History of Greek Food

Ancient Greek Words for Love: Eros, Himeros, Pothos, Philia.

Philia (deep friendship) : Its objects range from people to drink, food e.g. dried figs (Aristophanes, Peace, 634) and concepts such as peace. It is the most general word for love and friendship.

Pothos is ‘an intense nostalgic longing for someone or something absent or lost (Sfyroeras, 2008, p.302). ‘It is more passive than eros but also tends to feminize those experiencing it and to render them powerless’ (303).

Himeros, which is related to pothos, refers to a more pressing desire that strikes at the diaphragm, the heart, and the breast.

Eros, Pothos Himeros Stamnos. Siren painter, 500-480 bC., British Museum. Photo: theoi.com

Eros: Its objects range from people, concepts (i.e. peace), food (ie. strong desire for sausages at Aristophanes’ Acharnes, 146) to negative concepts and evil things πονηρών πραγμάτων (Aristophanes, Nubes, 1459) Αbove all, it was the passionate love of men for women or boys and sometimes the love of women for younger men and boys.

Eros for people is expressed through the gaze.
Charites (Graces) Aglaea and Euphrosyne and lovely Thalea
from whose eyes as they glanced
flowed love that unnerves the limbs (Hesiod, Theogony, 910-11)

In ancient Greek literature Eros is depicted as
~the consumption of drink – έρωτα πίνων (Αnakreon, PMG 450)
~a warmth, softening, melting force.
Eros melts my limbs… (Sappho, 130)

~as a violent impact on body and mind.
Once again Eros, like a blacksmith, has struck me with a great hammer and dipped me into an icy mountain torrent. (Anacreton, 413)

~The bittersweet Eros is a torment and a delight.
Bitter and sweet, kindly also and harsh, Cyrnus, is
love unto the young till it be fulfilled; for if a man
achieve it, it becometh sweet, and if he pursue
and achieve not, that is of all things the most
painful. Theognis 1353f., in J. M. Edmonds (trans.), Elegy and Iambics
(Loeb 1921),
….bittersweet, irresistible creature (Sappho, 130).

~ as madness and absence
Once again I love and I do not love,
I am mad and I am not mad.(Anacr. frags. 357)

~ as wind
Now Eros shakes my soul,
a wind on the mountain falling on the oaks. (Sappho, 47)

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