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Chaudet Cupid

Cupid and the Butterfly, Antoine-Denis Chaudet (completed posthumously by Pierre Cartellier), 1817


Erōs (Ἔρως, "Love"), is the primordial god of sexual love and beauty. He is also worshipped as a fertility deity in the Boeotian traditions. His Roman countere"), or Amor ("love"). In some myths, he was the son of the deities Aphrodite and Ares, but according to Plato's Symposium, he was conceived by Poros (Plenty) and Penia (Poverty) at Aphrodite's birthday. In Hēsiodos' Theogony, Erōs was born of Khaos. In Orphic mythology, Erōs Protogenōs is equated with Phanes.


MythologyEdit

Conception mythsEdit

There appear to be two primary sides to the conception of Erōs. In the first, he is a primeval deity who embodies not only the force of erotic love but also the creative urge of ever-flowing nature, the firstborn Light for the coming into being and ordering of all things in the cosmos. In Hēsiodos' Theogony, the most famous of the Hellenic creation mythos, Erōs sprang forth from the primordial Khaos together with Gaia, the Earth, and Tartaros, the underworld; according to Aristophanes' play The Birds (c. 414 BCE), he burgeons forth from an egg laid by Nyx (Night) conceived with Erebus (Darkness). In the Eleusinian Mysteries and other mystery cults, he was worshiped as Protogonōs, the first-born; Orphic mysteries seem to separate "Eros Protogenōs" from "Erōs" with their deity Phanes.

Later in antiquity, Erōs was largely regarded as the son of Aphrodite and either Ares (most commonly), Hermes, or Hephaestus, or of Poros and Penia. Rarely, he was given as the son of Iris and Zephyrus.

Worship of Erōs was uncommon in early Hellas, outside of Boeotia, but eventually became widespread. He was fervently worshipped by a fertility cult in Thespiai, and played an important role in the Eleusinian Mysteries. In Athens, he shared a very popular cult with Aphrodite, and the fourth day of every month was sacred to him.

Canova Antonio Cupid and Psyche 1808

Antonio Canova; Cupid & Psyche 1808

Erōs and PsykhēEdit

The story of Erōs and Psykhē has a long-standing tradition as a folk-tale of the ancient Greco-Roman world long before it was put to print; first seen in Apuleius' Latin novel, The Golden Ass, this is apparent and an interesting intermingling of character roles. The novel itself is picaresque Roman style, yet Psykhē and Aphroditē retain their Greek parts. It is only Erōs whose role hails from his part in the Roman pantheon.

The story is told as a digression and structural parallel to the main storyline of Apuleius' novel. It tells of the struggle for love and trust between Erōs and Psykhē, whose name is difficult to appropriately translate as it transcends both the Greek and Latin language, but can be taken to mean "soul", "mind" or rather both. Aphroditē is jealous of the beauty of mortal Psykhē, as men are leaving her altars barren to worship a mere human woman instead, and so commands Her son Erōs to cause Psykhē to fall in love with the ugliest creature on earth. Erōs falls in love with Psykhē himself and spirits her away to his home. Their fragile peace is ruined by a visit of Psykhē's jealous sisters, who cause Psykhē to betray the trust of her husband. Wounded, Erōs departs from his wife and Psykhē wanders the earth, looking for her lost love.

In Apuleius's The Golden Ass Psykhē bears Erōs a daughter, Hedone (Latin: Voluptas), whose name means "pleasure".

In ancient Greco-Roman art, Eros was occasionally shown with multiple butterfly-winged psykhai, as a driver of souls[1].


EpithetsEdit

  • Abros (ΑΒΡΟΣ) - tender
  • Algesidōros (ΑΛΓΕΣΙΔΩΡΟΣ) - pain inducer
  • Anikatos (ΑΝΙΚΑΤΟΣ) - irresistible
  • Bromios - (βρωμιωσ) "Thunderer"[2]
  • Diphuēs (ΔΙΦΥΗΣ) - dual in nature or form
  • Eleutherios (ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΟΣ) - the liberator
  • Kallistos (ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΟΣ) - the fairest
  • Lusimelēs (ΛΥΣΙΜΕΛΗΣ) - limb-loosener
  • Protogenōs (ΠΡΟΤΟΓΕΝΩΣ) - First Born
  • Puridromos/Pyridromos (ΠΥΡΙΔΡΟΜΟΣ) - who runs on a path of fire
  • Skhetlios (ΣΧΕΤΛΙΟΣ) - cruel, merciless
  • Takeros (ΤΑΚΈΡΟΣ) - melting, languishing
Eros - Pompeiian statue - Naples Archeological Museum

The Eros Farnese, a Pompeiian marble believed to be a copy of the colossal Eros of Thespiai by Praxiteles.

SymbolsEdit

  • arrows
  • winged sandals
  • palm branches
  • dove
  • hare

SacrificesEdit

  • copper
  • rose
  • myrtle
  • clover
  • benzoin
  • sandalwood
  • cinnamon
  • quince, apples, pears
  • vanilla

Ancient CultEdit

The ancient cult of Erōs has been reliably traced to beginning in Boeotia, where His name is Ἅρπυς/Arpus, in the Aeolian dialect. According to Pausanias, in his Description of Greece, Erōs worship seems to have began with the city of Thespiai, in specific:

"Of the gods the Thespians have from the beginning honoured Erōs most, and they have a very ancient image of him, an unwrought stone. Who established among the Thespians the custom of worshipping Erōs more that any other god I do not know.
"He is worshipped equally by the people of Parion on the Hellespont . . .
"Pamphos and Orpheus [legendary poets] wrote hexameter verse, and composed poems on Erōs, in order that they might be among those sung by the Lykomidai to accompany the ritual. I read them after conversation with a Torchbearer. Of these things I will make no further mention . . .
"Later on Lysippos made a bronze Erōs for the Thespians, and previously Praxiteles one of Pentelic marble."

The colossal Erōs statue of Thespiai (a copy of which was believed found in Pompeii) was, according to Strabo, dedicated to the city by the courtesan Glykera, a native of the city; Strabo continues that the statue was the only stunning attraction in "a city otherwise not worth seeing". Thespians also honoured Erōs with games similar to the Mouseia, they consisted not only of musical and poetic, but also athletic competitions.

The cult of Erōs is believed, in Attica, to have been brought to Athens by her native Kharmos, the youth beloved of the Athenian tyrant, Peisistratos, who dedicated a statue and altar to Erōs outside the Academy. At Megaris and Korinthia, He seems to have been primarily worshipped alongside Aphrodite. In Elis, His image seems to have been abundant in the gymnasia.


Modern CultEdit

Modern cult to Erōs seems, at a glance, smaller than that of Aphrodite or Dionysos, two easily similar deities. The most prominent Erōs cult worshipper from the Hellenic polytheist on-line community is Ruadhan McElroy, who maintains a blog, Of Thespiae, to his Erōs worship and revival of Boeotian traditions.

There is a vaguely phallic planetoid in the asteroid belt between the planets Jupiter and Mars named "Eros" by astronomers[3]. It is nearest Earth on approximately January 22th of the Gregorian calendar, give or take a day. "Sexologist" Dr. Susan Block declared this day "Eros Day" in 2000 CE, and has celebrated with highly publicised Los Angeles parties every year since[4].

Modern symbols, offerings, and sacrifices, in addition to ancient "tried and true" ones may include oxalis trangularis[5], also known as "purple shamrock", "purple sorrel" or "love plant", chocolates and other common modern sacrifices to Aphroditē, and condoms[6].


See alsoEdit

NoteEdit

The earliest versions of this page utilise text from Wikipedia, which is under a Creative Commons Share-Alike licensing.


External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

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