Valentine’s Day is an occasion for romance, and no one knows more about passion than deities of love! Across many mythologies, gods and goddesses of love exist to give humans a helping hand with their love lives (or the opposite…). If you need some assistance from the gods this Valentine’s Day, look no further than this list of magical experts!
Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, sexuality, and beauty and was thought to be the most beautiful woman that ever existed. As well as her daliances with the gods (and her marriage to the blackmisth god Hephaistos) she also took many mortals as lovers. Aphrodite might not be the most trustworthy goddess to ask for help in matters of the heart, however, as she was a slave to her own lust and pride, a catalyst for war.
Aphrodite was to blame in part for instigating the Trojan War by bribing Paris to judge her as the most beautiful goddess. She offered him Helen of Sparta as the prize for casting aside her fellow goddesses Athena and Hera. However, Helen was already married to the Spartan king, and Paris’ abduction of her led to the story we all know featuring a suspicious wooden horse...
Venus was the Roman name for Aphrodite, and their mythological origins are similar. Venus is instantly recognisable as the subject of the painting depicting her birth from the sea, symbolising the rebirth of civilisation. She might not be able to help with your romantic woes much either, as she is quite busy mourning her mortal lover, the hunter Adonis. Venus dreamed that Adonis would be attacked during a hunt, and rushed to warn him of his fate. Adonis ignored her foretelling, and was killed by a wild boar. They don’t call it a Greek tragedy for nothing!
Birth of Venus (circa 1480) by Sandro Botticelli
Another two-fold god of love is Eros (or Cupid). First introduced in Greek mythology as the son of Aphrodite, Eros was the Greek god of lust, desire, and passion. Over time (and thanks to the Romans) he evolved into the cherubin figure we know today. Usually depicted as a chubby baby and carrying his trusty bow and arrows, he shoots his lovelorn targets to induce love. While this may seem like a good thing, Cupid was known to match up unconventional couples for his own amusement, so beware if you call upon Eros for help this Valentine’s Day.
The Victory of Eros (1750-1755) by Angelica Kauffman
If the Greek and Roman gods aren’t tickling your fancy as matchmakers this Valetine’s Day, maybe Odin’s wife can help? Frigg was the Norse goddess of marriage, and is the namesake of “Friday” (apparently the best day to get married). Stories of Frigg depict her as somewhat of a psychic or seeress, but she often fails in this regard. Her job as a goddess was to matchmake happy couples for marriage, but no accounts of this taking place exist, as she seemed to engage more in making bets with Odin, or trying to keep her troublesome children safe. Frigg may not be the best goddess to turn to this Valentine’s Day, either.
Although known initially as part of Irish mythology under the name Aengus, Angus became ingrained in Scottish folklore as a Celtic god of youth, love, and summertime—-the perfect recipe for romance! Scots would recognise Angus as toting a golden harp and using it to induce a “pied piper” effect on young lovers through the forests. While joining a conga line of maidens into the woods might sound like an ideal way to spend Valentine’s Day, Angus is unfortunately know to be "weak minded and light headed” and may cast your quest for love aside (should you ask him) for sillier pursuits (such as mocking other gods for fun).
Angus Og (1908) by John Duncan
If you’re looking for love this Valentine’s Day, requesting help from any of these deities may prove fruitless. Just like mortals, gods aren’t perfect, and you may have to summon some of your own power to find long-lasting romance.
For now, you can get in the mood for love with our Valentine’s Day playlist full of classic ballads to woo your favourite Warlord.