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[Greek mythology]
  • Roman god of love
  • cupid is latin for "desire" {cupido}
  • son of Venus (goddess of love and beauty) & Mercury
  • companion to Venus
  • Cupid's brother was Anteros (the revenger of slighted love; also, the symbol of requited love/ reciprocal affection)
  • Cupid and Psyche (Greek word for "butterfly"; English word for "soul")

For Lupercalia (A Roman feast day celebrating fertility 
observed on February 15), a short history of Cupid:

CUPID ("cupido", Latin for "desire") was a 
lesser god of Olympus to the Romans. 

In Roman mythology, Cupid (also called Amor) was the god of love, 
often represented as a small, winged boy, blindfolded 
(as "love is blind"), carrying bow and arrows. 

The arrows, once they struck someone's heart, 
made the victim fall in love.

Our current image of Cupid as a winged cherub is primarily based
on images from painters of the Rennaissance. Though Cupid was often
a boy in Roman myth, the images of winged, rosy-faced
babies may be based more on a small group of winged infants 
who often accompanied Cupid called the AMORINI (or Amoretti; 
"the messengers of love").

To the Romans, Cupid was the personification of "falling in love."

In later stories, he was the son of VENUS (goddess of beauty), 
and his father was either MARS (god of war) or MERCURY 
(the messenger of Jupiter and god of commerce and wrestling). 

Some traditions say that he was born from a silver egg. 

In one story, Venus complained to THEMIS (god of law and justice) 
that Cupid remained a cherubic lad and never grew older, and she 
was told that it was because he was isolated from other children 
and that if he had a brother, he would become an adult.  
Soon thereafter, Venus had a second son, ANTEROS 
(sometimes represented as an avenger of slighted love and 
sometimes as the opposer of love, the god who puts obstacles in the
path of lovers).  Cupid immediately grew in size and strength. 

A second century (A.D.) Roman named Apuleius wrote an allegorical tale
of the union of love (Cupid) and the soul (Psyche), in which Cupid
was a young man. But Apuleius apparently believed none of what 
he wrote, and meant it more as a pretty "fairy tale" than 
as mythological doctrine (though he may have adapted the 
story from earlier myths). The story of Cupid and Psyche has two 
main elements: the "beauty and the beast" prototype, and 
the "trials of Psyche", the seemingly impossible tasks 
imposed on Psyche by Venus as Psyche attempts to win back her love.

((You can find the "Bulfinch's Mythology" version of the 
Cupid and Psyche story at 
though it takes some liberties with the translation of the Roman story.))

To the Romans Cupid was an innocent (a child), though sometimes 
mischievous and a "naughty boy".
To the ancient Greeks however, the god Eros, (whom the Romans 
coopted as Cupido) was a older, more terrible god. 
Eros was one of the oldest of the gods, born from Chaos and 
originally was the god personifying creative power and harmony
(perhaps comparable with the "yang/yin" of ancient Chinese philosophy). 
Plato called him the first of the gods. 
Eros was not a child of Aphrodite(Venus), but only found with her 
occasionally. Among the Greeks, not only Hermaphrodite but Eros 
too were in sex both male and female.

Eros was no meddlesome child to the Greeks, but a powerful god to be 
feared and to entreat: his/her arrows burned with the fire of lust 
and madness as well as romance, at its worst capable of
driving men and women to betrayal of their families or 
countries, to rape, to murder, to suicide... 
Later poets, writing of Cupid, remembered this more ancient interpretation:

	"Evil is his heart, but honey-sweet his tongue.

	No truth in him, the rogue. He is cruel in his play.

	Small are his hands, yet his arrows fly far as death.

	Tiny his shaft, but it carries heaven-high.

	Touch not his treacherous gifts, they are dipped in fire."

This was the "terrible Aspect" of Eros, known as Anteros (not so much Eros'
brother, but another incarnation of Eros). But Eros had all of the 
positive aspects of love as well. In attendance upon him/her were 
Himeros (Longing) and Hymen, the "God of the Wedding Feast".

Hesiod (Greek poet, 8th cent. B.C.) called Eros

	"Fairest of the deathless gods."

Later, by the time of Plato (Greek philosopher, 4th cent. B.C.) Eros'
image had softened:

	"Love - Eros - makes his home in men's hearts, but not

	in every heart, for where the is hardness he departs.

	...he cannot do wrong...For all men serve him of their

	own free will. And he whom Love touches not

	walks in darkness."

Eros/Cupid became the personification of love in ALL its manifestations, 
including physical passion at its strongest; 
tender, romantic love; and playful, sportive love.

In closing, I will leave you with one story of a vengeful Cupid:
DAPHNE was APOLLO's first love, which was brought about not by 
accident but by Cupid's malice.  Apollo, the god of music, was 
elated with his victory over Python.  When he saw Cupid playing with 
his bow and arrows, he offended the young god by asking him to 
leave such weaponry to men worthy of them and mandated that 
Cupid not meddle with his armory.  Piqued by Apollo's insolence, 
Cupid unveiled two arrows of different workmanship from his 
quiver -- one to excite love, the other to repel it.  With 
the repellent arrow, he shot DAPHNE, daughter of the river god 
PENEUS, and with the arrow of love, he shot Apollo through the heart.  

From that moment onward, the god was seized with love for the young 
maiden, while she abhorred the thought of loving.  His pursuit of her 
led them into a hysterical and frenetic chase -- he on the wings 
of love, and she on those of fear.  Her strength beginning to fail, 
Daphne begged her father (the river god) to alter her form and 
immediately she was transformed into a tree, to Apollo's despair.  

Happy Valentine's Day!

                                  {attributed to  Liberty Miller; Feb.12,1998}
Links to images:
--Psyche opens the golden box - J.W. Waterhouse painting

{{(c) 1998 Liberty Miller: please include this line in any reproductions or forwards}}
{{sources: "Mythology" by Edith Hamilton// "Bulfinch's Mythology"//
"The Hero With A Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell// The New Columbia Encyclopedia//
Compton's Encyclopedia// et al.}}