Venus, Roman Goddess of Love: Importance & Mythology

Venus, Roman Goddess of Love: Importance & Mythology
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  • 0:00 Background on Venus
  • 1:11 Venus in Roman Mythology
  • 2:20 Venus in Roman Society
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Venus was the goddess of love, but why was she so important to the Romans? In this lesson, we'll look at both her mythology and role in Roman society and see how her mythology defined Rome.

Background on Venus

Ah, love. This enchanting, frustrating, consuming experience has fascinated people throughout human history. Love is such a powerful emotion that, in a great number of ancient religions, it was personified as an actual deity. Now, when you think of love and places to fall in love, Italy has to be at the top of the list. So, it's no surprise that the Roman goddess of love, Venus, was one of the most important deities of the ancient Romans.

Although many Roman gods were uniquely Italian, Venus was one of the few that very heavily borrowed from Greek mythology, and was essentially the Roman version of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Still, Venus had a few traits that Aphrodite did not, also being recognized as a goddess of victory, fertility, and in some parts of Italy, gardens. However, throughout Rome, Venus was a very important goddess, worshipped by lovers and hopefuls alike. She could be vengeful, she could be sweet, she could be cruel or mischievous or kind. As a deity, Venus could be frustrating at times, but as they say, that's amore.

Venus in Roman Mythology

Venus was a very popular deity to the Romans, so she appears frequently throughout Roman mythology. As the goddess of love, it's probably not surprising that she generally appears as a lover. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Where did she come from? According to most Roman sources, Venus was born, fully grown, from the sea. Venus' father, Uranus, was castrated by Saturn, and when the blood fell into the sea and mixed with the foam, Venus was born.

She was the embodiment of love and beauty and, of course, had many suitors. Throughout Roman mythology, Venus continually appears as the lover of various deities and often the mother of their children. With Hermes, she had Hermaphroditos. With Mars, she had Timor, Metus, Concordia, and the Cupids. With Bacchus, she had Priapus, a fertility god. However, there was one god with whom Venus never had any children: her husband. Venus was married to Vulcan, god of the forge. Vulcan was unattractive and often unkind, and their marriage was loveless and without children. Thus, jealousy is another theme often associated with the stories of Venus.

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