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The Origins Of Cupid

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January 29, 2023

With the season of love coming soon, you will see shades of red everywhere you walk down the street, stores selling boxes of chocolates, flowers, and people binge-watching romantic movies. Valentine’s Day is a beautiful time to celebrate love. But have you been struck by the cupid of love? 

Yes, the small and cute little chubby boy who flies around with a bow and makes people fall in love. This cute boy known as cupid is widely popular today and is the poster boy for Valentine’s Day and you will see his image everywhere during Valentine's Day. But do we know who Cupid is? Where is he from? With Valentine’s Day around the corner, let’s dig a little into the origins and history of this adorable boy in diapers.

Who Is Cupid?

There are many cultures that have their own histories and stories of the origins of the cupid but the Greeks and the Romans are the ones most closely associated with the cupid we have come to love today. 

The name Cupid (which means desire) comes from Roman mythology. But before cupid became this little cherub that we know today, he was depicted as a powerful man who was just unconquerable. As per classic Greek mythology, the origins of cupid can be traced back to 700 BC when he was known as Eros (the Greek word for desire). As per mythology, Eros is the son of the love goddess Aphrodite (Venus) and the god of war Mars. 

In classical Greek and Roman art, Cupid is more of a heartthrob than a chubby little boy. You will see a man in his late teens, both handsome and powerful who used his power to make people fall in love! 

Cute Little Cupid Boy

The cupid that we know today is a cute little boy who makes people fall in love but mythology depicts Eros as someone who forces people to fall in love with tragedy. Later in the 4th century, BCE people started getting intimidated by this powerful and gorgeous man who could strike anyone to fall in love with each other. 

But slowly and steadily Eros’ stories became more about his mother, Aphrodite. The stories showed that Eros followed his mother's every move and would act only based on his mother's wishes. This suddenly made him not so powerful anymore. 

Gradually, this Greek mythology of Eros was adopted by the classes. And when the Roman era began, they chose to bring this more recent depiction of the God of desire as this cute little kid. It was the Romans who named him Cupid, which is actually a synonym for Eros and means “desire”. 

For the Romans, Cupid was this little cherub boy who followed his mother’s wishes and made people fall in love with each other. This was very evident in the art and imagery from the Roman times. 

Much later on, even the Renaissance painters got inspired by this imagery and started depicting Cupid as a small child. In 1602, the painting Caravaggio’s Cupid shows a young naked boy with wings and a bow. More like the cupid we know today.

Valentine’s Day And The Popularity Of Cupid

By the 18th century Valentine’s Day was already popular and by the 19th-century cupid started becoming associated with this day of love for his ability to make people fall in love. 

But the biggest credit for making Cupid so widely popular probably goes to Hallmark Cards Inc., and that’s because it was them who picked up this trend and started manufacturing Valentine’s Day cards with the imagery of Cupid. 

Simply put sometimes you need a little help from someone, a little nudge to take that first step when you fall in love, and Cupid with his bow and arrow is here to do just that. The Cupid you see behind a couple or on a card is just telling people to express their love!