Approaching the end of our course (sadly), we realised that stories and recounts of history often consist of bloodshed, religion and innovations. We often don’t often come across the idea of love and romance. If you didn't know, the Greeks were - and are still - often associated with love and romance. In fact, the Greeks were such romantic people, that they are known to have conjured some of the most beautiful and captivating love stories that are still being perpetuated today!
Love was such an important and complex concept to the Ancient Greeks that there were actually (arguably) up to 8 types of love: Eros, Philia, Agape, Storge, Ludus, Mania, Pragma and Philautia. These types of love even transcend today, with the most common being Eros, Philia, Agape and Storge. Here is our take on 2 very popular Greek love stories. Yes, one of them is the typical heartbreaking and sweet story of star-crossed lovers. But what about the other? You’ll just have to watch it to find out!
Conceptions of Love
Before moving on to the clips, it is first important to understand the types of love behind the two stories.
Eros - Romantic Love
The term eros is often used to refer to sexual desire; a passionate, intense desire for something or someone, also encapsulated in the modern notion of the word “erotic”. Eros is also named after the Greek god of love, the son of Aphrodite.
Eros is usually depicted as a young boy with wings, holding his bow and arrows to shoot into the hearts of gods or mortals which would lead them to desire someone else whom Eros shoot the arrows at. Eros is said to be the type of love we have for earthly beauty that cannot be satisfied until the the day we die. Reciprocity is also not necessary in such love (which might explain why Greek love stories tend to be tragic or unrequited).
One of the many love stories that falls under this category would be that of Cupid and Psyche’s. Here is our take on their story, enjoy!
Philia - friendship
For the Greeks, Philia not only refers to friendship, but also loyalty to one’s family, state’s political community or job. Aristotle describes Philia as friendship derived from love for another. He also posits that there can be different types of friendships that serve different purposes, such as clinching business contracts. This shows the mentality of pragmatism and rationality during their time, very much similar to today’s society (in a much subtler form). Love within friendship meant mutual affection and commitment.
Agape - universal love
This type of love is seen as a more universal form. Agape love is one that practises unconditional affection from an individual to another, regardless of their relationship with each other and despite one’s shortcomings. This type of love believes that human beings ought to love one another the same - “love for everyone”, which also explains why the word Agape when translated from Latin, means “charity”. Agape is also representative of the type of love that Jesus had for his people.
Storge - familial love
Storge refers to the type of love felt by a mother for her child, a brother for his sister, or sometimes even by best friends who are as close as siblings. This type of love is one often develops naturally as a result of familiarity from close, consistent interaction, such as that of kinship. Unlike in Agape, Storge does not require any form of commitment and is a form of affection that flows instinctively from an individual to another.
Below is a not-so-typical Greek love story between mother and daughter. Enjoy!
From the story of Cupid and Psyche, we can learn that trust is crucial for every relationship. We can also see that sometimes, to attain happiness, one needs to display dedication and go through struggles. As for the story of Demeter and Persephone, we can see that familial love is so important that it impacts the environment. Also, we witness Demeter’s anguish for her lost daughter, which is so relevant to many parents today.
In this day and age, people in the modern world are constantly caught up with the idea of finding a significant other to spend their lives with. There are probably instances where we pay less attention to the love that we receive from our families. It is common for people these days to joke about “staying single” all their lives, as though it isa curse. Always remember that there is always some other form of love out there! Romance is merely one of the aspects of love. It is not everything.
As a Greek Proverb goes, “A heart that loves is always young”.
Perhaps this is why the ideals, Romance and Love of the Ancient Greeks still live on today, and for many years to come.