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Aphrodite, Eros, Anteros, Himeros, and Pothos: A Greek Love Squad

Before the advent of Christianity, Greek culture had multiple deities established to represent all aspects associated with living on this earth. Their polytheistic outlook called for a series of gods to preside over everything that made up nature, afterlife and the human condition; life, death, war, even emotions were all ruled/explained by the actions and presence of a Greek god or goddess.
Emotion is the key word here. Human feelings are certainly tricky things and can even lead to disastrous results if not understood properly. Probably the one emotion that plagues humans the most is love.
Being such an integral part of the human condition, the subject of love is nothing short of complex. It's a force that invokes the deepest and darkest desires of any person; it can bring out the best in us along with our very worst.
The Greeks apparently thought so too, which is why they put so much time and effort into properly worshiping love in all it's forms.

Aphrodite - Goddess of Love and Beauty

Aphrodite (known as Venus in Roman mythology) is the main goddess associated with love, beauty, and sex. Born from the castrated genitals of Uranus after they were tossed into the sea- although some accounts describe her as the daughter of Zeus- Aphrodite is one of the more prominent gods.
She is seen as a symbol of fertility and sexuality; Aphrodite is often regarded as the most beautiful goddess in all of Mount Olympus. Fearing that her good looks would cause inner conflict amongst the gods, Zeus married her off to the lame Hephaestus.
While her beauty was legendary, even a goddess like Aphrodite couldn't avoid the downfalls that came with being attractive; depicted as vain, badly tempered, and quick to offend. She was also far from excited about being married to the ugly smithing god and so, cheated on him often.
Her life of adultery led to a number of consorts, with a list comprised of both immortal and mortal lovers: Adonis, Anchises, Hermes, and Ares just to name a few. Needless to say, her extensive amount of intercourse also led to Aphrodite bearing many children.
Accompanied by Aphrodite is her loyal retinue, known as the Erotes. This group is fiercely loyal to Aphrodite and act as her constant travel companions. Together they symbolize every piece that makes up Love.
They all have very similar characteristics, portrayed as child like, winged, male, gods of love. Their numbers vary, based on the literature where they happened to be mentioned.
However, while the Erotes are sometimes described as a countless amount of angelic boys, four have been mentioned specifically and named. The following are those very four described in more detail.

Eros - God of Love

Eros (known as Cupid within the Roman religion) is the male god of love, sex, and is associated with eroticism (due to his name). There are actually two different versions of Eros and his role within the Greek myths.
In one adaptation of Eros, he is worshiped as a fertility god and has a place in the pantheon as one of the first deities since the beginning of time. This version places him in a much more powerful position, as he is not only love personified, but also life itself. In a world where nothing existed, Eros has been described as emerging from the primordial stew called chaos, along with other major forces: Gaia (mother earth) and Tartarus (purgatory).
In the second rendering of Eros however, his role is much more toned down. He is the son of Aphrodite, born from the resulting union of her and Ares. This version places Eros as a part of the Erotes (with the entire force based on his image) and is never seen leaving his mother's side.
Probably one of the most famous myths he is directly involved in, is the tale of him and his wife Psyche, which can be found here.
Armed with a bow and arrow, Cupid is always looking to pierce the hearts of mortals and gods alike, making his victims fall in love.

Anteros - God of Requited Love

Anteros is sometimes seen as the brother of Eros, in the version where Eros himself is the son of Aphrodite and Ares. He represents requited love, reciprocal love or more simply put, love that's returned. Anteros was created as an answer to the feelings of loneliness that caused his brother suffering.
After Anteros was born, Eros finally had a loving sibling to keep him company, a counter-love which completed the circle. The two usually work with one another and are often depicted alongside their mother Aphrodite, holding the scales of love.
The lesson from his creation story shows that love cannot thrive or grow without the opposite side reciprocating those same feelings.
Anteros also works as an avenger of sorts when it comes to love that isn't reciprocated; he punishes those who curse either love or the attempted sincere advances made upon by others. Essentially the Anti-Eros, (hence his name) he casts punishment on those who harshly reject offered love.

Himeros - God of Desire and Unrequited Love

Himeros is the god of sexual desire. Like his brother Eros, he is often seen wielding a bow and arrow. However, unlike the main son, he uses these weapons to induce his targets with strong lustful urges. Not much else is known about him. Being a part of the Erotes, his character isn't prominently featured in adventures.

Pothos - God of Yearning and Wanting

Finally last, but certainly not least, on this roster count is Pothos. He is the embodiment of longing, sexual yearning, and lustful desire. In some myths he is actually the son of Eros himself- in the stories where he a much greater god, independent of Aphrodite.
Same as with Himeros, the two are usually bundled together when myths are referring to the Erotes. As with most of the other winged child love gods, he was present during Aphrodite's rise from the sea.

1 comment:

  1. This is really well written and has a lot of information. Thank you! My greek mythology teacher goes through things so fast, I think I'll be back to read up on your blog some more. Really well explained.

    Isn't this stuff interesting? haha

    ReplyDelete