From God to Baby: The Story of Cupid

Raphaels Sistine Madonna Love Cherub stamp of 1986 - shows one of the cherubs

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Raphael’s Sistine Madonna Love Cherub stamp of 1986 – shows one of the cherubs

Jordan Brillhart, Staff Writer

We’ve all heard of Cupid: the diaper wearing baby with wings and arrows, but does anyone really know where that story started. Cupid’s story is rooted within Greek Mythology. Cupid was originally named Eros and was the son of Ares, the god of war, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Cupid is the god of desire and love. Cupid was a mischievous god interested in tangling with the love affairs of mortals and even other gods. He had arrows that created love and others that caused aversion. 

Eros even had a love interest of his own named Psyche. Their own love story is one of forbidden romance. Eros’s mother became jealous of the beautiful mortal and ordered her son to make her fall in love with a monster. When Eros sees the woman, he immediately falls in love with her.  Psyche has been prophesied by the gods to marry a monster. After her sisters marry, she becomes weary of her fate. However, Eros builds a beautiful palace for Psyche with the one rule that she may never see his face. Once she moves in, the two become married. Psyche’s sisters convince her that her husband could be the monster the gods prophesied she would marry. Psyche looks at Eros face one night while he’s sleeping and discovers she is married to a god. Eros becomes angry and leaves the woman homeless and alone. She begins to search for her husband and is eventually reunited with him. When she is reunited with him, she is granted immortality. The real question is: how did a handsome and threatening god become a baby that is now the image of Valentine’s Day.

When the story was converted to Roman, the god’s name was changed to Cupid, meaning desire. The god was actually converted to a cherub in this story. Cherubs are small child-like angel creatures. Renaissance painters also became obsessed with the Greek image and began to add him in many paintings. Valentine’s day became popular in the 18th century, and by the turn of the century, Cupid became a symbol of the holiday for his love creating ability. He is now seen all over the world as an image that pushes sheepish couples together.