From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
“LOVE, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder. This disease, like _caries_ and many other ailments, is prevalent only among civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from its ravages. It is sometimes fatal, but more frequently to the physician than to the patient.”--The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce, see love is a disease
"Love, for me, is an extremely violent act. Love is not ‘I love you all’ Love means I pick out something…. Even if this something is just a small detail, a fragile individual person, I say ‘I love you more than anything else.’ In this quite formal sense, love is evil."--Slavoj Žižek in Zizek! (2005).
Love refers to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection ("I love my mother") to pleasure ("I loved that meal"). It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection. It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one's self or animals.
Ancient Greeks identified four forms of love: kinship or familiarity (in Greek, storge), friendship (philia), sexual and/or romantic desire (eros), and self-emptying or divine love (agape). Modern authors have distinguished further varieties of romantic love.
Stendhal, in his book On Love (Paris, 1822), distinguished carnal love, passionate love, a kind of uncommitted love that he called "taste-love", and love of vanity. Denis de Rougemont in his book Love in the Western World traced the story of passionate love (l'amour-passion) from its courtly to its romantic forms. Benjamin Péret, in the introduction to his Anthology of Sublime Love (Paris, 1956), further distinguished "sublime love", a state of realized idealisation perhaps equatable with the romantic form of passionate love.
Non-Western traditions have also distinguished variants or symbioses of these states. This diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.
Love may be understood as a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.
Romantic love as a form of mental illness
“The language of Valentine's Day cards and love songs-‘crazy for you,’ ‘madly in love,’ says Frank Tallis, author of ‘Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness’ point to love as a mental illness
From Middle English love, luve, from Old English lufu (“love, affection, desire”), from Proto-Germanic *lubō (“love”), from Proto-Indo-European *lewbʰ- (“love, care, desire”). Cognate with Old Frisian luve (“love”), Old High German luba (“love”). Related to Old English lēof (“dear, beloved”), līefan (“to allow, approve of”), Icelandic ljúfur (“dear; beloved; sweet; gentle”), Saterland Frisian Ljoowe (“love”), Latin libet, lubō (“to please”) and Sanskrit लुभ्यति (lúbhyati, “to desire”), Albanian lyp (“to beg, ask insistently”), lips (“to be demanded, needed”), Serbo-Croatian ljubiti, ljubav, Russian любо́вь (ljubóvʹ), люби́ть (ljubítʹ).
The closing-of-a-letter sense is presumably a truncation of With love or the like.
The verb is from Middle English loven, lovien, from Old English lufian (“to love, cherish, sow love to; fondle, caress; delight in, approve, practice”), from the noun lufu (“love”). See above. Compare West Frisian leavje (“to love”), German lieben (“to love”), Icelandic lofa (“to prize”) and loforð (“a promise”).
Greek distinguishes several different senses in which the word "love" is used. For example, Ancient Greek has the words philia, eros, agape, storge, and xenia. However, with Greek (as with many other languages), it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words totally. At the same time, the Ancient Greek text of the Bible has examples of the verb agapo having the same meaning as phileo.
Agape means love in modern-day Greek. The term s'agapo means I love you in Greek. The word agapo is the verb I love. It generally refers to a "pure," ideal type of love, rather than the physical attraction suggested by eros. However, there are some examples of agape used to mean the same as eros. It has also been translated as "love of the soul."
Eros (from the Greek deity Eros) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Greek word erota means in love. Plato refined his own definition. Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth by eros. Some translations list it as "love of the body."
Philia, a dispassionate virtuous love, was a concept addressed and developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity. Philia is motivated by practical reasons; one or both of the parties benefit from the relationship. It can also mean "love of the mind."
Storge is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring.
Xenia (ξενία xenía), hospitality, was an extremely important practice in Ancient Greece. It was an almost ritualized friendship formed between a host and his guest, who could previously have been strangers. The host fed and provided quarters for the guest, who was expected to repay only with gratitude. The importance of this can be seen throughout Greek mythology—in particular, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.
Ancient Roman (Latin)
The Latin language has several different verbs corresponding to the English word "love." amō is the basic verb meaning I love, with the infinitive amare (“to love”) as it still is in Italian today. The Romans used it both in an affectionate sense as well as in a romantic or sexual sense. From this verb come amans—a lover, amator, "professional lover," often with the accessory notion of lechery—and amica, "girlfriend" in the English sense, often being applied euphemistically to a prostitute. The corresponding noun is amor (the significance of this term for the Romans is well illustrated in the fact, that the name of the City, Rome—in Latin: Roma—can be viewed as an anagram for amor, which was used as the secret name of the City in wide circles in ancient times), which is also used in the plural form to indicate love affairs or sexual adventures. This same root also produces amicus—"friend"—and amicitia, "friendship" (often based to mutual advantage, and corresponding sometimes more closely to "indebtedness" or "influence"). Cicero wrote a treatise called On Friendship (de Amicitia), which discusses the notion at some length. Ovid wrote a guide to dating called Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love), which addresses, in depth, everything from extramarital affairs to overprotective parents.
Latin sometimes uses amāre where English would simply say to like. This notion, however, is much more generally expressed in Latin by placere or delectāre, which are used more colloquially, the latter used frequently in the love poetry of Catullus. Diligere often has the notion "to be affectionate for," "to esteem," and rarely if ever is used for romantic love. This word would be appropriate to describe the friendship of two men. The corresponding noun diligentia, however, has the meaning of "diligence" or "carefulness," and has little semantic overlap with the verb. Observare is a synonym for diligere; despite the cognate with English, this verb and its corresponding noun, observantia, often denote "esteem" or "affection." Caritas is used in Latin translations of the Christian Bible to mean "charitable love"; this meaning, however, is not found in Classical pagan Roman literature. As it arises from a conflation with a Greek word, there is no corresponding verb.
- The Symposium (360 B.C.E) - Plato
- On Love (1822) by Stendhal
- Falling in Love (1979) by Francesco Alberoni
- Essays in Love (1993) by Alain de Botton
- Amatory fiction
- Amour fou
- Free love
- Interpersonal attraction
- Intimate relationship
- Greek words for love
- Love-hate relationship
- Love letter
- Love scene
- Love sickness
- Love song
- Love magic
- Love is blind
- Madonna-whore complex
- Platonic love
- Romance novel
- Romantic friendship
- Romantic love
- Romeo and Juliet
- Sexual revolution
- Unrequited love