It won’t be wrong to claim that the modern idea of romance traces back to the age of the ancient Greeks. The concept of romance for Greeks has left a remarkable influence to Latin literature, which includes renowned works such as Petronius by Satyricon which was published in the late first century AD. However, it is to note that Greek art and literature does not portray love the way we do today, in fact, there was no perception in ancient Greece comparable to the modern conception of ‘sexual preference’ – it was supposed that an individual could have both hetero and homosexual relationships at different times. Nonetheless, the fact that Greek romance is what led up to what we consider love today cannot be denied.
8 Types of Love from the Romantic Ancient Greeks
The Ancient Greeks characterized love as eight different types, each pertaining unique characteristics:
1. Eros (Romantic, impassioned love)
Literally, Eros translates to passion, lust, and pleasure. Eros was believed to be dangerous and terrifying by the Greeks as it revolved around getting completely out of control just because of the primitive instinct to reproduce. Eros is associated with the kind of passion that stimulates erotic desires. Eros is also mentioned in the Old Testament to articulate the physical and carnal intimacy between a husband and a wife.
The Greeks believed that God had intentionally used the relationship of marriage as a portrayal of the association he has with his people. In today’s modern world, Eros has been incorporated with the wider force of life, akin to Schopenhauer’s will – a profoundly blind procedure of struggling for subsistence and procreation. Furthermore, Eros has been juxtaposed with Logos, or Reason, as well as Cupid, portrayed as a blindfolded child.
2. Philia (Platonic love)
The second type of love on our list is Philia, which is believed to be the love that exists in platonic relationships. Plato sensed that physical attraction did not constitute an essential element of love, hence the usage of the word platonic is derived from ‘Plato’ which translates to “without physical attraction”. For Plato, the greatest sort of friendship is the one which lovers possess for each other. In one way or another, it can be said that Philia converts Eros from a desire for possession into an instinct for philosophy.
Aristotle thought that a person can deliver kindness to another for one of three reasons: if the other person is being useful; if the other person is pleasant by nature; and primarily, if the other person is ‘good’ in the sense that he is sensible and righteous. Friendships established on decency are linked not only with reciprocal value but also with comradeship, loyalty, and faith. Modern philosophers today believe that true friends pursue together to live sincerer, richer lives by connecting with each other genuinely and coaching each other about the confines of their principles and the flaws in their character.
3. Agape (Selfless love)
The third kind of love is Agape, which is thought to be altruistic, collective love, like the love for nature, strangers, or God. This love is absolute, larger than our mere existence, and constitutes a limitless empathy and endless compassion that has spread from heart to heart, regardless of if towards family members or faraway strangers. Recent studies associate philanthropy with many advantages. In the short-term, a selfless act gives us an amazing, ecstatic feeling, the so-called "helper’s high". In the longer term, philanthropy has been linked with improved mental and physical health, and even have a longer life expectancy. In simpler terms, selflessness, or agape, aids one in constructing and retaining the psychological, social, and, an environmental foundation that protects, nurtures, and improves us. Given the growing resentment and division in our society and the condition of our planet, we could all do with a little extra agape.
4. Storge (Familiar love)
Storge is believed to be the love that exists amongst family members. This kind of love is frequent amongst parents towards their children, and vice versa. Storge can also express a feeling of patriotism for a country or loyalty to the same group. Although characterized as a kind of philia, it is worth mentioning that storge differs from most philia in the sense that it veers, particularly with younger children, to be autonomous or disproportionate. In general, storage is the affection born out of closeness or dependence. In comparison with eros and philia, it is significantly less contingent on one’s individual traits. For the individuals who seem to be in the initial phases of a romantic relationship – they frequently anticipate unconditional storge, but discover only the need and reliance of eros, and, if they are fortunate, the maturity and fruitfulness of philia. However, if given enough time, eros has a tendency to transmute into the storge.
5. Mania (Fanatic love)
The fifth kind of love on our list is Mania. As eerie as it sounds, Mania is when love transforms into an obsession. Classic examples of Mania include stalking, co-dependency, and jealously. Mania often leads a lover into a sort of insanity and obsessiveness. According to some philosophers, it befalls when there happens to be some sort of discrepancy between eros and Ludus. For the individuals who ‘suffer from’ mania, love becomes a way to save themselves from their own self-esteem – love happens to be a fortification of their own worth as the victim of low self-esteem. These ‘victims’ have a desire to love others and to receive love from others in order to attach some sort of value and significance for both, their lover, and themselves – due to this, they tend to develop possessiveness and jealousy as part of their feelings for their lover, feeling as if they frantically ‘need’ their partners in order to simply survive.
6. Ludus (Playful love)
The sixth kind of love characterized by the Ancient Greeks centuries ago is Ludus. Ludus is depicted as the type of love that is playful. It paints a picture of someone falling for someone and looking for ways to act upon their ‘cute’ desires, or the fondness between young lovers. In simpler terms, Ludus happens to be the feelings we develop while we go through the initial stages of falling in love with someone, e.g. flirting, teasing, and feelings of euphoria. Due to such traits, it is often compared to the erotica of eros, but it is worth mentioning that Ludus is very different. When it comes to love, playfulness is a vital component that often drifts away in relationships that have survived for a long time. However, playfulness can be considered a secret of a happy couple that has kept their love alive and ensured that the childish nature of their love is thriving, fascinating, and electrifying.
7. Pragma (Enduring love)
Number seven on our list is Pragma. Pragma is the sort of love that has been constructed with dedication, insight, and longstanding best interests as the foundations keeping the strong structure of a couple’s love strong and intact. It is one of the rare kinds of love that has been allowed to age, develop and give meaning to itself – it is about making compromises to help the relationship work until the end, which includes practicing observing tolerance and acceptance for each other.
The pragma can be considered the secret of married couples who have spent a large portion of their lives together, against all odds and the test of time. Unfortunately, when it comes to the human race in general, pragma is a kind of love that is rarely found. We, as humans, spend so much time and energy struggling to find love, but we don’t invest the same kind of measurements when it comes to learning how to sustain and preserve that love.
8. Philautia (Self-love)
Last on our list is Philautia or self-love. The Greeks realized that in order to love others, we must first learn to love ourselves. Aristotle once said, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself”. Self-love is often associated with vanity. egocentrism and narcissism, however, this form of self-love is not the unhealthy vanity and egocentrism that is concentrated on personal fame, gain, and prosperity as is the case with narcissism. Instead, Philautia is the loved one has for themself in its purest form – the kind of self-appreciation that makes one bloom. It can be associated with the Buddhist ideology of ‘self-compassion’, based on the innate insight that until and unless one gathers up the strength to love their own self and feel comfortable in their own skin, will one be capable of offering love to others.
Whichsoever category of love one has experienced in their lifetime, one thing is for sure – love is the universal language of kindness, empathy and consideration. In short, it is what makes us human and makes us unique in comparison to other creatures on the planet. The ability to feel and live in harmony as a community is a gift not all creatures have been given or understand. The Ancient Greeks realized this unique ability and were grateful centuries before we were!