Greek words for love
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
There are several Greek words for love, as the Greek language distinguishes how the word Ancient Greek has four distinct words for love: agape, eros, philia, 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.
- Agapē (agápē) means "love" in modern day Greek, such as in the term s'agapo (Σ'αγαπώ), which means "I love you." In Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection rather than the attraction suggested by "eros." Agape is used in ancient texts to denote feelings for a good meal, one's children, and the feelings for a spouse. It can be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard.
- Eros (love) (érōs) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Modern Greek word "erotas" means "(romantic) love;" however, eros does not have to be sexual in nature. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone whom you love more than the philia, love of friendship. 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. It should be noted 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." Plato also said 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. The most famous ancient work on the subject of eros is Plato's Symposium, which is a discussion among the students of Socrates on the nature of eros.
- Philia (φιλία}} philia) means friendship in modern Greek. 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) 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.
- Thelema (θέλημα}} thélēma) means "desire" in ancient and modern Greek. It is the desire to do something, to be occupied, or to be in prominence.