Eros as Passion, Affection and Nature: Gendered Perceptions of Erotic Emotion in Byzantium

  • Charis Messis
  • Ingela Nilsson
Part of the New Approaches to Byzantine History and Culture book series (NABHC)


This chapter offers a much needed problematization of one of the emotions most frequently expressed in Byzantine texts—love as desire (eros) and affectionate love (agape). Based on a range of texts that draw on ancient Greek theories of emotivity, the authors offer a three-partite analytical model: desire, found mainly in the novel, which is characterized as an external force that imposes itself upon individuals; affectionate love, which dominates discourses on marriage and is construed mostly as an internal feeling; and love in its physiological dimension. According to Messis and Nilsson, theologians attempted to come to terms with love’s negative aspects through an insistence on bodily urges and the mechanisms of such urges. The last approach is aptly coined by the authors as ‘de-emotionalizing Eros’.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charis Messis
    • 1
  • Ingela Nilsson
    • 2
  1. 1.National and Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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