Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight.

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more.

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

and when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

~C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On The Four Loves--"Eros"

First, to define Eros—Eros is love between the sexes, which includes sexual attraction but is not merely sex.  It is what people mean when they talk about “being in love” with someone.  Sex itself, which Lewis calls Venus, is only a part of it, and not even the greatest part.  Venus can exist outside of Eros, and Eros can exist, and often does exist, without any thought of sex or sexual interaction. 
Furthermore, the presence or absence of Eros doesn’t make an action morally right or wrong.  For example, in ages past many people married and had children who were not in love, but simply obeying the wishes of their parents and fulfilling their duty towards society and each other, and, as Lewis says, “they did right.”  Just because Eros was not present doesn’t make the sexual act wrong.  In the same way, a man who commits adultery because he is in love with a woman who is another man’s wife does wrong even though his actions grow out of Eros.  This ties back to “We Have No Right to Happiness”—even though Eros speaks with an almost divine voice and makes lofty promises and terrible threats, it cannot justify otherwise immoral acts—dishonesty, faithlessness, the breaking of promises and the betrayal of loved ones.
At its beginning, Eros is rarely concerned with sex.  It begins most often with a preoccupation with another person, all his or her likes and dislikes, mannerisms and habits, way of speaking and moving and laughing.  Sex doesn’t even enter into the lover’s mind.  To a man just starting to fall in love, the fact that his beloved is a woman, and even a sexually attractive woman, is beside the point.  He is only concerned with the fact that she is herself.  Eventually, sexual desire becomes a part of Eros, but it does so as “[an institution] of a conquered country.”  Eros “reorganizes” sex, and so sex inside of Eros is quite different from sex outside of it.  Lewis points out that many medieval moralists and theologians tended to think that the more Eros detached itself from Venus, the purer it would be; sex was a pollutant, a temptation to sensual gratification and lust.  As most of these men were celibates, however, Lewis argues that they could not have known how Eros transforms sexual desire, “how, far from aggravating, he [Eros] reduces the nagging and addictive character of mere appetite…[making] abstinence easier.”

<In progress>


  1. Very interesting...I'd always thought Eros meant sexual love exclusively. I had no idea it could have other meanings.

    Oh...the bottom of this post says "in progress," but to me, it looks like you finished this essay. Just wanted to let you know about that. ;)

    I've really been enjoying reading your blog!

  2. Thanks, EE! If you liked this, you should definitely read Lewis's The Four Loves. If I have spare time this semester I would love to read the whole thing. The single chapter I read was very good, but still only part of a whole.

    And yes, it does say in progress because I didn't manage to say everything I wanted to. Lewis makes some comments about marriage and gender roles later on in the chapter that I wanted to address. But the moment passed, and now I have a whole new bunch of classes to do homework for, so it looks like this is the finished product. :P

  3. Oh, I see now. :P

    I would really like to read Lewis's non-fiction works...maybe over the summer...or when I graduate from college. :P I especially want to read Mere Christianity. :)

  4. Very interesting--that's one of Lewis' works I haven't read yet. I tried years ago, just never got into it. I might have to pull it out and try again :)