"Love resistless in fight, all yield at a
glance of thine eye,
Love who pillowed all night on a maiden's
cheek dost lie...
Over the upland folds thou roam'st, and the
Love the gods captive holds. Shall mortals not
yield to thee?" [Sophocles, Antigone
"Ruthless Eros, great bane, great curse to
mankind, from you come deadly strifes and lamentations and groans,
and countless pains as well have their stormy birth from
you." [Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica
Yo soy el Dios poderoso
En el aire y
en la tierra
Y en el ancho mar undoso
Y en cuanto el
En su báratro espantoso.
qué es miedo;
Todo cuanto quiero puedo,
Aunque quiera lo
Y en todo lo que es posible
pongo y vedo.
[Miguel de Cervantes, Don
Quijote de la Mancha, Segunda Parte, Capítulo XX]
My name is Love, supreme my
The greatest god and greatest pain,
and seas, my power obey,
And gods themselves must drag my
In every heart my throne I
Fear ne'er could daunt my daring soul;
I fire the
bosom of the deep,
And the profoundest hell control.
[Miguel de Cervantes, Don
Quixote, Part II, Chapter XX]
"Whoever judges not Eros to be a mighty god
is either stupid or, having no experience of good things, knows not
of the god who is the mightiest power to men." [Euripides,
quoted by Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae
Eros is Love, who overpowers the mind, and tames the spirit in
the breasts of both gods and men.
Love is more powerful than Necessity
Eros (Love) has been regarded as more powerful a god than Ananke
(Necessity). For Love has no concern with ugliness, or with the
violent dealings deriving from the compelling power of Necessity.
And since Love came to be, the delighting in beautiful things
surpassed the dominion of Necessity,
bringing all kinds of benefits both to gods and mankind.
Eros (Love) awakes
The Courage of Love revered by the gods
The gods are said to give special honour to Love, and
particularly to the courage that comes with him. Consequently, they
who died for love of her husband, to return from the Underworld.
But they did not give Orpheus
his wife back, considering his attempt to raise her from the Underworld,
the quest of a coward. For he, unwilling to die for her, entered the
alive, and alive he left, both that gloomy place and his dead
On the other hand, Achilles
was honoured and sent to the Islands
of the Blest because he, putting his love for Patroclus
1 above everything else, avenged him, and fearless sought to
1, although he knew that he was fated to die soon after killing
That is why it is said that there is no sort of courage more
respected by the gods than the one coming from Love.
Body & Soul
Some affirm that just as there are two Aphrodites [see 'Urania'
and 'Pandemos' at Aphrodite],
there are also two Loves: one of a meaner kind, being concerned more
with the body than with the soul, and another one, worth of
celebration, that impels to love in a noble manner, that is, loving
also the mind.
It is on this ground that they who love the bodies of children
are called mean; for they just deceive them, and take advantage of
their green thoughtlessness, since children have not yet acquired
enough mind. And because these manipulations are mean, they must
always be done in secret. Yet it is known that it is more honourable
to love openly; specially when the beloved not only excels for the
beauty of the body, but also for the qualities of both mind and
heart. For the same gestures of love may be judged admirable when
they attend both to body and soul, and disgraceful when they only
care for the body.
Craving only the body while forgetting the soul has been
considered wicked because there is no permanence in the body, and
promises and speeches made in its favour are fated to be dishonoured
as the bloom of the body fades away. Therefore, those who love only
the beauty of the body and know no other reason for loving are
believed to be lovers of their own pleasure, prone to wrong both
their friends and the god.
Generals of Love
But since mortals have a body and this is never altogether
disregarded (as eloquently shown by those who give themselves to
excessive remodellation), they have been called hypocritical, who
assert that one sould not love bodies but soul; and even more so
when these are caught doing the very opposite of what they
Nevertheless, true lovers are said to look mainly into each
other's eyes, giving less attention to the rest of the body; for
they feel that it is in the eyes that the charm of Love is best
perceived, as if they were the generals of the god:
"... a kind of lightning-flash that
Pelops has in his eyes; with it he is warmed himself, but
scorches me with the flame ..." [Hippodamia 1 on her
husband. Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae
Similarly, it is told that not Selene
(Sleep) was in love with Endymion,
and that the god put him to rest with lids wide open, so that he
could gaze upon Endymion's
This is why praises of countenance, of curls, or even of voice,
have been regarded as inferior to those addressed to the eyes, which
bear the light of love.
Love for Sale
There are also those who, resembling the lovers of bodies,
involve themselves in acts of love with a view to gaining money,
position, office, or Fame. They
performi a vulgar charade or farce, leading to shame, reproach, and
even scandal; for they will renounce Love when the money is gone, or
the position lost. But the same gestures performed by true lovers
for the sake of Love himself never lead to such disgraces, and such
lovers never have to regret their conduct.
And here again: while the merchants of Love have to act secretly
as if they were thieves, the others find the general approval when
showing their affection openly, for there is never shame in true
Love has been believed to be identical with the combining force
pervading the universe, which causes the attraction of all creatures
to a great variety of things, and works in everything existing. For
example, he who is a physician is seen as concerning himself with
the love-matters of the body in regard to its functions. He
distinguishes (as in the case of Love between humans) in the
functions of the body nobler and baser loves. Therefore he is
considered a good physician, who is able to produce love where it
ought to flourish and remove it from where it should not be. And
fostering love among the most contrary qualities inside the body,
such as cold and heat, bitter and sweet, and dry and moist, was the
skill which Asclepius
developed to such a high pitch.
Similarly, bringing that kind of consonance and agreement among
the sounds grave and acute creates the harmony of music, just like
the fast and the slow, appropriately combined, produce its rhythm.
All these agreements, in both medicine and music, are the works of
Love, who introduces mutual affection in opposites. Accordingly, the
musician is said to be concerned with the love-matters of harmony
And the same principle has been applied to the seasons of the
year, in which Love introduces harmony or disharmony by bringing
together, in an orderly or disorderly way, such qualities as heat
and cold, and drought and moisture, thus bestowing fertility and
health on animals and men, or through disturbances in the
love-connexions, causing pestilence and disease.
Love brings Pleasure & Happiness
In this way, and through what is just, temperate and have good
purposes, Love, who is the only power capable of bringing happiness
to the world, exerts his wide influence, providing peace and
friendship among men and women, and agreement between mankind and
the gods. And yet, it has been remarked, mortals fail to perceive
the power of Love. For, some have asked, where are the many temples
in honour of this sweet god, the most friendly to mankind?
Only following the leadership of Love, some believe, may mankind
escape harm and attain happiness; and they who oppose him incur the
hate of Heaven. For Love is the god who brings fulfilment, healing
men and women, temperating pleasures and desires, and greatly
blessing all who revere him for his own sake, since there is no
greater pleasure than that which is found in Love himself.
Of the abode of Love this has been said: that Love, possessing a
natural delicacy, has not a hard habitation but a soft one, and that
he does not go upon earth, which is hard, but of all places he chose
the softest to live in. That is why the abode of Love is the soul of
both gods and mortals, which is the most soft and delicate part ever
to be found.
The goodness of this god is such that it has been said that no
one has ever injured him, and no one has ever been injured by him.
For no violence is present in his dealings, and whenever he is
revered, right and just agreement is reached, and friendship, and
concord. This is why it has been pointed out that Ares may be
caught by Love, but Love could never be caught by Ares.
Power to Create
Love has also been described as an accomplished poet and
composer, for when the god gets hold of anybody, he or she becomes
instantly a poet or a composer, taking part in the creative power
that is again present when all creatures are produced.
Accordingly, when Apollo
invented archery, and medicine and divination, or when the MUSES
created music, or when Hephaestus
worked on his metals, or when Athena
was weaving, or when Zeus was
guiding gods and men, they did all these things in such a way that
they could be judged to be the disciples of Love, attaching
themselves to beauty, and having no concern with ugliness, which is
the dominion not of Love but of Ananke.
Some blessings of the sweetest god
Because of Love, mortals have intimacy and may escape alienation,
enjoy friendship, and avoid enmity. Those who are with him, they
treasure him; and those who are not with him they covet him, because
he is a marvel and a delight, and all tenderness, elegance and grace
come from him, who is the ornament of all creatures.
Similarly, they who know the labours of his mystic rites, wish no
part with those who ignore them; for they, having found inspiration,
wisdom, virtue and delight in Love, consider him to be the sweetest
of all divinities, and do not desire any other thing than to yield
Despite all representations, in which Love is depicted as a young
man or a boy, Eros is believed to have a dual nature, being neither
female nor male. He (or she) is regarded as composed of many
elements and able to bear different qualities within a single frame.
Therefore he may appear audacious or timid, seem wise or stupid,
give himself to impetuosity, or choose persistance.
Consequently, his influence on lovers has been compared to that
on drinkers. For when Eros comes in moderation, he is gracious; but
when he comes with great intensity, he seems cruel and many are
thrown into perplexity. This is why it has been written:
"... the Love-god, golden-haired, stretches
his charmed bow with twin arrows, and one is aimed at happiness,
the other at life's confusion." [Euripides, Iphigenia
in Aulis 549]
As many opinions about Love, as forms he might have
In addition to these opinions, many others (for opinions about
Love are innumerable) have been uttered. And some say roundly that
Eros is not a god, preferring to call him 'abstraction', or
'emotion', or 'a property inherent in ourselves', or 'an object of
our desire'. Accordingly, they find themselves serving and revering
these qualities, as if they were deities, while still imagining they
avoid deification and adoration. But, whatever his title, Eros,
being inevitable, is always worshipped.
Eros & Psyche
How Love came to the Soul
Short outline of
the story (complete at Psyche):
was the daughter of an unknown king. Her beauty was so
extraordinary that men would worship her instead of courting
then, out of jealousy for her beauty, sent Eros to make Psyche
fall in love with some unworthy man while an oracle said that
must wed a horrible monster on the top of a mountain. Psyche
then was first exposed, and then carried by the wind to a
castle. But Eros, instead of obeying Aphrodite,
fell in love with Psyche
and visited her every night, although never allowing Psyche
to see him. However, following the advices dictated by
jealousy that her two sisters gave her, Psyche
managed to know who her lover was. Eros then deserted her, and
when their love was discovered, Psyche
suffered the wrath of Aphrodite,
who mistreated her in many ways. However, having surpassed
several difficulties, the lovers could reunite, and Psyche
was reconciled with Aphrodite,
and made immortal.