The Roman name of Eros, the god of love. In the story of Cupid and Psyche, he is described as a magnificently handsome young man. He was the son of Venus. He is often depicted as a chubby, winged infant who shoots arrows at people to make them fall in love. He is often shown blindfolded to express love being blind.

A short-lived comedy on ABC starring Jeremy Piven as a fallen cupid sent to Chicago to relearn how to make people fall in love. He assumed the identity of Trevor Hale and was placed under the care of Dr. Claire Allen to cure him of his "delusions." If Trevor (Cupid or Eros) wanted to return to Mount Olympus, he would have to create 100 couples. One of the show's merits was the intrigue surrounding Trevor's past; you could never be sure whether or not he was Cupid or merely delusional. The show was pulled from the air due to lack of ratings (even though it was well accepted in the beginning of its run). I blame this on the time-slot shifting game.

Semi-humorous and factual addendum:

There is a Hindu god by the name of Kama. Kama is the Indian version of Cupid - winged child with a bow and arrows. He performs the same function as Cupid: his arrows make people fall in love. Kama also means love in general (Kama Sutra: love scriptures).

In South India, where Hindu culture has remained largely insulated from any Western or Middle Eastern influence, Kama is considered a force of evil, and is burned in effigy on the Holi holiday. Even in North India, where foreign influence runs fairly free, he is not worshiped, and is identified with the principle of desire, trapping the soul.

In Buddhism, he is known as Mara, the demon and enemy of all enlightened beings.

Cupid

Origins

Cupid, or Eros, was originally a primeval force. It was with time that he was transformed into the bow-wielding cherub we see today.

There are two myths explaining the birth of Eros. The first suggests that he came into existence from the power of love1 at the beginning of the world. The other myth claims that the world was produced from the mating of Eros and Chaos. Other sources claim he was born of Chaos. So originally, all of existence was, completely or partially, owed to Eros.

The passing of time witnessed the creation of myths around individual gods. Although Eros had been born of love, it was Aphrodite that become the personification of love. However, Eros' following was well established and he was not to be pushed aside in matters of love. The myths around Aphrodite expanded to include a son, Eros. Aphrodite was allowed representation over feminine love and Eros represented the masculine counterpart. Everyone was happy.

Then came Zeus. Over time this god's status grew. Zeus became increasingly powerful. Aphrodite and Eros could no longer be allowed their usual stature. So Aphrodite was reduced to a daughter of Zeus. Eros, merely her son, was further reduced in stature.

Finally the Romans entered the scene and Eros became Cupid 2.Under the Romans, Cupid was even less impressive. With the status of a son and therefore a lesser god, Cupid became a mere child; chubby, mischievous and whimsical, but always delightful.

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1. perpetuated by the poet Hesiod.

2. Cupid is a variation on the Latin Cupido (desire). This god was also known by the name Amor (love)


Resources:

Littleton, C. Scott (ed) (2002) Mythology: the illustrated anthology of world myth and storytelling, Duncan Baird Publishers
Kerenyi, C. (1976) The Gods of the Greeks, Thames and Hudson
Graves, R. (1992) The Greek Myths Complete Edition, Penguin Books

Cu"pid (k?"p?d), n . [L.Cupido, fr. cupido desire, desire of love, fr. cupidus. See Cupidity.] Rom. Myth.

The god of love, son of Venus; usually represented as a naked, winged boy with bow and arrow.

Pretty dimpled boys, like smiling cupids.
Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.

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