Eros and Philia: Ancient Philosophers on Love and Friendship


It is hard to deny that love and friendship are central to our lives. Passionate desire and deep personal concern for others, and perhaps also for things and ideas, make our lives worthwhile and meaningful. With significant links to morality and the good life, love and friendship were major themes for ancient philosophers. More than 2,000 years later their thoughts resonate today. In this course, we critically explore some of the seminal texts (e.g., Plato’s ‘Lysis’ and parts of Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’), engage with the philosophical issues that emerge from them, and relate them to our lives.

Programme details

Session 1

We begin by getting a sense for ancient Greek philosophy

Session 2

We discuss Empedocles, for whom love and strife are basic forces

Session 3

We start exploring Plato’s ‘Lysis’, our pre-course reading

Session 4

We continue with ‘Lysis’

Session 5

We turn to erotic love in Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’

Session 6

We study some passages from Plato’s ‘Symposium’, and the ‘Republic’

Session 7

We now turn to Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’ (NE) discussing the first part of Book VIII

Session 8

We complete our study of NE VIII, perhaps complemented by passages from the ‘Rhetoric’

Session 9

We investigate NE Book IX

Session 10

We complete our inquiry into Aristotle’s approach to philia

Session 11

We compare Plato and Aristotle’s views with those of Epicurus

Session 12

We explore how the Stoics think about eros and philia


Description Costs
Programme Fee (No Accommodation - inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner) £850.00
Programme Fee (Standard Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1485.00
Programme Fee (Standard Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1245.00
Programme Fee (Superior Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1600.00
Programme Fee (Superior Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1345.00


Dr Peter Wyss


Peter has been teaching weekly classes and online courses for the past twelve years at the department, where he is involved also in certificate and postgraduate programmes. He teaches philosophy for the Open University too.

Course aims

This course aims to give participants an overview of the main thought on friendship during the 4th century BCE through the critical study and discussion of ancient sources.

Teaching methods

All summer school courses are taught through group seminars and individual tutorials. Students also conduct private study when not in class and there is a well stocked library at OUDCE to support individual research needs.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Identify the core views and arguments of Plato and Aristotle
  • Express and critically evaluate these views
  • Improve their ability to read, interpret, and communicate ancient philosophical texts

Assessment methods

Students are assessed during the summer school by either a 1500 word written assignment or a presentation supported by individual documentation. To successfully gain credit (10 CATS points) students should attend all classes and complete the on-course assignment. There is also a pre-course assignment of 1000 words set. Although this does not count towards credit, it is seen as an important way of developing a student's ideas and therefore its completion is mandatory.