1. notleia says:

    Obligatory nerd rage, redux: There are four Greek words that correlate to “love.” The fourth is storge, which CS Lewis equates more with a fondness for familiar things, like one’s home or community or suchlike. (The Four Loves is pretty edifying.)

    Now for blarg about the historical contexts of your examples of agape in Gimli/Galadriel and Reepicheep/Caspian:

    I’ve always heard that the Gimli/Galadriel thing was an example of courtly love, which I think is way too messy to neatly categorize according to this (Christianized) Greek vocabulary. It’s not always that far removed from eros, since it often took place between young, unmarried men and young women who were married to old guys who actually had the land, money, and/or titles to afford marriage. I feel like I need to go dig through my British anthology to find some Norman lais, to cite some specific passages that give a sense of hanky-panky. But Gimli/Galadriel specifically is a lot more platonic and….Tennyson-ish interpretation, which makes it seem more towards the agape end of the spectrum than eros. So it’s not that I disagree, it’s just that I have a lot of footnotes to attach to my general acquiescence.

    Also, I’m going to have a moment of sads for how they ruined book-Faramir with movie-Faramir.

    As for Reepicheep/Caspian, that falls more under fealty, which I think is too political a notion to neatly classify it in what Greek we’re working with. Reepicheep is certainly a highly romanticized courtier-knight, but the very chivalry and politeness demanded by the title would prevent much familiarity due to concerns of rank. I’m trying to remember if he even calls anyone by name instead of title. Too much respectfulness to be loving, if that makes sense (I’m not sure it does).

    P.S.: It’s certainly easier to write romance than a stable love (I’m stealing that from a reviewer named Ursa, I think). Built-in tension and drama in the will-they-or-won’t-they.

  2. Also, I’m going to have a moment of sads for how they ruined book-Faramir with movie-Faramir.

    On that we can both agree: I originally said to a friend that he should sue for character defamation. So much good out of that trilogy, and yet so much ugh.

    Good to know about the fourth term; hadn’t heard that one.

    As per Becky’s questions: I whole-heartedly agree, we do focus on one form of love more than the other, but I think more so for women than men. Men often have both friends and love interests. Women, alas, usually only have love interests (or potential love interests, plural).

    That’s what made the recent Agent Carter series so amazing: here was a fully realized female character who a) didn’t have a love interest and b) actually had friends (male and female). It’s sad that such a low hurdle is such a major accomplishment, but there you have it. All to often the women in stories are pitted against each other, rather than working with each other. That’s why I gave Jupiter’s Wind (link feature in comment box not working: http://www.lorehaven.com/library/jupiter-winds/) such a relatively high rating, despite its structural weaknesses: I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the author’s dedication in depicting multiple female characters, many of whom were in supportive, lasting relationships.

    Sorry, that’s a bit of digression, but I think it’s a contributing factor to the emphasis on romance. It’s no longer acceptable to write obvious male-dominated stories, in the sense that we have placed social obligations on most fiction to include female characters to some degree. That’s great; unfortunately, what we usually get is one woman per story who inevitably must enter into a relationship with one of the male characters as nearly her entire purpose for inclusion in the plot. It’s an easy way to tack on a female character, and one that while having merit has become overused.

    That’s not to say I object to romance per se: some of my favorite tales include couples. But I prefer ones that have a full partnership that involves more than just the “will they won’t they” stuff mentioned earlier. That gets very old after a while, and has no room for growth. Far more interesting to me is a couple like Cimorene and Mendanbar of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, who share a whole book of the series happily married and fighting side-by-side.

  3. ionaofavalon says:

    I think that yes, modern Christian spec-fic does go a bit romance heavy, because that’s what they think will attract the female readers. I’m not interested in a lot of “mush”, though romance is attractive to me, I’m attracted to  a well thought out and executed romance, where the couple takes the time to get to know each other before getting all lovey dovey. The best modern example I can think of is The Bride of Stone by Thomas Williams http://www.amazon.com/The-Bride-Stone-A-Novel/dp/0800758617 were the main couples get to know one another before getting married, also including loving sacrifice as a bonus. I won’t do spoilers!

    In my stories, I focus on friendship before love and the love the people bear for their monarchs, rather than romance alone. I feel that this is a more realistic picture of how romance actually works.

  4. R. L. Copple says:

    I recommend C. S. Lewis’ “The Four Loves” for a fuller understanding. Eros, for instance, is much broader than just romantic love. Rather it is a love based upon our passions and needs, and is a love that motivates us to act. Many of the Early Church Fathers used eros to describe our love for God, for example.


    Though it is in the context of infidelity, I wrote an article on the four loves in defining what true love is, Am I in Love?



    One point I make in there is that human love tends to have overlaps between all four of these types of love. It is rare that love is purely eros, phileo, agape, or storge. Usually it is a mixture of them, which can make for more complex character development. A good romance plot or sub-plot will do good to take that into account.

    • notleia says:

      Imma hafta quibble with you, Copple, purely on semantic grounds, though I totally agree that any or most specific examples we can think of fall somewhere on a spectrum than neatly into a single category (see: my giant wall of text).

      What I’m quibbling with is the use of the phrase “true love,” especially in the context of these four categories. There are things that would fall easily under eros (or storge) that most of us would hesitate to call “true love” even though it’s “true” eros or storge.

      Tangent: Dang, those quotes I compulsively put around true make me think that we need to discover if there are four Greek words for true, so we can distinguish between factually true, literally true, metaphorically true, and so forth.

      • R. L. Copple says:

        Yes, that term has loaded context based upon experience to just toss it out there, though I explain more what I mean in the article.


        True love = the fullness of love, which of necessity is agape. If “love” doesn’t have self-sacrifice as its foundation, it is not the fullness of love. If a love is all or nearly all eros, or phileo, or storge, it is a shadow of love, but not “true love.”


        A good Christian romance, friendship, or other relationship should show that, in at least some of the main characters. If a romance is depicted as all eros, it is showing a false love and is one-dimensional character. The other loves need to be present in some form to make it real or true love.


        • notleia says:

          Ah, I getcha, you’re using agape as your “true love.” I feel like I need to learn first-century Greek and encounter agape “in the wild” to gain a feel for where its denotations and connotations begin and end before I feel totally comfortable (with other people) using it.

          And that’s not even getting into the possible pitfallen connotations of “self-sacrificial love.”

  5. Mark Carver says:

    I’m sorry, but the first thing I thought of when I saw the title of the article was that scene in Down with Love where Rene Zellwegger’s character talks about forsaking love but not sex, and one of the dimwitted board members casually replies, “But isn’t that the same thing?”

  6. Julie D says:

    I’m tempted to go back to “Speculative Love” series we had a while ago, but I don’t know if anyone else would be interested

What do you think?