The Lowdown: Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Cupid

February 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

OntheBox is in no way above hopping on the Valentine’s Day bandwagon. For one day, and one day only, we love those sickening little teddy bears with their big red hearts and the multivarious corporate commodities of love. Think of it as a holiday for good taste and sense.

With this sentimental love of all that is Valentine’s in mind, we bring you a very special Lowdown – Cupid himself.

1. In the original ancient mythology, there are actually two Cupids. The first, and most famous, is the son of Mars, the Roman God of War, and Venus, Roman Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. He is the God of sexy time, and delights in pranks as well as the spreading of love. The second is the son of Greek goddess Nyx, the primordial goddess of night, and her counterpart Erebus, the son of Chaos. That Cupid is called Eros (which is the root of the word “erotic”. Heehee, I wrote “erotic”) and seems to be known primarily for his riotous debauchery, which is much more fun.

2. Cupid was ordered by his jealous mother Venus to make the princess Psyche fall in love with the ugliest man on earth (Carrot Top, anyone?), but when Cupid saw Psyche he was so overcome by her beauty that he dropped an arrow on his own foot and fell in love with her himself. Ultimately, she was granted immortality by Jupiter so that the two could be together. How sweet.

3. Cupid and Psyche’s daughter was the fantastically named Voluptas, the goddess of pleasure. I think I may have dated her once…

4. There were cults for Cupid which believed that he was more powerful even than his mother, Venus, as he held power over the dead, the creatures of the sea and even the gods in Olympus. So, basically, Cupid was not only all romantic and that, he was also like some kind of superhero god.

5. There is a Hindu equivalent to Cupid called Kama, whose other names include Kandarpa (“inflamer even of gods”), Manmatha (“churner of hearts”) and Madana (“intoxicating”). Kama carries a bow made of sugarcane, with a string of honeybees and arrows made of flowers, which kind of sounds like something Heston Blumenthal would charge a fortune for.

6. The usual depiction of Cupid as a plump child with wings is a type of putto, rather than the usual misconception of Cupid as a cherubim. Weirdly, the word putto has the same origins as puttana, meaning “slut” and “whore”. I guess we should rethink Cupid as a cute little baby…

7. The closest equivalent to Cupid’s arrows in nature are the chalk darts that snails fire at one another in order to mate. The darts don’t fly through the air, though, as they are fired as a contact shot. Um…sexy?

8. Confusingly, there are also thought to be two different versions of Roman Cupid. One is the “elder” Cupid, who had a hand in creating the rest of the race of Gods in the first hand, including Oceanus and Tethys, who went on to get repeatedly busy, having about 3,000 children – the ocean nymphs. The younger Cupid is the one we generally think of now.

9. The first incidence of the story of Cupid and Psyche is in the only Latin Roman novel still surviving – the Metamorphoses of Lucius Apuleius, also known as the Golden Ass. The Golden Ass is thought to have partly inspired A Midsummer Night’s Dream as at one point the narrator attempts to turn himself into a bird and ends up an ass, much like Bottom. Ha! I’m on fire; “erotic”, “whore” and “bottom” all in one post.

10. Cupid actually had two different types of arrows. One set was golden with dove’s feathers and caused love. The other was made of lead and owl’s feathers, causing indifference. Occasionally he would hit each person in a couple with a different arrow…b*stard.

By Chris Harding