Who is the Father of Eros?
Aphrodite was revered for her beauty, grace, and desirability. Her most famous son, Eros, was seen as a perfect complement to her attributes.
Eros was the personification of romantic and sexual love. He most often worked under his mother’s command, as great beauty inspired love.
While Aphrodite had no mother, Eros did in fact have a father. While they seemed to have little in common, the god of love was a child of the god of war.
The love affair of Ares and Aphrodite is one of the most legendary in Greek mythology, even though the couple seem like opposites. Love coming from beauty seems logical, but its connection to war and violence is hard to find.
Eros and his brothers, however, did display traits of both of their parents. While they were usually associated with one or the other, the sons of Ares and Aphrodite had more in common with one another and their parents than you might think they would!
Eros, the god of romantic love, was almost universally believed to the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty. A few older sources claimed that he was a primordial god who existed before the birth of the Titans, but most Greek writers seemed to believe that he was among the youngest of the Olympians instead.
The question remained, however, as to who his father was.
Aphrodite had once been married to Hephaestus, the disabled smith of the gods. The marriage was short-lived and unhappy, though.
Her marriage to Hephaestus ended because of her frequent outside affairs. Most notably, her husband caught her in bed with the god of war, Ares.
While Aphrodite and her lover were publicly humiliated upon their discovery, their love for one another was not tempered for long. Soon, with her marriage apparently dissolved, Aphrodite continued her affair with Ares.
Some writers implied that Eros had been born during Aphrodite’s marriage to Hephaestus. Most, however, believed that the smith was not the father of any of Aphrodite’s children.
Instead, Eros was most often said to be the son of Ares and Aphrodite. The god of love had, fittingly, been born out of a passionate love affair rather than an unhappy and mismatched marriage.
Ares and Aphrodite continued to be bound by love for one another, however. While each had affairs and they were often shown separately, they seemed to have one of the most passionate and mutually beneficial relationships in the pantheon.
In fact, Aphrodite was one of the few goddesses in Greece who was said to have entered into her relationship willingly. While most gods tricked or kidnapped their brides, Aphrodite and Ares seem to have been bound by the emotion their son represented.
Ares and Aphrodite were said to have had many children in addition to Eros, but he was by far the most prominent of their children.
While Ares was his father, Eros was most closely associated with his mother. Love and beauty were natural complements to each other and Eros was most often seen in mythology acting on his mother’s commands.
At a glance, the relationship between Ares and Aphrodite might seem like an unusual pairing. She represented love and beauty while he embodied the violence and destruction of war.
Their children, however, showed how well suited these two deities actually were for each other.
While Ares and Aphrodite had several sons, each was usually associated with only one parent. Eros, as the god of love, was a companion of his mother along with the Erotes, or minor gods of different types of love, who were his brothers.
Phobos and Deimos, the twin gods of fear and dread, were meanwhile associates of their warlike father. The children of Aphrodite and Ares seemed to highlight how different they were.
But the family was united in the extremes they represented. All the sons of Ares and Aphrodite represented extreme and overwhelming emotions.
Their parents, meanwhile, were circumstances that brought about these extremes. Both war and beauty could push otherwise rational people to uncontrolled, primal emotional states.
Eros and his siblings were usually seen in the service of just one parent, but the Greeks also understood that the extremes of love and violence could follow one another.
When Paris chose Aphrodite as the fairest of all the goddesses, for example, she had Eros make Helen fall in love with him. The actions of Eros led directly to his father, Ares, ushering in the Trojan War.
Phobos and Deimos, meanwhile, could either proceed or follow any type of love. Fear and dread were intense emotions of battle, but one could also fear expressing love for another or dread the loss of a loved one’s affections.
Whenever two men fought over a woman they both loved, Ares and Eros were working in conjunction. Similarly, when Aphrodite gave a woman exceptional beauty Phobos and Deimos might make men too nervous to speak to her.
The intense emotions embodied by Eros and his siblings initially seem like opposites, but in fact they complemented one another. The children of Aphrodite and Ares inspired intense and irrational emotions that could often lead to extreme behavior.
The one exception was their only daughter and Eros’s only sister, Harmonia. She represented peace and amicable relations.
When a couple was shot by the arrows of Eros, Harmonia could grant them a happy and peaceful married life. When two armies fought, Harmonia could inspire the treaties that would end hostilities.
Harmonia worked in the domains of both her parents to ease the emotions brought on by her brothers. While Eros and his brothers embodied the extremes of their parents, Harmonia worked to settle them.
In the earliest recorded myths, Eros was a primordial force that came into being at the beginning of creation. Most later writers, however, agreed that he was in fact a young god.
They believed Eros was the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and attraction. He was her closest companion and worked under her command.
While the affair between Ares and Aphrodite is famous in Greek mythology, it still seems unusual to link the god of love to the god of war. Similarly, Ares’s companions, the gods of fear and dread, seemed to have little in common with Aphrodite.
The family was unified, however, by the extremes they represented. Both love and fear were intense emotions that could cause men to do otherwise unthinkable things.
They also often followed one another. Wars could be started by love and lovers could feel intense anguish.
Ares and Aphrodite had largely opposite domains, and their sons tended to align with one or the other. The intensity they all inspired, though, formed the familial connection between them all.