The origin of the word ‘love’ is from the Old English lufu, of Germanic origins. But where exactly did love originate from? There is no easy answer for this. It is safe to say that it all began with Adam and Eve, the very first human beings on Earth. Throughout history, we have had many famous love stories and popular couples that became a legend in today’s world. But where did the love we all feel come from? Is it inborn in us? Or did the Almighty create love for some purpose? There is no answer to this except speculations and myths.
One interesting myth about love is written in Plato’s Symposium, where Aristophanes delivers his speech in the form of a myth.
According to this myth, human beings at that time were male, female and androgynous. The male were said to be descended from the Sun, female from the Earth and the androgynous from the Moon. These human beings, had four legs, four hands, four eyes and so on, and were round in shape like the planets. That is, twice the size of human beings today. These beings grew in power and threatened the God’s rule. Zeus decided to punish them and so he cut them in half, moved their heads to face the wounds, covered up the skin on the wound like a purse and threatening to cut them further, he released them.
But this proved disastrous as the beings missed their other half so much, that they clung to each other and died of neglect and sadness.
Zeus took pity on them and moved their genitals to the front so that the androgynous could procreate from their love and the previously male or female halves could obtain the satisfaction they needed.
This forms the basis of desire of human beings. Previously androgynous halves now desire members of the other sex, as in men desire women and vice versa as their union completes the androgynous nature while men who desire men and women who desire women, were said to be two halves of the previously male or female human beings respectively.
This beautiful myth defines as to why we feel a longing, an attachment and a mutual feeling of togetherness with our partners, and not just get satisfaction from the sexual relationship. We know we are whole when we are with our partners and this forms the basis of the peace and wholeness that we feel. Ever wondered why it feels so heavenly and soothing to hug the person you love?
Love was also personified into beautiful love deities across various religions and cultures. Some of these gods and goddesses have a fascinating background and history. Some of them, like Cupid, are very popular. Some others are lesser known but have a lot of significance. I have listed some of the love deities from the Hindu, Greek and Roman mythology below.
Hindu mythology – Kama and Rati
Kama was the god of love and sexuality in the Hindu mythology. He has been portrayed as a handsome, young, winged man with green skin. He was also named Madan or the churner of hearts. Kamadeva, as he is rightly called, where Kama stands for desire, has many different origins. In some scripts, Brahma creates Kamadeva from his mind. In some, he is said to be the son of Shri. Rati, goddess of passion of lust, said to be the wife of Kama is the embodiment of desire itself. Although lesser known, she is the constant companion of Kama. Her beauty and sensuality is stressed upon in the Hindu scriptures. She even worships along with Kama. She also acts as his protector and nanny when Kama is reborn as Pradyumna. Such was the devotion of the Goddess Rati, who proved that she is truly the Hindu goddess of love through her devotion to her partner.
Greek mythology – Eros and Aphrodite
Unlike Hindu mythology, Eros and Aphrodite were not mates, rather Eros is widely considered to be the son of Aphrodite. Aphrodite was the goddess of love and sexuality. She was renowned for her beauty and allure and this created dissent among the gods. The gods feared that the peace among them would be disrupted, hence Zeus got her married to an ugly and deformed Hephaestus. Aphrodite is popular today where the name represents being a strong, beautiful woman, who isn’t ashamed of wearing her sexuality, rather she embraces herself.
Eros, like, Aphrodite, was said to be desire of many women, and was famed to have such sexuality oozing off him that “He smites maids’ breasts with unknown heat, and bids the very gods leave heaven and dwell on earth in borrowed forms.”
Roman mythology – Cupid and Venus
Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. The origin of this quote is from Venus, the famed goddess of love, the Roman equivalent to Aphrodite. She encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity, victory, and desire. Romans, later on, adapted her counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art. This led to Venus becoming the embodiment of love and sexuality in the Greco-Roman mythology.
Venus and the war God Mars gave birth to the Roman god of love, Cupid.
Cupid is, by far, the most popular God of all. Portrayed as a chubby winged boy, he is said to be armed with a bow and arrow that represents his power to produce overpowering desire in any person or deity. He is the embodiment of the quote ‘Love conquers all’.
These are just a handful of the love and lust deities. There are numerous deities in almost every other culture to represent love and sexuality. There has always been a myth or a legend or a belief of love and the deities who controlled them. But is love restricted to these deities?
Of course not, love is in all of us. We all feel love. It is truly a powerful emotion that makes us bend down to its will. So the real question is, did these deities overpower love or did love overpower them? Do we feel love, or does love let itself be felt by us? Humans are at the mercy of their emotions, and we do not seem to ever realize it.
But if that emotion is love, it isn’t that bad as love, truly is beautiful.