Since Valentine’s Day is almost here, I thought to do an article on Cupid. Cupid evolved in Roman mythology and is known as the god of desire, affection, and erotic love. He is the son of the Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Although Cupid’s paternity is vague, he is often believed to be the son of Mars, the god of war. Although, Mercury (the winged messenger of the gods) is often mentioned in regards to Cupid, since he was the one who educated Cupid. Cupid’s Greek counterpart is Eros. Cupid is known in Latin as Amor (Love).
As the myth is portrayed, Cupid carries the famous bow and love loaded arrows. Any person or deity shot by one of these arrows is filled with uncontrollable desire. In Greek Classical art, Eros was often shown as a slender youth with wings, but during the Hellenistic period he was more often shown as a chubby boy.
Cupid’s ability to compel love and desire plays roles in myths and literature. Cupid’s popularity continued through the Middle Ages, and under Christian influence he had dual natures as Heavenly and Earthly love. During the Renaissance period, classical philosophy endowed him with symbolic meanings. In painting and sculpture, Cupid is often portrayed nude. Though generally considered unselfish, Cupid was a known mischief-maker, and often this mischief was done in accordance to his mother, to whom he was a constant companion. According to legend, Cupid carried two types of arrows, those filled with romantic love and those filled erotic love. The Golden Arrow signified true love, whereas the Leaden Arrow signified sensual passion.
Cupid only had one child with the maiden princess, Psyche. The myth portrays Psyche as a princess who was so great in beauty that her people begin to treat her as a goddess, even making sacrifices in the mortal Psyche’s honor. This in turn angered Venus who sends Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with an ugly mortal. Cupid reluctantly agrees and flies to Psyche’s bedside, but as he’s about to shoot, he scratches himself with the arrow, thus causing himself to fall in love with her. Upon their marriage, she too became immortal. Their daughter’s name was Voluptus, who was known as the goddess of sensual pleasure, desire, and bliss.
In modern culture, Cupid is shown with his bow and arrows, inspiring romantic love. And of course he is one of Valentine’s Day foremost icons.