What Was Love in Ancient Times?

Love is a universal feeling that has been experienced by humans for as long as we can trace back our existence. However, the idea of love has evolved over time and varies across different cultures and historical periods. In this article, we will explore what love was like in ancient times.

Ancient Greek Love

The ancient Greeks had several words to describe different types of love. Eros referred to passionate or romantic love, while Philia represented a deep friendship or brotherly love. Agape was used to describe selfless love or charity towards others.

Eros was considered the most important type of love and was often depicted in Greek mythology. The god Eros was portrayed as an irresistible force that could make even the most powerful gods fall in love.

The Symposium

The Symposium, a famous philosophical work by Plato, explores the nature of love through a series of speeches given at a dinner party. The speakers discuss various aspects of love, including its physical and emotional components.

One speaker argues that true love involves the pursuit of beauty and goodness, while another suggests that the ultimate goal of love is the creation of offspring.

Roman Love

The ancient Romans also had different words for different types of love. Amor referred to romantic or sexual passion, while Caritas represented a selfless form of love towards others.

Roman society placed great importance on marriage and family values. Marriage was seen as a duty to produce offspring and maintain social order.

The Aeneid

The Aeneid, an epic poem by Virgil, tells the story of Aeneas and his journey to establish Rome. In the poem, Aeneas falls in love with Dido, the queen of Carthage.

Their relationship is short-lived as Aeneas is called upon by the gods to continue his journey towards Rome. The story illustrates the conflict between love and duty, a common theme in Roman literature.


Love has been a complex and multifaceted concept throughout history. The ancient Greeks and Romans had their own unique perspectives on love, which were influenced by their cultural values and beliefs.

Regardless of the era or culture, love remains a powerful force that continues to shape our lives today.