our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a

2011/03/26

He is the god of love, EROS:

We read about Rossetti, the Aesthetes and their eroticism. Let's go to the source.

You know how the body, nature, physics works in our experiential world: Gradients. There has to be an energy imbalance to make things flow, to do "work". And flow -- change -- is the nature of being in the sphere of time, essential to the magic of life. This understanding frames my thinking, as it did with Jung's, applied not just to the material world, but to the psyche, personal and collective. But that creator of gradients, that potential for movement, change, chaos, creation: Eros embodies that cosmic force.

He is bold and forward and strenuous, always devising tricks like a cunning huntsman; he yearns after knowledge and is full of resource and is a lover of wisdom all his life, a skillful magician, an alchemist, a true sophist.... but on one and the same day he will live and flourish, and also meet his death; and then come to life again through the force of his father's nature." ~Plato, Symposium

"... the Love-god, golden-haired, stretches his charmed bow with twin arrows, and one is aimed at happiness, the other at life's confusion." ~Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis 549

The idealizations which Eros tends always to constellate can be counterbalanced: creativity expresses itself also as destruction. Love's torture may not always lead to the happy ending of our tale. The idealizations may further be weighted by recalling the connections in Hesiod, the Orphics, and renaissance Neoplatonism between eros and chaos.
Eros is born of Chaos, implying that out of every chaotic moment the creativity of which we have been speaking can be born. Further more, Eros will always hearken back to its origins in chaos and will seek it for revivification. ... Eros will attempt again and again to create those dark nights and confusions which are its nests. It renews itself in affective attacks, jealousies, fulminations, and turmoils. It thrives close to the dragon." --James Hillman (Love's Torturous Enchantment, A BLUE FIRE)

Eros is a questionable fellow and will always remain so . . . . He belongs on one side to man's primordial animal nature which will endure as long as man has an animal body. On the other side he is related to the highest forms of the spirit. But he thrives only when spirit and instinct are in right harmony. ~CGJung CW 7.

Right Harmony. That pair so important in ancient music and extrapolated into all the arts onward: the eternal, orderly and unified Apollo and the diverse and unpredictable Dionysos. The latter had the ability to make the head spin, to overwhelm, to make mad, so that one did not drink wine alone, but in a group, and only one person drinking from the vessel at a time. The idea of the fire and the moving flame, then, is reflected in the pair. And Eros is the movement, the stirring. (Just as the Apollonian Muses move the poet, the mythos.)

There is simply no abiding, no sitting still, no resolution of opposites in the field of time, especially for the force, the energy, that moves it (not to mention the sun and all the stars). This ambivalence, this two-faced nature, both creative/destructive, has been intuited in metaphor as far back as we can remember... And later, as the mythology morphs and mutates, we find Venus wed to Hephaestus--Venus, variously mother or sister of Eros; Eros, shooter of arrows, mover of stars, and Love itself--the ultimate fascination:

[Latin fascin³re, fascin³t-, to cast a spell on, from fascinum, an evil spell, a phallic-shaped amulet.]

In these same early myths, that creative fire inside the earth, that union of opposite forces, made and projected the stars that make our very bodies. (Fascinating, the way we've always known this.) The source of starlight was Hades, that place of paradox and inversion. Originally, daemons were messengers, inter-mediators between man and deity; time and eternity.

The Greek poet Hesiod tells us Eros is born of Chaos at the same time as Earth and the Tartarus. He's the comrade of Aphrodite from the moment of her birth. And he's not merely the god of sensual love. He's much more:

Eros is the power that forms the world by the inner union of the separated elements...

Throughout Plato's Symposium, speakers relate mythical accounts of Eros. There are two opposing mythologies of the origin of Eros. The opening speaker, Phaedrus (light-bringer), the “Father of Logic," introduces Eros as the first god according to the story in Hesiod. In this view, Earth and Eros are born of the whirling (“dynos”) chaos. Eros is not a personification, but a cosmological force or ordering principle (“kosmos” meaning “order”). It is as though in Hesiod’s account, matter and order are born of Chaos, are the inchoate elements of the universe in which all life originates. According to this view, Eros is a primordial cosmological mechanism.
The account of Eros as the youngest god depicted in traditional Greek mythology appears in Pausanius’ speech. Pausanius, reputed for little other than being Agathon’s lover, presents the famous dichotomy between Uranian love and Pandemic love. Pausanius shares the view that Eros is the youngest god, son of Aphrodite. There are differing accounts, however, of the nature of Aphrodite’s birth corresponding to the two different types of love: Uranian (heavenly) and Pandemic (earthly). According to the Uranian account, Aphrodite is born of the castration of Uranus. In contrast, Pandemic love derives from the view of Aphrodite as the child of Zeus and a mortal. It is here that the system of romantic relationships between an older man and a younger man, lover and beloved, is described. Ideally, says Pausanius, this relationship is to represent Uranian (heavenly) love in that the older man, or lover, is a teacher and mentor to the youth (beloved), as opposed to the older man lasciviously desiring the youth only to leave him once his beauty fades. The Uranian lover is a lifelong friend to his beloved, remaining dedicated to him after the flower of youth.
It is one of the oft-mentioned facts of the Symposium that Socrates’ speech is, oddly enough, an account of love that he received from a woman. This woman, Diotima the Delphic Priestess of Mantinea, gives an original mythical description of Eros and his parentage. In contrast to the views of Eros as both the oldest and youngest god, according to Diotima, Eros is the child of Resource (Poros) and Poverty (Penia). Because Eros’ mother is destitute, she sleeps with Resource and conceives Eros on the night of Aphrodite’s feast day. The result is an offspring who is ever in search of objects but unable to maintain them. Like his mother, Eros is ever craving, restless and desirous, yet he possesses the charms and know-how of his father. Because of his relentless conniving to possess what he does not have and his inability to maintain it, Eros is said to be a daimon. Daimon, in the Greek, means something like an intermediary or spirit, a messenger between gods and humankind.
In this exposition, Diotima also establishes that Eros is like a philosopher because he constantly seeks to find what he lacks. One cannot desire what one already possesses. If one already possesses something, one cannot desire it in itself, though one may desire the maintenance of this possession. A philosopher desires wisdom because he recognizes that he lacks it. The gods, on the other hand, do not seek wisdom as they already possess it. It is also established that though humans do not possess immortality, humankind seeks to possess deathlessness. There is a drive within humanity for different types of immortality. Procreation is a type of yearning for bodily immortality, but as it is limited to the body, it is the lowest sort of love. The highest type of love is that which, inspired by beauty, ascends to a vision of the Forms.
Socrates’ account of love is as a spirit guiding one, through the experience of Beauty, to a vision of the Idea of the Good, or the Form of all Forms, the origin of all that exists in the universe.
~EMC, The Platonic Eros

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extra credit:  http://angelavoss.org/wp-content/uploads/EROS.pdf
EROS Angela Voss