What Love Is & What Love Is Not

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In the English language love is a word whose meaning, at times, is distorted.

So please allow me to enlighten you about what love is and what love is not.

There are several Greek words for love, as the Greek language distinguishes how the word is used. Ancient Greek has four distinct words for love: agápe, éros, philía, 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.

Agápe

Agápe means “love” (unconditional love) in modern day Greek, such as in the term s’agapo , which means “I love you”. In Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros”. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial love. Agape is also 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.

Éros

Éros is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “intimate 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. 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.”

In the Symposium, the most famous ancient work on the subject, Plato has the middle-aged Athenian philosopher, Socrates argue to aristocratic intellectuals and a young male acolyte in sexual pursuit of him, that eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth, the ideal “Form” of youthful beauty that leads us humans to feel erotic desire – thus suggesting that even that sensually-based love aspires to the non-corporeal, spiritual plane of existence; that is, finding its truth, just like finding any truth, leads to transcendence.

Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth through the means of eros.

Philia

Philia means friendship or brotherly love 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

Storge 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.

One Of My Favorite Passages

But let’s head back to one of my favorite passages from The Message Bible and see what is recorded in the passage 1 Corinthians 13.

  • Love never gives up.
  • Love cares more for others than for self.
  • Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
  • Love doesn’t strut.
  • Love doesn’t have a swelled head.
  • Love doesn’t force itself on others.
  • Love isn’t always ‘me first’.
  • Love doesn’t fly off the handle.
  • Love doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.
  • Love doesn’t revel when others grovel.
  • Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth.
  • Love puts up with anything.
  • Love trusts God always.
  • Love always looks for the best.
  • Love never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
  • Love never dies.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_for_love

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