How the Greeks Defined Love

Essay add: 15-12-2015, 12:40   /   Views: 181
Greeks not only represented and defined love with countless tales of unpredictable journeys to the underworld and inconceivable myths of beautiful maidens, but they actually depict love as a sort of human being who portrays very lifelike qualities. They gave love a name as though it were real and then made stories or myths to account for and support their new beings life and abilities to affect our lives and those of others.

In this essay, the five stories that will be used to help explain how the Greeks understood love are “Cupid and Psyche”, “Pyramus and Thisbe”, “Orpheus and Eurydice”, “Ceyx and Alcyone” and “Pygmalion and Galatea”.

In the story of “Cupid and Psych”, the word “love” is represented by a beautiful winged youth named Cupid. This story brings up the fact that, “Love cannot live where there is no trust.” (Mythology pg. 96). Cupid and the young and beautiful Psyche go through numerous amounts of trials in their struggle for love before actually ending up together which is best represented in the quote, “Love and the Soul had sought and, after sore trials, found each other; and that union could never be broken.” (Mythology pg. 100).

Myths of love on how certain objects ever came into existence or why things are the way they are can be seen in the three stories of “Pyramus and Thisbe”, Opheus and Eurydice”, and “Ceyx and Alcyone”. “The deep red fruit of the mulberry is the everlasting memorial of these true lovers, and one urn holds the ashes of the two whom not even death could part.” (Mythology pg. 103). This quote is from the story of “Pyramus and Thisbe”. The berries of the mulberry in this story were originally white until Pyramus understood a tattered bloody coat to indicate that his beloved Thisbe had found her death resulting in him stabbing himself. In reality Thisbe had dropped that coat while escaping a lioness covered in blood. When she returned to look for Pyramus again, she found him lying over the mulberry bushes who’s then white berries were now stained red with blood. She then killed herself because she could not live without the only one she truly loved.

The Greeks’ reason for nightingales singing more sweetly in front of Mount Olympus than anywhere else is supported in the story of “Opheus and Eurydice”. Opheus has the gift of music and when he played an instrument or sang a song nothing or no one could resist him. So when his wife Eurydice is taken to the underworld, he sets out there to sing to the gods in hopes to get her back. The gods give in under one condition: he cannot look back at his wife until they are out of the underworld. Just to ensure that Eurydice had made it out behind him he turns around. As he does this she is swept away back to where she had been taken before. Orpheus himself is killed and his limbs buried at the foot of Mount Olympus. “His limbs they gathered and placed in a tomb at the foot of Mount Olympus, and there to this day the nightingales sing more sweetly than anywhere else. (Mythology pg. 105).

In the story of “Ceyx and Alcyone”, Ceyx sets out by ship to speak to an Oracle across the seas. On the way his ship sinks and as he is overwhelmed with water the name of his true love Alcyone is on his lips. When Alcyone dreams of his death she sets out to the waters edge to look for him. As soon as she sees his body, she runs to it. The gods turn her into a bird before she gets there and as she reaches his body, he too becomes a bird just like her. Together they live on and their love remains unchanged.

In Greek stories and Myths, Gods and Goddesses play a part in the results of almost all true happiness, love, and sorrow. In the story of “Pygmalion and Galatea”, the gifted young sculptor of Cyprus, Pygmalion, is a woman-hater and resolves never to marry. Ironically, Pygmalion creates a beautiful statue of a woman that he actually devotes all his genius to. After perfecting this statue, Pygmalion falls in love with it. “When nothing could be added to its perfections, a strange fate had befallen its creator: he had fallen in love, deeply, passionately in love, with the thing he had made.“ (Mythology pg. 108). Because it is not real, he goes to Venus, goddess of love and beauty, to ask for a maiden just like his statue. She understands what he would really love to have, his statue come to life, and she grants that for him. His true love of which he created out of stone is now flesh and blood, capable of feeling for him the way he feels for her.

In Greek mythology, love had endless possibilities. Anything could happen and there is a story or explanation for everything known then to man. Where a person had a strong will for love with anything, regardless if it was a god, another person, or even an object, there was always a way; as with true love, if there is a will there is always a way.

Article name: How the Greeks Defined Love essay, research paper, dissertation