Since we are coming up on Valentine’s Day, and the holiday is all about love and passion, I thought it would be fun to chat about Cupid this week. Now, I know that you might be picturing a chubby winged baby carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows, but Cupid didn’t start out that way according to ancient myth. He technically didn’t start out as Cupid since the Romans decided to rename Eros, the Greek god of love for their own tales. The stories of Cupid AKA Eros are similar in Roman and Greek mythology, but for today’s post, I will be focusing on the Greek version of the myth.
Stories of Eros date back to around 700 BC, where he is mentioned in Hesiod’s work Theogony. Hesiod describes Eros as one of the primeval deities born from the world egg, however, his lineage varies from story to story. One thing that seems to be agreed upon is that Eros was armed with a bow and quiver full of arrows made of both gold and lead, and he could use these arrows to toy with the emotions of human and gods alike. Anyone shot with the golden arrow would feel desire, whereas anyone shot with the lead arrow would be averse to the attention of those who were smitten.
One of the most famous stories involves Ero’s mother Aphrodite (Venus in Roman myth) who became so jealous of a mortal princess, Psyche, that she sent her son to cause the woman to fall in love with a monster. He snuck into Psyche’s room, and gazed upon her, accidentally pricking himself with a golden arrow as she awakened. He immediately fell in love, and later when Psyche was brought to him, he made her promise that she would never try to look at him. After a time of having relations in the dark, and listening to the bad advice of her jealous sisters, she broke her promise and took a sneak peek at the man she had married. Eros abandoned her, and it took many years of searching and the completion of trials given to her by the gods before Psyche finally was reunited with her love and was made immortal. Their daughter, Hedone (Voluptas in Roman myth), is the goddess of sensual pleasures.
By the Hellenistic period, Eros AKA Cupid was depicted as a mischievous child, even though is strange to think of him that way, especially since his name means “desire” in Latin. Most of the artistic impressions of him show him as a chubby winged boy chasing butterflies or throwing darts. While he may like to toy with the emotions of others, the romantic in me likes to think of him as a loving young man, and that he and Psyche defied all odds to find everlasting love. A love that eventually warranted a constellation in the night skies,, which is super cool if you think of it! Not many couples I know can top that!
The story of Eros and Psyche is a bit more involved than I could go through in this post, so do yourself a favor and check out this video. Suffice it to say, Psyche had to go through a lot to get back into her husband’s good graces. I suppose had she listened to him in the first place, she wouldn’t have had to go through so many trials, but such is the nature of the Greek myths. There is always a lesson to learn and a god to anger. I’m glad that Psyche eventually got through to Eros and got her happily-ever-after, we romance writers wouldn’t have it any other way!
Hope everyone has a love filled Valentine’s Day and may Cupid’s golden arrows be kind to you!
Happy Writing! XO