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The Legends of Eros - God of Love

Oct 4, 2007
Eros (the Greek counterpart of the Roman Cupid) is well known as the boyish cherubic figure depicted in all forms of art. The myths involving Eros as the son of Aphrodite (Venus) and Ares (Mars) were formed much later than the original myth.

In this older myth, Eros is one of the primeval forces that came into existence from Chaos (Nothingness). To the ancient Greeks, he was the personification of desire and sexuality, represented as a tall, athletic young man; the epitome of beauty.

His power was undisputed, as he was able to "unnerve the limbs and overcome the mind and wise counsel of all gods and all men." (Hesiod, Theogony [116-138]) He became an assistant of Aphrodite after her birth, and later his role changed as he became her son.

The Significance of the Name

In Greek, there are three main words for love; 'storge', 'philia', 'agape' and 'eros.' The first means natural affection, the second refers to friendship and the third is a pure, unconditional love. 'Eros' itself literally means 'desire,' with connotations indicating the love and devotion in romantic relationships.

Legends of Eros

Perhaps one of the most well known stories about Eros is his relationship with Psyche. Psyche was the Greek word for 'soul', and she eventually became the immortal representation of the human soul and consciousness.

Eros met her when he was ordered to make her fall in love with the ugliest creature alive - a result of Aphrodite's jealousy of the girl's beauty. As he followed her, however, he was wounded by one of his own arrows, and fell in love with Psyche himself.

He summoned Zephyrus, the West Wind, to carry her to an Island, where he courted her in the darkness of light, warning that she could never see his face. Her sisters were jealous of the splendor in which Psyche was kept and cast aspersions over the identity of her lover.

They suggested that he was probably a monster, ashamed of his appearance, who would devour Psyche and the unborn child she carried. Easily deluded by her siblings, Psyche took a lamp into the room, and saw that Eros lay beside her.

A drop of oil from the lamp fell onto the God's arm, awakening him. Distressed by her disloyalty to him, he went to his mother, who set the girl several impossible tasks, which she performed with the assistance of other beings who took pity on her.

The final task was to descend into the Underworld and obtain a beauty cream from Hecate (Persephone), Queen of the Underworld and return it to Aphrodite. She obtained the cream, despite the perils of the Underworld, but as she traveled back to Mount Olympus to give it to Aphrodite, she grew curious and opened the jar.

It contained the Sleep of Death, and she was quickly overcome. Eros saw her lying on the road, and revived her, forgiving her distrust.
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