Eros – Primordial God of Love…

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Eros appears in ancient  Greek sources under several different guises. In the earliest sources, he is one of the primordial gods involved in the coming into being of the cosmos.

At the beginning there was only Chaos, Night (Nyx), Darkness (Erebus), and the Abyss (Tartarus). Earth, the Air and Heaven had no existence. Firstly, black-winged Night laid a germless egg in the bosom of the infinite deeps of Darkness, and from this, after the revolution of long ages, sprang the graceful Love (Eros) with his glittering golden wings, swift as the whirlwinds of the tempest. He mated in the deep Abyss with dark Chaos, winged like himself, and thus hatched forth our race, which was the first to see the light. Eros was one of the fundamental causes in the formation of the world, inasmuch as he was the uniting power of love, which brought order and harmony among the conflicting elements of which Chaos consisted.In early Greek poetry and art, Eros was depicted as an adult male who embodied sexual power.

antonio-canova-psyche-brought-to-life-by-eros-kiss-1793_i-G-40-4010-VMIWF00ZIn later sources, he is represented as the son of Aphrodite. His mischievous interventions in the affairs of gods and mortals cause bonds of love to form, often illicitly. Ultimately, in the later satirical poets, he is represented as a blindfolded child, the precursor to the chubby Renaissance Cupid – whereas in early Greek poetry and art, Eros was depicted as an adult male who embodies sexual power.

Eventually Eros was multiplied by ancient poets and artists into a host of Erotes or Cupids, as they are commonly called in English. The one Eros, however, remained distinct in myth. It was he who lighted the flame of love in the hearts of the gods and men, armed either with a bow and arrows or else a flaming torch. He was also the object of cult. Eros was often portrayed as a child, the disobedient, but fiercely loyal, son of Aphrodite. Early legends of Eros say that he was responsible for the embraces of Uranus (Heaven or Sky) and Gaia (Earth), and from their union were born many offspring.

Among the things sacred to Eros, and which frequently appear with him in works of art, the rose, wild beasts which are tamed by him, the hare, the cock, and the ram.

Eros, is the Greek god of love and sexual desire. He was also worshiped as a fertility god. 

Eros is usually depicted as a young winged boy, with his bow and arrows at the ready, to shoot into the hearts of gods or mortals which would rouse them to desire. His arrows came in two types: golden with dove feathers which aroused love, or leaden arrows which had owl feathers that caused indifference. Sappho the poet summarized Eros as being bitter sweet, and cruel to his victims, yet he was also charming and very beautiful. Being unscrupulous, and a danger to those around him, Eros would make as much mischief as he possibly could by wounding the hearts of all, but according to one legend he himself fell in love.

This legend tells us that Eros was always at his mothers side assisting her in all her conniving and godly affairs. The legend goes on to say that Aphrodite became jealous of the beauty of a mortal, a beautiful young woman named Psyche. In her fit of jealousy Aphrodite asked Eros to shoot his arrow into the heart of Psyche and make her fall in love with the ugliest man on earth. He agreed to carry out his mothers wishes, but on seeing her beauty Eros fell deeply in love with Psyche himself. He would visit her every   pnh354133 night, but he made himself invisible by telling Psyche not to light her chamber. Psyche fell in love with Eros even though she could not see him, until one night curiosity overcame her. She concealed a lamp and while Eros slept she lit the lamp, revealing the identity of Eros. But a drop of hot oil spilt from the lamp awakened the god. Angered she had seen him Eros fled and the distraught Psyche roamed the earth trying in vain to find her lover. In the end Zeus took pity and reunited them, he also gave his consent for them to marry. There are variations of this legend but most have the same outcome.

The Romans borrowed Eros from the Greeks and named him Cupid (Latin cupido meaning desire). Eros has been depicted in art in many ways. The Romans regarded him as a symbol of life after death and decorated sarcophagi with his image. The Greeks regarded him as most beautiful and handsome, the most loved and the most loving. They placed statues of him in gymnasiums (as most athletes were thought to be beautiful). He was depicted on every form of utensil, from drinking vessels to oil flasks, usually showing him ready to fire an arrow into the heart of an unsuspecting victim.

Psyche

psyche-cerberusPsyche was the goddess of the soul, wife of Eros god of love.

She was once a mortal princess whose astounding beauty earned the ire of Aphrodite when men turned their worship from goddess to girl. Aphrodite commanded Eros make Psyche fall in love with the most hideous of men, but instead Eros himself fell in love with her and carried her away to his secret palace. However, Eros hid his true identity, and commanded her never to look upon his face. Psyche was eventually tricked by her jealous sisters into gazing upon the face of the god, and he abandoned her. In her despair, she searched throughout the world for her lost love, and eventually came into the service of Aphrodite. The goddess commanded her perform a series of difficult labors which culminated in a journey to the Underworld. In the end Psyche was reunited with Eros and the couple wed in a ceremony attended by the gods.

Psyche was depicted in ancient mosaics as a butterfly winged goddess in the company of her husband Eros. Sometimes a pair of Psyche are portrayed, the second perhaps being their daughter Hedone (Pleasure).

In Greek mythology, Psyche was the deification of the human soul. She was portrayed in ancient mosaics as a goddess with butterfly wings (because psyche was also the Ancient Greek word for ‘butterfly’). The Greek word psyche literally means "soul, spirit, breath, life or animating force".

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