By: Jayden Lukas
During this season when love is celebrated and relationships bloom, it should be remembered that there is a flip side to all the warm fuzziness that comes with all these loving feelings. I am talking about unrequited love. Love that is not returned and leaves one miserable on a day where love is celebrated.
The Greeks were not unaware that love has many facets. This is why Eros had a brother who was given to him as a playmate. Apparently Eros was lonely and his parents Ares and Aphrodite decided that for love to prosper it needed to be returned. Hence they got together and gave Eros a younger brother who they named Anteros. Physically Anteros resembled his brother Eros in almost every way except that Anteros had long hair and feathered butterfly wings. He was also said to carry either a golden club and arrows of lead. While he was meant to be a playmate to his lonely brother Eros, it is this writer’s opinion that this may not have been the relationship his parents may have envisioned. Anteros very likely had his own opinions about returning love. He would become an avenger for those whose love was not returned. Unrequited love gained its own Avenger in the form of Anteros. Anteros, like the name he was given, was the antithesis of Eros. He was the God of Love returned or counter-love. While many celebrate the day for all the warm fuzzy feelings that Eros exudes, there may be those who prefer to wallow in the feelings of bitterness that come from rejection and unrequited love. Anteros is really the only God that deals with this mirror image of Love. This suggests that counter-love and in turn Hate is in truth also another facet of Love.
The philosopher Plato has expressed his own thoughts on the nature of the emotion as well as its opposite. Plato has asserted that it is the result of the great love for another person. The lover, in their inspiration, is filled with divine love that ‘fills’ the soul of the loved one with love in return. It is as a result of this that the loved one falls in love with the lover, even if this love is only spoken of as friendship. The two experience pain when apart and relief when they are together. The mirror image of the lover’s feelings is anteros, or counter-love.
Ideally the love is returned and both the lover and the loved live happily ever after. However life is not always a fairy tale and the warm fuzzy feelings of love are not returned. That is when Anteros becomes the Avenger on behalf of the one scorned. An example of this might be found in the altar to Anteros that can be found in Athens. This altar was built to remember the rejected love of Timagoras by the local Athenian, Meles. Apparently Timagoras had declared his love for Meles, who jokingly ordered him to throw himself down from the top of a cliff. When Meles saw that Timagoras was dead from doing what his beloved had ordered him to do, Meles was filled with grief and threw themself off the same cliff. This might be seen as the avenging hand of Anteros in action.
Love and the return of love are two sides of the same coin. Real love is a connection and a commitment between two souls. It is mutual and built on trust. It is not something that can be found in a potion and it is certainly not something that can be discarded thoughtlessly. On this day where love is celebrated, let us also celebrate its mirror image and return our friendship and love to those who offer it. If not you just might find yourself begging for mercy from the vengeful hand of Anteros.