Platonic love
Platonic love is a chaste
Chastity refers to the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion....

 and strong type of love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

 that is non-sexual.

Amor Platonicus

The term amor platonicus was coined as early as the 15th century by the Florentine
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 scholar Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance, an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism who was in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day, and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin...

. Platonic love in this original sense of the term is examined in Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's dialogue the Symposium
Symposium (Plato)
The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–380 BCE. It concerns itself at one level with the genesis, purpose and nature of love....

, which has as its topic the subject of love or Eros generally. It explains the possibilities of how the feeling of love began, and how it has evolved - both sexually and non-sexually. Of particular importance are the ideas attributed to the prophetess Diotima
Diotima of Mantinea
Diotima of Mantinea is a female seer who plays an important role in Plato's Symposium. Her ideas are the origin of the concept of Platonic love. Since the only source concerning her is Plato, it is uncertain whether she was a real historical personage or merely a fictional creation...

, which present love as a means of ascent to contemplation of the divine. For Diotima, and for Plato generally, the most correct use of love of other human beings is to direct one's mind to love of divinity. In short, with genuine platonic love, the beautiful or lovely other person inspires the mind and the soul and directs one's attention to spiritual things. It was thought that Greek male and boy lovers were one of the noblest examples of this type of spiritual love. For it is a true love if you love a male because you love them for spiritual reasons, loving women was seen as only for sexual greed. One proceeds from recognition of the beauty of another to appreciation of beauty as it exists apart from any individual, to consideration of divinity, the source of beauty, to love of divinity.

The English term dates back as far as Sir William Davenant
William Davenant
Sir William Davenant , also spelled D'Avenant, was an English poet and playwright. Along with Thomas Killigrew, Davenant was one of the rare figures in English Renaissance theatre whose career spanned both the Caroline and Restoration eras and who was active both before and after the English Civil...

's Platonic Lovers (1636). It is derived from the concept in Plato's Symposium
Symposium (Plato)
The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–380 BCE. It concerns itself at one level with the genesis, purpose and nature of love....

of the love of the idea of good which lies at the root of all virtue and truth. For a brief period, Platonic love was a fashionable subject at the English royal court, especially in the circle around Queen Henrietta Maria
Henrietta Maria of France
Henrietta Maria of France ; was the Queen consort of England, Scotland and Ireland as the wife of King Charles I...

, the wife of King Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

. Platonic love was the theme of some of the courtly masque
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...

s performed in the Caroline era
Caroline era
The Caroline era refers to the era in English and Scottish history during the Stuart period that coincided with the reign of Charles I , Carolus being Latin for Charles...

—though the fashion soon waned under pressures of social and political change.

Barbara Graziosi, professor of Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 at Durham University
Durham University
The University of Durham, commonly known as Durham University, is a university in Durham, England. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837...

, described Platonic love as the "Christian apology" of Greek love
Greek love
In the history of sexuality, Greek love is a concept of homoeroticism within the classical tradition. It is one of the "classically inspired erotic imaginings" by means of which later cultures have articulated their own discourse about homosexuality...


External links

  • Plato on Friendship and ErosStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a freely-accessible online encyclopedia of philosophy maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from over 65 academic institutions worldwide...

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