Eros (mythology)

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Eros on a red-figure spool
( Attic painting around 450 BC Louvre , Paris)
Eros statue. Roman copy from the Antonine period of a Greek original from the 2nd century BC Chr. Capitoline Museums , Rome
Peter Paul Rubens : Amor carves the bow , 1614. Alte Pinakothek , Munich
Canova: Amor and Psyche , 1793. Louvre, Paris

Eros ( ancient Greek Ἔρως Érōs / ěrɔːs / ) is the god of covetous love in Greek mythology . In Roman mythology , he corresponds to Cupid , who is also called Cupid ("desire", "passion") as the personification of erotic desire . Eros has hardly played a role in cult , but has been one of the most popular mythical figures in literature, visual arts and music since ancient times .


In Homer Eros does not occur. In the theogony of the poet Hesiod , he is one of the first five deities to emerge after the initial chaos , along with Gaia , Nyx , Tartaros and Erebos . Eros and Himeros have been with Aphrodite since she was born. In the comedy The Birds of Aristophanes , Eros hatches from an egg that night gave birth to with its black wings. He has two golden wings, and he begets the sex of birds with chaos.

In the tragedy Antigone des Sophocles , Eros causes Haimon , the son of King Creon , who is engaged to the heroine of the title, to rebel against his father, who wants Antigone's execution. In doing so, the poet addresses a conflict between erotic desire and the duty of loyalty to the father, with Eros proving to be stronger. He is addressed by the choir as "Eros, undefeated in battle". With this famous verse, the poet expresses his conviction that man is wholly at the mercy of the power of eros that seizes him.

In addition to the old idea of ​​Eros as a primal power, as creator and - in Parmenides - as the first of the gods, another image of him was widespread: Eros as a playful, wanton boy. This form and manner of appearance of the God of Love dominated the literature and fine arts of Hellenism . In spite of the great difference to the powerful creator figure of older sources, this childlike, but in its own way also powerful Hellenistic Eros is not another god; rather, it is the result of a process of the childification of the deity of love.

Eros is the son of Aphrodite (Roman Venus ) and Ares (Roman Mars ). Also, Hermes , the Roman Mercury , or Zeus or its respective Roman Jupiter called as a father. For Plato , Poros and Penia are considered parents.

The story of Cupid and Psyche of Apuleius is famous . Here Psyche is Cupid's lover, who gives him a daughter named Voluptas ("Lust").


In Athens , on the 4th Munichion, a festival in honor of Eros was celebrated, which was celebrated as part of a procession in honor of Aphrodite Pandemos . In Thespiai , the agonic erotidia were celebrated in his honor every four years . He was commonly worshiped alongside Hermes and Herakles in high schools .


Up to the time of the Greek classical period , Eros was portrayed as a beautiful youth in art and literature. His attributes are mostly whip, net or sandal. In Hellenism , the representation of Eros as a toddler with a bow and arrow prevails. A golden arrowhead aimed at the heart should ignite the passion, while a leaden arrowhead should kill the passion. The contrast between the harmless, clumsy toddler and its powerful effect is evidently perceived as particularly appealing. Mostly Eros is represented with wings. In some Hellenistic representations, Eros is riding a duck.

See also


  • Manuel Baumbach : Cupid . In: Anthony Grafton et al. a. (Ed.): The Classical Tradition . Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2010, ISBN 978-0-674-03572-0 , pp. 244-246.
  • Claude Calame : I Greci e l'eros. Simboli, pratiche, luoghi. Laterza, Rome / Bari 1992.
    • English translation by Janet Lloyd: The Poetics of Eros in Ancient Greece. Princeton University Press, Princeton 1999 ( excerpts online ). - Review by Simon Goldhill in: Classical Philology 95, 2000, pp. 358-362 ( online ); Christina Clark in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1999 ( online ).
  • Bettina Full: Eros. In: Maria Moog-Grünewald (Ed.): Mythenrezeption. The ancient mythology in literature, music and art from the beginnings to the present (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 5). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2008, ISBN 978-3-476-02032-1 , pp. 262-275.
  • Adolf Furtwängler : Eros . In: Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (Hrsg.): Detailed lexicon of Greek and Roman mythology . Volume 1,1, Leipzig 1886, Sp. 1339-1372 ( digitized version ).
  • Antoine Hermary u. a .: Eros ; Christian Augé, Pascale Linant de Bellefonds: Eros (in peripheria orientali) ; Nicole Blanc, Françoise Gury: Eros / Amor, Cupid . In: Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Volume 3/1, Artemis, Zurich 1986, pp. 850-1049 (text) and Volume 3/2, Artemis, Zurich 1986, pp. 609-727 (images) as well as supplements in Supplementum 2009 of the LIMC, Artemis, Düsseldorf 2009, Volume 1, pp. 207-213 (text) and Volume 2, pp. 103-106 (illustrations).
  • Adolf Greifenhagen : Greek Erotes. De Gruyter, Berlin 1957.
  • Jane Davidson Reid: The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s. Volume 1, Oxford University Press, New York / Oxford 1993, ISBN 0-19-504998-5 , pp. 391-421.

Web links

Commons : Eros  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Eros  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Hesiod: Theogony. Pp. 120-122.
  2. Hesiod: Theogony. Pp. 201-202.
  3. Aristophanes: The birds. Pp. 695-705.
  4. ^ Sophocles: Antigone. P. 781.
  5. ^ Carl Schneider : Eros I (literary). In: Real Lexicon for Antiquity and Christianity . Volume 6, Stuttgart 1966, Col. 306-312, here: 306-308; Bettina Full: Eros. In: Maria Moog-Grünewald (Ed.): Mythenrezeption (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 5), Stuttgart / Weimar 2008, pp. 262–275, here: 262 f.
  6. Apollonios Rhodios : Argonautica. Pp. 3, 25-26.
  7. Simonides : fragment. P. 43.
  8. Cicero : De natura deorum. III p. 60.
  9. Sophocles: Trachiniai. Pp. 525-534.
  10. ^ Plato: Symposium . P. 203 b.
  11. Ludwig Deubner : Attic festivals. Keller, Berlin 1932, p. 215.
  12. Martin Persson Nilsson : Greek festivals of religious importance excluding the Attic. Teubner, Leipzig 1906, p. 423f. ( Digitized version )
  13. ^ Ian Freestone, David RM Gaimster (Ed.): Pottery in the Making. World Ceramic Traditions. British Museum Press, London 1997, ISBN 0-7141-1782-X , GR 1875.11-10.2 (Vases K 1).