Origin and Background:
- Greek Roots: Before the Romans embraced him, Cupid was known to the Greeks as Eros, the handsome god of love. Hesiod, an early Greek author, described Eros as one of the primeval cosmogonic deities born from the world egg. His lineage varies across accounts, with different parentage attributions—ranging from Nyx and Erebus to Aphrodite and Ares, or even Iris and Zephyrus. Armed with a bow and quiver, Eros played with the hearts of gods and mortals, using golden arrows to ignite desire and leaden arrows to spark aversion.
- Roman Adaptation: The Romans adopted Eros and renamed him Cupid. In Roman culture, Cupid was the child of Venus (Aphrodite), the goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war. Interestingly, Venus was not only associated with love but also with “sexual intercourse” and “procreation” in ancient texts. The name “Cupid,” derived from the Latin verb “cupere,” signifies desire, love, or lust.
Mythology and Stories:
Cupid and Psyche:
- In this enchanting tale, Cupid’s mother, Venus, grew jealous of the mortal beauty Psyche. She instructed Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a monster. However, Cupid himself fell deeply in love with Psyche. They married under the condition that Psyche could never see his face. Curiosity got the better of her, and she stole a glance, causing Cupid to flee in anger. After a series of trials, Psyche was eventually reunited with Cupid and granted immortality.
- This story symbolizes the transformative power of love and the trials faced by mortal souls in their pursuit of divine union.
Apollo and Daphne:
- In another myth, Cupid (Eros) shot a golden arrow at Apollo, causing him to fall madly in love with the nymph Daphne. However, Cupid also launched a leaden arrow at Daphne, making her repulsed by Apollo. The chase between Apollo and Daphne resulted in her transformation into a laurel tree. This story highlights the dual nature of love—both passionate and fleeting.
Legacy and Symbolism:
- Cupid’s cherubic form, popularized by 19th-century Victorians, adorns Valentine’s Day cards to this day. His bow and arrows symbolize innocent love, desire, and the unpredictable nature of affection.
- Whether as Eros or Cupid, this mischievous deity continues to weave his magic, reminding us that love transcends time and boundaries.