（Ἔρως), in Latin, AMOR or CUPI'DO, the god of love. In the
sense in which he is usually conceived, Eros is the creature
of the later Greek poets; and in order to understand the
ancients properly we must distinguish three Erotes: viz. the
Eros of the ancient cosmogonies, the Eros of the
philosophers and mysteries, who bears great resemblance to
the first, and the Eros whom we meet with in the
epigrammatic and erotic poets, whose witty and playful
descriptions of the god, however, can scarcely be considered
as a part of the ancient religious belief of the Greeks.
Homer does not mention Eros, and Hesiod, the earliest author
that mentions him, describes him as the cosmogonic Eros.
First, says Hesiod (Hes. Th. 120, &c.), there was Chaos,
then came Ge, Tartarus, and Eros, the fairest among the
gods, who rules over the minds and the council of gods and
men. In this account we already perceive a combination of
the most ancient with later notions. According to the
former, 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 the same
metaphysical sense he is conceived by Aristotle (Aristot.
Met. 1.4); and similarly in the Orphic poetry (Orph. Hymn.
5; comp. Aristoph. Birds 695) he is described as the first
of the gods, who sprang from the world's egg. In Plato's
Symposium (p. 178,b) he is likewise called the oldest of the
gods. It is quite in accordance with the notion of the
cosmogonic Eros, that he is described as a son of Cronos and
Ge, of Eileithyia, or as a god who had no parentage, and
came into existence by himself. (Paus. 9.100.27.) The Eros
of later poets, on the other hand, who gave rise to that
notion of the god which is most familiar to us, is one of
the youngest of all the gods. (Paus. l.c. ; Cic. de Nat.
Deor. 3.23.) The parentage of the second Eros is very
differently described, for he is called a son of Aphrodite
(either Aphrodite Urania or Aphrodite Pandemos), or
Polymnia, or a son of Porus and Penia, who was begotten on
Aphrodite's birthday. (Plat. l.c. ; Sext. Emp. ad v. Math.
1.540.) According to other genealogies, again, Eros was a
son of Hermes by Artemis or Aphrodite, or of Ares by
Aphrodite (Cic. de Nat. Deor. 3.23), or of Zephyrus and Iris
(Plut. Amal. 20; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 555), or, lastly, a son
of Zeus by his own daughter Aphrodite, so that Zeus was at
once his father and grandfather. (Virg. Cir. 134.) Eros in
this stage is always conceived and was always represented as
a handsome youth, and it is not till about after the time of
Alexander the Great that Eros is represented by the
epigrammatists and the erotic poets as a wanton boy, of whom
a thousand tricks and cruel sports are related, and from
whom neither gods nor men were safe. He is generally
described as a son of Aphrodite; but as love finds its way
into the hearts of men in a manner which no one knows, the
poets sometimes describe him as of unknown origin (Theocrit.
13.2), or they say that he had indeed a mother, but not a
father. (Meleagr. Epigr. 50.) In this stage Eros has nothing
to do with uniting the discordant elements of the universe,
or the higher sympathy or love which binds human kind
together; but he is purely the god of sensual love, who
bears sway over the inhabitants of Olympus as well as over
men and all living creatures: he tames lions and tigers,
breaks the thunderbolts of Zeus, deprives Heracles of his
arms, and carries on his sport with the monsters of the sea.
(Orph. Hymn. 57 ; Verg. Ecl. 10.29; Mosch. Idyll. 6.10;
Theocrit. 3.15.) His arms, consisting of arrows, which he
carries in a golden quiver, and of torches, no one can touch
with impunity. (Mosch. Idyll. vi.; Theocrit. 23.4; Ov. Tr.
5.1, 22.) His arrows are of different power: some are
golden, and kindle love in the heart they wound; others are
blunt and heavy with lead, and produce aversion to a lover.
(Ov. Met. 1.468; Eurip. Iphig. Aul. 548.) Eros is further
represented with golden wings, and as fluttering about like
a bird. (Comp. Eustath. ad Hom. p. 987.) His eyes are
sometimes covered, so that he acts blindly. (Theocrit.
10.20.) He is the usual companion of his mother Aphrodite,
and poets and artists represent him, moreover, as
accompanied by such allegorical beings as Pothos, Himeros,
Dionysus, Tyche, Peitho, the Charites or Muses. (Pind. O.
1.41; Anacr. 33.8; Hesiod, Hes. Th. 201; Paus. 6.24.5,
7.26.3, 1.43.6.) His statue and that of Hermes usually stood
in the Greek gymnasia. (Athen. 13.609; Eustath. ad Hom. p.
We must especially notice the connexion of Eros with
Anteros, with which persons usually connect the notion of
"Love returned." But originally Anteros was a being opposed
to Eros, and fighting against him. (Paus. 1.30.1, 6.23.4.)
This conflict, however, was also conceived as the rivalry
existing between two lovers, and Anteros accordingly
punished those who did not return the love of others; so
that he is the avenging Eros, or a deus ultor. (Paus.
1.30.1; Ov. Met. 13.750, &c.; Plat. Phaedr. p. 255d.) The
number of Erotes (Amores and Cupidines) is playfully
extended ad libitum by later poets, and these Erotes are
described either as sons of Aphrodite or of nymphs. Among
the places distinguished for their worship of Eros, Thespiae
in Boeotia stands foremost: there his worship was very
ancient, and the old representation of the god was a rude
stone (Paus. 9.27.1), to which in later times, however, the
most exquisite works of art were added. (Eustath. ad Hom. p.
266.) At Thespiae a quinquennial festival, the Erotidia or
Erotia, were celebrated in honour of the god. (Paus. l.c.;
Athen. 13.561.) Besides Sparta, Samos, and Parion on the
Hellespont, he was also worshipped at Athens, where he had
an altar at the entrance of the Academy. (Paus. 1.30.1.) At
Megara his statue, together with those of I imeros and
Pothos, stood in the temple of Aphrodite. (Paus. 1.43.6,
comp. 3.26.3, 6.24.5, 7.26.3.) Among the things sacred to
Eros, and which frequently appear with him in works of art,
we may mention the rose, wild beasts which are tamed by him,
the hare, the cock, and the ram. Eros was a favourite
subject with the ancient statuaries, but his representation
seems to have been brought to perfection by Praxiteles, who
conceived him as a full-grown youth of the most perfect
beauty. (Lucian, Am. 2.17; Plin. Nat. 36.4, 5.) In later
times artists followed the example of poets, and represented
him as a little boy. (Hirt, Mythol. Bilderb. ii. p. 216,
&c.; Welcker, Zeitschrift für die alle Kunst, p. 475.)
Respecting the connexion between Eros and Psyche, see
PSYCHE. - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and
mythology, William Smith, Ed.