By Susan DeLay
Cupid didn’t always wear a diaper and fly around with a quiver of arrows strapped to his chubby little body. In fact, he didn’t become a winged cherub until painters from the Renaissance Era decided the quintessential instigator of romance should be a curly haired toddler.
Madison Avenue is responsible for plastering his image on cards, candy boxes, and commercials, depicting the symbol of love against backdrops in varying shades of bubble gum. Nothing says love like Pepto-Bismol Pink.
But how did Cupid win out over other contenders as the spokesperson for Valentine’s Day?
No One Knows Who His Parents Were
Cupid’s story sounds like something created by the writers on The Young and the Restless. No one knows for sure who his parents were. Some say they were Venus, goddess of love and Jupiter, the president of the Roman Gods and Goddesses Association that held council meetings on Mt. Olympus. Other experts say Cupid was the son of Chaos, god of formless mass, and Earth—as in Mother Earth. I don’t know who they were, but it’s tough to keep up on all those gods and goddesses since Greeks and Romans had deities for everything from gates (Janus) to grapes (Bacchus).
Enter the Heroine
Enter the heroine—a mortal woman named Psyche, who was supposedly the most beautiful woman in the world. I know Psyche seems like a weird name for a girl, but back in those days, parents gave their children weird names. It’s not like modern times when people give their kids normal names like
X Æ A-12, Elon Tesla’s son. (Daughter? Drone?), or Lyra Antarctica, the child of Ed Sheeran.
Psyche, the Erika Kane of the ancient soap opera world, had a face that could stop traffic in a golf cart lane during snowbird season, but in a good way. She had a slightly disturbing quality of attracting bluebirds to her shoulder and drawing singing woodland creatures to her side—universal symbols of kindness and gentleness.
Venus heard about Psyche, the stunning mortal, and became jealous. So, the armless goddess of love devised a plan to get Psyche out of the way. Even though Venus was a goddess, she couldn’t do it alone. Enlisting the help of her son, Cupid, she issued strict orders: Pack your bow and quiver of arrows, go immediately to Psyche’s home—do not stop; do not pass go. When you find this Psyche, shoot her with one of your gold-tipped arrows so she will fall in love with the first person she sees. Meanwhile, Mama arranged for a vile, ugly creature to be nearby so Psyche would fall in love with him. Kind of like how Beauty fell for the Beast.
On a mission for Mom, Cupid flew to Psyche’s home, which happened to be a castle perched high on a mountain top in a land far, far away. Apparently Psyche wasn’t of the middle caste, er, class. She had both bucks and beauty.
Head Over Heels in Love with the Wrong Woman
Winging quietly into her room, Cupid anchored his arrow on the bow, but he accidentally scratched himself with the golden arrowhead. Instead of dooming Psyche to fall for the vile, ugly creature, he doomed himself to loving the object of his mother’s wrath. Cue soap opera piano music.
By virtue of his DNA as the parents of two deities, Cupid was expected to fall in love with someone of his own kind, but his accident with the arrow changed everything. He was head over heels with a mere mortal. Tensions would certainly run high at family gatherings, considering Psyche would have the worst mother-in-law in the kingdom.
Love Conquers All
Cupid fled the scene of the crime, but, unable to resist Psyche, every night he returned and visited her while she slept. Long story short (although it might be too late for that), Psyche fell for Cupid and voila! They found themselves in a Romeo-and-Juliet relationship.
Venus used every trick in the book to keep them apart—curses, hexes, impossible quests, delayed Door Dash deliveries. Nothing worked because love conquers all. With the help of the goddess of cereal (Ceres), Psyche tried to win over Venus, but Venus was having none of it.
Eventually Psyche appealed to Jupiter, the saner of her future in-laws. He couldn’t do much to control the impetuous Venus, so he granted her immortality, which was enough to make her an acceptable choice for his son. Psyche and Cupid lived happily ever after.
And Now the Rest of the Story
That’s the true love story of Cupid, and why he was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day.
Susan DeLay is from the Buckeye State where she took her first paying job at the age of 15, writing a newspaper column called Teen Talk.
An industry veteran in publishing services, PR and media relations, Susan wrote “DeLayed Reaction,” a newspaper column, for 25 years. The column is now a blog at www.susandelay.com. She is a member of American Society of Journalists and Authors, The Florida Writers Association, Writers League of the Villages, Working Writers Critique Group and Pen, Paper & Pals.
Susan is currently learning that poems don’t have to rhyme, and is working on a novel entitled “Saving Jesus.”
Check out “DeLayed Reaction”, Susan DeLay’s blog, at www.susandelay.wordpress.com