Love has always been an important element of life in Ancient Greek society. It has been extensively covered in literary stories, poetry, and even in philosophical texts.

But it was a bit different than in a modern sense. Generally in modern times, love has always intertwined with marriage but Greek love stories in most cases were  extramarital in nature. Marriage was rarely the sphere of love and considered more of a duty.

But the example of love within duty can be found in Planthane’s grave stele which presented a relief of a couple joining hands, which symbolized a lasting unity. The concept of soulmates is also said to be first found in Plato’s Symposium which sees love as an overwhelming force bringing two people close to each other.

Mostly the love stories were about extramarital homosexual love between an adult Male with a teenage boy. This type of relationship was greatly glorified in ancient Greece and was very common among upper classed men.

The Ancient Greek Goddess of love

Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty, sex appeal, and fertility. She can charm everyone, even the gods. She was called the laughter-loving goddess because she would laugh sweetly or mockingly at those her charms had conquered. Her charms are so powerful that she can turn even wise men into talking foolishly.

Love In Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece Love

The term homosexuality as it is used and understood today is not applicable to Greek antiquity for three reasons: First of all, most Greeks were bisexual. Second, homosexuality and ‘gay’ as sexual identities are recent developments, emerging only in the 2Oth Century.

Last, and most important of all, passion and erotic love between two adult men (the model for modern gay relationships), was generally considered unusual and held up to ridicule. Homosexual love in Greece was love between a man and a boy.


Greek practice of pederasty

The Greek practice of pederasty came suddenly into prominence at the end of the archaic period of Greek history; there is a brass plaque from Crete, about 650-625 BC, which is the oldest surviving representation of pederasty custom.

Such representations appear from all over Greece in the next century; literary sources show it as being established custom in many cities by the fifth century BC.

It was very common among the upper class men, and was considered educational for the younger boys. These was also seen as very common topic even in Greek literatures where in place of common love stories, extramarital homosexual relations between a aged male and a teenage boy was very glorified and romanticized.


Ancient Greeks acknowledged homosexuality as an important tool in boys education. They institutionalized and regulated its practices within their law codes. True, opinions about it varied, but few aspects of any culture have ever stood without debate, both popular and forensic.

Their homosexuality, almost universally intergenerational, resembled what modern societies call pederasty rather than homosexuality among adults.

Theseus and the Minotaur

Court and Spark

Ancient Greece had unofficial and unwritten rules enforcing decorous behavior at droid or in gymnasia and especially for relationships that at times started there, much as modern society has rules for how teenage sons of socialites must “court and spark” their romantic interests.

Occasionally one of those young scions of the social elite might take a favor to a particular boy in training. The young man might approach the boy after classes ended for the day, or he might send an intermediary to give his name and a message to the boy.

There were magical effigies much like those used today by practitioners of voodoo. The practitioner of this aggressive magic would cast an incantation and poke or burn the effigy in an effort to affect the person represented.

The intention was to make the woman represented suffer the pangs of lust to the point that she would leave her family. The practitioner might invoke Eros, Pan, Hekate, or Aphrodite.

Ancient Greek types and names of love

Today when we speak of love probably only or two pictures come to our mind. We have thus only one word for love but Ancient Greeks had eight words for love  signifying different types of love. And they were:

4 Famous Ancient Greek love stories

Ancient Greece love poems and poet

One of the poets on love from Ancient Greece was Sappho whose poems are even read today. He was an example of Greek lyrical poetry and talks about the women he hjas loved and heartbreaks he has suffered. His poems were generally from a woman’s perspective and about the women he admired showing how construct of love was so different from modern days, He described both the beutiful as well as the heartbreaking aspect of love. An example of his poems is:

Frankly I wish that I were dead:
She was weeping as she took her leave from me
And many times she told me this:
‘Oh what sadness we have suffered,
Sappho, for I’m leaving you against my will.’
So I gave this answer to her:
‘Go be happy but remember me there, for you know how we have cherished you,
If not, then I would remind you
[of the joy we have known,] of all
The loveliness that we have shared together;
For many wreaths of violets
Of roses of crocuses
… you wove around yourself by my side
… and many twisted garlands
which you had woven from the blooms
Of flowers, you placed around your slender neck
… and you were anointed with
A perfume, scented with blossom
… although it were fit for a queen
And on a bed, soft and tender
… you satisfied your desire…’