Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Greek Erotes, those adorable winged love-gods

I readily admit I don't know everything.

I do know a lot about Greek and Roman mythology, having spent the better part of my life studying, reading, and learning about all the various versions, authors, beliefs, and characters active in the majority of the myths. Thus, when I find something new in this world of long-dead religious beliefs, I am surprised and intrigued.

Sappho fragment:
"[The rites of Aphrodite:] After the contests [mock contests of suitors] she goes into the bridal chamber, garlands the room and makes up the bed, then she gathers the girls into the bridal room and brings in Aphrodite herself on the Kharites' (Charites', Graces') chariot with her chorus of Erotes (Loves) to join in the fun. She binds Aphrodite's hair in hyacinth . . . she adorns the Erotes' wings and tresses with gold and urges them on in procession before the chariot, waving their torches in the air."

My newest discovery revolves around the birth of Aphrodite and her youthful, winged attendants.

Of course, the most famous of them is Eros, god of love. Of him, I know.

The other ones, however, are completely new to me. Unknown, in the best sense of the word.

HIMEROS: God of Sexual Desire
He was one of the Erotes, winged love-gods, little cupids which either Aphrodite was born already pregnant with, giving birth soon after her own birth from the sea foam or the two attendants which greeted her upon her birth. Though he had other brothers, the most famous were Eros and Pothos (this little fella always reminds me of Porthos from the Musketeers saga... very different "men" yet, in some ways surprisingly similar - look into it!). Most often, Himeros was seen, in art - both ancient, as in the first image and modern works, as in the second image - with Eros beside Aphrodite. However, in the written word, he appeared frequently with Eros, their combined presence renamed Anteros, god of reciprocal love.

POTHOS: God of Sexual Longing and Yearning
So, this guy is a little harder to pinpoint the origin of. He could be another son of Aphrodite... but, that is very debatable. Especially since a lot of the ancient authors never mentioned him until much later in history. Well after the first written account of Aphrodite's birth. Instead, he could have been a son of Zephyros, the west wind, and Isis, the rainbow. If so, he is supposed to represent the various passions of love. Despite his questionable parentage, my favorite story of his involves him sprinkling desire, in the form of petals, on the at sea Europa. 

The three brothers: Eros, Himeros, and Pothos

Other Erotes

HEDYLOGOS: God of Sweet-Talk and Flattery
I find this god rather insulting, actually, but maybe that's just me.

HERMAPHRODITOS: God of Effeminate Men
Yeah, definitely going to write a story about him... he's an interesting character. As an Erotes, though, I am highly intrigued about the lasting implications of both his birth and his relationship with the gods of Olympus.

HYMENAIOS: God of the Marriage Ceremony
Selena Kitt, in her novel, The Song of Orpheus, had this one of the Erotes as a son of Apollo and Calliope, one of the muses. Which, from my research, is a definite possibility. Why? Well, instead of being the god of marriage ceremonies, he was more likely the god of the wedding hymen sung by the bride and groom's attendants as they led the new couple to their honeymoon chamber. In Ms. Kitt's version, he is kind of a jerk, but from what I read, he wasn't all that bad.