Greek Words For Love
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Greek Words For Love

Ancient Greek philosophy differentiates main conceptual forms and distinct words for the Modern English word love: agápe, éros, philía, philautia, storg?, and xenia.

List of concepts

Though there are more Greek words for love, variants and possibly subcategories, a general summary considering these Ancient Greek concepts is as follows:

  • Agápe ( agáp?[1]) means "love: esp. brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God".[2] Agape is used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one's children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast.[3] Agape is used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God for his children.[4] This type of love was further explained by Thomas Aquinas as "to will the good of another".[5]
  • Éros (? ér?s) means "love, mostly of the sexual passion".[6] The Modern Greek word "erotas" means "intimate love". 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 Socrates argue 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.[7] Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth through the means of eros.
  • Philia ( philía) means "affectionate regard, friendship", usually "between equals".[8] It is a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle.[9] In his best-known work on ethics, Nicomachean Ethics, philia is expressed variously as loyalty to friends (specifically, "brotherly love"), family, and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity. Furthermore, in the same text philos is also the root of philautia denoting self-love and arising from it, 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 ( storg?) means "love, affection" and "especially of parents and children".[10] It is the common or natural empathy, like that felt by parents for offspring.[11] 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. This is also used when referencing the love for one's country or a favorite sports team.
  • Philautia ( philautía) means "self-love". To love oneself or "regard for one's own happiness or advantage"[12][full ] has been conceptualized both as a basic human necessity[13] and as a moral flaw, akin to vanity and selfishness,[14] synonymous with amour-propre or egotism. The Greeks further divided this love into positive and negative: one, the unhealthy version, is the self-obsessed love, and the other is the concept of self-compassion.
  • Xenia () is an ancient Greek concept of hospitality. It is sometimes translated as "guest-friendship" or "ritualized friendship". It is an institutionalized relationship rooted in generosity, gift exchange, and reciprocity.[15] Historically, hospitality towards foreigners and guests (Hellenes not of your polis) was understood as a moral obligation. Hospitality towards foreign Hellenes honored Zeus Xenios (and Athene Xenia) patrons of foreigners.

See also


  1. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (eds.). "". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus. Tufts University.
  2. ^ Liddell, H. G.; Scott, Robert (October 2010). An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon: Founded upon the seventh edition of Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon. Benediction Classics. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-84902-626-0.
  3. ^ "Greek Lexicon". The Online Greek Bible. Retrieved 2014.
  4. ^ Romans 5:5, 5:8
  5. ^ "St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 26, 4, corp. art". Retrieved .
  6. ^ ?, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  7. ^ Plato (1973). The Symposium. Translated by Walter Hamilton (Repr. ed.). Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin. ISBN 9780140440249.
  8. ^ , Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus.
  9. ^ Alexander Moseley. "Philosophy of Love (Philia)". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2014.
  10. ^ , Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus.
  11. ^ Strong B., Yarber W. L., Sayad B. W., Devault C. (2008). Human sexuality: diversity in contemporary America (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-07-312911-2.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  12. ^ [Merriam-Webster dictionary][verification needed].
  13. ^ See Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
  14. ^ B. Kirkpatrick ed., Roget's Thesaurus (1998) p. 592, 639.
  15. ^ The Greek world. Anton Powell. London: Routledge. 1995. ISBN 0-203-04216-6. OCLC 52295939.CS1 maint: others (link)


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