Love? It’s all Greek to me…


I Love You Baby examines love and relationship in the context of the family.

As the songs go love makes the world go round, is all you need, hurts, changes everything and needs to be justified. It can be endless, crazy, part-time and something that just can’t help being fallen into. Granddad can be told he’s in receipt of it and it’s what the world needs right now. There’s love for partners, parents, friends, children, and the universe and everything in it. What’s done with this extraordinary emotion and motivator leads to all kinds of triumphs and disasters in all of our lives.

In the world of the play I want to explore love in the context of sibling relationships, friendship, sexual attraction, the desire for children and between adult children and elderly parents.

In chewing over a framework to pattern these different kinds of love, and to provide a ready reckoner for my character’s individual emotional landscapes, I’ve discovered you can’t do better than the ancient Greek model which isolates 6 fundamental and different kinds of love.

Eros_cooling_1990_smallEROS is all about sexual passion, lust, heat and insatiability, craven physical desire and a blinkered need to scratch that itch at all costs.  The Greeks viewed this kind of ‘losing your head’ falling in love very negatively and some would say it’s a phase of falling for someone that’s acutely painful in its stomach churning delirium and obsessive relentlessness.

In this painting Eros is so hot and bothered by his overwhelming lust he’s having to cool down under a fractured water pipe.


PHILIA is deep friendship, a feeling of care, concern, respect and a desire to sacrifice and share with another person. The Greeks valued it far more highly than the Eros brand of love, which is more focused on the physical aspects of attraction to another person. This is the kind of love that soldiers talk about for their battle comrades and the depth of feeling that provokes protestations from two single friends of ‘you’re my soul mate its like I’ve always known you and that’s an amazing thing’ after a bottle of champagne and a solitary sway to Sade’s ‘Right By Your Side’ at a wedding. Its not necessarily romantic but it is profound, and can also relate to the selfless love a parent feels for a child.

couple-courting-eugen-von-blaasLUDUS in all its flirtatious glory is clearly at play in this painting. I’d hazard a guess that she’s saying ‘Don’t’ and he’s saying ‘Go on’ and that they’ll both do this in very high voices, eyes locked and without any embarrassment at all for hours on end.

Then he’ll tap her on the shoulder and pretend it wasn’t him and they’ll both giggle a lot and run to an olive grove pretending to be donkeys, chase each other, catch each other, tickle each other, run away from each other shrieking and then go home separately skipping and snorting.

That’s Ludus for you.

Funny faces and practical joking, joshing, arm punching, showing your bling off, dancing like Olly Murs, wearing your hat backwards, doing a comedy lap dance, whatever it takes to get him/her at least looking in your direction, getting the ball rolling, casting wide and reeling it in, kind of love.

hippy tree

AGAPE however is a completely different packet of love hearts.

Its the kind of love that exists on a higher plane, it’s spiritual and universal and is often encapsulated in tree of life images like the one on the right, found in heavily stocked shops which sell incense and dream catchers.

That’s not to do agape down because this love is for everyone and everything as a matter of philosophical egalitarianism. The Latin translation of the word is caritas which is the origin of the word charity. It’s generousity and selflessness. Agape is the belief that by giving out kindly a bit more- universal justice, karma, reap what you sow, call it what you will- then the world will be a better place. And you can’t argue with that- can you?

older couplePRAGMA is the kind of love you enjoy when you’ve nailed long term partnership, when the significant other’s sentences are completed before they’ve even rustled up the beginning of them in the frontal lobe and not knowing where one starts and the other ends.

You know where you’re going on holiday each year and that it’ll take forever because he won’t drive over fifty on the motorway but you’ll suck it up- be pragmatic about it- for the sake of the long term view.It’s all about the concessions made to keep the love train on track.

Hard work, challenging but at rainbows end the contentment and stability of being committed- forever- to the one you love wins the day.

Benczur-narcissusPHILAUTIA is exemplified by this painting of Narcissus, the icon of self-love who is clearly enjoying himself very much indeed- and who can blame him? He’s having one of those mornings where he’s caught a glimpse of himself, recognised just how darn hot he is, and can’t pull himself away.

However Philautia isn’t all me me me- the Greeks believed a less negative version exists which Whitney Houston summed up very well in her ’ Greatest love of all’ identifying  the amazing love she found inside herself. In a nutshell the noble end of philautia is that it’s only by loving yourself that you are able to love others, and this can extend beyond revelling in your own perfectly shaped eyebrows and and six pack to intellectual and philosophical qualities- if you so wish.

It’s said that the perfectly balanced love package for the 21st century human involves elements of all six kinds of love; physical satisfaction, close friendship, flirtatious, spiritual, long term and for yourself- a quick tot up of your significant, and less significant relationships should reveal your areas of ‘strength’ or ‘weakness’- where you need to bolster your friendship group or find someone to make funny faces at…

All of this magazine style relationship analysis however does have a purpose in the context of the play.

There are 6 characters in I Love You Baby. 5 real- CLARENCE, SAMANTHA, SADIE, GRACE, TYLER and 1 virtual- BABY.

Using the 6 Greek love identifiers I have a map of the characters principal drives which will inform their relationships with each other and the world, as I move through the plot.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 10.02.56

I’ll refer to this map (It’ll be stuck on the wall behind the Mac) as I work on the characters, and later as I develop the play through the first draft.

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