Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

The three forms of love (Eros)

Author: Paulo Coelho

In 1986, while I walked the St. James Path with Petrus, my guide, we passed by the city of Logroño while a wedding was taking place. We asked for two cups of wine, I prepared a dish with canapés and Petrus found a table where we could sit with the other guests.

The bride and the groom cut a huge cake.

“They must love one another,” I thought out loud. “Of course they love each other,” said a man in a dark suit sitting at the table.Have you ever seen people marrying for another reason?”

But Petrus didn’t let the question pass: “Which kind of love do you mean: Eros, Philia or Agape?”

The gentleman looked at him without understanding.

“There are three Greek words to designate love,” he said. “Today you are seeing the manifestation of Eros, that feeling between two people.”

The couple smiled to the flashes and was being greeted.

“It seems that they love each other. Soon they will be fighting alone for life; they will build a house and will participate in the same adventure: that ennobles and dignifies love. He will follow his career, she probably knows how to cook and will be an excellent lady of the house, because she was brought up to know that. She will follow him, they will have children and if they are able to build anything together, they will really be happy forever.”
“Suddenly, however, this story may happen in the other way around. He will start feeling he isn’t free enough to manifest the whole Eros, all the love he feels for other women.

She may start to feel that she has sacrificed a career and a brilliant life to follow her husband. So, instead of a joint construction, each one will feel robbed in their way of loving.

Eros, the spirit that unites them, will start showing only its mean side. And what God had destined for Man as his noblest feeling, will be the source of hatred and destruction.”

I looked around. Eros was present in many couples. But I could sense the presence of Good Eros and Evil Eros, exactly as Petrus had described.

“Observe how curious it is,” my guide continued, “in spite of being good and bad, the face of Eros is never the same in each person.”

The band started to play a waltz. People went to a small cemented space in front of the bandstand to dance.

The alcohol started to rise and everyone was happier and sweating more. I noticed a girl dressed in blue who probably waited for this wedding only for the moment of the waltz because she wanted to dance with someone with whom she dreamed of embracing ever since her first adolescence years.

Her eyes followed the moves of a welldressed young man in a bright suit among a round of friends. They were talking happily, they hadn’t noticed that the waltz had started; they didn’t notice that at a few meters distance there was a girl in blue looking insistently to one of them.

It reminded me of the small cities, of the marriages with the chosen boys longed for since childhood. The girl in blue noticed my look and moved away.

And as if every move were concerted, it was the boy’s turn to look for her with his eyes. As he noticed her near other girls, he went back to talking happily to his friends.

I called Petrus’ attention to them. He followed their staring games for a while and then turned back to his cup of wine.

“They act as if it was a shame to show they love each other,” was his only commentary.

Another girl looked fixedly at both of us; she should be half our age. Petrus raised his cup of wine, cheered, the girl smiled bashfully, pointed to her parents, almost apologizing for not getting nearer. “That is the beautiful side of love,” he said.

“The love that defies, the love for two older strangers who came from afar and will already have left tomorrow for a path she would also like to walk. Love prefers adventure.”

in The Pilgrimage


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