According to Roman mythology, Cupid is the God of love and the son of the beautiful Roman Goddess, Venus. (Eros is the Greek God of love,
and is the son of Aphrodite, while Kama is the Indian God of love.
Cupid is represented as a cute and chubby, naked, winged child, with a bow and arrow. According to legend, if your heart is struck by Cupid's arrow, you will fall in love with the first person you see. Cupid was a known mischief-maker, and would often strike his arrow to make the most unlikely people fall in love with each other. Hence the symbol of the arrow piercing the heart is so synonymous with love and Valentine's Day.
As the story goes, the maiden Psyche, daughter of a king, was so famed for her beauty that she was often compared to Venus, the Goddess of Love and Beauty. The fact that a mere mortal was being compared to her, enraged Venus, and she willfully made everyone believe that unless Psyche was sacrificed to the dragons, the heavenly world would be under severe danger. Psyche was thus captured and tied to a post at the top of a hill. To increase her torment even further, just as the dragon was about to attack Psyche, Venus commanded Cupid to strike an arrow into Psyche's heart, so she falls in love with the dragon.
Cupid flew up and as he steadied himself to take aim, his gaze fell upon Psyche, and so enraptured was he by her beauty, that he shot himself in the foot, thus falling in love with her. He then helped her flee, and took her as his wife. However, Psyche was commanded to never look upon him as she was a mortal, and Cupid was a God, and mortals were forbidden to look upon Gods.
Cupid won Psyche over with his gentle way, caring and loving nature, but when Psyche's sisters saw her happiness, they grew incredibly jealous. They told Psyche that her husband was as ugly as a dragon, and that he was making a fool of her. They thus encouraged Psyche to disobey his commands and sneak a look at him. Psyche did so, and was immediately gratified on seeing her husband as a beautiful, noble man, but as punishment, Cupid vanished.
Psyche was distraught, and begged Venus to help her find Cupid. In an attempt to destroy her once and for all, Venus gave Psyche a series of tasks to do, each one more difficult that the prior. For her final task, she was commanded to go to the underworld and bring back some of Prosperine's (wife of Pluto, king of the underworld) beauty.
In her endeavour to get to Properine she faced many challenges, but finally succeeded in getting Prosperine's beauty in the box. On her way back, overcome with curiosity, Psyche opened the box and immediately fell into a deep sleep.
Cupid found her lying lifeless on the ground, and was overcome by a feeling of forgiveness and remorse. He removed the sleep that had befallen Psyche, and put it back in the box. Venus too was touched by the depth of Psyche's love for her son, and together with the other gods, they made Psyche a goddess.
The lovers were reunited and lived happily ever after.
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