There’s Love and Well, There’s Love
I love you. How easily we say it. It rolls off the tongue in an instant when we get what we want from someone close. At other times, love wells up when we simply feel happy being together with someone else. People say things about love every day. It’s common to the point of being familiar. Yet, the kind of love that launches a thousand ships and keeps relationships together under incredible stress is infinitely more potent. So what kind of love is that?
When it came to love, those canny Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two. To cover all its qualities was never going to work with one word. So they created several. Perhaps the one we know the most is eros, which is still used to describe passionate love. According to the wise minds at Wikipedia, eros describes the physical “love of the body.” No surprises there.
Then the word storge was used, describing natural affection; like the love a parent for her child. For many, these two love words more or less cover love’s modern meanings. But, clearly there’s more to love than that.
Philia (as in filial) was used to describe the virtuous kind of love that includes loyalty to family, friends, and the wider community. Practical in outlook, philia is about bonds of belonging and feelings of mutuality.
Then there’s the agape kind (not to be confused with a fondness for guppys), which as you probably know, refers to loving someone for their identity. This love of the soul is about adoring someone and as such is infinitely more enduring than, say, eros.
Finally, one other love comes to mind. Called xenia, the Ancient Greeks used this term to describe the affection given in hospitality, which seeks nothing more than gratitude. Xenia love seems to have been lost in many parts of the western world. Yet, its power to bring people together in deep appreciation remains undiminished.
You can see these forms of love can easily blur together at times, can’t they? But that’s okay. Just knowing it has more meanings reminds us that, though it’s simple to say, love has a depth and potency way beyond its outward simplicity.
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