The backwards evolution of love
You may say humanity has come a long way in how we treat our romantic partners, but according to Professor Alastair Blanshard, the Paul Eliadis Chair of Classics and Ancient History at UQ, our ideas of love may now be moving backwards thanks to platforms such as Tinder and Grindr.
Professor Blanshard said that modern western conceptions of love, soulmates and romance only emerged in the 19th Century.
“It is only in recent times that we started to see the emergence of the idea of the ‘soulmate’ the idea that one person could fulfil all that we needed in a relationship,” he said.
On the other hand, ancient notions of love were far more segmented and practical.
“In ancient times we used to see a compartmentalisation of love – this is exemplified in a speech given by the Greek Orator Demosthenes.
“The essence of Demosthenes speech was that we have wives to bear legitimate children, courtesans for company and prostitutes for pleasure – this represents the way in which the Ancient Greeks saw relationships and love.
“The Greeks essentially compartmentalised love into erotic love, companionable love and transactional love, with marriage being more of a business arrangement and a means of producing heirs.”
While we eventually moved away from this model, the emergence of Tinder and Grindr signify the re-compartmentalisation of love, bringing it closer to what we saw in ancient times said Professor Blanshard.
“People are treating love in a way more aligned with ancient notions, where both men and women are seeking short-term relationships with people they don’t see as long-term partners.
“This represents a societal change in the way we view love, marriage and relationships and a return to our ancient roots, albeit this time men and women are on equal footing to choose who they love and in what way they express it.”
Professor Alastair Blanshard is the inaugural Paul Eliadis Chair of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland. UQ is the only university in Queensland to offer courses in all areas of the history, archaeology, culture, language and the literature of Ancient Greece and Rome. The Paul Eliadis Chair of Classics and Ancient History will allow these important areas to be taught for generations to come
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