Eros (Greek: Ἔρως, "Intimate Love"), in Greek mythology, was the primordial god of sexual love and beauty. He was also worshipped as a fertility deity. His Roman counterpart was Cupid ("desire"). In the Theogony Hesiod makes him a primordial god, while in some myths, he was the son of the deities Aphrodite and Ares.
Throughout Greek thought, there appear to be two sides to the conception of Eros. In the first, he is a primeval deity who embodies not only the force of 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 Hesiod's Theogony, the most famous Greek creation myth, Eros sprang forth from the primordial Chaos together with Gaia, the Earth, and Tartarus, 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, he was worshiped as Protogonus, the first-born.
Worship of Eros was uncommon in early Greece, but eventually became widespread. He was fervently worshiped by a fertility cult in Thespiae, 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.
Eros and Psyche
The story of Eros and Psyche has a longstanding tradition as a folktale 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 Psyche and Aphrodite retain their Greek parts. It is only Eros 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 Eros and Psyche. Aphrodite is jealous of the beauty of mortal Psyche, as men are leaving her altars barren to worship a mere human woman instead, and so commands her son Eros to cause Psyche to fall in love with the ugliest creature on earth. Eros falls in love with Psyche himself and spirits her away to his home. Their fragile peace is ruined by a visit of Psyche's jealous sisters, who cause Psyche to betray the trust of her husband. Wounded, Eros departs from his wife and Psyche wanders the earth, looking for her lost love.
In Apuleius's The Golden Ass Psyche bears Eros a daughter, Voluptas or Hedone.
- ↑ KHAOS - Protogenos Mythology - Theoi Project © 2000-2008.
- ↑ Patricia Turner, Charles Russell Coulter, Dictionary of Ancient Deities - Oxford University Press US, 2001, page 122.
- Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Eros"
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