Cupid and Psyche: Love’s Triumph

 


 

The Italian Cupid or Amor was equivalent to the Greek god Eros, the god of love. He was the son of Aphrodite fathered by Zeus, Ares, or Hermes. Cupid was thought to be a beautiful but wanton boy with a quiver full of «arrowed desires.» According to a late legend, Venus (the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite) became jealous of Psyche, the soul, and ordered her son to inspire her to fall in love with an ugly and wretched man. It so happened that Cupid, himself, had fallen in love with Psyche and, invisibly visited her each night.

He ordered her not to try to see him, and when overcome with curiosity, she violated his command. He deserted her. Psyche wondered the world over seeking him, and overcoming many obstacles by Venus until Jupiter granted her immortality and the lovers were reunited. A.G.H.

 

Cupid or Amor

Cupid, known in Italian mythology as Amor, is widely recognized as the equivalent of the Greek god Eros, embodying the concept of love. His mythological narrative, particularly his relationship with Psyche, has been a subject of fascination in various cultural and artistic expressions.

 

Mythological Background

  • Equivalent to Eros: Cupid is the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Eros, representing the force of love.
  • Parentage: He is traditionally considered the son of Venus (the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite), with his father often cited as either Zeus, Ares, or Hermes.

 

Depiction and Attributes

  • Appearance: Cupid is often depicted as a beautiful, youthful boy, symbolizing the innocence and impulsiveness of love.
  • Quiver of Arrows: His iconic attribute is a quiver filled with arrows, representing the desires and emotions associated with love.

 

The Legend of Cupid and Psyche

  • Venus’ Jealousy: In a well-known legend, Venus becomes jealous of a mortal woman named Psyche, who is renowned for her beauty.
  • Cupid’s Task: Venus orders Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a vile and unworthy man.
  • Cupid’s Love for Psyche: Contrary to his mother’s wishes, Cupid falls in love with Psyche himself, visiting her invisibly at night.
  • Psyche’s Curiosity: Psyche, urged by curiosity, disobeys Cupid’s instruction not to see him, leading to their separation.
  • Psyche’s Trials: Psyche undergoes a series of trials imposed by Venus, wandering the world in search of Cupid.
  • Reunion and Immortality: Ultimately, Jupiter (the Roman equivalent of Zeus) intervenes, granting Psyche immortality, and the lovers are reunited.

 

Cultural and Artistic Influence

  • Symbol of Romantic Love: Cupid has become a ubiquitous symbol of romantic love and is often featured in art, literature, and popular culture.
  • Cupid and Psyche: The story of Cupid and Psyche has inspired countless artistic and literary works, exploring themes of love, desire, betrayal, and redemption.

 

Interpretations

  • Psychological Symbolism: The tale of Cupid and Psyche is sometimes interpreted as an allegory of the human soul (Psyche) and its journey towards love and fulfillment.
  • Artistic Depictions: In art, Cupid is often portrayed engaging in various playful and mischievous activities, embodying the capricious nature of love.

 


 

Sources:

Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology, New York, G. P. Putman’s Sons, 1980, p. 136
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, pp. 14-15