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Audrey Continelli, Staff Writer

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The mention of Cupid typically conjures up images of a cherubic winged infant wielding a bow and arrow. As Valentine’s Day starts to creep its way up our holiday lists, depictions of Cupid will begin to appear left and right, on everything from grocery store shelves to clothing outlets’ windows. Yet, some may be wondering, where in the world did this character come from?

    Well, Cupid, the representative of Valentine’s Day, was not always an infant. In fact, Cupid was known to the Greeks as Eros, the God of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection, long before the Romans adopted and renamed him. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Eros was known to strike the hearts of Gods and mortals alike, and play with their emotions.. Senior Trent Bassler said, “My grandmother used to always tell us an old story from ancient Greek mythology about cupid shooting a golden arrow at Apollo, who fell madly in love with the nymph Daphne.” In this story, Daphne was shot by a leaden arrow instead of a golden arrow, rendering her to be repulsed by him (Britannica.com).

   One of the first authors to mention Eros was Hesiod, one of the earliest Greek poets, often called the “father of Greek didactic poetry.” He described him in “theogony”, the genealogy of a group or system of gods, as one of the primeval cosmogonic deities born of the world egg, explains the official History Channel website (History.com).

   According to myth, Cupid/Eros was the son of Mercury, the winged messenger of the Gods, and Venus, the Goddess of Love. His wounds inspired love or passion in his every victim. Eros was not only the god of passion but also of fertility. While some literary pieces portray Cupid as callous and careless, he was generally viewed as beneficent, on account of the happiness he imparted to couples both mortal and immortal. At the worst, he was considered mischievous in his matchmaking (Britannica.com).

   Eros was known to have a so-called “opponent,” who was his very own brother. Talk about a sibling rivalry! His brother, Anteros, was the god of unrequited love. In other words, he punished those who were not interested in love or not returning other people’s love. Anteros had a similar description to Eros, bearing either a golden club or lead arrows, but his wings were plumed and likened to those of a butterfly (Britannica.com).

     In the poetry of the Archaic period, Eros was represented as a handsome immortal who was irresistible to both man and Gods. However, by the Hellenistic period, he was increasingly portrayed as a playful, mischievous child. It is this chubby love-inducing child who has persisted over time and has become our ubiquitous Valentine’s Day mascot (History.com). We’ll have to wait until Valentine’s Day to see who gets shot by Cupid’s arrow this year.

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