Eros, Anteros and the perfection of love
Who does not know Cupid, the sweetest and spiteful god of love? Eros for the Greeks, the most tender and turbulent god of Olympus, was an irresistible child: beautiful and placid like all children, he became terrible and messy at the most unexpected moments.
His mother, the beautiful Aphrodite, was really desperate for her little son. Eros was irrepressible: one moment he was serene and calm, the next he was shooting arrows at random making gods and men fall in love and mad. Then, all of a sudden, he burst into an inconsolable cry, that not even Aphrodite's cuddles could calm him down.
Aphrodite couldn't take it anymore: when would that brat grow up? She loved him with all her strength, but sometimes she found him unbearable. A remedy was urgently needed, but which one?
He even spoke about it with the boy's father, Ares, his great love of all time: "Dear, we must do something for this son of ours: he's too capricious and irrational. And then, heck, those arrows! I advised you not to give him such dangerous toys. When he's around, you can't be safe. If he's in the mood to shoot arrows, nothing can distract him. Most of the time he makes real disasters!"
Ares, perhaps a little proud of his son's vehemence (he was still the god of war!) smiled slyly at Aphrodite's complaints: "My dear, let him enjoy himself. You'll see that he'll soon grow up and get his head straight".
Centuries went by, however, and the little rascal was always the same: all kisses and sweet nothings if it was convenient for him, bawling and tantrums not even two minutes later.
It was Themis, a very wise aunt of Zeus, who gave Aphrodite the right suggestion: "Do you know what it would take? - she said with conviction - A nice little brother. Convince Ares for a second son, and you'll see how that brat will calm down, finally. Call him Anteros (in ancient Greek, mutual love) and ask Eros to take care of him: you'll see that soon Eros, all caught up in the commitment of older brother, will give only the best of his nature."
And so it was.
Aphrodite and Ares set to work and in the blink of an eye (they were gods, eh!) gave a little brother to the little pest. Temi's words came true as if by magic: Eros became sweet, very good and, above all, judicious. No more mood swings or outbursts of anger for no reason. Even the arrows were successful: he aimed well and with conscience.
Mother Aphrodite was satisfied: in her heart she knew that her child, although sometimes cruel as only children can be, would not have remained a pest for too long. Now all that remained was to collect the compliments of all the gods for that wonderful pair of brothers.
The fun, however, lasted little, alas. Aphrodite noticed a detail not to be underestimated: every time the tender Anteros, always ready for peace and mutual respect, moved away from Eros, the latter resumed his old intemperance, plunging Olympus and the earth into total chaos.
The goddess gave up and came to the most obvious conclusion: those two, taken alone, were insufficient. It was necessary that they walked together as long as possible, balancing each other. Eros would have given to his brother that pinch of liveliness that, it is known, makes love tantalizing; Anteros, on his side, would have guaranteed for Eros' correct conduct, his right balance and the deep respect for everyone's feelings.
Anteros, thus, became the protector of mistreated and offended loves and, together with Eros, committed himself so that love could also be peace and serenity.
Villa Salviati, Pompei - Italy
Copyright by Sailko