Cupid in Roman Mythology

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Cupid was the god of love in Roman mythology. The name Cupid is a variation on Cupido (”desire”), and this god was also known by the name Amor (”love”). It was commonly believed that Cupid was the son of Venus - the Roman goddess of love - and this association between Venus and Cupid was quite popular in myth, poetry, literature, and art.

The ancient Romans often depicted Cupid as winged child or baby who carried a bow and quiver full of arrows. Indeed, the Roman poet Ovid seems to delight in portraying Cupid as a willful and capricious child in many of his poems from the Amores and the Art of Love. It is also from these collections of poetry that we get a wonderfully vivid description of the god of love:

“Cupid’s there, quiver reversed, bow broken,
Holding a burnt-out torch.
See how sadly he walks, poor child, wings drooping,
How he beats at his bared breast,
How the tears rain down on his hair, now lying all tangled
About his throat, and his mouth’s a loud O of grief.
Thus he looked, they say, long ago, when he saw his
Brother Aeneas to the grave…”

And while the idea that Cupid was a child with wings appealed to many poets and artists, there were also different conceptions of this important god. One of the most memorable myths about Cupid involves his relationship with the beautiful woman named Psyche. The tale of Cupid and Psyche is told in the Metamorphoses of Apuleius.

Cupid’s counterpart in Greek mythology was known as Eros.

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