Foto: Public Domain Eros and Anteros: the Love needs to be reciprocated to grow - Planet Pompeii


Andǽrôs (Anteros; ὁ Ἀντέρως, τοῦ Ἀντέρωτος) Pronounced: ahn-DEH-rohs.

Andǽrôs is one of the Ǽrôtæs (Ἔρωτες), the manifestations of Ǽrôs (Ἔρως) who are part of the retinue of Aphrodítî (Ἀφροδίτη).


According to the Cicero, Andǽrôs is the son of Aphrodítî and Árîs (Ἄρης) [1] and his brother is Ǽrôs, but Klávdios Ailianós (Aelian, Κλαύδιος Αιλιανός) tells a different story. He learned this version of the origin of Andǽrôs from mariners, and for this we must first tell the story of Nîrítîs (Νηρίτης) [2].

The sea-Gods Nîréfs (Νηρεύς) and Dôrís (Δωρίς) produced fifty daughters, this according to both Isíodos (Ἡσίοδος) [3] and Ómiros (Ὅμηρος) [4]. Sailors say that these poets neglected to mention that Nîréfs and Dôrís had one son who was born after all the girls, and whose name is Nîrítîs. This youth was the most beautiful of men and Gods, so the tales claimed, and Aphrodítî became enamored of the boy.

When Aphrodítî ascended to become an Olympian, she invited Nîrítîs to join her, but he declined, for he wished to remain with his parents and many sisters. To seduce Nîrítîs, she granted him wings, but to no avail, for Nîrítîs wished to stay in the sea. This greatly angered the Goddess and she transformed him into a shellfish as punishment. Aphrodítî then focused her affections on beautiful Ǽrôs, to whom she gave the wings of Nîrítîs.

Love returned

The sailors told Ailianós that there is yet another version of the life of Nîrítîs, and it is this tale which sheds light on the nature of Andǽrôs. Here we find that it was Poseidón (Ποσειδῶν), rather than Aphrodítî, who fell in love with the boy-God, but Nîrítîs returned his love. He became the charioteer of Poseidón, and when they charged through the sea, the fish, the dolphins, and the Tritons all joyously flew up and danced as they passed by. All these high spirits seemed to annoy the Sun for he became jealous and transformed Nîrítîs into a spiraling shellfish.

Andǽrôs in religion

The love between Nîrítîs and Poseidón was so great that it produced issue: Nîrítîs was transformed into the God Andǽrôs. Thus, Andǽrôs is the divine embodiment of reciprocal love, for love which is not returned does not achieve its full potential. He represents the genuine reciprocity of Ællînismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion; he is the perfect and simple giving that is offered freely out of love without any stain of selfishness. Andǽrôs is the Ǽrôs which flows abundantly between Gods and men. He is depicted as a beautiful eternal boy, for this love is innocent as youth, yet always fresh and unfading.

Andǽrôs in Plátôn (Πλάτων)

“And when the lover is thus admitted, and the privilege of conversation and intimacy has been granted him, his good will, as it shows itself in close intimacy, astonishes the beloved, who discovers that the friendship of all his other friends and relatives is as nothing when compared with that of his inspired lover. And as this intimacy continues and the lover comes near and touches the beloved in the gymnasia and in their general intercourse, then the fountain of that stream which Zeus, when he was in love with Ganymede, called “desire” flows copiously upon the lover; and some of it flows into him, and some, when he is filled, overflows outside; and just as the wind or an echo rebounds from smooth, hard surfaces and returns whence it came, so the stream of beauty passes back into the beautiful one through the eyes, the natural inlet to the soul, where it reanimates the passages of the feathers, waters them and makes the feathers begin to grow, filling the soul of the loved one with love. So he is in love, but he knows not with whom; he does not understand his own condition and cannot explain it; like one who has caught a disease of the eyes from another, he can give no reason for it; he sees himself in his lover as in a mirror, but is not conscious of the fact. And in the lover's presence, like him he ceases from his pain, and in his absence, like him he is filled with yearning such as he inspires, and love's image, requited love, dwells within him.” (Harold N. Fowler, 1914) [5]

Andǽrôs in Pausanias

There is also a story that Ǽrôs had grown lonely, and to soothe his pain, he was given Andǽrôs as a playmate, because love alone is inadequate; it must be returned.

Pafsanías (Παυσανίας) describes a relief sculpture about Ǽrôs and Andǽrôs:

“In one of the wrestling-schools is a relief showing Love and Love Returned, as he is called. Love holds a palm-branch, and Love Returned is trying to take the palm from him.” (trans. W. H. S. Jones, 1918) [6]

Unrequited love

Andǽrôs is reciprocal love, love returned, but the superstitious say that he also punishes those who reject the advances of lovers. Pafsanías describes an altar in Athens dedicated to Andǽrôs, demonstrating this idea:

“The altar within the city called the altar of Anteros (Love Avenged) they say was dedicated by resident aliens, because the Athenian Meles, spurning the love of Timagoras, a resident alien, bade him ascend to the highest point of the rock and cast himself down. Now Timagoras took no account of his life, and was ready to gratify the youth in any of his requests, so he went and cast himself down. When Meles saw that Timagoras was dead, he suffered such pangs of remorse that he threw himself from the same rock and so died. From this time the resident aliens worshipped as Anteros the avenging spirit of Timagoras.” (trans. W. H. S. Jones, 1918) [7]

It should be understood, however, that the Gods are always inclined to the benefit of all, and, therefore, do not do harm to us.

Andǽrôs in iconography

The artists depict Andǽrôs as a resplendent boy with long hair. He bears wings similar to those of a butterfly, but with feathers. Like Ǽrôs, he has bow and arrows, but the arrows are thought to be made of lead. Sometimes he holds a golden club. He is frequently depicted with the other Ǽrôtæs in the entourage of Aphrodítî. Sometimes one can find Andǽrôs near Aphrodítî as she carries a scale, the scale of love.


[1] De Natura Deorum 3. 60:

(Cupido primus Mercurio et Diana prima natus dicitur; secundus Mercurio et Venere secunda;) tertius, qui idem est Anteros, Marte et Venere tertia.

“the third (Cupid- Ἔρως), who is the same as Anteros, of Mars (Ἄρης) and the third Venus (Ἀφροδίτη).” (trans. H. Rackham, 1933, but Public Domain)

[2] Περὶ ζῴων ἰδιότητος Κλαυδίου Αιλιανοῦ 14.28:

τῷ Νηρεῖ τῷ θαλαττίῳ, ὅνπερ οὖν ἀληθῆ τε καὶ ἀψευδῆ ἀκούομεν δεῦρο ἀεί, πεντήκοντα μὲν θυγατέρας τὴν Ὠκεανοῦ Δωρίδα Ἡσίοδος ᾄδει τεκεῖν: μέμνηται δὲ αὐτῶν καὶ Ὅμηρος ἐν τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ μέτροις. ἕνα δέ οἱ γενέσθαι παῖδα ἐπὶ ταῖς τοσαύταις θυγατράσιν ἐκεῖνοι μὲν οὔ φασι, λόγοι δὲ θαλάττιοι ὑμνοῦσι. καὶ Νηρίτην αὐτὸν κληθῆναι λέγουσι καὶ ὡραιότατον γενέσθαι καὶ ἀνθρώπων καὶ θεῶν, Ἀφροδίτην δὲ συνδιαιτωμένην ἐν τῇ θαλάττῃ ἡσθῆναί τε τῷ Νηρίτῃ τῷδε καὶ ἔχειν αὐτὸν φίλον. ἐπεὶ δὲ ἀφίκετο χρόνος ὁ εἱμαρμένος, ἔδει τοῖς Ὀλυμπίοις ἐγγραφῆναι καὶ τήνδε τὴν δαίμονα τοῦ πατρὸς [π. 363] παρακαλοῦντος. ἀνιοῦσαν οὖν αὐτὴν ἀκούω καὶ τὸν ἑταῖρόν τε καὶ συμπαίστην τὸν αὐτὸν ἐθέλειν ἄγειν. τὸν δὲ οὐχ ὑπακοῦσαι λόγος ἔχει τοῦ Ὀλύμπου προτιμῶντα τὴν σὺν ταῖς ἀδελφαῖς καὶ τοῖς γειναμένοις διατριβήν. παρῆν δὲ ἄρα αὐτῷ καὶ ἀναφῦσαι πτερά, καὶ τοῦτο ἐγᾦμαι δῶρον τῆς Ἀφροδίτης δωρουμένης: ὃ δὲ καὶ ταύτην παρ᾽ οὐδὲν ποιεῖται τὴν χάριν. ὀργίζεται τοίνυν ἡ Διὸς παῖς, καὶ ἐκείνῳ μὲν ἐς τὸν κόχλον τόνδε ἐκτρέπει τὴν μορφήν, αὐτὴ δὲ αἱρεῖται ὀπαδόν τε καὶ θεράποντα ἀντ᾽ ἐκείνου τὸν Ἔρωτα, νέον καὶ τοῦτον καὶ καλόν, καί οἱ τὰ πτερὰ τὰ ἐκείνου δίδωσιν. ὁ δὲ ἄλλος λόγος ἐρασθῆναι βοᾷ Νηρίτου Ποσειδῶνα, ἀντερᾶν δὲ τοῦ Ποσειδῶνος, καὶ τοῦ γε ὑμνουμένου Ἀντέρωτος ἐντεῦθεν τὴν γένεσιν ὑπάρξασθαι. συνδιατρίβειν οὖν τά τε ἄλλα τῷ ἐραστῇ τὸν ἐρώμενον ἀκούω καὶ μέντοι καὶ αὐτοῦ ἐλαύνοντος κατὰ τῶν κυμάτων τὸ ἅρμα τὰ μὲν κήτη τἄλλα καὶ τοὺς δελφῖνας καὶ προσέτι καὶ τοὺς Τρίτωνας ἀναπηδᾶν ἐκ τῶν μυχῶν καὶ περισκιρτᾶν τὸ ἅρμα καὶ περιχορεύειν, ἀπολείπεσθαι δ᾽ οὖν τοῦ τάχους τῶν ἵππων πάντως καὶ πάντη: μόνα δὲ ἄρα τὰ παιδικά οἱ παρομαρτεῖν καὶ μάλα πλησίον, στόρνυσθαι δὲ αὐτοῖς καὶ τὸ κῦμα καὶ διίστασθαι τὴν θάλατταν αἰδοῖ Ποσειδῶνος: βούλεσθαι γὰρ τῇ τε ἄλλῃ τὸν θεὸν εὐδοκιμεῖν τὸν καλὸν ἐρώμενον καὶ οὖν καὶ τῇ νήξει διαπρέπειν. τὸν δὲ Ἥλιον νεμεσῆσαι τῷ τάχει τοῦ παιδὸς ὁ μῦθος λέγει, καὶ ἀμεῖψαί οἱ τὸ σῶμα ἐς τὸν κόχλον τὸν νῦν, οὐκ οἶδα εἰπεῖν ὁπόθεν ἀγριάναντα: οὐδὲ γὰρ ὁ μῦθος λέγει. εἰ δέ τι χρὴ συμβαλεῖν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀτεκμάρτων, λέγοιντ᾽ ἂν ἀντερᾶν Ποσειδῶν καὶ Ἥλιος. καὶ ἠγανάκτει μὲν ἴσως ὁ Ἥλιος ὡς ἐν θαλάττῃ φερομένῳ, ἐβούλετο δὲ αὐτὸν οὐκ ἐν [π. 364] τοῖς κήτεσιν ἀριθμεῖσθαι, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν ἄστροις φέρεσθαι. καὶ τὼ μὲν μύθω ἐς τοσοῦτον ἐληξάτην: ἐμοὶ δὲ τὰ ἐκ τῶν θεῶν ἵλεα ἔστω, καὶ τά γε παρ᾽ ἐμοῦ ἔστω πρὸς αὐτοὺς εὔστομα. εἰ δέ τι θρασύτερον εἴρηται τοῖς μύθοις, ἐκείνων τὸ ἔγκλημα.

[3] Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 240-264:

Νηρῆος δ᾽ ἐγένοντο μεγήρατα τέκνα θεάων

πόντῳ ἐν ἀτρυγέτῳ καὶ Δωρίδος ἠυκόμοιο,

κούρης Ὠκεανοῖο, τελήεντος ποταμοῖο......

αὗται μὲν Νηρῆος ἀμύμονος ἐξεγένοντο

κοῦραι πεντήκοντα, ἀμύμονα ἔργα ἰδυῖαι.

“And of Nereus and rich-haired Doris, daughter of Ocean the perfect river, were born children......... These fifty daughters sprang from blameless Nereus, skilled in excellent crafts.” (trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914)

[4] Ἰλιὰς Ὁμήρου 18.38:

σμερδαλέον δ᾽ ᾤμωξεν: ἄκουσε δὲ πότνια μήτηρ

ἡμένη ἐν βένθεσσιν ἁλὸς παρὰ πατρὶ γέροντι,

κώκυσέν τ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἔπειτα: θεαὶ δέ μιν ἀμφαγέροντο

πᾶσαι ὅσαι κατὰ βένθος ἁλὸς Νηρηΐδες ἦσαν.

“Then terribly did Achilles groan aloud, and his queenly mother heard him as she sat in the depths of the sea beside the old man her father. Thereat she uttered a shrill cry, and the goddesses thronged about her, even all the daughters of Nereus that were in the deep of the sea.” (trans. A.T. Murray, 1924)

[5] Φαῖδρος Πλάτωνος 255b-d:

προσεμένου δὲ καὶ λόγον καὶ ὁμιλίαν δεξαμένου, ἐγγύθεν ἡ εὔνοια γιγνομένη τοῦ ἐρῶντος ἐκπλήττει τὸν ἐρώμενον διαισθανόμενον ὅτι οὐδ᾽ οἱ σύμπαντες ἄλλοι φίλοι τε καὶ οἰκεῖοι μοῖραν φιλίας οὐδεμίαν παρέχονται πρὸς τὸν ἔνθεον φίλον. ὅταν δὲ χρονίζῃ τοῦτο δρῶν καὶ πλησιάζῃ μετὰ τοῦ ἅπτεσθαι ἔν τε γυμνασίοις καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἄλλαις ὁμιλίαις, τότ᾽ ἤδη ἡ τοῦ ῥεύματος ἐκείνου πηγή, ὃν ἵμερον Ζεὺς Γανυμήδους ἐρῶν ὠνόμασε, πολλὴ φερομένη πρὸς τὸν ἐραστήν, ἡ μὲν εἰς αὐτὸν ἔδυ, ἡ δ᾽ ἀπομεστουμένου ἔξω ἀπορρεῖ: καὶ οἷον πνεῦμα ἤ τις ἠχὼ ἀπὸ λείων τε καὶ στερεῶν ἁλλομένη πάλιν ὅθεν ὡρμήθη φέρεται, οὕτω τὸ τοῦ κάλλους ῥεῦμα πάλιν εἰς τὸν καλὸν διὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων ἰόν, ᾗ πέφυκεν ἐπὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ἰέναι ἀφικόμενον καὶ ἀναπτερῶσαν, τὰς διόδους τῶν πτερῶν ἄρδει τε καὶ ὥρμησε πτεροφυεῖν τε καὶ τὴν τοῦ ἐρωμένου αὖ ψυχὴν ἔρωτος ἐνέπλησεν. ἐρᾷ μὲν οὖν, ὅτου δὲ ἀπορεῖ: καὶ οὔθ᾽ ὅτι πέπονθεν οἶδεν οὐδ᾽ ἔχει φράσαι, ἀλλ᾽ οἷον ἀπ᾽ ἄλλου ὀφθαλμίας ἀπολελαυκὼς πρόφασιν εἰπεῖν οὐκ ἔχει, ὥσπερ δὲ ἐν κατόπτρῳ ἐν τῷ ἐρῶντι ἑαυτὸν ὁρῶν λέληθεν. καὶ ὅταν μὲν ἐκεῖνος παρῇ, λήγει κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἐκείνῳ τῆς ὀδύνης, ὅταν δὲ ἀπῇ, κατὰ ταὐτὰ αὖ ποθεῖ καὶ ποθεῖται, εἴδωλον.

[6] Ἑλλάδος Περιήγησις Παυσανίου, Book 6 Ἦλις 23.5:

ἐν τῶν παλαιστρῶν μιᾷ τύπος Ἔρωτα ἔχων ἐπειργασμένον καὶ τὸν καλούμενον Ἀντέρωτα: ἔχει δὲ ὁ μὲν φοίνικος ὁ Ἔρως κλάδον, ὁ δὲ ἀφελέσθαι πειρᾶται τὸν φοίνικα ὁ Ἀντέρως.

[7] Ἑλλάδος Περιήγησις Παυσανίου, Book 1 Αττική 30.1:

τὸν δὲ ἐν πόλει βωμὸν καλούμενον Ἀντέρωτος ἀνάθημα εἶναι λέγουσι μετοίκων, ὅτι Μέλης Ἀθηναῖος μέτοικον ἄνδρα Τιμαγόραν ἐρασθέντα ἀτιμάζων ἀφεῖναι κατὰ τῆς πέτρας αὑτὸν ἐκέλευσεν ἐς τὸ ὑψηλότατον αὐτῆς ἀνελθόντα: Τιμαγόρας δὲ ἄρα καὶ ψυχῆς εἶχεν ἀφειδῶς καὶ πάντα ὁμοίως κελεύοντι ἤθελε χαρίζεσθαι τῷ μειρακίῳ καὶ δὴ καὶ φέρων ἑαυτὸν ἀφῆκε: Μέλητα δέ, ὡς ἀποθανόντα εἶδε Τιμαγόραν, ἐς τοσοῦτο μετανοίας ἐλθεῖν ὡς πεσεῖν τε ἀπὸ τῆς πέτρας τῆς αὐτῆς καὶ οὕτως ἀφεὶς αὑτὸν ἐτελεύτησε. καὶ τὸ ἐντεῦθεν δαίμονα Ἀντέρωτα τὸν ἀλάστορα τὸν Τιμαγόρου κατέστη τοῖς μετοίκοις νομίζειν.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

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We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

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