Valentine's Day is right around the corner and with it comes a grab bag of fascinating facts, myths and stories that have shaped the day of love we now celebrate with candy, cards and flowers. Last year we discussed the history of Saint Valentine
, so feel free to head over for a refresher on that history, but today we're moving forward to touch on the day's unofficial mascot - Cupid. Cupid is arguably the most well known symbol of Valentine's Day. He is the mischievous winged boy who yields a bow and arrow and shoots at both gods and humans, causing them to fall in and out of love.
Legend behind the Man
Long before his current role as the mascot of Valentine's Day, Cupids' legend dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. Before being adopted and renamed by the Romans, he was known to the Greeks as Eros - the god of love.
One of the first mentions of Eros was by author Hesiod in approximately 700 B.C. In his poem, Theogony, Hesiod described him as a deity, but subsequent accounts of Eros vary, describing him as the son of several different mythological couples, including Nyx and Erebus, Aphrodite and Ares and Iris and Zephyrus.
With golden arrows to conjure desire and leaden arrows to cultivate aversion, Eros aimed his bow at both mortals and gods to manipulate their emotions. Roman authors adopted a Greek story that included Eros shooting a golden arrow at Apollo, who then fell madly in love with the nymph Daphne, only to then launch a leaden arrow at Daphne that resulted in her being repulsed by Apollo.
In another anecdote, Cupid's mother Venus became so jealous of the aesthetics of the mortal, Psyche, that she instructed him to make her fall in love with a monster. Instead, Cupid became smitten with Psyche himself, and married her.
Although a myriad of anecdotes exist in writing and mythology, common themes of Eros' power to manipulate and solicit emotions bind them all together.
In Archaic-era poetry, Eros was depicted as handsome and immortal, ultimately irresistible to man and gods alike. But as the story continued throughout the years, he was increasingly portrayed as a mischievous child, and it is this depiction that has taken hold over time and slowly morphed into what we now consider as Cupid, the mascot of Valentine's Day.
WNY Catholic Schools and everyone in our network of the best private schools in WNY wants to wish everyone a happy Valentine's Day. We encourage you to invite love into your day -- whether it's making a card for mom, giving a flower to your sister or just telling a friend how much they mean to you. We'd like to extend loving and positive Valentine's Day energy to students, staff and families in all of our schools - catholic elementary schools in Buffalo, NY up through private high schools. Happy Valentine's Day!