Love Conquers


GUIDO RENI (1575 - 1642)
Victory of the Heavenly Love over the Worldly Eros (1622 - 1623)


Eros was the son of Venus and Mars. He was her constant companion. Mischievous, he shot darts of love into men and caused all the trouble resulting from the desire of the gods for the children of men. The darts, which represent the flame of desire, brought the gods down in consciousness.

Anteros was the avenger of slighted love. Venus had complained to Themis (justice) that Eros remained a child and never grew up. Themis said he should have a brother and then he would grow up. Anteros is also the champion of reciprocal affection. These two are like Cain and Abel: Eros is "love"; Anteros is "against love."


Excerpt from "Anteros, Love of Virtue, conquering the other Love" by Andrea  Alciato (1536):

Aligerum aligeroque inimicum pinxit Amori,
Arcu arcum, atque ignes igne domans Nemesis:
Ut quae aliis fecit patiatur, at hic puer olim
Intrepidus gestans tela, miser lachrymat.
Ter spuit inque sinus imos (res mira) crematur
Igne ignis, furias odit Amoris Amor.
Nemesis has fashioned a form with wings, a foe to Love with his wings,
subduing bow with bow and flames with flame,
so that Love may suffer what he has done to others.
But this boy, once so bold when he was carrying his arrows,
now weeps in misery and has spat three times low on his breast.
A wondrous thing - fire is being burned with fire,
Love is loathing the frenzies of Love.


In the painting above, the heavenly Anteros burns the arrows of the worldly Eros in tranquility, and we can see the instruments floating closer for the music which usually is the prelude for the triumph of Anteros.

Still, the notion of a blindfolded child with hands tied who seems to be weeping and winding in misery stirs up a distinct anxiety.