Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Read this one over the weekend with regard to cupid being the symbol for romance & Valentine's Day. "When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is this little fat midget with wings coming at me with a weapon." I nearly fell over laughing and then wondered, just where did this idea that Cupid was all sweet and lovable come from. I ran this one past Walter, a fount of random information and he believes that cupid was the messenger for Aphrodite in Roman mythology. So off I went in search of the answer.

From Wikipedia comes the answer, which very much follows what Walter came up with (he really must have been paying attention during his Latin classes in high school):
In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of erotic love and beauty. The arrows are from painting and sculpture.

Throughout ancient mythological writing, there appear to be either two Cupids or two sides to the figure of Cupid. One is the son of Mars (Ares) and Venus (Aphrodite). He is a lively youth who delights in pranks and spreading love. The other is a son of Nyx and Erebus, known for riotous debauchery.

In the Roman version, Cupid was the son of Venus (goddess of love) and Mars (god of war), and in the Greek version he was the son of Aphrodite and was named Eros, the following story is almost identical in both cultures. He was often depicted with wings, a bow, and a quiver of arrows. When his mother got extremely jealous of the princess Psyche, who was so loved by her subjects that they forgot to worship Venus,[1] she ordered Cupid to make her fall in love with the ugliest and poorest man in the world. When Cupid saw Psyche, though, he was so overcome with her unnatural beauty that he dropped an arrow on his foot, and fell in love with her himself.

Following that, Cupid visited Psyche every night in his invisible form and told her not to try to see him. Psyche, though, incited by her two older sisters who told her Cupid was a monster, tried to look at him and angered Cupid. When he left, she looked all over the known world for him until at last the leader of the gods, Jupiter, gave Psyche the gift of immortality so that she could be with him. Together they had a daughter, Voluptas (pleasure) [2] and Psyche became a goddess of the soul."
Another source states:
"Cupid, Roman God of Love and perhaps the most famous of all Valentine symbols, has always played a role in the celebration of romance. As the son of Venus, he is often depicted as a mischievous, winged child whose arrows pierce the hearts of his victims, causing them to fall in love.

According to legend, Cupid's arrows come in two varieties: the Golden Arrow, which generally signifies true love, and the Leaden Arrow, which represents wanton and sensual passion. He is also known to sometimes carry a torch with which to inflame desire between men and women. Cupid is not always successful in his endeavors, however. Sometimes his arrows turn people away from those who fall in love with them.
As for our current image of Cupid:
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").

So, no matter which mythology that you choose to adhere to it appears that Cupid ultimately was quite the mischief maker who has been quite meddlesome in the affairs of the heart throughout the ages.

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