Cupid and Love
Historically, Cupid or ‘cupido’ was revered in Roman mythology as the god of love and beauty. As the son of Venus, who herself was the goddess of love, beauty and fertility, Cupid was actually thought to control the more lustful or erotic aspects of love, which is most likely the reason why his story has survived modern day transitions to become synonymous with Valentine’s Day. Indeed, Cupid is often conceived as a young winged god who, armed with a magical bow and arrow, exists in order to foment romance among humans.
The legend of Cupid is markedly similar to that of the Greek god, Eros, who embodied the forces of love, beauty and fertility in ancient Greek culture. According to various sources, Cupid was said to have been ordered by a jealous Venus to make the princess Psyche fall in love with the most repugnant thing he could find. However, such was Psyche’s beauty, Cupid instead fell in love with her and the two formed a relationship of sorts, although the young god of love knew that nothing could ever come of it. Nevertheless, after the pair separated following an argument, Psyche appealed to Jupiter - the god of all gods - who granted her immortality. Thus, Cupid and Psyche were free to reunite and spend eternity together. Furthermore, as with most romantic happy endings, the pair had a child together - Voluptas, goddess of pleasure.
Cupid has also been depicted in art and literature in various different ways throughout the years, although the predominant image of the god is that of a naked boy with wings who carries a bow and arrow. Indeed, in modern culture the classical depiction of Cupid, such as Caravaggio’s renowned ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’, is one that many people will find uncomfortable. Often resembling a baby boy, the traditional view of Cupid is one of a mischievous god whose perverse nature and nakedness are contrary to modern societal values of decency and sexual morality. Of course, it is worth noting that the classical depictions of Cupid do originate from a time in which children were afforded little protection in this context. Nevertheless, the view of Cupid as a playful and sometimes naughty young child has evolved only slightly over the centuries and it remains common for the god to be depicted in animated form as a naked child, albeit with markedly more decency. Cupid is also referenced heavily in literature and is often used as a symbol of the random nature of love and even sexual promiscuity.
Thus, it is not difficult to see how Cupid has become synonymous with Valentine’s Day, which is the one day of the year in which love, lust and romance are officially celebrated. In fact, aside from chocolate gifts, teddy bears, single red roses and candlelit meals for two, Cupid and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand. Furthermore, many people still cling to the notion that there is a god or spirit at work behind the scenes. Indeed, there are countless examples of the random nature of love - how chance encounters and improbable circumstances have contributed to couples finding romance. Of course, there are many other examples of people who have been unable to find love, regardless of their personal situation.
Therefore, either Cupid is as fickle as his early descriptions would lead people to believe or, more likely, the god is simply an aspect of the human need to find reason in seemingly random events. In fact, Cupid is very much a symbol of hope, as love can often seem impossible to many people. Thus, in the hearts and minds of many people, Cupid is a strong representation of the desire to find love. Nevertheless, it is advisable for those aiming to secure a relationship on Valentine’s Day to buy valentine cards, flowers, online chocolate and wine rather than rely on Cupid.
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