One of London’s most famous landmarks – the Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus has had something of a weapons upgrade this week, as his famous bow has been replaced, and he is now kitted out with a shiny new aluminium replacement. Like Katniss Everdeen, he’s fit and ready to pierce us with his arrows once more with devastating accuracy.
If you were wrestling with the crowds earlier this year crossing Piccadilly you may have noticed that the figure was a bit denuded of his archery kit. Westminster City Council had to engage with some repairs – presumably after some over-enthusiastic handling by a member of the public.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg gave us an update: ‘Westminster is home to many of the UK’s most famous and popular landmarks, and the council works hard to keep our statues, monuments and public spaces looking their best at all times.
‘I’m pleased that Eros has finally been reunited with his bow and that residents and visitors can once again enjoy the iconic centrepiece of Piccadilly Circus.’
Eros is the god of love in Greek mythology who fires arrows indiscriminately into mere mortals to set their passions aflame, which really explains a lot about some of our mates’ Hinge choices (hence ‘erotic’). But – pedantry alert! – the statue in Piccadilly Circus was never actually intended to be Eros. Yup, we know. It’s actually a depiction of Anteros, Eros’s little brother and more philanthropic ‘god of selfless love’. It was created by sculptor Alfred Gilbert back in 1892, and has a bronze base and an aluminium body, the first casting of its kind. It was considered a bit racy at the time being nude and all that.
Luckily, it was generally well received by critics, with a nineteenth-century version of Time Out’s own Eddy Frankel (if marginally less sweary) describing it in the Magazine of Art as ‘a striking contrast to the dull ugliness of the generality of our street sculpture’. Phew!
The London public agreed and he’s become one of our most loved and recognisable public statues, but he’ll always be Eros to us – proving that even in the days before ‘Love Island’ and ‘Naked Attraction’ we were all more interested in carnal pleasures than ‘selfless love’.
Piccadilly Circus might be busy, but Big Ben is the most photographed London landmark.
Inspired by Eros’s scanties? London’s naked bike rides might pique your interest.