In English, the word LOVE is often understood to be the romantic kind between partners. Of course, we all know there are different ways of loving others. The Ancient Greeks had around 30 different words to describe all the different loving feelings between people. Here are just a few of the more significant ones as identified by these smart philosophers.
Philautia – The Love of Self
This is quite possibly the most important love of them all for without it, it is impossible to love others. It is only when you like yourself and are secure in who you are, that you can truly love.
Self-belief and self-respect are two further inevitable and beautiful results of Philautia. However, in an extreme form, self-love can turn into narcissicm. “All feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” ~ Aristotle
Agape – All-encompassing Love
This love includes everyone & everything, from close family to complete strangers. It is entirely selfless, totally un-conditional and wants nothing in return.
It can be understood as a deep empathy for all mankind, the planet and all it’s creatures. It is also the love we are most in need of in our world, to ensure all can survive and thrive.
Pragma – Deep Understanding
Signified by the deep understanding that develops between long-married couples or long-standing friends, it is an un-selfish and un-demanding love.
Pragma makes people care for each other through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, regardless of the effort it takes them. It takes empathy and compromise to make a relationship work over time, requiring patience for and tolerance with the other person’s quirks.
Philia – Brotherly Love
The love between people who have shared experiences, such as old schoolfriends, co-workers or brothers in arms.
It is also the root of several commonly used terms:
| Philosophy: Love of Wisdom
| Philanthropy: Love of Humanity
| Philology: Love of Language
| -phile: as in Anglophile or Bibliophile; a person who enjoys a particular thing, activity or place.
Eros – Passionate Love
Named after the Greek god of fertility, it represents the idea of sexual passion, desire and powerful magnetism.
EROS was considered a dangerous and irrational form of LOVE which can consume you and involves a loss of control but which can evolve into other kinds of love.
Passionate love was recognised as destructive, the love that inspires wars, suicides and jealousy as in the stories of classical mythology or Shakespeare’s tragedies.
Storge – Instinctive Love
It is considered an instinctive and unconditional affection, used to describe the feelings we have for family members, young children and pets. Instinctive since it happens automatically, unconditional because it is not dependent on the charachteristics or the value of the other.
It easily overcomes discriminating factors and is the result of close familiarity, knowing each other well and accepting as is.
Ludus – Playful Love
This is the Greek word for playful, flirty love, typically seen early on in a romantic relationship or the affection apparent between young children. It consists of lots of playful interactions without being particularly intimate or intense.
Think for example of two people, strangers, on a dancefloor. In Latin, the word means ‘play, game, sport or training’. A primary school was a Ludus and it was also used to describe board games.