Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The four loves: Eros

I know from Greek mythology that “Eros” is actually the name of the Greek god of love and sexual desire. However, Lewis clearly states that the Eros he is referring to is the love of a lover. A love both described as unconditional and pure, but at the same time extremely mortal and fickle. The sexual part of this love is given the name of “Venus.”

The difference between Venus and Eros is quite clear. Venus wants what the other person has to offer; mainly pleasure. What Eros wants, though, is the person itself. Eros is a romantic feeling that regards pleasure as a “by-product.” It’s a love that wants nothing in return but maybe the same kind of love. It doesn’t aim for happiness, it prefers to have the other person’s love and be miserable in life, rather than not having that love at all and have everything else in life. From another perspective, it’s Eros itself what makes a person happy regardless the consequences of it. For a truly enamored person, The pain of the consequences fades in front of the blinding brilliance of love.

There is danger in Eros, however. People tend to forget that as strong as it is in its best moment, it’s fickle. In fact, it’s the most fickle between all passions. But some people end up regarding it as a god when it’s not (Yes, God is love, but that’s another kind of love: agape (divine)). God is pure goodness, but Eros can either lead to good or evil. Having romantic feelings for someone can make one feel kind, helpful and loving but also if not careful, jealous, possessive and greedy.

Returning to the topic of Venus, Lewis gives an interesting point of view. He says that sex should not be treated too seriously. At first, this startled me. But later I came to understand what he meant by this. He meant that one should “not find an absolute on flesh.” The only thing or One that can give a person an absolute is God himself, nothing else; not Venus nor Eros. Venus is a gift of pleasure and entertainment, a merry game that should only be played between married couples, a game which can be used to distract them from the sometimes burdensome domestic worries of the house. It brings pleasure, it brings laughter, it helps to keep matrimony together, and it may bring a family.

The part I best liked about this whole theme about Eros is when Lewis writes that Eros, just like all other passions, is not self-preservative. Instead, the duty of preserving this romantic love is that of the couple. Love is not something one lets to be, but a joyful and sometimes painfully beautiful play between two people. Just like a beautiful garden that needs a gardener to keep it alive, Eros needs constant caring and nutrition from both of it gardeners. In that sense, one can say that Eros can grow! And how much more wonderful and satisfying is a love that has overcome storms thanks to those who share it and protect its beauty through effort and prayer!

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