What is Love and how does it play a Role in Plato’s The Republic and Virgil’s Aeneid

"Love" and its Many Expressions

"Love" seems to be a very small or little word; one syllable, four letters that barely encompasses its many expressions. Clive Staples Lewis described "heart" as affection, philia, eros, and Caritas in his Four Loves, but there are several levels of love even beyond these four simple classifications.

The Dialogic Nature of Love

However, as with the various expressions of love, it is apparent that the demonstration of love is dialogic; for example, there must be two for the end result for love to happen: one must love another. This is to mean, that one is the darling or lover and another is the adored or loved. Rehashed along these lines, eros turns into a noteworthy power when talking about love in human undertakings.

Eros in Conflict: The Views of Various Scholars

Regularly observed as the one love that is in struggle with alternate loves, eros turns into a power that is either dismissed, acknowledged, or risen above, however is constantly risky and problematic. Numerous authors and writers have talked about this contention of eros inside Man, from times long past to modernity. Some of these scholars are Plato in his ‘The Republic’ and Virgil in his ‘Aeneid.’ Others worth mention are Dante in his ‘Divina Commedia’ and Augustine in his ‘Confessions.’

Eros in Plato's Republic

At first look, Plato's Republic appears to be disconnected to the theme of love and the issue of eros. Making in discourse a perfect city with the perfect ruler, the philosopher lord, the Republic's worries don't appear to be with the worries of love (Plato 32). However, of the three questioners – Thrasymachus, Polemarchus and Glaucon – it is Glaucon for whom Socrates makes the Kallipolis, the Beautiful City.

The Transformation of Eros in Glaucon: The Ideal City

Disappointed with the city of strict utility and uncovered needs and necessity even Glaucon calls it – City of Pigs, Socrates adds luxuries, extravagances and higher objectives to this city (Plato 36). However, one should recollect that the Kallipolis is just a macrocosmic relationship for Man, and consequently, what Socrates is really building is the Beautiful Man.

The Unformed Eros of Glaucon and its Role in Kallipolis

Socrates plainly observes that what drives Glaucon is eros – the affection or love for body, the adoration for the erotic. In making Kallipolis, the Beautiful City, adjusted in reason, thymos, and eros and ruled by a philosopher lord who longs to be calmed of his sovereign position on account of his love for the Idea however stays as ruler out of obligation to his people, Socrates takes advantage of the local, unformed eros of Glaucon (Plato 47).

Eros in Virgil's Aeneid

This is an eros which Socrates talks as the driving inspiration driving the autocrat, a ruler whose reign is oppressed by his unformed eros, which looks for the grimy, exotic shadows of his cave-like domain. Ridding such eros takes a sort of training that is near outlandish, that is just conceivable in speech: the isolation of parents and their children, the bringing up of kids in semi training camps or foundations, the strict educational programs with the objective to make loyal nationals, the strict control of music, verse and poetry, the teaching of the Noble Lie.

The Conflict of Eros in Aeneas: Public vs. Private Love

Although, in creating Kallipolis for Glaucon, Socrates does not free Glaucon of his eros but rather, diverts his eros from the shadows of ordinary reality for the blinding light of Kallipolis and the philosophic life. To put it plainly, Socrates turns Glaucon's eros, which stays in place, to philosophy.

Eros in Augustine's Confessions

One doesn't see this delicate change of eros in Virgil's Aeneid. As observed all through the epic however particularly in the Dido Incident, Aeneas' contention is between general society love of his kin, the future Rome, and the private love of family life, particularly of spouse, for instance, eros(Virgil 14).

The Battle of Eros in Augustine: The Inclination of the Heart

Amid the fall of Troy, Aeneas practically does not escape when he realizes that his better half is dead, yet his dad, the fate of his child, and the eventual fate of the final Trojans goad him to leave.

The Redemption of Eros: Augustine's Journey to God

At Carthage, his love for Dido beats his affection for the future Rome (Virgil 19). Eros truly excites his heart for the love of Dido, and he turns into Dido's associate, building Dido's city and spurning the future city in Italy. It is only when he is disgraced into understanding his luxuriousness does Aeneas leave Dido and Carthage and, one would think, his enthusiastic eros for the hard, dry obligation towards his kin, his nation, and his future Latin spouse.

Eros in Dante's Divina Commedia

Nonetheless Aeneas' interests, his eros, will dependably be an issue for this future father of Rome, and maybe for Rome itself, as found in his unreasonable, enthusiastic fierceness against Turnus toward the end of the Aeneid.

The Journey of Eros in Dante: From Evil Lover to Graced Dearest

Therefore, when one arrives at Augustine's Confessions, one isn't shocked that Augustine's principle issue with swinging to God is his cor, his heart, particularly the erotic inclining of his heart. His eros just dwells inside himself and his body – his love for sin, his adoration for exotic delight, his adoration for a religion that anxieties that the universe and its god is just matter, is just body.

The Divine Eros: Dante's Ascent to God's Love

Even when rationally changed over to the possibility of the soul, with the Neoplatonists, and not long after profoundly changed over to God, Augustine still battles with self-restraint. Just when Augustine, depleted and enduring with battling his eros, submits – puts before the feet of Christ, as it were - his eros in the Garden in Milan does Augustine at last comprehend – Christ adores him as he seems to be, sins what not. Christ is the lover, and Augustine is the adored or the loved, and all Augustine must do is submit to this consecrated eros.

The Guiding Force of Eros: Dante's Pilgrimage from Darkness to Light

In comparable design, Dante's Divina Commedia portrays the journey of a man from evil lover to graced dearest (Dante 15). What is eminent in this excursion, however, is that Dante the Pilgrim has a guide, first Virgil and afterward Beatrice. Oblivious woods of his soul and spirit, Dante is so far from his love (Beatrice) that the only soul who can guide him from those woods, through Hell, and up through Purgatory is a condemned soul, Virgil the Poet.

Eros and Redemption: From Inferno to Paradiso

It is clear one sees that Dante cherishes and loves Virgil as a child loves his dad, yet this affection isn't sufficient for the redemption of either Dante or Virgil. Virgil is a good, ethical man, yet he shows no expectation for hope – he has totally lost hope.

Dante, as well, while showing dutiful love for his artist father, similar to a child starts to outgrow his dad, to end up noticeably a man. While in Hell, Dante, innocent and apprehensive, ogled and asked Virgil many questions.

At a certain point, Virgil covers Dante's eyes before the city entryways of Hell. But as he gets through the dull chasm that is the center of Hell, where Satan lives encased in ice, and touches base at the shore of Purgatory, Dante begins to have the kind of expectation reminiscent of the lover, longing to see and know his beloved. Dante starts to know more as his poet-father knows less, and at the Garden on Purgatory, Virgil crowns and miters Dante – who has outgrown his dutiful love – and clears a path for Beatrice.

The Eros of Dante and Beatrice: The Path to God's Love

One understands soon enough that it is Beatrice from the beginning which goads Dante's eros. It is Beatrice, impelled by Mary, who sends Virgil to enable her love to ascend from his wicked eros, towards his unique love of Beatrice when she was fragile living creature and blood, and from his eros for Beatrice the lady towards the love for God, whose love is overwhelming, stable, and moves the world.

Dante's love remains eros – the higher he and Beatrice ascends through the circles, the brighter and more lovely Beatrice moves toward becoming until the point that Beatrice's magnificence outperforms her earthly beauty, which had caught Dante's heart and poetic imagination. Unquestionably Dante's love moves from the love for another to the love for God, yet his love for God happens through eros, through the affection for Beatrice, who remains a genuine lady – and not an unsexed soul or spirit for Dante.


In this way, one sees the treatment of the workings of eros in Man. For Plato, it is an effective drive that must be exploited towards searching for intelligence and truth. For Virgil, it is a hindrance towards political, open soundness and stability, an obstruction which can never be expelled from the spirit. For Augustine, it is an energy that is expected to be great just as creation is great – yet by human sin winds up plainly contorted and detestable and must be reclaimed by another, by the love for God. Lastly, for Dante, it is a power that attracts Man to God, if just Man does not mix up God's Creation for God. As said earlier, "love" is such a little word, and inside that little word holds energy to move man, people groups, countries, and the universe.

Works Cited

Plato, Giovanni R. F. Ferrari, and Tom Griffith. The Republic. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013. Print.

Virgil, and Gawin Douglas. Aeneid. Edinburgh: Printed for the Society by W. Blackwood, 1964. Print.

Dante, Alighieri, M Manfredini, and Tancredi Scarpelli. Divina Commedia. Firenze: Casa editrice G. Nerbini, 1961. Print.

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