Rob Buckley, who is a wonderful human being and whose comments I always adore reading on my posts (even if he disagrees or sets me straight on something) has left me another comment, this time on the valentine's day post about Eros. I wanted to reply to that, as well as get some more attention for it because what he has to say is well worth the read. Let me post the part of his comment I would like to address today:

"It's good that you provide sources for all the quotes, too, since rather than provide a blanket 'this is what myth said' statement about Eros, it allows your readers to determine for themselves which quotes are the most trustworthy! I know in Hellenism that people place varying degrees of reliability on myth, some disregarding almost altogether as just stories, others (like me) regarding them as important illuminations of the gods, albeit one's that need considerable scrutiny.

Personally, I worry about the use of later, particularly AD sources but even tragedian and post-tragedian sources for myths. There's a worry tendency (one the later Greeks themselves were prone to) to synthesise everything together to create one story, regardless of when the original stories were written, who wrote them and so on. Indeed, people now seem to think that if a story is

1) Old
2) Written about the gods

That makes it a myth and necessarily a descriptor of the gods!

So with Nonnus, who lived in Egypt in either the 4th or 5th century AD, was a Christian (although he may have only converted to Christianity while he was writing The Dionysiaca) is very unreliable as a source. Indeed, HJ Rose says the Dionysiaca is "interesting as the longest and most elaborate example we have of Greek myths in their final stage of degeneracy," but cautions that "anyone who uses Nonnos as a handbook to any sort of normal and genuinely classical mythology will be grievously misled".

Equally, Apuleius was a Roman writer and although there is definitely a story involving Psyche and Eros attested to from as early as the 4th century BC in Greek art, the version in the Golden Ass is the first literary version we have and obviously involves Cupid and Psyche, not Eros and Psyche, and probably isn't in any sense the same as the the story of Eros and Psyche. Pausanias, of course, was a Greek travel writer of the 2nd century AD and while he's very useful in some senses, particularly in terms of what he records on his travels of ritual and worship, he also tends to get things wrong a lot about myths.

Personally, I usually prefer to look to Gantz's Early Greek Myths first, since that tells us who said what and when, rather than trying to synthesise everything into an equally valid whole. [...]"

I always, always, always try to source my quotes. There are very few things I find more frustrating than finding a quote, running it through Google to find the source because it isn't provided and coming up with repeats of the unsourced quote. It happens sometimes, especially when the words are common. Besides the frustration, though, sourcing allows my readers to destinguish if the quote is of value to them. I try to include at least the century in which the author was alive, but I sometims forget to do that. A quick Wiki search, though, and you should be able to establish it easily.

I have spoken before about selecting practices based on the time period you choose to reconstruct. The reign of the Hellenes lasted for roughly 650 years. During that time, several major changes took place within the culture and religion of these people. Trying to reconstruct all these practices is not only impractical but also impossible. As a Hellenic Recon, it therefor becomes important to find out which classical, Hellenic, period speaks to us. this will also have areflection on which sources we view as reliable for the mythology we choose to accept as true, and if we even consider mythology as true at all. Depending on the time period we reconstruct, we either find more value in mythology or philosophy, we accept the plays as (true) stories of our Gods, we accept Roman sources, or Egyptian-Hellenic ones, and so on. This is a personal choice and because i can't make it for you, I try to provide a little bit of everything.

When I write mythology posts, I often try to build a story. I leave out terribly conflicting views and pick the most commonly used version where possible. Hellenic myth is a fractured mess, to be honest, and every single myth has alternate versions. When I'm doing an actual portrait of a God, Goddess, or myth, I include all those alternates, but for a valentine's day post meant as a kind of summary, I don't. Often the variations lie in parenthood and the little details, but sometimes there are entire alternate endings where people do or do not die, do or do not find love, or do or do not kill someone. I always try to add a 'most often [this version of the myth] was retold'-disclaimer, indicating there were most certainly others.

Establishing reliability in myth is hard. Personally, I take no issue with authors like Nonnus, who were alive when Hellenic mythology was on its last legs. He is not the most Traditional of sources (and yes, I should have definitely added a little disclaimer with the name), but he builds upon older sources; Apollonius Rhodius (3rd B.C.), in his Argonautica [3.28], for example, makes mention of them. Gantz's Early Greek Myths is a fantastic reference work and serious student of Hellenic myth should engage with. It's impossible to read it for entertainment, I feel (but others will disagree, I'm sure), but you will never be lost in Hellenic mythology again.

The rest of Rob's post is about Eros himself, and can be read here. I very much recommend you do so, as it's valuable.

There will alwas be problematic Hellenic, Roman, and Egyptian sources. We're lucky to have enough written sources that have survived to label anything as 'problematic', so I try to concious of the problem parts, but don't avoid them. Even if one of these ancient writers stretched the common tale, his or her version was still enjoyed by some, if not many, and it reflected thoughts of the time--even if it did not match the overall mythology to a tee. It's good to remain sceptical of the acient writers, and to always question a source, but if a problematic source makes you feel closer to the Theoi, then who am I to judge? Thank you, Rob, for another interesting comment!