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How Ancient Greek's Eros Became Ancient Rome's Cupid

Love in the Time of Antiquity: How Pedophilia Created Cupid

Eros, the god of love, was represented by a strong, powerful young man in ancient Greece, but by the time ancient Rome depicted love, it was a little boy with a bow and arrow.

How that happened is what a six-month art exhibit in Athens seeks to illustrate. The heart of the answer lies in the exhibit's top floor, where children under 16 aren't allowed unattended. There three rooms illustrate sexual congress (what we know as intercourse), homoerotic love, and pederasty (a relationship between a man and young boy). Ancient Greeks thought it was normal to be drawn to the beauty of adolescent boys just as they were drawn to women, and homosexuality was considered part of coming of age.

So how did Eros, the athletic young man in art and literature, become a flying boy named Cupid? As time passed he became younger and younger until Hellenistic times when he was portrayed as a child or baby with a bow and arrow. When Romans created their god, they took the Greek's version and named him Cupid.


Good thing Valentine's Day is two months away. Maybe we can forget this, but probably not!

Source: Flickr User chicks57

Join The Conversation
Allytta Allytta 7 years
tarynitup, how were women stupid? Ancient Rome was made out of people who cared only to take public bath, eat shit loads of food and have sex. They even took crap in those bath that they were taking together. No sanitary, they were pigs. No social norms. And just because their history was well documented the world now believes it was the start of high civilization, while other European, Latin and Asian countries managed to embrace using forks, washing their hair regularly and respecting each other especially their elders.
tarynitup tarynitup 7 years
I thought the homosexuality in Roman culture stemmed from their extreme misogyny. Women were troublesome and stupid, not good for anything even sex. Homosexuality was embraced because it was a sign of intelligence and (for lack of a better description) a highly evolved man! It's brotherly love on another level!!
MeiGaku MeiGaku 7 years
this shouldn't be considered disturbing because i think tres is mislabeling the type of relationship that went on. the relationship between a man and a "young boy" was sexual but mostly one that involved mentorship. furthermore, the age at which a boy was considered a man was much, much younger--people were married off at 14 or so--not 18 as today. social norms have just changed so it sounds disturbing, but sometimes i wished more boys today had good men to show them the ropes.
Muirnea Muirnea 7 years
This is really cool, I had never heard any of that before. Very interesting. :)
janneth janneth 7 years
It's Greek to me.
tarabara1229 tarabara1229 7 years
I was going to say the same thing girlgreen! This is really fascinating.
girlgreen girlgreen 7 years
that's very interesting, especially considering what glowingmoon said. it seems it's the other way around now, in terms of society's acceptance of homosexuality.
chillchic chillchic 7 years
We learned about this in Classics at school. Much of the course was really disturbing.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
".. . . and homosexuality was considered part of coming of age." If memory (from my studies) serves me correctly, MALE homosexuality was accepted, NOT female homosexuality. Female homosexuality was considered derogatory.
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