“I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon."
Cupid wasn’t always portrayed as a short chubby toddler.
In Roman mythology Cupid is a god, the god of desire, affection and erotic love, the son of the goddess Venus and the god Mars. Greek mythology has an equivalent god, Eros, the god both of sexual love and beauty and the embodiment of the constant creative urge of nature. Eros is the son of Aphrodite and Ares.
Cupid was usually portrayed as a young male with wings, nude or diapered and armed with a bow and a quiver of arrows. The depictions of Cupid as a young man usually show him with a female, Psyche. In both Roman and Greek mythology, Cupid’s mother Venus became jealous of the mortal princess Psyche, who was so loved by her subjects that they forgot to worship Venus. She orders Cupid to make her fall in love with an evil monster. Cupid turns himself invisible and sneaks into her room where he prepares to scratch her arm with an arrow. She awakes before he is able to do so and, despite his being invisible, she looks straight into his eyes. He is started and accidentally scratches himself, causing him to fall deeply in love with Psyche. He reports this to Venus, who becomes enraged and curses Psyche that she will never marry. Cupid, in love and hurting, resolves never to shoot any further arrows, thereby causing Venus’s temple to fall. Months pass and no one, human or animal, marries, falls in love or mates. The earth begins to grow old. Eventually Venus is persuaded to allow Psyche to be Cupid’s and he begins shooting arrows again, restoring the earth and relationships. Psych is still subject to the curse not to marry. Cupid visits her at night but will not allow her to see him or be aware of him. Eventually, after many dramas and events, the leader of the gods, Jupiter, gives Psyche immortality and she is able to be with Cupid. They have a daughter, Voluptas or Hedone (meaning pleasure).
Psyche Revived by Love’s Kiss, by Antonio Canova (1757-1822), now in the Louvre
Some further points of interest:
• Cupid means desire, love;
• Psyche means soul.
• Cupid had two kinds of arrows: one was golden with dove feathers that caused instant love; the other was lead with owl feathers that caused indifference.
• The line of the top lip is known as a Cupid’s Bow;
• Amanda Bratton and Kellan Burrell are credited with creating the concept of Anticupid, the consequences someone receives on Valentine's Day for making poor relationship choices that year.
• According to the Urban Dictionary, the term also means:
"The opposite of a matchmaker. Someone with nothing better to do than break up a couple or at least make mischief, make problems, or make matters worse for them. Usually someone is an anti-cupid because the he/she is an ex, holds a grudge, or maybe even has no reason at all. Anti-cupids are often people a person or their significant other considers a 'friend'. "
Vintage Valentines Day card.