Love: Is it all Greek to you?
Valentine’s Day means a rush for any romantic gesture that could possibly be imagined. Love letters, carefully tucked away until this day will emerge with poems, hearts and declarations of “love.”
In English, love has many meanings; there is a love for friends, partners, family and even for your belongings. This one small word almost seems way too overused, taking away from what you’re trying to convey to this particular loved one.
Because of this, people might be pushed to further measures by researching other words for love, perhaps specifically Greek which supposedly has many. Most words in the English language are based on words from ancient Greek and Latin. Now when you begin to Google Greek words for love, you will find a combination of answers. Some websites claiming that there are nine words for love, others insisting there are only four.
When studying the language more deeply, you’ll find that a lot of these words aren’t necessarily correct or aren’t even used to define love at all. Whatever they may truly mean, these are the words you will encounter in your search.
Eros (could also be Epithumia): Eros is one of the most commonly known Greek words for love, and has been taken to mean a passionate, lustful love of physical attraction. Which, when used in a positive way, can be true. However, Eros isn’t necessarily positive, as it can be uncontrollable and dangerous. The Greeks themselves disliked Eros because it involved losing control of your actions.
Ludus: Ludus is the playful love of a young couple. It is flirtatious, new and exciting. A butterflies-in-your-stomach, tongue-tied kind of love that is essential in a long-lasting relationship. While it is connected with Eros, it is more innocent and youthful.
Philia: Philia is the love you find for a friend, but is not a love one has for a romantic partner. Plato believed that to have romantic love, one needs to have eros, or physical attraction or passion. Thus, the word platonic comes from his belief and means “a love or friendship intimate and affectionate but not sexual.”
Storge: Storge is a familial love for family or close, childhood friends. Like Philia, Storge is a platonic love. Storge can also be considered negative for its control over you, as it is not a love that you choose, but rather one that you can’t help but have.
Pragma: Pragma is a love that lasts over a long period of time. It has moved past Ludus and Eros, and continues into a deeper understanding of your partner and a willingness to make compromises for them. Pragma is a love that takes work and commitment, and for this reason is one of the most difficult kinds of love to achieve.
Mania: Mania is a purely negative form of love, because it is obsessive and jealous. This type of love stems from a person’s own traumas and issues, and convinces them they need this person to be happy.
Philautia: Philautia is a love for yourself. It is being able to forgive yourself for the things you cannot accept, and to learn to improve when you find yourself lacking. Many people would say that Philautia is a deep love and adoration of yourself, free from narcissism or vanity. However, truly loving yourself is an almost impossible feat for many people. Instead, Philautia can be taken as an acceptance of who you are while still trying to become better in any way you can.
Agapi or agape: Agapi is the purest form of love, as it is a love for anyone. It is being able to love a stranger regardless of their faults or their form. Agapi doesn’t necessarily have to do with being “nice” to everyone, as being nice can simply be a more impressive form of acting. Agapi takes years of practice and dedication, and one is only able to find it when they truly have the strength to help and be generous to someone regardless of who they are.
Anjali Figueira-Santos is a student at Forest Charter School and intern with The Union.
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