EROS was the god of love, desire and procreation.
He was typically worshipped in conjunction with the goddess Aphrodite but also had two of his own cult centres--one in the Boiotian town of Thespeia and the other at Parion (Parium) on the Hellespont.
In classical sculpture Eros was depicted as a winged child or infant, usually drawing a bow or in the company of Aphrodite.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 27. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Of the gods the Thespians have from the beginning honoured Eros most, and they have a very ancient image of him, an unwrought stone. Who established among the Thespians the custom of worshipping Eros more that any other god I do not know.
He is worshipped equally by the people of Parion on the Hellespont . . .
Pamphos and Orpheus [legendary poets] wrote hexameter verse, and composed poems on Eros, in order that they might be among those sung by the Lykomidai to accompany the ritual. I read them after conversation with a Torchbearer. Of these things I will make no further mention . . .
Later on Lysippos made a bronze Eros for the Thespians, and previously Praxiteles one of Pentelic marble."
CULT IN ATTICA (SOUTHERN GREECE)
I. ATHENS (ATHENAI) Main City of Attica (Attika)
Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 30. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Before the entrance to the Akademia [outside Athens] is an altar to Eros, with an inscription that Kharmos was the first Athenian to dedicate an altar to that god."
Plutarch, Life of Solon 1. 4 (trans. Perrin) (Greek historian C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"It is said that Peisistratos also had a boy lover, Kharmos, and that he dedicated the statue of Eros (Love) in the Academy, where the runners in the sacred torch race light their torches."
CULT IN MEGARIS (SOUTHERN GREECE)
I. MEGARA Main Town of Megaris
Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 43. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"There is also [statues in the temple of Aphrodite at Megara] Peitho (Persuasion) and another goddess whom they name Paregoron (Consoler), works of Praxiteles. By Skopas are Eros (Love) and Himeros (Desire) and Pothos (Yearning),if indeed their functions are as different as their names."
CULT IN CORINTHIA (SOUTHERN GREECE)
I. CORINTH (KORINTHOS) Main City of Corinthia (Korinthia)
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 5. 1 :
"On the summit of the Akrokorinthos [at Korinthos] is a temple of Aphrodite. The images are Aphrodite armed, Helios, and Eros with bow."
CULT IN ARGOLIS (SOUTHERN GREECE)
I. EPIDAURUS (EPIDAUROS) Town in Argolis
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 27. 3 :
"[In the sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidauros, Argos] is a picture by Pausanias representing Eros, who has cast aside his bow and arrows, and is carrying instead of them a lyre that he has taken up."
CULT IN LACEDAEMONIA (SOUTHERN GREECE)
I. LEUCTRA (LEUKTRA) Town in Lacedaemonia (Lakedaimonia)
Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 26. 5 :
"There is a temple and grove of Eros in Leuktra [in Lakedaimonia]. Water flows through the grove in winter-time, but the leaves which are shaken from the trees by the wind would not be carried away by the water even in flood."
CULT IN ELIS (SOUTHERN GREECE)
I. ELIS Main Town of Elis
Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 23. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"There are also in the gymnasium [at Elis] altars of the gods, of Idaios Herakles, surnamed Parastatos (Comrade), of Eros, of the diety called by Eleans and Athenians alike Anteros (Love Returned)."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 23. 5 :
"In one of the wrestling-schools [of Elis] is a relief showing Eros (Love) and Anteros (Love Returned), as he is called. Eros holds a palm-branch, and Anteros is trying to take the palm from him."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 24. 6 :
"There is also a sanctuary to the Kharites [at Elis, Elis]; the images are of wood, with their clothes gilded, while their faces, hands and feet are of white marble . . . the Kharites are of all deities the nearest related to Aphrodite . . . On the right of the Kharies is an image of Eros, standing on the same pedestal."
CULT IN ACHAEA (SOUTHERN GREECE)
I. AEGEIRA (AIGEIRA) Town in Achaea (Akhaia)
Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 26. 8 :
"I remember observing at Aigeira [in Akhaia] a building in which was an image of Tykhe (Fortune) carrying the horn of Amaltheia. By her side is a winged Eros, the moral of which is that even success in love depends for mankind on fortune rather than on beauty. Now I am in general agreement with Pindar's ode, and especially with his making Tykhe one of the Moirai, and more powerful than her sisters."
CULT IN BOEOTIA (CENTRAL GREECE)
I. THESPEIA Town in Boeotia (Boiotia)
Strabo, Geography 9. 2. 25 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"In earlier times Thespeia [in Boiotia] was well known because of the Eros of Praxiteles, which was sculptured by him and dedicated by Glykera the courtesan (she had received it as a gift from the artist) to the Thespeians, since she was a native of the place. Now in earlier times travellers would go up to Thespeia, a city otherwise not worth seeing, to see the Eros."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 27. 1 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Of the gods the Thespians have from the beginning honoured Eros most, and they have a very ancient image of him, an unwrought stone. Who established among the Thespians the custom of worshipping Eros more that any other god I do not know . . . Later on Lysippos made a bronze Eros for the Thespians, and previously Praxiteles one of Pentelic marble."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 31. 3 :
"Men too live around the grove [of the Mousai on Mt Helikon, Boiotia], and here the Thespians celebrate a festival, and also games called the Mouseia (Of the Muses). They celebrate other games in honour of Eros, offering prizes not only for music but also for athletic events."
Callistratus, Descriptions 3 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C4th A.D.) :
"[A description of the statue of Eros by Praxiteles :] On the statue of Eros. My discourse desires to interpret another sacred work of art; for it is not right for me to refuse to call the productions of art sacred. The Eros, the workmanship of Praxiteles, was Eros himself, a boy in the bloom of youth with wings and bow. Bronze gave expression to him, and as though giving expression to Eros as a great and dominating god, it was itself subdued by Eros; for it could not endure to be only bronze, but it became Eros just as he was. You might have seen the bronze losing its hardness and becoming marvelously delicate in the direction of plumpness and, to put the matter briefly, the material proving equal to fulfilling all the obligations that were laid upon it. It was supple but without effeminacy; and while it had the proper colour of bronze, it looked bright and fresh; and though it was quite devoid of actual motion, it was ready to display motion; for though it was fixed solidly on a pedestal, it deceived one into thinking that it possessed the power to fly. It was filled with joy even to laughter, the glance from the eyes was ardent and gentle, and one could see the bronze coming under the sway of passion and willingly receiving the representation of laughter. It stood with right hand bent toward the head and lifting the bow with its left; and the even balance of the body's posture was modified by an inclination toward the left, for the projecting left hip was raised so as to break the stiffness of the bronze and produce an easy pose. The head was shaded by locks that were bright and curly and shining with the brightness of youth. And what wonderful bronze it was! For as one looked a ruddy colour shone out from the ends of the curls, and when one felt the hair it yielded as though soft to the touch. As I gazed on this work of art, the belief came over me that Daidalos had indeed wrought a dancing group in motion and had bestowed sensation upon gold, while Praxiteles had all but put intelligence into his image of Eros and had so contrived that it should cleave the air with its wings."
CULT IN THRACIAN HELLESPONT (NORTH-EAST OF GREECE)
I. ABYDOS Town of the Hellespont (Hellespontos)
Musaeus, Hero and Leander 39 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poetry C5th to 6th A.D.) :
"Often she [Hero, the priestess of Aphrodite at Abydos,] would assuage Eros too with sacrifices, together with his Heavenly mother, fearing his quiver of flame. But still she did not escape the fire-breathing arrows."
II. PARIUM (PARION) Town of the Hellespont
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 27. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The Thespians [follow] the custom of worshipping Eros more that any other god I do not know. He is worshipped equally by the people of Parion on the Hellespontos."
Copies of the famous statue of Parian Eros still exist.
- Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Plutarch, Lives - Greek Historian C1st - 2nd A.D.
- Callistratus, Descriptions - Greek Rhetoric C4th A.D.
- Musaeus, Hero and Leander - Greek Poetry C6th A.D.