Valentine’s Day is the one day in the year that is romantic, people asking each other to be their valentine, spending the evening in a posh restaurant with candlelight or taking a splendid cruise along a moon-lit river.
Lovers dream of finding their soul-mates and believe this is only possible by the wishes of Cupid. He has been the symbol of Valentine’s Day for a very long time but do you have any idea how this all came about?
As Valentine’s Day approaches, this little chubby figure is shown everywhere you look. Cupid is considered the winged hero of romance, carrying his trusty bow and arrows looking to connect true lovers everywhere he goes.
But do you really know anything about this legendary character?
Even though he is now the symbol of love and romance, his sojourn to this place was very long with many ups and downs. His existence goes back to the ancient Greeks when he was then known as Eros, the god of love.
According to Greek mythology, he was the son of Aphrodite, playing tricks on gods and mortals alike. Not all in the nicest ways either.
According to History.Com, in one story, Cupid caused the god Apollo to fall in love with the nymph Daphne then ensured their love was unanswered. In other stories, he could be quite dangerous!
In another story, Aphrodite was very jealous of the mortal woman Psyche who Eros falls in love with. Aphrodite tricked Eros into placing a spell on this woman and, not surprisingly, the story does not have a happy ending.
In some cases, Eros was believed to be a female figure with wings which was actually Psyche.
According to Catherine Connors, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Washing, the Greek word for soul is the same word for “butterfly”. Therefore, it’s believed the soul has wings or is a winged being.
The premise that Eros and Psyche were in love was a way to express the thought that being in love transforms us as people.
Originally, Eros was seen as a very handsome, irresistible god, then in the Hellenistic period, he appeared as a chubby child as we know him today.
The Birth of Cupid by Master of Flora @Shutterstock
How this came about, the idea that love is fleeting represents Eros with wings goes back to ancient times. Eros appearing as a child and subordinate of his mother, Aphrodite, limiting the power that love was believed to have over mortals.
The transformation took place in the 4th century BCE. People were intimidated by this sexually powered winged man who could turn people into loving each other.
That said, once he appeared as only acting on his mother’s wishes, he just wasn’t that powerful anymore.
At some point in time, the Romans chose Eros as one of their own and changed his name to Cupid, He became the son of the Roman goddess Venus due to the structure of the Roman gods.
Although his name changes, the Romans kept him as a less-threatening chubby winged child.
That said, the Romans did not underestimate his power even though Cupid was considered very young, the power of love remained very strong.
The Roman poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses said cupid had golden arrows that caused people to fall in love and also rejected love.
Cupid has shown up in literature for centuries and is associated with greeting cards as well as in more serious written stories.
Probably the most extensive work representing Cupid was a novel written in Latin around 160 CE by Apuleius who was from Northern Africa.
The character in the novel tells the story of Psyche’s arrival at Cupid’s mysterious, luxurious home where she is waited on by invisible servants. She never sees Eros during the day but they sleep together at night.
Wanting to see him in the light, Psyche uses a lamp to look at Cupid but accidentally spills oil on him. She goes through many trials until they are eventually reunited and are married.
Cupid’s stories do not end there. There was another literary work that created what was to become a modern classic. Cupid and Psyche are the leading part of the classic story “Beauty and the Beast” written in 1740 by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve.
Strangely enough, the dancing teapot and candlestick from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast were symbolized as Cupid’s invisible servants waiting on Psyche.
Cupid Becomes The Mascot For Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day has been seen as a celebration of love and romance for many centuries and Cupid seemed to fit the bill for the mascot.
In a poem about birds written by Chaucer, it has become associated with Valentine’s day with love and drawings depicting Eros or Cupid with his mother, the goddess of love, and became available in Valentine’s cards that were commercially printed in the mid-19th century.
Cupid has lasted a really long time and despite his rather complicated past, romantics everywhere love the notion of this mischievous, well-intentioned child flying around and matching up those who are destined to fall in love.
In this day and age, he is a much kinder character who uses his power for good not evil.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, stock up on your greeting cards, candies, flowers, and all the trimmings that celebrate this wonderful day.
Eros, Cupid, and all the stories surrounding both have placed them throughout history for lovers to look to search for love and for everyone else to just sit back and enjoy!