6 Greek Love? 😀 Love is Love 9 6 Love blinds / love binds 9
❝ Love, bittersweet and inescapable, creeps up on me and grabs me once again. ❞
Such heartfelt words expressing personal emotion by the Greek poet Sappho led to a mode of poetry in addition to the histrionic and impersonal epic: a focus on the self. The power of the words used by Roman poet Catullus to describe his heartfelt longing and love (and obsession?) are palpable:-
❝ …as many as the stars, when night is still,
gazing down on secret human desires:
as many of your kisses kissed
are enough, and more, for mad Catullus. ❞— Catullus
Together, Catullus and Sappho provided the inspiration for many of the articulations on, and metaphors for, love that have been seen time and again in prose and poetry throughout the ensuing centuries, by way of Shakespeare and Spenser et al., to the present day (e.g., Sergei Yesenin and E. E. Cummings).
~ Greek & Roman Love Poetry is discussed in this BBC Radio 4 podcast. ~
Love poetry is discussed from the Greek poet Sappho and her erotic descriptions of romance on Lesbos, to the love-hate poems of the Roman writer Catullus. The source of many of the images and metaphors of love that have survived in literature through the centuries. We begin with the words of Sappho, known as the Tenth Muse and one of the great love poets of Ancient Greece: “Love, bittersweet and inescapable, creeps up on me and grabs me once again” Such heartfelt imploring by Sappho and other writers led poetry away from the great epics of Homer and towards a very personal expression of emotion. Melvyn Bragg discusses this topic with With Nick Lowe, Senior Lecturer in Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London; Edith Hall, Professor of Classics and Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London and, Maria Wyke, Professor of Latin at University College London. ~
Here, we shall be focusing on the four letter word (n.b., its not the one that begins with ‘F’, see here for that one: the ‘F word’)… yep, here we’ll dwell on the one that begins with ‘L’ the word that conquers all others: the word that is spelt l o v e /lʌv/. (If you would like similar information that focuses on love in the context of ancient Roman, then please do click here: Roman Love &c.) The word ‘love’ is supposed to encompass a wide range of emotions and feelings … As with many good things, Ancient Greece offers insight. Greek philosophers made the concept more concrete by breaking it into various stations along the cline of the emotion of emotions. 
philia | φιλία Philia love is the type of love that one typically feels for parents, siblings and other close family members. This type of love is linked with loyalty, companionship, and trust. Hallmarks of philia is shared goodwill and friendship. Furthermore, it is the mode of love that is shared amongst those who have similar values and experiences.
Plato felt that physical attraction was not a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, “without physical attraction.” Aristotle believed that a person can bear goodwill to another for one of three reasons: that he is useful; that he is pleasant; and, above all, that he is good, that is, rational and virtuous. Friendships founded on goodness are associated not only with mutual benefit but also with companionship, dependability, and trust. As has been thought out aloud by Plato, the best kind of friendship is that which lovers have for each other. It is a philia born out of érōs, and that in turn feeds back into érōs to strengthen and develop it, transforming it from a lust for possession into a shared desire for a higher level of understanding of the self, the other, and the world. In short, philia transforms érōs from a lust for possession into an impulse for philosophy. Real friends seek together to live truer, fuller lives by relating to each other authentically and teaching each other about the limitations of their beliefs and the defects in their character, which are a far greater source of error than mere rational confusion: they are, in effect, each other’s therapist—and in that much it helps to find a friend with some degree of openness, articulacy, and insight, both to change and to be changed.
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02. Storge: Love of the Child
storgē | στοργή This type of love describes the unconditional love that parents have for their children. It is defined by unconditional approval, acceptance, and sacrifice. This type of love helps a child to develop through attachment, encouragement, and security. Storgē (‘store-gae’) will sometimes be called ‘familial love’ and is a mode of philia (see below) but is distinct in the sense that it can be unilateral and also, asymmetrical. More broadly, storgē is the fondness born out of familiarity or dependency and, unlike eros or philia, does not hang on our personal qualities. It can also describe a sense of patriotism toward a country or allegiance to the same team. People in the early stages of a romantic relationship often expect unconditional storge, but find only the need and dependency of eros, and, if they are lucky, the maturity and fertility of philia. Given enough time, eros tends to mutate into storge.
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03. Agape (selfless love)
agápē | ἀγάπη Agape love (a-GOP-aye) is representative of universal love. Greek philosophers felt that this is the type of love that people feel for other humans, for nature, and for a higher power. This love can be most easily expressed through meditation, nature, intuition, and spirituality. Agape love can be used interchangeably for charity and care for others. This love is unconditional, bigger than ourselves, a boundless compassion and an infinite empathy that you extended to everyone, whether they are family members or distant strangers. Agape (Ancient Greek ἀγάπη, agapē) is a Greco-Christian term referring to love, “the highest form of love, charity” and “the love of God for man and of man for God”. The word is not to be confused with philia, brotherly love, or philautia, self-love, as it embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance. It goes beyond just the emotions to the extent of seeking the best for others. The noun form first occurs in the Septuagint, but the verb form goes as far back as Homer, translated literally as affection, as in “greet with affection” and “show affection for the dead”. This may be seen as a combination of érōs and storgē, involving charitable and ‘selfless’ love. The term is closely associated with Greek versions of the Bible, in which it is prominent as the kind of unconditional love that God was depicted as holding towards humanity. (The translators of the King James Bible chose to render agápē as charity, for various reasons, a rendering which many scholars have suggested is not ideal (Hitchens, 2011).) As such, Jesus implored his followers to emulate this in their relations with one another. Indeed, in the Christian tradition, agápē is valorised as pre-eminent among the theological virtues: in the words of St. Paul, “So faith, hope, love [agápē] abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13). Thus, in its truest sense, agápē is not love directed exclusively towards select others. That is, a parent might feel unconditional, selfless love towards their child, such that they would sacrifice themselves to protect their progeny. However, in the fullest sense of the term, agápē depicts a more universal compassionate love, directed towards others ‘in general.’ There are many terms which pertain to this kind of love, including several expressing a sense of ‘loving-kindness,’ such as pittiarniq in Inuit, maitrī in Sanskrit, and gemilut hasadim in Yiddish. Related too are words concerning the virtue of showing kindness and hospitality to others, even (or especially) to strangers, from melmastia in Pashto to ubuntu in Nguni Bantu. Also called charity by many, agápē can be said to encompass the modern concept of altruism, defined as unselfish concern for the welfare of others. Recent studies link altruism with a number of benefits. In the short term, altruism leaves us with a euphoric feeling—the so-called ‘helper’s high’. In the longer term, it is associated with better mental and physical health, as well as longevity.
We can conclude, I suppose, that agápē (think: altruism) helps to build and maintain the psychological, social, and, indeed, environmental conditions that sustain and enrich the societies that humankind have created. This could be of particular import at this period of time — alternative facts & populism etc. — and the issue that is environmental degredation.
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04. Pragma: Long-lasting Love
prâgma | πράγμα Long-lasting love is evident in couples who have been together for a long period of time. This type of love continues to develop throughout the years and portrays synchronisation and balance. This type of love can only survive with constant maintenance and effort. Standing in contrast to the intensity and instability of mania is prâgma. This was another of Lee’s (1973) secondary styles, a rational, sensible form of love arising from the conjunction of ludus and storgē. It has a tenuous parallel with Sternberg’s (1997) notion of ‘empty’ love, which consists of commitment only. However, the pejorative qualifier ‘empty’ – implying a partnership in which people stay together, but feel no ‘love’ (e.g., intimacy) for each other – fails to capture the nuances embedded within prâgma. The term can be translated as a deed, action, or ‘a thing done.’ It thus captures the sense that love is not only the swooning feeling of ‘falling’ for someone, but also consists in the long-term process of building a life together, of forging a bond that does not depend upon the passing whims of desire. This aspect of love is often overlooked, or is not even regarded as love per se, as implied by Sternberg. However, its value has been recognised by theorists such as Fromm (1956), who argued in The Art of Loving that people place too much importance on ‘falling in love,’ and not enough on learning how to ‘stand in love.’ Without denying that ‘empty’ forms of commitment do exist (Hatfield, Bensman, & Rapson, 2012), in its fullest sense, prâgma arguably exemplifies this notion of ‘standing in love.’ It has its kinship in the Korean noun jeong, which depicts a deep affinity or connectedness that is not necessarily accompanied by romance. It is also reflected in the French verb s’apprivoiser, which literally means ‘to tame,’ but which in the context of a deep relationship can depict a mutual process of accommodation, whereby both sides learn to trust and accept each other.
Pragma is love built on commitment, understanding and long-term best interests. It is a love that has aged, matured and about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, also showing patience and tolerance. It is said that in arranged marriages, prâgma must have been very common. Pragma may seem opposed to ludus, but the two can co-exist, with the one providing a counterpoint to the other. In the best of cases, the partners in the prâgma relationship agree to turn a blind eye—or even a sympathetic eye, as in the case of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (allegedly, because I don’t really think it was such a fully consensual ‘open-relationship’).
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05. Ludus: Playful Love
Playful love is defined by flirtatiousness, seduction, and sex without commitment. The focal point of this love is on the experience rather than attraction or feelings. Ludus is evident in the beginning of a relationship and is comprised with elements of play, teasing, and excitement. The Ancient Greeks thought of ludus as a playful form of love. It describes the situation of having a crush and acting on it, or the affection between young lovers. Lomas (2018) likes to call this mode of love “paixnidi” (both are nouns, meaning game or play). Both in fact are multifaceted, capable of being deployed in positive or negative ways. In their positive inflection, they can refer to playful gestures of flirtation, to coy, game-based strategies (e.g., playing ‘hard to get’), or to cheeky displays of affection. An example of the latter is found in Tagalog, where gigil describes the irresistible urge to pinch/squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished. At a deeper level, in Western contemplative mystery traditions, the phrase ludus amoris is widely considered to depict the divine play of God, in which God eludes and yet also entices the spiritual seeker. Comparable concepts, and concomitant terms, are found in other traditions, such as the Hindu notion of ‘lila’ (Kinsley, 1974). However, paixnidi and ludus can also have negative connotations, such as describing scheming and deception in relation to love. Indeed, many studies drawing on Lee’s typology emphasise this darker ‘gamefulness’ (rather than a more benevolent ‘playfulness’). For instance, Sarwer, Kalichman, Johnson, Early, and Ali (1993, p. 265) define ludus as “a manipulative, game-playing orientation towards intimate relationships,” finding that this was the best predictor of coercion among Lee’s six styles. This negative side of paixnidi/ludus is reflected in the Boro verb onsay, which has been rendered as ‘to pretend to love.’ Ludus can involve activities such as teasing and dancing, or more overt flirting, seducing, and conjugating. The focus is on fun, and sometimes also on conquest, with no strings attached. Ludus relationships are casual, undemanding, and uncomplicated but, for all that, can be very long-lasting. Ludus works best when both parties are mature and self-sufficient. Problems arise when one party mistakes ludus for érōs, whereas ludus is in fact much more compatible with philia.
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06. Eros (erotic)
érōs | ἔρως Eros can be said to encapsulate the love of the body, erotic, sexually romantic and passionate love. Although I rank it as number 6, it is really the first kind of love. It is named after the Greek God of fertility. Eros is passion, lust and pleasure. It is said that relationships that are built solely on érōs tend to be short-lived… This does not though, have to be so.
The Ancient Greeks considered Eros to be dangerous and frightening as it involves a “loss of control” through the primal impulse to procreate. Eros is an intense form of love that arouses romantic and sexual feelings. This type of love illustrates sexual attraction, physical desire towards others, and a lack of control. It is powerful, passionate, and can dissipate quickly. Eros is sexual or passionate love, and is the type most akin to our modern construct of romantic love. In Greek myth, it is a form of madness brought about by one of Cupid’s arrows. The arrow breaches us and we ‘fall’ in love, as did Paris with Helen, leading to the Trojan War and the downfall of Troy and much of the assembled Greek army. In modern times, érōs has been amalgamated with the broader life force, something akin to Schopenhauer’s will, a fundamentally blind process of striving for survival and reproduction. Eros has also been contrasted with Logos, or Reason, and Cupid painted as a blindfolded child.
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07. Philautia: Self-love
Self-love is linked with confidence and self-worth and is necessary for a sense of purpose and fitting in. The Greeks understood that As Aristotle said, “all friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.”
It is widely considered to be the case that in order to care for others, we must first learn to care for ourselves. Philautia can be unhealthy and linked to narcissistic behaviors and arrogance, or can be healthy in the sense that we love ourselves before we learn how to love others. Greek philosophers believed that true happiness could only be achieved when one had unconditional love for themselves. Unhealthy self-love is akin to hubris. In Ancient Greece, a person could be accused of hubris if he placed himself above the gods, or, like The Orange One, above the greater good. Many believed that hubris led to destruction, or nemesis. Today, hubris has come to mean an inflated sense of one’s status, abilities, or accomplishments, especially when accompanied by haughtiness or arrogance. As it disregards truth, hubris promotes injustice, conflict, and enmity. Healthy self-love is akin to self-esteem, which is our cognitive and, above all, emotional appraisal of our own worth relative to that of others. More than that, it is the matrix through which we think, feel, and act, and reflects and determines our relation to ourselves, to others, and to the world. Self-esteem and self-confidence do not always go hand in hand. In particular, it is possible to be highly self-confident and yet to have profoundly low self-esteem, as is the case with many performers and celebrities.
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08. Mania: Obsessive love
Mania | μανία When love turns to obsession, it becomes Mania. Stalking behaviors, co-dependency, extreme jealousy, violence and being too possessive are all symptoms of Mania.It is the darkest category of love. As Lomas (2018) states, Mania was specifically deployed by Lee (1973) as one of his three secondary styles, a possessive, dependent form of love arising from a noxious combination of érōs (as Lee deployed the term) and ludus. It has its parallel in Sternberg’s (1997) notion of ‘fatuous/infatuated love,’ which he conceived as a problematic conjoining of passion and commitment (thus minus intimacy). A modern English equivalence might be ‘limerance,’ coined by Tennov (1998) to depict this intense, somewhat unstable feeling. Similarly, it has been conceptualised by Sperling and Berman (1991) as ‘desperate love,’ and by Hindy and Schwarz (1994) as ‘anxious romantic attachment.’ This type of love has its versions among the words/phrases analysed here, like the French notion of amour fou, which literally translates as ‘mad love.’ Indeed, scholars have argued that this darker form of love is worryingly common, in which positive feelings are intermingled with emotions like anger, jealousy and anxiety, to the extent that Spitzberg and Cupach (1998) claim provocatively – in their book “The Dark Side of Close Relationships” – that, “love and hate are indeed impossible to disentangle” (p.xiii).
❝ I hate and I love Why do I, you ask? I don’t know, but it’s happening and it hurts ❞
— Gaius Catullus (84–54 B.C.E.)
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You’ll hear of the five forms of love in the Bible and various other numbers banded about. Lee defined six varieties of relationship that might be labeled ‘love;’ these are not exactly synonymous with the forms of Greek Love. Lee’s six are:  Eros,  Ludus,  Storge,  Pragma,  Agape and [six] “Mania.” According to Lee — and by heavens, me — eros-love is a type of love that becomes life’s most important thing. But — and the lord does know this — mania-love can become the dominating theme, people have said, look no further than the film: “Fatal Attraction.” For Lee, agape-love was all about give and no take (he deemed this mode of love to be “relatively rare”). Based on empirical research, Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) gave support to Lee’s typology, arguing that, “six love style scales clearly emerge from factor analysis.” Lee predicted men would endorse Ludus more frequently. Initially that seemed to be confirmed, as Hendrick, Slapion-Foote, and Foote (1985) reported that men were more likely to show the ludic type of love, while women were more likely to be storgic or pragmatic. Having said this, Woll (1989) only found that “the only loving style which showed clear gender differences was Eros, on which males scored significantly higher than females.” Several other studies using the Love Attitude Scale found no gender differences. Other interesting observations that have been made over the years include: (1) Couples happily married for over 30 years commonly identify with the Eros category. This might seem counter-intuitive if one equates eros with sexual attraction only, or with limerence. Note well here though that the Love Attitude Scale items for Eros emphasise passionate devotion more than sex. Perhaps it is not surprising that long-married, happy couples would endorse statements like, “We are meant for each other” (Gana, Saada, & Untas, 2013). (2) In a study by Sharma and Ahuja (2014), who observed 20 dating couples, 20 couples married for less than two years and childless, and 20 couples married for more than 15 years with children, it was found that, “among the various love styles, only Eros and Agape were significantly correlated with relationship satisfaction across life stages.”
Anánkē: Star-crossed love This is a(nother) mode of romantic love — the one that might be regarded as its deepest and most complete form, although it can also be associated with tragedy, as per the archetype of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. In classical Greek, anánkē represented a binding force or necessity, and similarly implied unshakable destiny, to the extent that the poet Simonides wrote that “Even the Gods don’t fight against anánkē” (cited in Bowra, 1958, p. 61). For instance, in Japanese, ‘koi no yokan’ refers to the feeling on meeting someone that falling in love will be inevitable, while in Chinese, ‘yuán fèn’ describes a ‘binding force’ that impels a relationship ordained by destiny. These are augmented by words which, while not invoking fate, depict unshakable ‘lifelong’ forms of love, such as ‘sarang’ in Korean. While anánkē doesn’t feature in Lee’s (1973) typology – though agápē comes close – it is identified by Sternberg (1997) as ‘consummate love,’ involving the trinity of intimacy, passion and commitment. This type of love is strongly represented among the words analysed here. Interestingly, many allude to destiny and fate, capturing the sense that powerful forces guide its appearance in people’s lives, hence the choice of anánkē as the overarching label.
Epithymia: Passionate love Epithymia pertains to passionate love, encompassing qualities such as sensual desire and physical attraction. In Lee’s (1973) and Sternberg’s (1986) theories, passion was one of the three primary forms of love (labelled by Lee as érōs). However, epithymia is preferred here, enabling érōs to be used more generally for non-sexual appreciation and desire. For instance, Tillich (1954) argues that érōs ‘transcends’ epithymia, precisely because érōs is not merely about basic physical desire, but is imbued with higher values (e.g., an appreciation of beauty). An alternative title for this category was erotikos, as per Plutarch’s dialogue on passion of that name (more commonly referred to as the Amatorius) (Brenk, 1988); however, epithymia arguably renders the distinction with érōs clearer. As with the other categories, various words pertained to this feeling. For instance, in Chilean Yagán, mamihlapinatapei refers to a loo between people that expresses unspoken but mutual desire, while in Tagalog, kilig captures the butterflies in the stomach arising from an interaction with (or a thought of) someone one desires or finds attractive.
Koinōnía: Momentary love This type tends to be overlooked or underappreciated in discussions around love, mainly because people usually only refer to love in the context of stable or enduring relationships. However, in recent years, an innovative theory proposed by Fredrickson (2013) — entitled: Love 2.0 –identifies love with momentary micro-feelings of connection with people. Indeed, Fredrickson argues that this is love, and that the other forms, as discussed above, are rather elaborations of these fleeting intimacies. However, here this type is included as one form among many. The word selected to represent this form of love is koinōnía, which pertains to feelings of communion, sharing, and intimacy. However, in contrast to the negotiated longevity of prâgma, koinōnía is at the other end of the temporal scale; not an absence of commitment per se, but an absence of extended duration at all. Rather, it is a momentary spark between people, such as a meaningful flash of eye contact, or a shared moment of ‘participatory consciousness’ (Lutz, 2009), for example, as enjoyed by audiences at a captivating show in a Parisian parlour. This momentary type of love is captured, you see, by the French noun frisson, which depicts a sudden thrill, involving a potent combination of fear and excitement.
Meraki: Experiential love This is one of several ‘non-personal’ love categories that he identifies. He calls it a catch-all category for a deep fondness for any type of action or endeavour. In classical Greece –philia did not signify anything sexual per se, as indeed neither does it necessarily today (as per, for instance, Francophilia, a love or admiration for France). The term selected to represent this all-encompassing class of experiences is the Greek verb (and sometime adverb) “meraki.” This could be loosely translated as ardour, specifically with respect to one’s own actions and creations. As a verb, meraki can express desire or longing for a specific activity, whereas as an adverb, one might undertake a task with a spirit of ardour, care and love. Besides the various –philias that fall within the ambit of this term, other words helped shape this category. Some capture a passion and zest for life generally, including the Spanish nouns duende and vivencia, and the French phrase joie de vivre, with the latter an excellent example of an untranslatable phrase that has already been imported into English.
Sébomai: Reverential love This form of love is the logical counterpart to agápē. Recall that agápē was viewed as a kind of benevolent, paternal love. As such, in conceiving of an asymmetrical relationship between God and humankind, agápē expresses the love flowing ‘down’ from God. Correspondingly, this relationship has its concomitant ‘upwards’ form, a submissive stance of reverence and devotion. This is encapsulated by the Greek term sébomai, which means to stand in reverence, awe, and worship. This form of love combines the utmost of respect and devotion, together with darker elements such as fear, reflecting the power asymmetry of the dyad, which in the case of a relationship with God is essentially infinite (Johnson, 2016). Indeed, Keltner and Haidt (2003) describe awe as a “spiritual emotion” that exists in a powerful, rarefied zone “in the upper reaches of pleasure and on the boundary of fear” (p. 297). A somewhat similar form of devotional love, found within the Hindu tradition, is expressed by the Sanskrit term bhakti. However, in that cultural context, devotion can potentially take on different emotional qualities to those usually found within Western traditions, such as intimacy; this point shall be addressed further in the discussion below. Relatedly, there are words which pertain to other kinds of persons – aside from Gods – that may be a focus of such love, like the Sanskrit term guru, which describes a revered spiritual teacher or guide. This type of devotional love can also be extended to secular persons – albeit that the love retains a quasi-religious fervour – such as music or screen idols, a Greek-derived word which is particularly apt, given that it originally referred usually to an image of a deity.
The Love Attitude Scale
The 1986 “Love Attitude Survey” is a 42-item questionnaire designed to measure attitudes toward love. The questionnaire combines attitudes toward one’s current or recent or hypothetical partner with attitudes about love in general. The scale is broken into 6 sub-scales (7 items each) that each represent a different love style: EROS (passionate love) LUDUS (game-playing love) STORGE (friendship love) PRAGMA (practical love) MANIA (possessive, dependent love) AGAPE (altruistic love). Participants respond to each item using a 5-point scale, ranging from 1 (strongly agree), 2 (moderately agree), 3 (neutral), 4 (moderately disagree), 5 (strongly disagree). Participants are instructed to answer questions with their current partner in mind. However, the instructions state that if the respondent does not currently have a partner, he or she should answer with their most recent partner in mind. If, however, the respondents have never been in love, the instructions state that they should provide whatever answer they believe would be true. The survey is here: Love Attitude Scale
You will kill me. I shall kill you.
It started with a kiss
Not a mythical apple
1. (of a feeling or atmosphere) so intense as to seem almost tangible. — “A palpable sense of loss.” 2. Able to be touched or felt.
Perceptible by touch. — “The atmosphere of neglect and abandonment was almost tangible.”
Something that is unable to be touched; not having physical presence. — “The rose symbolised something intangible about their relationship.”
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