestone like a storm
Thunder claps, lightning strikes, but what’s left is love
What’s left is nature, human nature
Soft and meek it appears, waiting to love.
Selfless and continuous, it pours
Like there is no stopping
Hating is easier than loving.
Loving makes us vulnerable
Loving makes us frightened
Loving makes us joyous
It makes our hearts sing
Kisses that spill poetry,
An adorance that’s deeper than the ocean
A passion that soaks and fills your heart with nothing more than love.
But loving is an experience; not a feeling
Our agapic love today comes in waves, not floods
Sometimes it’s not for a person; but a concept, a feeling, something we’re chasing after.
But do we all capture agapic love?
Maybe our hearts don’t all seep tender,
Maybe our hearts don’t all fall madly,
But maybe they do all hold the capacity to love, deeply.
The ancient Greeks described the passion behind “true love” and all the happiness, infatuation, and fear that comes with it, with one single word.

Art By Vivian

Eros [Sexual passion]:

Sex changes. Over time, with different people, different preferences, and different relationships. But one thing is constant; there is an underlying shame of sex. It does vary in different cultures but it is prevalent in one way or another. Even in ancient Greece, eros wasn’t commonly viewed as something positive. They saw sexual desire as something gripping hold of you, stealing your control. This fiery passion has definitely become more mainstream and accepted, but it still holds a certain stigma. This love is one of the few that doesn’t actually require any love at all. When sex and love are paired it can surely be intimate, but it doesn’t always need that certain connection. Sex is more of a physical loving than an emotional one.

Hands. Clothes. Heat. Passion. Red. Lust. Bed. Thigh. Fingers. Lips. Feel. Moan. Touch. Kiss. Dreamy. Nirvana. Pulse. Shutter. Giggle. Intimate. Euphoric. Bedroom. Long. Neck. Touch. Beg. Love. Sensual. Stimulate. Please. Desire. Crave. Adore. Ecstasy.

Pragma [Longstanding love]:

“You may love many people in your life but it’s a matter of who you can live with.” - A piece of wise advice from my mother. Soulmates are not always enriched in intense, agapic, lustful love. Some souls just fit together like they were carefully picked for one another. This kind of love is a tolerable, sensible love. In other words, you can stand that person enough to potentially spend your life with them. Ancient Greeks believed this love was mature and had an importance within long-term relationships. This love strengthens our romance and close affiliations with our partners.

Our souls were split
Into several pieces
That we all search for on this planet
Looking, yearning for the puzzle pieces
The pieces that don't complete the puzzle of our heart
But rather of ourselves
These are the pieces that fit miraculously together
In feeling, understanding
And in love
These are intricate pieces that are glued together
With the promise of a lifelong connection