There are two popular but very different versions of the birth of this important god. According to the Greek poet Hesiod, Eros was one of the first deities born into the world. Hesiod, in his Theogony, claims that Eros emerged from Chaos (which can be described as a sort of void) along with Gaia (the Earth) and Tartarus (the Underworld). Furthermore, the Theogony features an intriguing description of Eros:
"...and Eros, the fairest of the deathless gods;
he unstrings the limbs and subdues both mind
and sensible thought in the breasts of all gods and all men."
(Hesiod, Theogony, 120-2)
The power wielded by Eros is made clear in this passage - no one, divine or mortal, could resist his spell of enchantment. In Hesiod's version, therefore, Eros is a potent, irresistible god.
However, there is one other significant variation in myth about the birth of Eros. According to some sources, Eros was the son of the goddess Aphrodite (occasionally, it is claimed that he is the child of both Aphrodite and Ares). As Aphrodite's son, Eros loses a bit of his power and prestige and becomes more of a companion (or accomplice) to the goddess of love and desire. This could be one possible explanation for why Eros, over the centuries, is transformed in myth and art from a handsome young man to a chubby mischievous child. (For a myth about Eros, see the story of his relationship with Psyche).
Eros was known as Cupid in Roman mythology.
Eros in Art History
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Now I know why Eros, of all the progeny of Earth and Heaven, has been most dearly loved