Love is a very difficult virtue to fully define and understand. It is one of the deepest emotions that we can experience. We are told to uphold Love in our lives and share it with all.
Before we can even consider acting in Love, we must first understand what Love is. It is not as simple as one would think. This first volume will attempt to unpack the various facets of Love and define what each one is.
The Oracle defines love as "the guiding principle of our need to be with another." At first glance this is a general definition of Love. In the City of Love, Ardoris, there are couples in the streets holding hands and laughing. They speak to each other in soft tones, caress each other's cheek and kiss in the splintered moonlight. To many this is the very definition of Love - Courtly Love: To woo another and join hearts with them. The intent with Courtly Love is to find someone to cleave ones heart to. Finding someone who will share your experiences through life and assist and support you in every way possible. I believe that the prevalence of Courtly Love as our definition of Love is because of how much Courtly Love takes over our lives - many spent their lives looking for their heart's match. There are pitfalls, broken hearts, tragedies and success. As such we want to know our own experiences are not in vain. The Book "The Hearts of New Britannia" contains poems sharing tales of Courtly Love. Some, like "An Ode to Dame Lori" seem to be happy tales of Courtly Love returned, while "Madness of Love" is one of unrequited Courtly Love. Both are sides of the same coin for Love, and both are important for understanding what Love is.
Love is more than this, however. What of the other kinds of Love, such as the Love a mother has for her children? A son for his father? A sister for a brother? This is Love too and I shall define it as Familial Love. Familial Love is the Love felt within families towards other members of that family. It is forged in blood and is, generally, the first Love we experience. It is fundamentally different from Courtly Love because instead of wishing to join hearts together, this Love begins as a joined heart. To better understand this we can look to the fable "The Courageous Mother." The mother duck is protective of her children and is willing to put herself in grave danger to ensure their survival. This fable shows how Love can exist without Courtly Love, but between a mother and child. Familial Love is not just between a mother and child, but between all members of a family. This, too, is a facet of Love. It shows that Familial Love is very strong and just as important as Courtly Love when discussing the Virtue of Love.
As I gathered thoughts and research for this treatise, I sat on a hill south of the Whiteguard Foothills, reading in the sunlight. In that day there were many people who passed me. Three of them stopped to converse. All three wished to help me if they could without even knowing what I needed help with. They were genuinely interested in assisting me. One gave me books written to help newly arrived Outlanders. Another wished me safe travels and eventually gave me a bow crafted by his wife. Both acts of generosity were done for no other reason than Love - I shall define this facet as Friendly Love. This compassionate pair, Marthos Dunesworth and his wife Evermor Taggart did not have to spend time, resources and money crafting a bow, nor did Marthos need to inquire about my wellbeing. They are not my family, nor are they courting me. This is a fine example of Friendly Love showing that Love can be shared with anyone at any time. The fable, "Kindness in Giving Creates Love" further defines this by comparing the Pig and the Cow. The lesson is: in order to be loved and to show Love, one must have compassion and willingly sacrifice for others. The Pig, and the rich man he is compared to give only after death. There was no real sacrifice as they have no need of what they have any longer. Where the cow, and Marthos and Evermor, still had need of their goods and yet gave it away. That is a true sacrifice, and a true representation of Love.
The willingness to share and the vulnerability we have when sharing all these facets of Love makes many question why we should even try to Love anything when pain would be our only reward. Stories of Courtly Love are rife with tales of unrequited love, of scorned lovers and heartbreaking tragedy. So, why try? Why put ourselves in harm's way? The tale "Don't Give Up Your Goodness" shows a man who attempts to show Love to an insect, but is repeatedly stung. He doesn't stop showing Love because he is hurt. We can explore this idea further in the tale "The Most Beautiful Heart" which shows that only those who experience love and loss can achieve a full understanding of Love. The old man in the tale says that he has given love and had times when he had not received love in return. He has experienced loss and has a much better understanding of Love.
Love can be anywhere and affect anyone, not just those we are courting. Love is how we can positively affect each other with our actions. It is how we show others that they are important and mean something. Even if our Love is not received we grow and can understand Love more deeply.