Love Hunt: Cupid – Beauty and the Beast.

Marble statue of Cupid from British Museum collection

Our final Love Hunt Blog before Valentine’s Day is all about its chubby little mascot: Cupid. Check out the whole series here, here and here!
However our little cherub has a much more storied past, before he was reduced to selling cards and chocolates.

Originally Eros in Greek, the God of Love, in some versions he is one of the oldest forces in the universe, predated only by Chaos and Gaia (Earth).
Most commonly though the Romans knew little Cupid as the son of Venus, Goddess of beauty. Her husband was Vulcan, but Cupid’s father is Mars, God of War, naughty! (This might be useful on your hunt!)
The winged archer is a symbol of how flighty love makes us, and he carries a bow because love wounds us from afar. He is also sometimes depicted as blind, to show how love is indiscriminate and makes us blind to all else.

You might also find him riding dolphins on fountains and other classical architecture. Though clearly many Roman artists had clearly never seen an actual dolphin before ever in their lives.

Painting of Cupid riding a fish like creature that looks nothing like a real dolphin
A classic dolphin…

But Cupid of course could not avoid being struck by one of his own arrows and eventually even the God of Love finds himself deeply in love with a mortal called Psyche. Psyche, which originally meant ‘soul’ or ‘breath of life’, rather than mind in the original Greek, was a mortal of great beauty hated by Venus for stealing worship and attention away from her. Venus send her son to make Psyche fall in love with something hideous but poo Cupid scratches himself with an arrow and instead falls deeply in love with her. He spirits her away to his villa in secret, so everyone will believe she is in love with a monster like his spiteful mother wanted.

Giuseppe Maria Crespi painting of Psyche discovering cupid's true form, from Uffizi gallery in Florence
A tale as old as time…

In the ‘Beast’s’ castle Psyche is entertained by songs, and dinners that serve themselves as she slowly starts to fall for the mysterious beast she never sees… Sound familiar? (Be our guest, be our guest… what’s the story? Have you guessed?) Until one night she sneaks into Cupid’s room as he sleeps and is so startled by his beauty, that she stumbles into his nearby arrows and falls head over heels for him too!

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss neoclassical marble sculpture by Antonio Canova in the Louvre Museum
Find this beautiful piece on a Louvre THATMuse hunt


After some brief torturous quests to the Underworld to placate Venus, her jealous mother-in-law, Psyche is given ambrosia by Zeus, king of the gods, to make her immortal and Cupid and Psyche live happily ever after! Their wedding feast was second only to Thetis and Peleus, also found in our Love hunt!

The Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche (1517) by Raphael ceiling fresco lively party scene

One Comment on “Love Hunt: Cupid – Beauty and the Beast.

  1. Pingback: Love Hunt: The Wedding of Thetis and Peleus - THATMuse

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