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(? B.C.) Greece




The Erotes were homosexual youths who served Aphrodite and held divine rule of sundry aspects of eroticism. They were said to be saffron-colored, usually the color associated with the garments of priestesses and goddesses. This is why in Byrne-Jones PreRaphaelite portrait of Hymenaeus playing his lute for a bride and groom, the god is dressed in the same saffron of the bride, the artist rather perversely elected overall to make Hymenaeus rather more feminine than the bride.

The Erotes were even free to love one another, being not literally brothers but only a brotherhood. Some of them were the sons of nameless naiads, but Hermaphrodites was famously the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, and Pothos the son of Aphrodite's attendant Iris and the Wind-god Zephyros. Hence no incest is implied by their erotic behavior toward one another.


Were also called Erotes some minor gods - they were by name Eros, Pothos, Anteros, Hedyloges, Hermaphroditus, and Hymenaeus, plus Zeus's catamite Ganymedes was often their companion. Despite their eternal youthfulness and delicate natures, they were sometimes very warlike. Indeed Anteros was said to be the son of Ares, and was an avenger of unrequited love, though Aelian in On Animals said that Anteros was the improbable offspring of Poseidon & his catamite charioteer, the youthful Sea-god Nerites; so perhaps Anteros had some of the same traits as Hermaphroditus!


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