Being friends has become a commonly used expression in the last few years, often linked to the world of social media. And yet, if we stop to think about all the types of friendship that come to mind, the list goes back to a long-ago time in our life, when we were young, and includes the people we met along the way and who have sometimes shared our whole lives with us. Friendship is often even stronger than love!
This profound feeling has been explored ever since the dawn of literature through every written and oral form: from poetry to novels, from short stories to plays, all the way down to letters. Nearly two thousand years ago, the Roman philosopher Seneca wrote his friend Lucilius: “Share with a friend all your worries and reflections. No good brings us joy without a friend”.
Ever since then, stories of great friendships have been told and remained engraved in readers’ memories: just think of Robin Hood and his friends, faithful enough to risk their lives for him, or the Three Musketeers – “All for one and one for all!”. But friendship also lies in sibling relationships, as described in novels like Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility or Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
The list of examples could go on forever, but let’s not forget the extraordinary friendship that can spring up between people and animals. The English poet George Byron wrote his dog Boatswain a beautiful, tender epitaph containing the verses “… one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the virtues of Man without his Vices”.