Love is a Timeless Thing
I wrote this November 2001. It hasn’t been quite 11 years. I remember feeling so much hope at that age. If you remove the angry veneer and bitterness I have accumulated over the last decade, maybe this is what is underneath. (I took some grammatical liberties.)
Love is a timeless thing. People from ancient history to modern times have tried to define what it is. In the Symposium, we read of past views of love. Though some of its meaning may be lost through the course of time, love generally can be easily understood. Each man’s view of love can be related and disassociated with modern times, but everyone is entitled to view as they see fit.
Like Phaedrus, I feel love is and should be the most honored and most powerful in helping people gain virtue and blessedness (180 B). Love is highly regarded in the majority of the world. The world may look down upon homosexuality, but love itself modern society embraces it as a timeless virtue. Love reveals many things in a person; I believe love most clearly reveals what needs to be done. According to Phaedrus the gods blessed the actions done because of love.
Pausanias brings in an interesting twist on his view of love. He believes that there is a common love and that there is also a heavenly love (180 E). He believes this common love is out of sexual lust only, and that heavenly love is the love an older man has for a younger man. He clarifies the heavenly love as not just loving a younger male but loving a younger male that is not a prepubescent boy. I do agree that there are two different types of love, and I do agree they can be viewed as a common and a heavenly one. However, I believe any type of love can be heavenly not just homosexual love.
Even though Aristophanes delivers the most bizarre speech (189 E – 193 D), I can most clearly identify with his view if it were taken metaphorically instead of literally. I believe most people have a true soul mate, and that their lives are never truly complete without each other. Some people are called to do other things and to love in different manners, however generally I do believe people are on a lifelong conquest to find their other half. I do believe that once the other half is found that they have a strength that others without their halves don’t have. I believe lovers are stronger as one than separate on their own. Aristophanes makes much romanticism of love and is seemingly the most easily related to. Not everyone can relate to homosexuality, but most can relate to searching for a missing half which makes Aristophanes view more universal and more accepted by modern times.
Though my views and modern times views are different than those of the ancient Greeks, there are many things that are the same. If the context of the speeches of the first 2 men were broaden, they could have been more universal and more easily related, however because of an emphasis on the particular type of love they lose some universality; thus not allowing myself to relate as well. Aristophanes romanticized love and did not limit loves range by sexual preference. So his view was more easily related to my modern view.