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Cupid: God of love up close and personal

by Shannon Stollenmaier, News editor

I don’t know a single historical character who has received more acclaim for sporting nothing but diapers, a bow, and a quiver filled with arrows than the chubby cherub and Valentine’s Day hero, Cupid. His history, however, is not as pure as his angelic façade, nor are his stories, of victims falling prey to love with a single penetration of his arrow, as hopelessly romantic as legends suggest. In reality, Cupid is no angel.

 

As I sit with him in front of Bon Bon Café on Fort Street Mall, a few days before Valentine’s day, his devilish ways become increasingly apparent. He looks like a baby, but he is really a grown-up god with grown-man tendencies.

He suddenly fidgets for an arrow and shoots it at a young man whose nose is innocently buried in a textbook. He then shoots another arrow at a woman in a short denim skirt who is walking by. As fate would have it, their eyes lock for a moment.

Cupid sits back, picks up his cigarette, and takes in a long, smooth drag. He looks at me, smiles mischievously, and says, “They’ll go to dinner tonight, and then…who knows?”

He is obsessed by his work, and barely had time for this interview. “I gotta beat last year’s record of lovesick couples,” he said, and added, “just makes you sick sometimes.” While obviously obnoxious, he is an intriguing personality, and with arrows flying relentlessly through the air we began the interview.

KALAMALAMA: We’ve been quite confused about your name. Is your real name Cupid or Eros? And where are you from originally?

Cupid: You can trace my origins back to Greek mythology where my real name is Eros (pronounced air’-ohs). The Romans adopted me into their mythology and renamed me Cupid. I’ll have you know that cupido, in Roman, strictly means sexual lust. That’s unfortunate because it limits the scope of my character. For some reason, though, Cupid stuck better than Eros. I like Eros because it suits me better. You know “Eros” sounds like “arrows,” which is what I shoot at people! Stupid Romans!

KALAMALAMA: So are you really the Greek god of love?

Cupid: Oh, honey, I am so much more than love. Officially, I am the god of love and sexual desire – an irresistible and potent god. Hesiod’s Theogony describes me as “the fairest of the deathless gods,” the one who “unstrings the limbs and subdues both mind and sensible thought in the breasts of all gods and men.” Isn’t that beautiful? I also love another passage from Hesiod (keep in mind I am paraphrasing here), which says that no one, divine or mortal, can resist my spell of enchantment.

KALAMALAMA: Aside from puffed up, how would you describe yourself?

Cupid: My cute image does not offer a true picture of what I’m really like. A poetess, Sappho, once called me bittersweet. I agree with her. I can be cruel to my victims, yet charming and sweet. Really throws people, you know? But, come on, a baby armed with a bow and arrows should be warning enough! I love making mischief, and being a bit dodgy is in my nature. I used to set out to wound hearts rather than rouse them to love. Then I fell in love and finally understood anguish.

KALAMALAMA: Tell us a little about your family life.

Cupid: I don’t even know where to begin. By today’s standards, my family would have made the Jerry Springer show with flying colors. In Greek mythology, my mother is Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. We aren’t sure who my father is, but I have a candidate list that includes Hermes (you may know him better as Mercury, messenger to the gods), Ares (the god of war), and Zeus (my mom’s father). Pretty crazy if Zeus is my father, he’d be gramps and dad at the same time! My mom tells me I was one of the first gods, along with Gaia (god of earth) and Tartaurus (god of the underworld), to emerge from primeval Chaos, which is complete nothingness. I have one brother named Anteros, which means “returner of love”; he’s the god of mutual love. My wife, who is an absolute babe, is named Psyche, which means “soul.”

KALAMALAMA: What do you do for a living?

Cupid: I spend my entire day making people fall in and out of love. I use my arrows to accomplish this task, just like a writer uses a pen. I shoot my arrows into the hearts of gods and men and awaken the desire within them.

KALAMALAMA: Give us some more details about your arrows.

Cupid: I have two sets of arrows. The first is made of golden arrows with dove feathers which awaken love. The second set is leaden, with owl feathers, and awakens indifference. My power and arrows create desire – desire either for or against love.

KALAMALAMA: You spend most your time toying with other people’s love lives, but tell us a little about your own love life?

Cupid: The love story of Cupid and Psyche is quite saucy. Once upon a time, as I was faithfully assisting my mother in her cunning goddess duties, she became jealous of the beauty of a mortal woman named Psyche. Out of jealousy, she commanded me to shoot an arrow into Psyche’s heart that would cause her to fall in love with the ugliest man on earth. I agreed to my mother’s request, but when I saw Psyche, I felt as if I was shot by one of my own arrows. I fell deeply in love with her. Every night I would visit her. I told her that I must remain invisible to her, so she wouldn’t light her chamber when I called upon her in the darkness. (Remember, love between gods and mortals was not permissible.) One night, however, curiosity overcame my love, and she lit a lamp while I was sleeping. My identity as a god was revealed to this mortal woman. I awoke abruptly when a drop of the lamp’s hot oil fell on me. I was angry at her, so angry that I left her. For years, she roamed the earth looking for me, but never found me. All the gods were moved by Psyche’s unyielding love for me. Zeus eventually permitted me to marry her and made her a goddess.

KALAMALAMA: What’s with the chubby, cherub look?

Cupid: Oh, would you get off my back about the diapers? I’ve been hearing it for centuries, and many a culture has questioned my masculinity because of it. It’s a tough job, but I wear it well. There is a reason why I look more like a fairy than a handsome, muscle-drenched god. In some Greek writings, I am not Aphrodite’s son, but rather one of her inspirations. As an inspiration, I have assumed the form of a playful, chubby child with wings who is diffused by the light of the goddess of beauty. However, I do have the power to manifest as an absolute hunk, which is how I really looked before the centuries transformed my image. If I manifested myself right now, in the image of my younger days, you will be unable to escape the power of my luscious locks and perfectly sculpted physique. All self-aggrandizement aside, though, I’ll be the first to admit that my current physical stature is well suited for my job description. The wings (quite a nice addition) enable me to get to and fro quickly, and my small size doesn’t give my presence away as I secretly approach lovers-to-be.

KALAMALAMA: What is the best love match you’ve ever made? The worst?

Cupid: Oh this is fun! Let’s see, the best love match was definitely Fred and Wilma Flinstone. Their Stone Age love spanned centuries to bless us today in cartoon animation. The hands-down worst love match ever made was J. Lo and Ben Affleck. When I read their stories in the National Enquirer, I often ask myself, “Why did I do that?”

Observing him, I could hardly believe that this comical character is charged with the critical and life-changing task of making and breaking love. He shoots another arrow at a small-framed lady who looks like a Myers-Briggs introvert personality type. He pauses for a second, and then shouts, “I found her match!” I watched the arrow soar through the air, excited myself to learn whose heart it would claim. The arrow landed softly on an obviously Myers-Briggs extrovert male personality type. “She’ll be dancing on table tops in a week,” he said.

I was just about to tell him how concerned I was that the course of human love rested in the hands of an arrogant, overconfident god who looks like a chunky toddler, but when I looked up from my notebook, I saw something glorious. Sea-blue eyes starred straight into mine. A man with luscious locks and a perfectly sculpted physique sat across from me, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw an arrow flying towards me on a one-way trip to my heart.

 

2004, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.
 
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