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Eros & Agape

"To love at all is to be vulnerable" (121).
C. S. Lewis' The Four Loves (1960)


Points of Reflection

Salvador Dalí's "Venus and Sailor" (1925)

1. how does this painting compare to the similarly titled painting pictured here: "Venus and a Sailor (Homage to the Noticiario Fox)" (1925)?

2. is the sailor's profession an important variable in the relationship depicted by this painting?

3. what is the sailor holding in his right hand?

4. which of the figures in this painting are the most animated, and which the most lifeless?


C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves (1960), 91-115

1. why does Lewis not see Venus (sexual desire) and Eros (being "in love") as necessarily linked (92)?

2. according to Lewis, which comes first when "being in love" is in play, Eros or Venus (93)?

3. how is sexual desire (Venus) transformed when it exists side by side with Eros (94-96)?

4. does Lewis believe that sexual desire, within marriage, is likely to serve as an obstacle to communion with God (96)?

5. why does Lewis affirm that sex, though a very serious business (98), should be sometimes approached with a distinct element of fun and even jest (99-102)?

6. do you agree with Lewis that "Pleasure, pushed to its extreme, shatters us like pain" (102)?

7. does Lewis believe that men should take a "masterful," dominant role with their wives in any situation (102-106)?

8. what two writers does Lewis identify as having believed (wrongly, he argues) that romantic love is something that should take precedence over other considerations (108-109)?

9. why does Lewis think Eros "really and truly like Love Himself (God)" (109-10)?

10. how might Eros "become a demon" if worshipped as a god (110-15)?


C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves (1960), 116-41

1. do you agree with Lewis that the "natural" loves cannot remain themselves without God's help (118 bot)?

2. does Lewis agree with St. Augustine that the best way to avoid loving other humans more than God is to prevent oneself from deeply loving anyone other than God (119-22)?

3. according to Lewis, is a heart that has been given to no one capable of redemption and salvation (121 bot)?

4. which does Lewis cite as a better indicator of whether one loves God more than other humans, one's feelings or one's actions (122-23)?

5. what does Jesus mean, according to Lewis, when, in Luke 14:26, he calls his disciples to "hate" their family members--and their own lives (123-24?

6. does Lewis believe that the dedicated Christian will frequently or infrequently come up against instances in which s/he has to bypass her/his loved one's rights and desires in order to serve God (124 bot, 125 mid)?

7. do you agree with Lewis's claim that "man even at his highest sanctity and intelligence has no direct 'knowledge about' (savoir) the ultimate Being--only analogies" (126)?

8. what is the key difference between "Divine Gift-Love" and "natural Gift-Love," according to Lewis's calculations (128 mid)?

9. does that "supernatural Need-Love" of God (which Lewis hypothesizes is given to every human) lead us to think more highly of ourselves (129-31)?

10. according to Lewis, do humans want to receive love because they are lovable, or unlovable (132)?

11. Lewis claims that "all activities (sins only excepted) of the natural loves can in a favoured hour becomes works of the glad and shameless and grateful Need-love or the selfless, unofficious Gift-love, which are both Charity" (134). Can you generate examples of your own that support Lewis's equation?

12. does Lewis argue that acts of true Charity must be private or public (134-35)?

13. does Lewis believe heaven is a place humans should seek for the sole purpose of being reunited with loved dead ones (137-38)?

14. be ready to paraphrase the following claim: "We were made for God. Only by being in some respect like Him, only by being a manifestation of His beauty, loving-kindness, wisdom or goodness, has any earthly Beloved excited our love. It is not that we have loved them too much, but that we did not quite understand what we were loving. It is not that we shall be asked to turn from them, so dearly familiar, to a Stranger. When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it" (139 mid)?



"Venus and Sailor" (1925)
Salvador Dali



Dr. Paul Marchbanks
pmarchba@calpoly.edu