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A Pompeiian fresco of Peitho (left) taking Eros to Venus and Anteros, 1st century ADA Pompeiian fresco of Peitho (left) taking Eros to Venus and Anteros, 1st century AD

In Greek mythology, Peitho is the goddess who personifies persuasion and seduction. Her Roman name is Suadela. Pausanias reports that after the unification of Athens, Theseus set up a cult of Aphrodite Pandemos and Peitho on the south slope of Acropolis at Athens. Peitho, in her role as an attendant or companion of Aphrodite, was intimately connected to the goddess of love and beauty. Ancient artists and poets explored this connection in their works. The connection is even deeper in the context of Ancient Greek marriage because a suitor had to negotiate with the father of a young woman for her hand in marriage and offer a bridal price in return for her. The most desirable women drew many prospective suitors, and persuasive skill often determined their success.

Aphrodite and Peitho were sometimes conflated to a certain extent, with the name Peitho appearing in conjunction with, or as an epithet of, Aphrodite’s name. This helps to demonstrate how the relationship between persuasion and love (or desire) was important in Greek culture. Peitho’s ancestry is somewhat unclear. According to Hesiod in the Theogony, Peitho was the daughter of the Titans Tethys and Oceanus, which would make her an Oceanid and therefore sister of such notable goddesses as Dione, Doris, Metis, and Calypso. However, Hesiod’s classification of Peitho as an Oceanid is contradicted by other sources. She is most commonly considered a daughter of Aphrodite. Peitho was the wife of Hermes, the messenger of the gods.