If I were to ask you to define "love" right now, what would you say?

Maybe you'd suggest love is the passionate feeling between lovers? Someone else might quote Corinthians 13 from the Bible or a passage from another spiritual tome. Yet a third person might define love as the actions we'd take on behalf of a friend?

Well, according to the ancient Greeks any of these answers (and others) would be correct.

The ancient Greeks had a way of delving deeply into subjects from democracy, theology, philosophy, and love. And much of their pondering has informed or at least influenced the way we look at many things today.

Because our modern world moves so quickly, some of the depth of their study has been shallowed. Perhaps because we just don't have the time to dig as deeply into *all of the things.*

As Valentine's Day gets closer, I thought it might be an appropriate time to review the ancient Greeks' ideas about love. Or love(s). They believed there were at least seven different kinds:

Eros. Ah, yes. This is usually the first type of love we think about when Valentine's Day rolls around. This is that romantic rush of passionate love that pierces our hearts like we've been struck by Cupid's arrow. Eros was, after all, the Greek god of "love." Or perhaps better he is better defined as the god of passion and physical desire.

Eros
proud_natalia

But what about the love you have for your best friend? The ancient Greeks would've referred to this as Philia. This word is often translated as "brotherly love" or "friendship."

Philia
Dangubic

But there's another type of love that describes a type of organic fondness and interdependency that develops out of familiarity--like within a family. The ancient Greeks called this Storge.

Storge
Catherine Yeulet

What about that lighthearted, flirty type of "love" you've probably experienced many times over the course of your life. They called that Ludus. Shorthand: playful love. That sounds fun. :)

Ludus
Jupiterimages

There was also a distinction made for the type of love that may develop between people who work toward common goals together. This pragmatic type of love was called, Pragma. (How pragmatic of them.)

Pragma
Digital Vision.

For those of us who are spiritually-minded or even simply altruistic in nature, you may have experienced and/or shared what the ancient Greeks called Agape love. You may have even heard this described as the love of God. It's described as a selfless type of love expressed through one's character or action on behalf of others.

Agape
Craft24

But wait, there's more! ;) The ancient Greeks even had a word to describe what may seem like a quite modern concept--self-love. They referred to this type of love as Philautia. Although some shy away from this kind of love, fearing it to be "selfish," it is not when kept in balance.

But in case the scales do tip too far to one side? They had a myth describing what happens when self-love turns into a type of self-worship. Ever read the story of Narcissus? Yep, that's where we get the psychological term "narcissism." But that's another story.

Philautia.
AaronAmat

Interesting, isn't it? It's also a good reminder as we get closer to the "day of love," that romantic love is just one of many forms. If you find you're single on Valentine's Day this year, see it as an opportunity to receive and/or express one of the SIX other forms.

See if you can help a co-worker or a family in need. Donate to your favorite charity. Send a funny card to your BFF.

And don't forget to be kind to yourself. You need love from you, too.

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