The story of Cupid - the God of Love pt. 1
I believe someone out there in this vast world filled with this suspiciously rising body count other than me is wondering why Cupid is shown as a baby shooting arrows at people making them fall in love. Fortunately, I am motivated by some belated Valentine’s Day curiosity mixed with sprouted from childhood and transferring to my adulthood enthusiasm about mythologies, to dedicate this article to finding out about Cupid. How did he become a baby/little boy shooting arrows through medically unrealistic, red-shaped hearts, surrounding people with love everywhere he goes? While, in fact, he is an irresistible god of love who was once in love himself.
Cupid’s name comes from the Latin word cupido meaning ‘passionate desire’ - in Greek mythology he was known as Eros. He is the son of the goddess of beauty Venus who is also known as Aphrodite in other texts. Cupid was indeed carryinga golden arrow and bow. He did not live in the land of mortals, as he was among the gods on Olympus living his best life. Cupid’s arrows had the power to cause both desire and repulsion - hitting anyone with even the tip of his arrow would evoke strong emotions of love or hate. In a very mischievous and cruel manner, Cupid shot one of his golden arrows at Apollo making him fall in love with the nymph Daphne whilst letting off not a gold but leaden arrow towards the nymph causing her to be repulsed by Apollo. Seems like Cupid was set up to stir the gods. The god of love had many images, most of them portraying him as an angelic winged figure. So far, we see that his depiction in popular culture seems coherent with his mythological image. However, he was completely transformed when Romans took the Greek texts and turned Eros into Cupid, turning a handsome and threatening immortal into a lovable kid. In the Greek legends, Aphrodite grew more powerful over time while Eros simply followed along to his mother’s wishes. In the Roman retelling, it made sense that he was no longer an intimidating god but rather a mischievous little boy. From then on, he kept his Peter Pan-esque image rising to popularity during the Renaissance period and throughout the advent of Valentine’s Day as a holiday. Furthermore, Cupid’s popularity skyrocketed as a capitalist symbol of love – he began showing up in posters, postcards, mugs, and every Valentine’s Day couples’ package.
Equally enticing as his visual transformation is Cupid’s love story – ironically, he got himself shot by his own arrow of passion. The story of Cupid and Psyche couldn’t possibly be summarized in a few simple words. In typical Greek mythology fashion, the story is filled with illogical and mystical elements, and it wouldn’t serve it justice if I were to just briefly mention it. In the second part, I will delve into the love of Cupid for Psyche and their journey.