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What is the Stoic approach to relationships, romantic and otherwise?What does an ideal romantic relationship comprise or involve?You will find a very similar formula in Diogenes’ Laertes summary of Stoic doctrine (7.13), varying just a little in the wording (though English translations diverge from each other considerably).Cicero also confirms this formula in the 4.34) When we compare them, an interesting tension arises from these three discussions, which may reflect disagreements or at least worries in the Stoic school about this emotion or affect of erotic love.There is some truth to that – friendship () – but anyone who reads around in the many discussions of love in Ancient Greek literature quickly realizes that matters are much more muddled than that, conceptually and linguistically speaking.
According to Arius, the Stoics distinguished between good and bad forms of love, setting them within an already long tradition (you will find, for example, discussing of this distinction from several different perspectives in Plato’s ).
Valentine’s Day offers us an excellent occasion to examine issues that really concern the entire year.
When we consider these issues, and bring in ancient Stoic texts and thinkers to help us think them through, cultural differences from classical antiquity to the late modern present become prominent.
What should contemporary Stoics make of Valentine’s Day?
That’s an interesting question by itself, but it depends upon and raises a number of other broader questions.