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EROS, Greek god of LOVE

Often called the god of love, Eros is in fact the son of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite (or Venus in the Roman world). Eros appears often with his mother, but he also appears alone, as a symbol of human love, particularly on women's objects such as small vases and terracotta statuettes.

The Study Collection has several images of Eros on vases -- one seated, another flying. There are also terracotta statuettes of Eros, either holding a torch or seated on a dolphin as shown here at left. Eros in Greek art is an active boy, riding various real and mythical creatures such as winged sea-creatures or flying animals.

In the Greek world, his most usual activity naturally concerns brides. Eros may be shown holding a wreath over the head of a lovely young woman, or offering her a ribbon for her hair, or bringing her gifts of jewelry or small containers. He is the divinity who most commonly appears in human situations, offering a sign of future happiness in love.
Left: Greek terracotta statuette: SIIAS  


Red figure Lekythos: SIIAS A 1705 * Red Figure Oinochoe: SIIAS X 58 * Terracotta Statuette: SIIAS L77.1.50

Images of Eros are favorites on all types of Greco-Roman objects. The youthful god of love, Eros (known in the Roman world as Amor or Cupid), who is recognized from his wings, is portrayed on scores of Greek vases and statuettes. Small vases such as these were made to hold perfumed oils and were often deposited in tombs along with the person who was buried there. In the statuette Eros holds a large torch, on the center vase he carries a fillet or ribbon as present, and on the left hand vase he holds a large chest, perhaps for jewelry. On the lekythos, Eros sits casually on a pile of rocks and holds up a large basket or pyxis in his right hand. Such real objects were part of a woman's toilette and were also buried with her. Eros is shown nude, but he wears elaborate jewelry: several necklaces and beads, bracelets, thigh and leg bands, shoes, and a wreath over his hair, which is pulled back into a top-knot. Although he appears to be somewhat effeminate on the two vases, this was regarded as highly desirable in the fourth century BCE when they were made.

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