Ancient Greek eros
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Ancient Greeks used the word eros (Greek: ) to refer to different aspects of love. This diverse range of meanings is expressed by the plurality of Greek words for ''Love'', reflecting the versatility and complexity of eros. The term was used to describe not only the affectionate marital relationship between a man and a woman but also the institution of pedagogic "pederastic" relations (Eros paidikos, παιδικός ἔρως), solemnized in certain Greek poleis. Such was the importance of eros for the ancient Greeks that the god of love, also named Eros, was held in Hesiod's cosmogony to be the primordial deity, the first god, older than all the others.
Ancient Greek philosophers were also interested in the conception of eros, which became a central issue in their analyses. In particular, Plato devoted two of his dialogues, ''Phaedrus'' and ''Symposium'', to the philosophical dimensions of love, and in particular pederastic love. In ''Phaedrus'', the best eros of a man for a boy is said to be a form of divine madness that is a gift from the gods, and that its proper expression is rewarded by the gods in the afterlife; the ''Symposium'' details the method by which love takes one to the form of beauty and wisdom. The term Platonic love derived from the philosopher's influential writings, and describes the passionate but chaste love of a man for a youth.
There are a few written records of women's lives and loves in ancient Greece. The majority of women in some poleis were not educated as much or as well as men. Nevertheless, some historians have recently analyzed women's lives in ancient Greece and suggest that women may have been the objects of love more often that was previously believed and that men's love for women may have been at least an ideal, although not one realized much in fact.〔R.J. Sternberg, ''Cupid's Arrow'', 63〕
In Athens the dominance of man in the marital relationship is expressed by stories like one involving the prominent Greek statesman and general Alcibiades; Alcibiades was married to Hipparete, the daughter of Hipponicus, a wealthy Athenian. According to the biographer Plutarch, Hipparete loved her husband, but she attempted to divorce him because he consorted with courtesans. She lived with him until her death and gave birth to probably two children, a daughter and a son, also named Alcibiades.〔Plutarch, ''Alcibiades'', (8 )〕 Another famous relationship between a man and a woman in ancient Athens was the romantic involvement of Aspasia with the Athenian statesman Pericles.〔S. Monoson, ''Plato's Democratic Entanglements'', 195〕 Aspasia was born in the city of Miletus in Asia Minor and was possibly a hetaera (Hetaerae were professional high-class entertainers, as well as courtesans). She became the mistress of the Athenian in the early 440s and, after he divorced his first wife (c. 445 BC), began to live with him, although her marital status remains disputed.〔M. Ostwald, ''Athens as a Cultural Center'', 310〕
In Sparta, the social status of women was stronger and the marital rituals were solemnized. There was an elaborate preparation for the first night after the marriage, while the man in a symbolic rite had to abduct his future wife before the official ceremony, while she had her hair cut short and dressed in boy's clothes.〔P. Cartledge, ''The Spartans'', 234〕 The ideal outcome of marital eros in Sparta was the birth of a healthy boy.〔P. Cartledge, ''The Spartans'', 235〕
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