Sunday, February 14, 2016

Four Types of Love, Greek Style

by L.R.Trovillion

It's Valentine's Day. What else am I going to write about, but love? No, I'm not a Romance writer and, in fact, have never even read a Romance novel. But does that mean that writers in other genres know nothing about love? Of course not.

Looking for inspiration on the subject of love, I turned to Internet (why not?) I knew the ancient Greeks had several words to describe the different types of love--four in fact. I decided to see if the classical descriptions of love could be found in False Gods, my debut Young Adult novel. I decided to examine the heroine, high schooler Cory Iverson, and see if she experienced all the forms of love in the course of the novel. Here's what I found (without spoilers):

Eros: This is the love we probably think of most often--the physical attraction, the spark of romance, the passionate aspect of love. This is what fuels the Romance Novel machinery. It is the heat between two lovers and all the twists and turns they must go through to find each other that makes for great stories. In False Gods there is certainly Eros. The spark between the main character, Cory, and the outsider boy in school, Kevyn, is kindled from the start. It is Eros in its most purist form--first love, new love been teens.

Storge: This type of love is often described as a dutiful love, the love of family or for one's community. One may not particularly like the other people, but still love them from a sense of loving kinship and obligation. In False Gods, Cory and her sister, Jess, have a strained relationship. They do and say things to hurt one another, but in the end, they have enough love to overcome their differences.  At one point, Cory risks losing her sister's love forever, but takes a step she knows she must in order to help Jess.

Philia: This is a warm, tender, but platonic love, usually between peers or equals. It is committed, chosen love. Cory demonstrates this type of love for her friend, Regina, even though their relationship is plagued by difficulties and is threatened to be torn apart by outside influences. Cory stands by her friend no matter what and neither time nor distance changes how they feel about each other.

Agape: This is the highest form of love--one that is often used to describe God's love for his creation. It is unconditional; it accepts us for who we are and is giving without any expectation of love in return. It is sometimes described as sacrificial. According to Thomas Aquinas it is "to will the good of another" without any self-serving motivation. I thought hard about this type of love as it might appear in False Gods and decided it certainly does in Cory's love for her horse, Epiphany. In the end, Cory must make a decision, a very difficult one, involving Epiphany. When she does, she is not thinking of herself, her dreams, her desires, but instead is thinking only of the good for the horse. She demonstrates sacrificial love without any expectation of it being returned. That's agape love.

So, I found all the types of love. Does that mean I should consider marketing False Gods as a Young Adult Romance? Try this exercise on your novel, or a story you're reading now. It never hurts to think too much about love. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

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