A Valentine’s Day article on the “apotheosis” of Eros.
“Every heart sings a song, incomplete until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”
As a Greek, I have always thought of love under the scope of ancient Greek mythology and philosophy. To me erotic love (represented by Eros or Cupid) is not just a romantic concept and an essential stage in the pursuit of Happiness. It is the metaphysical power that makes us transcend the boundaries of human existence and takes us closer to the timeless universal truth of the eternal and the infinite.
But let me start small.
Do you recognize the beautiful couple in this picture? Meet the handsome Eros, the Greek god of love and his beloved one, Psyche (Greek for soul), the goddess who incorporates all human emotions.
Eros was the son of Ares, god of war, and Aphrodite, goddess of beauty; an origin that defines him as the common ground between two extremes: where violence, torment and darkness unite with harmony, beauty and light. The first “forbidden” love that broke the limits and shattered the stereotypes.
Another myth wants Eros to be the son of Erebus and Nyx (Night). Black-winged Night laid an egg in the infinite deeps of Erebus and this is where Eros sprang from. A swift and graceful creature with sparkling golden wings who mated with dark Chaos to create our race and the world of light.
“He whom love touches not walks into darkness.”
According to Plato, erotic love is the only way for humans to achieve immortality; it connects human nature with eternity. In Phaedrus, Socrates characterizes love as one of the forms of “divine madness” that reunites us with universal beauty, a concept that our corrupted souls tend to forget but only until we gaze into the eyes of our beloved one. That is how our soul remembers to grow back its wings. The wings that wither when lovers separate under the intense pain of longing.
But enough with philosophy.
Lets’ stick to that long word: separation.
Because true love should not be easy.
At least, not for me.
It is always forbidden and precarious love that is the strongest.
Have you heard of a love stronger than that between Romeo and Juliet or Catherine and Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights?
Remember the forbidden love stories in The Great Gatsby, the Notebook, the Titanic? Remember the Wings of Desire, the magnificent film by Wim Wenders (and one of my all-time favorites) where an angel falls in love with a beautiful, lonely trapeze artist? The angel chooses to become human so that he can experience the human sensory pleasures, ranging from enjoying food to touching a loved one, and so that he can experience human love.
“The only regret I will have in dying is if it is not for love.”
Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
Love that is worth dying for. Because nobody can guarantee there will be a happy ending in stories of forbidden love.
Be it social class, feuding families, a love triangle, homosexuality, time-travel limits or paranormal complications and dystopian disasters the theme of forbidden love is often found in novels from the 19th Century and still appears in novels today.
True love knows no deadlocks.
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The “apotheosis” of love cannot be achieved by trouble-free and effortless relationships. True love is like a rare flower that grows on steep rocks and needs blood and tears to take root but once it grows it stands in eternity no matter if its aroma brings happiness or sorrow. This is what true love is like. And it’s totally worth the effort.
“Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam