According to Plato’s character Aristophanes, what is love and what role does it play in our lives. According to Aristophanes, you cannot understand what is love until you first know how it originated. In his myth/tale he articulates that there are three sexes; the male, the female, and ‘androgynous’ which was the union of both. After they tried to ascend to heaven to attack the gods, Zenus decided as a strategy to weaken them, formatting them to be humble by fractionating each one into two.
The humans became disconsolate as Aristophanes states “[Each] one longed for its other half, and so they will throw their arms about each other, weaving themselves together,” hence love is the revelation of one’s soul mate. Humans seek to find their better half to get back to their original form and heal the wound, “the wound of human nature.” Love is the name for our pursuit of wholeness for the desires to be complete.
Humans, in search of this love sometimes turn to false inveigle like wealth and power, but it eventually loses its shimmer. Then the search continues; however, this notion of a soul mate that only one person in the universe who is your match, creates a strain on the individual and their relationships. Love however plays a role in our lives, it is young and diaphanous, making its home in the souls of men, creating soft and gentle characters. It is the source of all virtues. With love, man thrives to become better individuals.
When you are in love with someone, you start caring for that person which makes you less selfish and in turn converts you into a remarkable person. Life looks more beautiful and you begin to respect the good things in life. Noticing that the people were dying from general inactivity and hunger, Zeus feeling contrite, turned their genitals to face frontward, giving them the ability to have sex for pleasure when they embraced. They could have sexual intercourse and reproduce, finding sexual satisfaction then move on to other things.
Even with the introduction of sexual intercourse, love was still not there, if it was, there will not be a need to move on to other things. The feeling of longing for someone with similar characteristics as them, the emptiness without that person, the eagerness to be whole again and wanting nothing else is unquestionably what love is. The dying, lack of general inactivity and hunger caused Zeus to pity the people hence turning their genitals to face frontward. This way, sexual intercourse would happen when they entwined causing them to reproduce, even two males having intercourse will enjoy the sexual satisfaction then move on to other things, this is where our desire for other humans originated.
Humans are born with the gift of love. The role it plays in our lives helps with discovering the one who completes us or our ”other half”. When that person is found, we become overwhelmed with concern for them beyond the desire of sex, therefore, suffering to precisely pinpoint what makes us care so much for them. The myth suggests that what makes us love a person or find them attractive or appealing is because their character bears a resemblance of our own.
We want to bond with them, share a life with them becoming one whole and never parting; even in death, which the Greeks themed as interpersonal relationships. This goes back to the discussion of Aristotle, to love someone you must first love yourself. Someone who is considered a good person will care for the well being of others. He delineates that to have a good friendship, it is ethical where a person of good character will choose someone who shares the same value. Here, Aristophanes is saying what makes us love a person is seeing the same attributes that we have.
Love also creates dopamine which is the brain’s pleasure chemical that makes lovers happy and energetic about each other. Oxytocin is also produced; it is commonly known as the “love hormone, it deepens love and leads to attachments and bonds.” Love also increases the intellectual or cognition side of your brain, example, it can counteract the effects of chronic stress. It also improves sleep, boosts the immune system and reduces the likelihood of mental illness.
Love has its positive effects on humans and everyone desires to be in love and be loved. Aristophanes suggests that finding your other half is an end to itself and this is the beauty of love. Love joins two people and creates a state of balance then the world becomes a better place.
- Cameron Claire. Love can make you smarter. February 14, 2006
- Cooper John M. Plato complete works. Hackett Publishing Company Inc. 1997
- Learning English. Love: A chemical explosion. February 13, 2017
- Plato, Complete Works. Edited by John M. Cooper. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997.
- SparkNotes Editors, ‘’The Symposium.’’ SparkNotes.com, SparkNotes LLC, 2005,
- ARLT Foundation editors, (2018, July 23). The origins of love; Aristophanes. Retrieved fromhttps://www.arlt-foundation.org/blog-post/the-origin-of-love-aristophanes-2#:~:text=%22Love%22is%20the%20name%20that,behave%20well%20toward%20the%20gods.
- Taplin, Oliver, Platnauer, Maurice. ‘’Aristophanes’’ Encyclopedia of Britannica. Britannica.com (15 May, 2020) https://www.britannica.com/biography/Aristophanes/Peace