The Art of Loving and On Friendship Read-Along

On Friendship How to Be a Friend Cicero

As I mentioned in my Books of Autumn post, after my C.S. The Four Loves read-along I’ve been interested in reading more books on the same subject with two in mind: The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm and On Friendship by Marcus Tullius Cicero. So with a little prodding (you know who you are, lol!) I’ve decided to host a read-along for both of them during the month of October.  It’s a little bit of short notice, I know, but The Art of Loving is a mere 120-ish pages and On Friendship is an essay, so please join in any time you can; if you can’t start on the 1st, it will be easy to catch up.

The allegory of friendship

The Allegory of Friendship between the artist and Joannes Radermacher (1589) Joris Hoefnagel
~ source Wikimedia Commons

Fromm’s book is a great companion to The Four Loves; he deals with the same subjects as Lewis does but approaches them from a different perspective and his insights are often quite amazing.  And, of course, Cicero deals with only one aspect of the Loves: Friendship.  His essay is interesting because in Roman times friendship was seen as a relationship that had a mutual practical benefit but Cicero takes it a step farther, dealing with intangible aspects that benefit a person’s soul.

Pompeii Love Song Ettore Forti

Pompeii Love Song (1897) Ettore Forti
~ source Wikimedia Commons

On Friendship I’ll read first and (hopefully) post a review so whenever you finish the essay, please feel free to comment there.

With The Art of Loving, I’ll split it up as follows (somewhat difficult, as one book is super short and one super long):

October 1 – 2                 Part I: Is Love An Art?

October 3 – 19               Part II: The Theory of Love

October 20 – 25             Part III: Love’s Disintegration in Western Society

October 26 – 31             Part IV:  The Practice of Love

So come along for more exploration and enlightenment into that complex, and sometimes elusive emotion of Love! ❤️


20 thoughts on “The Art of Loving and On Friendship Read-Along

  1. I will hopefully read the essay, and do a second read of Fromm’s book. My first read was a bit fast and I didn’t comment or blogged much, so I want to read it closely with you for sure.

    To anyone considering, Fromm is short, and Chloe tells us that Cicero’s is even shorter. As she says, Fromm is very insightful.

    • I’ve pulled out Fromm’s book and have markings and highlights everywhere!! It may be hard to condense …. so many treasures within!

  2. Wow, is it nearly October already?! 🙂 I found the Cicero essay online, so I will read that this weekend. I’m still waiting for Fromm from the library… (“available soon” supposedly!)

    • I’m so glad that you’re joining, Marian! You’re a champ! I’ve been reading your Nostromo posts … sorry I haven’t commented but for some reason I can’t comment on your blog with my browser so then I have to change browsers and with my computer problems (still haven’t got it fixed) it’s not working well. But I wanted to let you know, I am reading them!

  3. Ahem. I have read the essay. In love already. I will give it one or two more passes. It’s short and worth reading.
    I have also started on my second read of Fromm’s book. I have it on my Kindle, and I am at 10 percent. I had highlighted some parts already, and I am doing some more.
    It’s also a book worth reading and commenting.
    My only problem is that I am reading them in Spanish, and to quote I don’t owe the English copy of Fromm’s, and I will have to get Cicero’s. But I may post, and most definitely, comment on your blog.
    Actually, if I wait for your posts (or others), and have comments, etc, I may post those and make it a reaction or answering of questions.

    • Ah, you are a keener, lol! I’ve begun also but I became distracted from Cicero by Fromm. Fromm is definitely more technical than Lewis. I remember his description of the love of God somewhat put me off but I can’t remember why. The rest of the book was golden though. I’ll look forward to your insightful posts and comments!!

      • Bingo!!!! I’m nodding my head like crazy, and admiring his insight, and his ability to spot limitations in Freudian theories, and his clear perception on societies and how they’ve moved from different views of love all of them wrongly perceived through the afflictions of the time, it’s on point. I too find Fromm very precise, and super sharp with the exception of God and christian love, LOL, which was precisely Lewis’s most spectacular contribution.

        As an honest ‘atheist’ (right?), Fromm is totally amazing, but since he doesn’t seem to have had any experience or understanding of agape, and God’s love for us, and the love we ought to nurture for Him and others as commanded, he totally misses “us”.

        His description of God and religion is off. It applies to idolatrous religion, and true, that one is inferior to the love that he places as superior, which is not self-love, but healthy individual love of self, life, and others. (Everything minus God, or minus our true motivation to love others that for christians is based on the unconditional love God feels for us).

        I even agree that Adam and Eve’s problem was not a Victorian problem of embarrassment or shame/lust. The problem of love tied to the feeling of separation is spot on. We christians know it’s all about reuniting with Him, of course.

        • I remember the first time I read this I couldn’t figure out what he was saying about the love of God. Let’s see what I can make of it this time.🤔

          I did note he said the exhilaration of the feelings of “love at first, perhaps is not so much about being in love but about a feeling of lonliness prior to meeting that person. Something to think about.

          • Same here. I remember vaguely the disagreeing, but I want to nail it down more too.
            I have loved this second reading. That differentiation between the “falling in love” and the true art of love or true being in love is interesting.

      • Oh, and Cicero is spectacular when it comes to the qualities of friendship, what it is and what is not. He gave it a good reputation by explaining what it was. Many people had a low regard about friendship because they had not taken any time to know what it is.

  4. Behind already! But I just got my copy of Fromm from the shelf, so now I’m committed, right?

    I read Cicero’s On Friendship two years ago in Latin, and it mostly reminded me how much I’ve forgotten all the Latin I ever knew. Maybe I’ll not pretend I’m going to reread it in Latin and just find an English copy. I see above Marian said she found it online.

    • Yes, you ARE committed! I do find him a little easier to understand than Lewis but he’s practical and not so deep.

      The picture that I posted of On Friendship (which is titled How To Be A Friend) is a little book that has Latin on one side and English on the other, if you can find it. I studied Latin to teach my daughter but my level isn’t up to Cicero. It would be nice to read through it again though, with time to peruse both the Latin and English.

  5. Cleo, is Cicero’s essay On Friendship free online? It sounds interesting and I’d like to see if I can read it real quick amidst reading Les Miserables. 🙂

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