The mention of Cupid usually conjures up images of a baby cherub wielding a bow and arrows, but this was not always the case. Long before the Romans adopted and renamed him – and long before his association with Valentine’s Day – Cupid was known to the Greeks as Eros, the beautiful god of love.
One of the first authors to mention Eros (circa 700 BC) was Hesiod, who described him in “Theogony” as one of the primitive cosmogonic deities born from the egg of the world. But later accounts of Eros’ lineage vary, describing him as the son of Nyx and Erebus; or Aphrodite and Ares; or Iris and Zephyrus; or even Aphrodite and Zeus – who would have been both his father and his grandfather.
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Armed with a bow and quiver filled with both golden arrows to arouse desire and lead arrows to ignite aversion, Eros struck the hearts of gods and mortals and played with their emotions. In a story from ancient Greek mythology, which was later told by Roman authors, Cupid (Eros) shot a golden arrow at Apollo, who fell madly in love with the nymph Daphne, but then launched a lead arrow on Daphne to be pushed back. by him.
In another allegory, Cupid’s mother, Venus (Aphrodite), became so jealous of the beautiful and deadly Psyche that she told her son to make Psyche fall in love with a monster. Instead, Cupid fell so in love with Psyche that he married her – provided she could never see his face. Eventually, Psyche’s curiosity got the better of her and she stole a glance, causing Cupid to flee in anger. After traveling the known world in search of her lover, Psyche finally found Cupid and obtained the gift of immortality.
In the poetry of the Archaic period, Eros was portrayed as an immortal student irresistible both to man and to the gods. But in Hellenistic times he was increasingly portrayed as a mischievous and mischievous child. Due to its associations with love, 19th-century Victorians – credited with popularizing Valentine’s Day and giving the holiday its romantic side – began to depict this cherubic version of Cupid on Valentine’s Day cards. in a trend that has persisted to this day.
READ MORE: The Story of Valentine’s Day