AskDefine | Define Cupid

Dictionary Definition

Cupid n : (Roman mythology) god of love; counterpart of Greek Eros [syn: Amor]

User Contributed Dictionary

see cupid



Cupido, from cupido desire, desire of love, from cupidus.


Proper noun

  1. : The god of love, son of Venus; usually depicted as a naked, winged boy with bow and arrow.

Derived terms


Extensive Definition

In Roman mythology, Cupid (Latin cupido) is the god of erotic love and beauty. He is equated with the Greek god Eros, and another one of his Latin names is Amor (cognate with Kama). In popular culture Cupid is frequently shown shooting his bow to inspire romantic love, often as an icon of Valentine's Day.


There are many differing stories about Cupid's parentage. Cicero provides three different lineages: son of Mercury (Hermes) and Diana (Artemis), son of Mercury and Venus (Aphrodite), and son of Mars (Ares in Greek mythology) and Venus. Plato mentions two of these, and Hesiod's Theogony, the most ancient Greek theoography, says that Cupid was created coevally with Chaos and the earth.
Throughout ancient mythological writing, there appear to be either two Cupids or two sides to the figure of Cupid. One is the son of Jupiter (Zeus) and Venus. He is a lively youth who delights in pranks and spreading love. The other is a son of Nyx and Erebus, known for riotous debauchery.


Cupid's cult was closely associated with that of Venus, with Cupid being worshipped as devotedly as she. Additionally, Cupid's power was supposed to be even greater than his mother's, since he had dominion over the dead in Hades, the creatures of the sea and the gods in Olympus. Some of the cults of Cupid suggested that Cupid as son of Night and Hell mated with Chaos to produce both men and gods, making the gods the offspring of love.

Portrayal in art and literature

In painting and sculpture, Cupid is often portrayed as a nude (or sometimes diapered) winged boy or baby armed with a bow and a quiver of arrows.
The Hindu Kāma also has a very similar description. On gems and other surviving pieces, he is usually shown amusing himself with childhood play, sometimes driving a hoop, throwing darts, catching a butterfly, or flirting with a nymph. He is often depicted with his mother (in graphic arts, this is nearly always Venus), playing a horn. He is also shown wearing a helmet and carrying a buckler, perhaps in reference to Virgil's Omnia vincit amor or as political satire on wars for love or love as war.
Cupid figures prominently in ariel poetry, lyrics and, of course, elegiac love and metamorphic poetry. In epic poetry, he is less often invoked, but he does appear in Virgil's Aeneid changed into the shape of Ascanius inspiring Dido's love. In later literature, Cupid is frequently invoked as fickle, playful, and perverse. He is often depicted as carrying two sets of arrows: one set gold-headed, which inspire love; and the other lead-headed, which inspire hatred.
The best-known story involving Cupid is the tale of Cupid and Psyche.
In the Artemis Fowl book series, the character Holly Short's great-great grandfather is Cupid.

Holiday character

Cupid is a holiday character and symbol usually representing Valentines Day and the emotion of love. Cupid is based on the god of Roman mythology of the same name but has undergone many changes. Cupid is the Roman version of the Greek deity Eros.
The most common representations of Cupid include a baby with wings and a bow and arrow. Sometimes the arrow has a heart for its tip. Cupid is most often seen nude or diapered. Cupid is sometimes blindfolded, symbolizing the figure of speech "love is blind."
Reinterpretation of the Cupid character may leave off any or all of the traditional details of the character, so long as the character's main purpose is to make or help people fall in love (or possibly become physically intimate).
Humorous interpretations may feature an obviously grown man but keeping the other traditional elements including the diaper.
It is said that if Cupid's arrow hits you, you will fall hopelessly and madly in love with the next person you meet.
Cupid in Arabic: كيوبيد
Cupid in Bulgarian: Купидон
Cupid in Catalan: Cupido
Cupid in Danish: Cupido
Cupid in German: Amor (Mythologie)
Cupid in Spanish: Cupido
Cupid in Esperanto: Amoro (dio)
Cupid in French: Cupidon
Cupid in Hindi: क्यूपिड
Cupid in Croatian: Kupid
Cupid in Italian: Cupido
Cupid in Latin: Cupido
Cupid in Hungarian: Amor
Cupid in Dutch: Cupido (mythologie)
Cupid in Japanese: クピド
Cupid in Norwegian: Amor
Cupid in Portuguese: Cupido
Cupid in Slovenian: Amor
Cupid in Serbian: Купидон
Cupid in Finnish: Amor
Cupid in Swedish: Amor
Cupid in Thai: คิวปิด
Cupid in Chinese: 邱比特

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Agdistis, Amor, Aphrodite, Apollo, Apollon, Ares, Artemis, Astarte, Ate, Athena, Bacchus, Ceres, Cora, Cronus, Cybele, Demeter, Despoina, Diana, Dionysus, Dis, Eros, Freya, Gaea, Gaia, Ge, Great Mother, Hades, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, Here, Hermes, Hestia, Hymen, Hyperion, Jove, Juno, Jupiter, Jupiter Fidius, Jupiter Fulgur, Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Jupiter Pluvius, Jupiter Tonans, Kama, Kore, Kronos, Love, Magna Mater, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Mithras, Momus, Neptune, Nike, Olympians, Olympic gods, Ops, Orcus, Persephassa, Persephone, Phoebus, Phoebus Apollo, Pluto, Poseidon, Proserpina, Proserpine, Rhea, Saturn, Tellus, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Zeus
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