Eros is the ancient Greek personification of sexual desire. He is mentioned in myth as both the son of Aphrodite and a primordial (Protogenos) God, present in the beginning according to Parmenides1; emerged from Chaos with Gaia and Tartarus according to Hesiod2; or born, along with Gaia and Ouranos of an egg laid by Nyx according to Aristophanes3, and responsible directly or indirectly for all of creation that came after.
As a primordial God, Eros is the driver of all creation, not just of desire to copulate but the desire to procreate, the driver of life, of birth. The Orphics considered him the equivalent of their primordial Phanes. As the son of Aphrodite, He is the driving force behind many mythical events, the actors spurred into action by the desire for another. This Eros, son of Aphrodite is considered the Greek counterpart to the Roman Cupid.
Eros Son of Aphrodite
The child Eros, born of Aphrodite or, according to some myths, fostered by Aphrodite is variously reported to have been fathered by Hermes, Ares or Zeus. Zeus is often given as the father of any God of significance, Ares is a well-established lover of Aphrodite and Hermes attributes as a messenger and trickster and mischievous personality are certainly in common with those of Eros.
This Eros is depicted as a perfectly proportioned winged youth or a chubby winged infant carrying a bow and arrow. The bows from these he would shoot into the heart of his victims causing them to pine with longing to possess another. Sometimes he is described as having three different types of arrows,
Eros, the primordial God, also known as the Elder Eros, born at the beginning, is not just a God of desire and procreation. Eros unites all opposites, male and female, dark and light, high and low, water and fire and creates from these unions something new and exciting. Although he is also described as winged, and sometimes as a beautiful youth, he is never an infant. The invocation beginning the Orphica Argonautica4 refers to him as two-sexed and two-faced, though some translations say two-fold5
In the Symposium Plato tells a story he attributes to Aristophanes: In the beginning, there were three sexes, Male, which were of the sun, Female, which were of the Earth and Androgynous which were of the Moon. They each had two heads and four arms and four legs and two sexual organs and they had wisdom and power that rivaled and thus threatened the Gods. So Zeus caused them to be split in two, to each has one head, two arms and legs, and one sexual organ, so that their power be diminished, condemning them to eternally search for their other half. Those who were female searches for their female half. Those who were male searches for their male half. And those who were Androgynous search for their opposite half to make them whole again. This search, he says, is the spirit of Eros.
Related Gods; Thesis, Pysis, Phanes
Read More Online
- Eros, Greek God of Love at Theoi.com
- Myths of Greece and Rome by Janet Harrison 1928 at sacred-texts.com