Eros

An Introduction to Eros

Eros is a god of love and passion. His depiction as a young boy with wings and a quiver is relatively late.

Myth

Several different origins are given for Eros. In one, he is simply (simply!) the son of Aphrodite; in others he is given various pedigrees, most often as the son of Aphrodite and Ares.

More interesting, however, is the version in which first there was only Chaos, from which first Gaia, then Tartaros, and finally Eros emerged, making him one of the oldest deities, and certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Eros’ best-known myth, and one frequently depicted in art, is his love of Psyche, who became the goddess of the soul. In this tale, Eros fell in love with the beautiful mortal Psyche and visited her at night, in secret; she never saw her lover in the light. Her sisters convinced her to look upon him by lamplight in the night, but when she did so she was so astonished by his beauty that she spilled a bit of lamp oil on him, waking him and causing him to leave her. Psyche undergoes a series of tests and trials before she can be reunited with Eros, but eventually they are married and she is transformed into a goddess.

Festivals

A Panhellenic festival to Eros was held in Thespeia in Boetia.

However, with a very few exceptions, Eros’ worship was generally as a companion of Aphrodite; he, like her, was traditionally worshipped on the fourth day of each month.

The Erotes

The Erotes are a group of winged love gods similar to Eros himself. They, like him, are companions of Aphrodite. The ancestry, mythology, and attributions of the Erotes tends to be a bit inconsistent, and it is not always clear which Erote is traditionally associated with which aspect of love and desire. All are depicted as winged young men, differentiated mainly by the attributes each carries.

Himeros. Himeros, the god of lust and desire, typically carries a ribbon known as a taina, worn by athletes in ancient Greece; athletes would certainly have been among the recipients of such desires.

Anteros. Anteros, the god of love requited or returned, carries a leaden arrow. He was also believed to punish those who refused the love offered them.

Pothos. Pothos, the god of longing, carried an ivy vine (perhaps because of an association with the god Dionysos, whose gifts were said to soothe the pains of unrequited love).

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