18 Interesting Facts About Eros: From Dolphins to Roosters

Eros was an Ancient Greek god of romantic love, sex, and sexual desire. With many of his siblings, he made up a group of love gods known as the Erotes. They were companions of and usually the children of Aphrodite, though in earlier accounts Eros was a primordial god from before the world was formed.

The following facts mostly talk about Eros, son of Aphrodite, as he is the most known version. They cover his mythology, his role in Ancient Greek religion, and the important part he played in many stories of the gods of Classical Greece.

Interesting Facts About Eros

1. Eros’s parents were Aphrodite and Ares

Aphrodite, the Olympian goddess of love, was a daughter of Thalassa (the sea) and the blood of the genitals of Ouranos. Ares, the great-grandson of Ouranos, was the Olympian god of war and bloodshed. Though Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, Ares and Aphrodite had a long-standing love affair.

2. Several of his siblings joined him in the Erotes, and each dealt with a different aspect of love

All of them except those noted were children of Aphrodite and Ares

Name Type of love Role
Anteros Requited love, romantic or platonic Punishing those who scorned love
Eros Sexual desire and same-sex relationships Caused or encourage sexual desire, and served in a trio of gods representing homosexual love along with Hermes and Heracles
Hedylogos Flattery and sweet words A charioteer of Aphrodite
Hermaphroditos Dual-sexes, gender identity, marital love Originally a young man who was fused with his female lover
Himeros Uncontrollable desire and unrequited love The opposite of Anteros
Hymen Marriage and weddings Oversaw the union of bride and groom
Pothos Longing and yearning A charioteer of Aphrodite and companion of Dionysus

3. Psyche, Eros’s consort, was mortal

Eros fell in love with her and spirited her away, but her sisters convinced her to betray him. The lovers both mourned the loss, but eventually found their way back to each other. She died, but Eros brought her back to life as the goddess of the soul.

4. Eros and Psyche had a daughter named Hedone

She was the goddess of sensuality. Her name is the root of the word hedonism. In Roman myth, she was known as Volupta, from where we get voluptuous.

5. In Roman mythology, Eros was known as Cupid

He was not the little round childish figures that came later! The cupids we think of now were a liberty taken by later artists.

6. The Erotes all had wings

They were a group of winged gods, though they were usually adult men!

7. The primordial version of Eros was either the father of all beings by parthenogenesis or the son of Nyx, the night

In the latter case, he was the fourth god after Chaos, Gaia, and Tartarus

8. Dolphins and roosters often feature in his depictions

These animals were associated with fertility and were his companions

9. Eros’s arrow could make people fall in love

Hera, queen of the gods, once plotted to make Eros shoot Medea in order to make her fall in love with the hero, Jason.

10. He was often also a god of freedom and friendship

Lacedemonians (more commonly known as Spartans) sacrificed to Eros before battle to bolster their army’s bonds.

11. His name is the source of English words relating to sex and sexuality

Most obviously he gives his name to erotic and erotica.

12. Every month he had a sacred day

Within the fertility cults which worshipped him and Aphrodite, the fourth day of the month was always sacred to Eros. It was also important to Aphrodite, Heracles, and Hermes.

13. He was a gifted artist

His prowess in the creative arts was considered profound. Eros was especially gifted on the flute.

14. Eros’s name was also one of the six types of love understood by Greek philosophers

The words and their Latin equivalents are important sources of many modern English words

Name/Word Type of love Derived words in modern English
Agápe / Caritas Love toward children and family, love toward god or gods Agapism (Unrelated to the word ‘agape’)
Éros Sexuality and intimacy Erotic, erotica
Philía Love between friends, love between equals and communities Bibliophile, philanthropy
Storgé Affection between parents and children or older family members and younger None
Philautía Self-love. Divided into healthy and unhealthy. See philia
Xenía Hospitality, guest right, love of strangers Xenophile, xenophobe

15. Eros had three other full siblings from Ares and Aphrodite.

They were Harmonia, goddess of harmony, and Phobos and Deimos, personifications of fear and dread.

16. Eros (and Cupid) were often depicted with a blindfold

This was to show the blindness of love, such as in the phrase ‘love is blind’, and to emphasise how lovers often act without looking ahead.

17. Christians in the late 8th and early 9th century saw Eros or Cupid as a demon

To them, he was a lustful creature who led men and women astray with the temptation of fornication, a deadly sin.

18. Eros had a disagreement with Apollo

The two argued, and Eros shot two arrows. One was his love-arrow, with which he hit Apollo, and the other was lead. The lead arrow hit the nymph, Daphne. Apollo pursued Daphne but she did not return his love and did not wish to be ravished by him. As he tried to kiss her, Daphne prayed to her father, who turned her into a laurel tree to escape.

Final thoughts

Eros’s name lives on and shapes how we talk about sexuality and erotic desire even until this day. Although he was not an Olympian and was in fact a subordinate of the Olympian goddess of love, his direct involvement in affairs of sex show his importance in rank.

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