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Description - Aphrodite and Eros by Barbara Breitenberger

The deities of love are usually perceived as equally established figures in Greek myth, but this book shows that Aphrodite is embedded in traditional mythology and cult, whereas Eros is that literary creation of subsequent poets. By analysing the differing histories of Aphrodite and Eros, Barbara Breitenberger probes the origins of what we call Greek mythology. This book offers a groundbreaking revision of the popular image of Aphrodite and Eros that lives on in Roman poetry (Venus and Cupid) and has inspired artists for centuries. An interdisciplinary analysis of the Archaic period - using literary, iconographical, and cultic evidence - shows the distinct concept behind the two deities of love. Aphrodite's character, sphere of influence, and function feature in her traditional myths and are well reflected in cult. Eros, however, was not yet a similarly personified mythical figure at that stage, nor did he have an individual cult. Breitenberger follows the different stages of the development of Eros's personality. Originally a cosmic entity and an unpersonified aspect of Aphrodite, he was given his mythical identity by successive archaic lyric poets who were particularl keen to mythologize a male counterpart to the established love-goddess Aphrodite. This male love-god turns out to be the divinized homoerotic ideal of the male aristocracy 'worshipped' at their symposia. The development of the male love-god is taken as an example to demonstrate that poets' artistic innovation as well as their social and historical background played an important role in creating Greek mythology.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780415968232
ISBN-10: 0415968232
Format: Hardback
(229mm x 152mm x mm)
Pages: 306
Imprint: Routledge
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publish Date: 30-May-2007
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Barbara Breitenberger

Barbara Breitenberger is Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati. Her main interests focus on Greek literature (archaic period), mythology, and religion. She has also written a translation and commentary on fragments of Aristotle's poetic writings.