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I had always believed from previous readings that Eros (Cupid), the archer-god of love, was the son of Aphrodite, and his father wasn't mentioned. I now read in Eros's entry on Theoi.com that his parentage is variously ascribed to:

  • Gaea and Ouranos
  • Aphrodite and Ares
  • Aphrodite and Ouranos
  • The primordial Chaos, also called the goddess Nyx
  • Iris (the rainbow) and Zephryos (the West Wind)
  • a few other couples whose names I don't recognize

Given that we're talking about stories which are like three millennia old, is there any way to determine who are the "right" mother and father for Eros? Is it by virtue of volume? (that is, the most myths have him as the child of X and Y, so we're calling that "correct") Is it by whatever stories are oldest? Is it by whichever myth had the most adherents at the time?

I've never seen a deity's origins quite so varied, so I'm not sure which, if any, to declare as "the right one."

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    Your list is missing the Protogenos Eros, who - sadly - had no mommy. – yannis Jan 11 '17 at 12:38
  • @Yannis thank you, and that further underscores my point. :) – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Jan 11 '17 at 13:23
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    I miss the original title of this question ;) but it probably is more useful for search with the revised title – DukeZhou Jan 12 '17 at 0:16
  • @LaurenIpsum I made the edit because the word "mother' is easier to find than "mommies". If you want information about Eros, you're going to google "Eros mother", not "Eros mommy". Not trying to get into an edit war over this question, but I hope you'll at least consider changing the title. – user62 Jan 12 '17 at 6:36
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    @Hamlet I understand entirely what you were doing from an SEO perspective; I am playing on the famous children's book Heather Has Two Mommies. Also, my question is more about both of his parents, not just his mother. I came up with this question because I was researching Zephyros and found a myth where the West Wind was Eros's father, so his mother wasn't in question. – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Jan 12 '17 at 10:40
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This is not an uncommon occurrence in Classical Mythology due to the wide variety of textual sources over a period of more than 1000 years.

Hesiod may be the oldest source, and it could certainly be argued he is the most significant of the sources and for that reason his version could be taken as definitive, but clearly subsequent Classical authors disagreed and felt compelled to offer different accounts.

Sappho, for instance, was a great poet and thus her insights should not be lightly discounted.

Pausanias was an historian and reports two conflicting opinions on the parentage--one account confirms Hesiod and one presents an alternate belief. But his offering of two accounts validates that, even in the Classical period, such questions were subject to disagreement or dispute. (Many deities had unique, local variants, and in some cases multiple deities may have merged into a single deity as cultures merged.)

Plato is one of the great philosophers and although his take was undoubtedly meant as allegory, it should likewise be considered important.

I'm just grabbing a few of the sources to highlight the point that the myths are "living" and subject to change and re-interpretation over time.


A followup question you may want to consider (as it would surely yield some interesting analysis) is "What are the possible meanings of the different versions of the parentage of Eros?"

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