As much as we search we will not find a goddess of freedom in the Hellenic pantheon as we find Libertas in the Roman pantheon, although we do find Eleuteria as a personification of freedom without worship or temples. And it is not that the Greeks did not have a concept of freedom, but it seems that they associated freedom with different gods and worshiped each of them because regardless of their main domain they had power over freedom. That is why we can find the epithet Eluterios or Eleuterias in different divinities, Eros is one of them and under this epithet the influence of Eros is extremely special.
Eleutherios, the epithet of freedom
The word that the Greeks used (and still use today) to name Liberty is Ελευθερία (eleuteria), this word, in its various declines and transformations, was used both to designate freedom as a concept and as an adjective to say that someone was free. As an epithet we find it associated with gods with a great weight in all of Hellas such as Zeus, Dionysus, Artemis, Athena, Themis or Niké. That is why when we find that Eros also received this epithet it makes us very strange to think that he was only a son and part of Aphrodite’s entourage as the later versions to configure the Greek pantheon have been transmitted to us.
That we do not find a goddess embodying Liberty in the Greek cult is possibly because the Hellenes understood that freedom was an attribute of all the gods and not of one in particular, although the epithet is not received by all and that is because some had a more important role related to freedom. In the case of Zeus, Eleutherias were celebrated every five years in the city of Platea. These festivals were held to commemorate the Battle of Platea in which the Greeks defeated the Persians and allowed them to continue to preserve their freedom.
With Dionysus Eleutherius the relationship is probably because drunkenness was considered a way to free oneself from the moral and civil norms that could constrain daily behavior. In the case of Artemis and Athena, the epithet may have been given because they retained their freedom by never marrying, or because they respectively represented independent women and the freedom that knowledge gives.
Eleutherio was also as the slaves were called when they obtained the freedom. It seems that in some celebrations of the Eleutherias in honor of different gods freedom was granted to slaves who did enough merit before their masters. Even so, Eleutheria as a goddess does not appear until a relatively late time and we only find her represented in coins, perhaps more as a symbol of freedom than as a real deity.
Eros Eleutherio, the liberating god
When we try to inquire more about the relationship of Eros, the god of love among other things, with this epithet perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is free love but there is much more. Although the name of eros literally means Love we know that he was also a god of fertility and vegetation and that in some cults he was also the Protogonos, the first to be born and therefore the one who sets in motion and maintains order in the Cosmos. That is why the freedom that we can expect from Eros goes far beyond love relationships. If we consider that the opposite of freedom is slavery, prohibition and submission we can better understand the freedom that Eros offers us.
Slavery, prohibitions and submission occur when power relations are established over one another. With slavery and submission it is quite clear but with prohibition too. When someone prohibits something they do it because they have the power to do it and if we break that prohibition we will get a punishment in return. Eros, by ruling over all kinds of relationships, can also help us break those power relationships that oppress and chain us.
The key to the liberating power of Eros Eleutherio is precisely in its ability to break ties, to break chains, to break what keeps us in a relationship that deprives us of our own freedom. But that liberating power also breaks what binds us to our own fears, to the chains that we put on ourselves. The first relationship we have is with ourselves and that is that we ourselves can be the first to enslave ourselves, prohibit ourselves and submit to ideas, stereotypes, fears, etc.
Love will set us free
El poder de Eros Eleuterio nace del amor y el amor es lo que nos hará libres. Sí, ya sé que esta frase puede sonar algo naïf pero tiene más trascendencia de la que podemos ver a simple vista. El amor, sobre todo cuando nos amamos a nosotros mismos, nos da el valor para cuidarnos, para cuidar y proteger a otros, para establecer límites. Cuando amamos algo queremos que ese algo o alguien esté bien y parte de ese bienestar incluye la libertad.
The power of Eros Eleutherio is born from love and love is what will set us free. Yes, I know that this phrase may sound somewhat naive but it has more significance than we can see with the naked eye. Love, especially when we love ourselves, gives us the courage to take care of ourselves, to take care and protect others, to set boundaries. When we love something we want that something or someone to be well and part of that well-being includes freedom.
Zeus with the epithet Eleutherio consecrated a party to him commemorating the victory in a battle that sustains the Greeks to maintain their freedom. To Eros with the epithet Eleutherio we can consecrate each and every one of the battles that help us to keep free all the things that matter to us from our loved ones to ourselves, passing through the well-being and general freedom of others.
Love will set us free because it impels us to fight for freedom. This fight does not have to be a passive fight, on the contrary, it urges us to be an active fight in which we rebel against what oppresses us, enslaves us, discriminates us and sets us apart so that others can benefit from our situation. Loving ourselves and loving others is the force that allows us to fight for freedom.
Freedom and fighting for it can be one of the greatest acts of love that we can experience. Eros Eleuterio is the one who governs this type of fight from the heart, he is the one who encourages our steps to free ourselves from hatred, discrimination and oppression. The fire of the torches, one of the attributes of Eros Eleuterio, is the one who will guide us to break the chains that hold us. We must never forget that freedom is an immeasurable act of love.