The Legend of Cupid

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Cupid, the god of love, has always played a role in the celebrations of love and lovers.

In ancient Greece he was known as Eros, the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. The Romans knew him as Cupid, whose mother was Venus, their goddess of love.

He is known and portrayed as a mischievous, naked, winged cherub, whose arrows pierce the hearts of his victims, causing them to fall deeply in love.

Cupid's aim was not always straight, so some arrows missed their mark. Therefore not all love affairs have happy endings. This was mostly deliberate on Cupid's part; unrequited love among the mortal population probably greatly amused him.

Unfortunately the course of true love never runs smooth, not even for the Roman god of love.

The impish Cupid was not immune to love's trials. A mortal princess named Psyche almost caused his downfall. Venus, who had been jealous of Psyche's stunning beauty, had ordered her son to fire his arrow and make her fall in love with the ugliest man in the world. When Cupid saw
Psyche, he fell deeply in love and defied his mother by marrying the maiden.

He carried her off to his palace, visiting her only at night. Because she was a mortal, it was forbidden for her to look upon the face of a god. Psyche did not know whom her husband was, only that he had told her she must never see him. One night her curiosity got the better of her, so she lit a candle and gazed upon him as he slept. Her gasp at his stunning beauty awoke him, and when he realized that she had defied him, he abandoned her.

The devastated Psyche resolved to search the earth for her true love. When Psyche was in the temple of Venus, the goddess gave her a series of tasks to complete, to prove her love for Cupid. Each task was harder and more dangerous than the last, for the goddess wanted Psyche

Psyche completed all but one, the last task was to take a little box to the Underworld, collect some of Proserpine1's beauty, and return it to Venus in the box. Although warned not to, Psyche succumbed to temptation and opened the box. Instead of finding beauty, she released a deadly slumber.

Cupid found her lifeless body and wept. He gathered the sleep from her corpse and returned it to the box. Heartbroken, he begged the forgiveness of his mother. Venus relented, and Jupiter, king of the gods, was so moved by the couple's love for each other that he made Psyche a goddess.

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1The wife of Pluto, the god of the Underworld

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