Cupid – Symbol of the Valentine´s Day
Valentine´s Day is not only about hearts and flowers, there is another and, probably, most famous symbol of Valentine´s Day – a little angel, armed with bow and arrows, Cupid. Through the movies and cartoons this character is portrayed as misbehaving and childish angel who makes people fall in love by shooting the arrows at them. These arrows are symbol of love emotions and desires.
There are many cards or Valentine gifts that depict this little angel, and we immediately associate this angel with the name Cupid. However, it will come as a surprise to many that Cupid was not an angel, not even a Christian, even though the celebration of Valentine´s Day is a celebration of Christian saint Valentine. Cupid is older than the Valentine´s Day tradition, he was associated with love even before we picked February 14th as the day of love.
Cupid, or Eros, was present back in the ancient times. What Cupid was for Romans, that was Eros in ancient Greece. He was the son of Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, who was called Venus in Roman mythology. How ancient Cupid became the little angel we know today it is not really a well-known fact. There are many myths associated with goddess of love and god of love. We never associate or depict Eros the same way as Cupid. Moreover, we present Eros as more passionate and even erotic individual. Although they are the same character in two different mythologies, we never connect them or present them in a same way.
Nevertheless, there is a story in Roman mythology that will make us think about what we really know about Cupid. This story will probably provide us with different perspective on love and Cupid, we know today.
Story of Cupid and Psyche
Goddess of love and beauty, Venus was jealous of the beauty of a woman named Psyche. She was a mortal, so she ordered Cupid to punish her. Unfortunately, for Venus, Cupid fell in love with Psyche and took her as a wife. Being a mortal, Psyche was forbidden to look at Cupid. However, this did not bother her, until her sisters convinced her to look at him. Once she looked at Cupid, he left her because she was not following his rules. Everything that she had disappeared and she wandered around trying to find any sign of Cupid. Finally, she reached Venus´ temple who gave her many hard and dangerous tasks to solve. Venus was eager to kill her, not help her find Cupid. However, Psyche was able to solve task after task. The last one was to go to the underworld and take the little box in which she needed to put some beauty of Proserpine, who was the wife of Pluto. Knowing her curiosity, Venus instructed her not to open the box before. Psyche could not resist the temptation and instead of beauty in the box, she found death. Cupid was sad, but managed to forgive Psyche as well as his mother. This forgiveness was the act that gods appreciated and gave Psyche an eternal life of a goddess.
As it is already mentioned, we have different depictions of Cupid, but the one remained as the most accepted – Cupid as angel, shooting his small heart arrows at people. If you ever wondered why you doodle heart pierced with arrow, now you know. The arrow is from Cupid. Many artists through the past depicted Cupid as a mischievous boy. As a result, we today automatically associate Cupid with a little boy with curly blond hair, playing around with bow and arrows, randomly shooting at people.
He is one of the most popular holiday symbols, recognized by almost everyone. Only Santa is more popular symbol of a holiday. However, they both spread love and happiness, and it is a positive thing that everyone knows who Santa and Cupid are. If we can believe that Santa exists, then why not believe that Cupid does to and that he will manage to send his arrow our way at some point, if he has not already.
Cupid was depicted in many popular movies, series and cartoons. They are probably responsible for fact that we immediately associate him with this lovely and misbehaving child. On the other hand, a very small number of people know the story of Cupid and Psyche, and how love and forgiveness can change everything. These things are worth cherishing and practicing and it would be probably for the best to remember the next time we see or hear about the Cupid.