OK, so when you think of Cupid, you probably think of that cute little chubby baby with wings or toddler with wings.You know armed with a quiver of love arrows and bow. We all pay some sort of homage to this little God, talking about Cupid shooting us with arrows and magically falling in love with the one we are supposed to be with. Or in some cases a reflection in water. That’s right. What if I told you that Cupid is not some wee innocent baby god. That’s right, just like many Greek and Roman things there is a sinister side to this one. And today we are going to talk about the dark side of Cupid!
What If I told you Cupid did not always look like a baby or toddler? What if I told you the original rendition of Cupid was actually an adult male? With abs and good looks. I know you are still on the baby and probably shocked at what I just said. But, it is true! Let’s dive in. Shall we?
So, where does Cupid come from? Well Cupid is an ancient Roman god of love in all forms. He is also called Eros in Greek mythology. He was also called Amor in Latin poetry. Cupid is the son of Mercury, the messenger to the gods and of Venus. Venus is the goddess of love. There is lots of of portrayals of the god as decent as he would bring happiness to many. Both Mortals and immortals. A lot of times he would be viewed as mischievous in his matchmaker role. However, one could argue this was in part due to his mother Venus. But even before this mythological story, there is the Greek Version.
Eros was a handsome god of love in Greek pathos. One of the first authors to even mention him was Hesiod in around 700 b.c.e . He described Eros(Cupid) in Theogony as a primeval cosmogony coach deities born of a sort of world egg. Yep a world egg. Later on in the mythology Eros’s lineage would vary a lot.
So let us talk about his nasty deeds.
Eros/Cupid was armed with a bow with golden arrows to bring on desire(ooh la la) and lead ones for adversion. Eros did not care, he would strike both gods and mortals alike. And often he would play with people’s emotions. A cruel thing to do no doubt. In one such tale, which was also told or retold by Romans, he shot an arrow at Apollo, a golden one.He fell madly in love with Daphne, she was a nymph. Now at Daphne he would shoot a lead arrow. So she was disgusted or repulsed by Apollo.
Ok, so the break down of this story is as follows was basically Apollo was bragging about being a warrior and that love was not actually painful or things like that. Cupid getting a bit irritated by Apollo decided to shoot Apollo with the golden arrow. This would make him fall in love, and I mean Looooove Daphne the nymph and daughter of the River god. She, however was absolutely repulsed by him. Why? That lead arrow. Yes she too was shot with an arrow by Cupid. Apollo in his lusty love brain chased Daphne. He was so in love with her he followed her everywhere, so much so that she ran to her father who took pity on her and turned her into a laurel tree. Apollo in his love tried to embrace the tree. But upon learning that she would never love him back he would put on laurels after battles to honor her. He was pained from this unmatched love, and Cupid just got to sit back and watch it all play out.
I guess this is why Apollo refers to Cupid as “serpent dire and fierce”:
Let’s now talk Narcissus!
Narcissus is in some myths was a beautiful mortal man from Thespiae. His beauty was unmatched. However, he was conceited and shallow. He did not accept love and despised anyone who proclaimed their love to him. Mhmm, a jerk. Then, one day Echo saw him and fell in love. Now Echo, she was a goddess. A goddess or nymph who apparently in some mythology talked too much. Anyways she loved Narcissus.
When Narcissus learned this he just ignored her and then proceeded to mock the hell out of her. Bad move lad, bad move. Because Echo would then go to Cupid/Eros . But Narcissus said he was immune to Cupid’s arrows. This in turn angered the god Cupid. Yep.
Cupid was pissed at Narcissus ,how dare he say he was immune and deny the love of a goddess. Especially when he was nothing more than a mortal man! the gull! So what did Cupid do? He shot Narcissus and echo. Now Narcissus saw himself in a stream and fell in love with himself. He was so enamored with himself, he even tried to grab the image of himself from the water.
This caused Echo to become so upset she basically withered away, in some legends her voice carried on faintly causing Nemesis to get involved basically freezing Narcissus in that spot forever or until he died. Another said that echo never spoke again and one that Narcissus fell in and drown.
There was a softer side to Cupid for all of his shenanigans. There was the tale of him and Psyche. Which is a great story too. One I will save for later and it is a great love story.