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Erôs in Ancient Greece$
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Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

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From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult

From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult

(p.175) 12 From the Gymnasium to the Wedding: Eros in Athenian Art and Cult
Erôs in Ancient Greece

Emma Stafford

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews representations of Eros personified in Attic art alongside what we know of Eros' cult at Athens, evidence which has an important contribution to make to our understanding of the emotion. It is generally agreed that the images chart a change from a late archaic focus on pederastic erôs to a later fifth-century association with women and heterosexual desire. It is argued here that this shift in emphasis is reflected in Athens' two major cults of Eros: at the Academy, from c.540 BC worship focused on Eros alone, its pederastic character in keeping with the gymnasium context; on the Akropolis' north slope, from c.450 BC, Eros displayed a heterosexual concern with fertility, in close association with Aphrodite. Such a background makes sense of Eros' frequent appearances in wedding scenes, which further suggest that erôs’role in marriage became firmly established in the second half of the fifth century.

Keywords:   Academy, Akropolis, Aphrodite, desire, erôs, Eros, gymnasium, heterosexual, pederastic, wedding

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