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Dimitris Mavropoulos

*[Speech given on March 4, 2017 at the Theocharakis Foundation, as part of the Art & Psychotherapy Center program, with the general title "Love and Death in Art and Life". See "The dialectic of human and divine love" - ​​4/3/2017, 18:00-20:30 - Speakers: Dimitrios Mavropoulos, Theologian, Author, Uresis Todorovits, Artist, iconographer, Byzantine scholar. Coordinated by: Dimitrios Kyriazis, MD, PhD, Psychiatrist, Child Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst].

  1. Quotation marks

The term "love" characterizes human relationships in an ideal form, and is understood as an attractive force caused by beauty. A homologous term for love is love, which was first introduced in the New Testament, but which has an expanded content. In the Christian tradition, the word love was introduced at the beginning of the 2nd century and denotes man's love for God as a response to God's love for man. In other words, the exaggerated love that goes beyond the narrowly understood carnal will is called love, and indeed because its desire is the relationship with God, it is called divine love.

We therefore call human love the attractive force between two, in principle, othernesses, which produces a relationship of existential reciprocity, establishing a transcendence of selfish individualities, in order to create a society of persons. Human love is recognized as a force of nature (body and soul) and man is called to cultivate it throughout his life, so as not to be diverted into a sick relationship of individual egos, which produce mental death. This divine love as a dynamic movement towards the other (person), is implanted within human existence as its constitutional structure. The opponent of this condition of love is the individualized "I" of man. Even when this individual "I" is fractured by the surprise of love, it is still present and threatens its own transcendence.

We call divine love the mode of existence of the divinity (God is love), a condition we also call trinity, and in relation to the world "divine Economy". Man is called to participate in this way of existence, and such an achievement is called man's salvation. The incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, who loved the world so much that he gave his own life for it, is considered a model and example of a person who achieved this feat.

The dialectical relationship between divine and human love lies in the fact that the latter is nourished by the former and is reduced to it, in the sense that the former becomes the cause and teacher of the latter, being contemporary and model. The purpose and end of this erotic analogy is the elevation of man to divine glory, a condition that is visualized and felt as communion with Christ every time we partake of the divine Eucharist and the divine Communion.

2. The history of the terms love and romance

The ancient Greek world approached, defined and described human relationships using the verbs love, kiss and love. From Homer to Aristotle, the content of these words experienced a variety of developments, which unfolded relations of kinship, friendship, bonds, but also the development of relations with concepts and principles vital to people's lives: philopatria, search for the truth or well done, good life.

In Homer, love means affection, not only towards the home and the friend, but also towards the animals or the things and the phenomena of creation. For example: "like a father who loves a child" (Od. P 17), but also "kyneon agapazemoeni" (Od. F 224).

In Plato we have the most complete development of the willing or active actions of man, who is attracted by the beautiful or the good and responds to its attraction. Love is understood as an attractive force that can compensate for human poverty. Following the path of love, man relates to the beauty that exists in the world and illuminates the truth of the world. It should be noted that this beauty does not only have physicality, but can exist as wisdom, as artistry, as maturity. At the same time, in Plato, love also expresses feelings: "as if the poets write these poems and the fathers love the children" (State 330C).

I note that, especially in Plato, love is chosen by death and the former is understood as a transcendence of the latter. This theme is particularly developed in his two works, the Symposium and the Phaedrus, which were written one after the other. Of course, Platonic love is also recognized in physical relationships, but the goal is to rise to relationships beyond physicality, in the end to open up to the world of ideas and thus to transcend the inherent mortality of human nature. Epigrammatically we would say: love against death.

With the New Testament, the word "love" is introduced for the first time in history, as a noun, denoting the relationships that those who strive to follow the path indicated by Christ, which has as its final destination communion with him, are called to act. It is a way of life, or rather a way of being, according to the model of God's triune love. The aversion of Jesus to his heavenly Father, in relation to his disciples, is characteristic: "that the love with which you have loved me may be in them" (John 17,26).

Read more in ANTHIVOLA, issue 1