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Headword: Ἔρως
Adler number: epsilon,3070
Translated headword: love
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
"That no love [is] seemly [asteios]: this proposition is asserted universally. But it is refuted [by saying] that not every love is base. For we divide love [into different kinds]: as the intense longing for sexual acts, as Epicurus says, which cannot be seemly;[1] but also also as the attempt to make friends on account of an internally manifest beauty, as those from the Stoa [say];[2] or the recollection of a beauty once seen, as Plato [says]; for these loves are seemly."[3]
"When it is proposed that a wise man will be in love and we want to refute this, we might define "to be in love" and we will take it as "love takes someone"; and since the offered [term] is not yet known, we will proceed to define "love". Should we, in defining this, take [it] as an irrational desire for the pleasure of physical beauty or the intense longing for sexual acts, we should refute the issue: for it is clear that these things are foreign to the wise man. Likewise if we should define [love] as vehement desire,[4] since what is vehement is unclear, then again we will bring the thing itself into argument."[5]
"They say that love is the attempt at doing good on account of an internally manifest beauty and not an [attempt] at intercourse, but at friendship.[6] At any rate Thrasonides, although he had power over his beloved, because of being hated held himself back from her. Therefore, love is of friendship, it is not bestowed by the gods.[7] But youth is the flower of virtue."[8]
In the Attic dialect it is declined ὁ ἔρος ["love"], τοῦ ἔρου ["of love"]. For thus they write and pronounce this word, just as ἀμείνων ["better"] and χείρων ["worse"] they say ἄμεινος and χεῖρος .[9]
But Plato talks about love in more detail.[10] It has been set down in the [entry] concerning a proverb under the letter epsilon.[11]
Greek Original:
Ἔρως: ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἔρως ἀστεῖος, τοῦτο πρόβλημά ἐστι καθόλου ἀποφαντικόν. ἀνασκευάζεται δέ, ὅτι μὴ πᾶς ἔρως φαῦλος: διαιροῦμεν γὰρ τὸν ἔρωτα εἴς τε σύντονον ὄρεξιν ἀφροδισίων, ὡς Ἐπίκουρος λέγει, ὃν οὐχ οἷόντε ἀστεῖον εἶναι, καὶ εἰς ἐπιβολὴν φιλοποιίας διὰ κάλλος ἐμφαινόμενον, ὡς οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς Στοᾶς: ἢ ἀνάμνησιν τοῦ ποτε ὁραθέντος κάλλους, ὡς Πλάτων: ἀστεῖοι γὰρ οὗτοι οἱ ἔρωτες. κειμένου δὲ τοῦ τὸν σοφὸν ἐρασθήσεσθαι, ἀνασκευάσαι τοῦτο θέλοντες ὁρισαίμεθα τὸ ἐρασθῆναι, καὶ ληψόμεθα τό, ἔρωτά τινος λαβεῖν: καὶ ἐπεὶ μηδέπω γνώριμον τὸ προκείμενον, ἐπὶ τὸ τὸν ἔρωτα ὁρίζεσθαι προελευσόμεθα. ἂν δὴ ὁριζόμενοι τοῦτον λάβωμεν ἄλογον ἐπιθυμίαν ἡδονῆς τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ σωματικοῦ κάλλους ἢ σύντονον ὄρεξιν ἀφροδισίων, ἀνεσκευακότες ἂν εἴημεν τὸ πρόβλημα: δῆλον γάρ, ὅτι ἀλλότρια ταῦτα τοῦ σοφοῦ. ὁμοίως κἂν ὁρισώμεθα αὐτὸν σφοδρὰν ἐπιθυμίαν, ἐπεὶ τὸ σφοδρὸν ἀσαφές, πάλιν αὐτὸ τοῦτο εἰς λόγον μεταληψόμεθα. ὅτι τὸν ἔρωτά φασιν ἐπιβολὴν εἶναι φιλευποιί̈ας διὰ κάλλος ἐμφαινόμενον, καὶ μὴ εἶναι συνουσίας, ἀλλὰ φιλίας. τὸν γοῦν Θρασωνίδην, καίπερ ἐξουσίαν ἔχοντα τῆς ἐρωμένης, διὰ τὸ μισεῖσθαι ἀπέχεσθαι αὐτῆς. εἶναι οὖν τὸν ἔρωτα φιλίας, μὴ εἶναι θεόπεμπτον. εἶναι δὲ τὴν ὥραν ἄνθος ἀρετῆς. Ἀττικῶς δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὁ ἔρος, τοῦ ἔρου, κλίνεται. οὕτω γὰρ καὶ αὐτοὶ τοῦτο τὸ ὄνομα γράφουσι καὶ ἐκφωνοῦσιν, ὥσπερ καὶ τὸ ἀμείνων καὶ χείρων, ἄμεινος καὶ χεῖρος φασίν. ὁ δὲ Πλάτων περὶ ἔρωτος λέγει διεξοδικώτερον. τέθειται δὲ ἐν τῷ περὶ παροιμίας ἐν τῷ ε στοιχείῳ.
Notes:
[1] There is no passage where Epicurus says exactly this; however, in arguing that sexual intercourse (συνουσίη ) never helped anyone, he recommends that the sage person must not fall in love. Probably his point was that love, understood in terms of an intense appetite for sex (on which see Lucretius 4.1058-1120), would produce disturbance (ταραχή ), the opposite of one of the "katastematic" or stable pleasures (which in a sense is the same as happiness): freedom from disturbance or ἀταραξία ). See Diogenes Laertius 10.118.
[2] On this point see Stobaeus, Eclogae 2.91, 15-16, ed. Wachsmuth (= SVF 395). This echoes the canonical Stoic definition of love, which is literally quoted below in the Suda passage: "sexual desire is an effort to gain love resulting from the appearance of physical beauty" (B. Inwood's translation).
[3] Alexander of Aphrodisias, Commentaries on Aristotle's Topica 139.21-6. The definition of love as "the recollection of a beauty once seen" is not found literally in Plato’s work. Alexander refers later (144.6-8) to Plato's Phaedrus; although the definition does not appear literally there, there some passages in the dialogue that imply it (see especially 238B-C, 250D-E, 251D).
[4] Love, insofar as it is an appetite or irrational desire, is a passion or an emotional state, which the Stoics define as an "excessive impulse" (ὁρμὴ πλεονάζουσα ; Stobaeus, Eclogae 2.88.8, ed. Wachsmuth; Diogenes Laertius 7.110). See especially, Eclogae 89.6-9: "for every passion is violent, since those who are in a state of passion often see that it is advantageous not to do this, but are swept away by the vehemence [of the passion]..." (B. Inwood's translation).
[5] Alexander of Aphrodisias, Commentaries on Aristotle's Topica 143.30-144.3.
[6] This is presumably again a Stoic issue. The erotic person, it is said, is so called in two senses: (i) the one who, in being excellent or good (spoudaios), is qualified in accordance with virtue: (ii) the one who, in being bad, is qualified in accordance with vice as a reproach, such as in the case of a person crazy about sexual love. Now the [excellent] erotic love is [for friendship] (see Stobaeus, Eclogae 2.65.17-20, ed. Wachsmuth). The problem here is that the sentence where it is said that "the excellent erotic love is for friendship" is Wachsmuth's conjecture, made following Diogenes Laertius 7.129 and Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 13.561C [13.12 Kaibel].
[7] This is Epicurus' view; see Diogenes Laertius 7.118.
[8] Diogenes Laertius 7.130.
[9] See generally LSJ s.v. ἔρος (A).
[10] This general reference is presumably to Plato's Symposium and Phaedrus.
[11] Cross-reference unidentifiable (not epsilon 3071).
Reference:
Dover, K.J. Greek Homosexuality, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press 1989 (original edition 1978. Updated and with a new Postscript)
Keywords: definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; gender and sexuality; philosophy
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 2 May 2002@23:04:15.
Vetted by:
Marcelo Boeri (Set status. Cosmetics. Augmented notes.) on 5 May 2002@14:26:06.
Marcelo Boeri (Set status. Cosmetics, minor changes. Augmented notes.) on 5 May 2002@14:46:54.
Marcelo Boeri on 5 May 2002@14:50:01.
David Whitehead (added note; cosmetics) on 6 May 2002@03:30:17.
Marcelo Boeri (Corrected the Greek in the notes.) on 6 July 2003@09:31:35.
Catharine Roth (modified translation) on 23 June 2005@17:26:42.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 2 January 2006@11:28:13.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 29 October 2012@06:31:57.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 15 January 2015@00:55:40.
David Whitehead (expanded a ref) on 16 January 2015@07:02:40.
David Whitehead (various cosmetics) on 14 February 2016@07:14:53.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation) on 15 December 2017@22:53:48.

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