Tattoos may be a word that brings to mind images of underground nightclubs or leather-clad bikers riding their motorcycles across the country.
But did you know that tattoos have actually been around for thousands of years? In fact, the tradition of using ink to decorate your skin was first introduced as a tribal custom, which was then adopted by other civilizations to represent their power and faith.
These days, many people will purchase tattoos that reflect their spiritual beliefs, whether that be a crucifix or a pentagram.
In some cases, people will also decorate their skin with images of classical deities, which can range from Hades to Cupid – the Roman god of desire and erotic love.
So if you want to know more about these tattoos and their meanings, then you have come to the right place.
In the following article, we have gathered some fascinating information concerning the god of love and his role his classical mythology.
We will also explore what a tattoo of Cupid could represent and how you can use it to convey your character and beliefs.
So if you are in the process of choosing a new tattoo and need some inspiration, this article has everything you need to get started…
Who Was Cupid? – His Origins & Purpose
Cupid (whose name literally means desire) was the god of affection and erotic love in Roman mythology, where he was often portrayed as the son of Venus and one of her many lovers.
While the identity of his father remains unknown, Cupid is still considered a prominent figure among the Roman pantheon, where he is considered to be the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Eros.
In most artistic works, Cupid is depicted as a naked child with wings, who often carries a bow and arrow in his hands.
According to myth, Cupid would use these arrows to shoot mortals and gods in the heart, which would make them fall in love or experience intense sexual desire.
Because of this, Cupid is sometimes read as a mischievous figure, not unlike fellow trickster gods such as Loki and Prometheus.
Cupid’s association with such weapons was originally introduced during the Hellenistic period, where the character started being portrayed as a small child.
Because of this, the god was given a bow and arrow to represent his powers, which has remained a popular symbol ever since.
Nowadays, the image of Cupid shooting one of his arrows has become synonymous with mainstream portrayals of love, especially during Valentine’s Day and other celebrations.
According to the original myths and legends, anyone shot by Cupid’s arrows (whether they were human or deities) would be filled with uncontrollable love and desire, which could sometimes lead to disastrous results.
The Greek god Eros also demonstrated these characteristics, which then evolved into the image of Cupid that we all know and recognize today.
During the Middle Ages, Cupid would be depicted as a dual being of the heavens and earth, with his new portrayal being heavily influenced by the Christian faith.
However, during the Renaissance, a new obsession with classical mythology would see Cupid associated with a more complex allegorical meaning.
These days, Cupid is often depicted as a representation of love and human desire, with his emotional connotations inspiring tattoo artists across the world.
Who Did Cupid Love? – His Story & Romance
All of the stories about Cupid tend to involve love in some way or another, whether that love is sexual, romantic, or unrequited.
Because of this, Cupid is closely associated with the facet of existence he is meant to represent, something that cannot always be said for his fellow deities.
As we previously mentioned, Cupid is the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.
However, the name of his father remains unknown, although some classical texts seem to imply that his father is Mars, the Roman god of war.
One of the most prominent legends to involve the god of love is the story of Cupid and Psyche, which remains almost identical in both the Greek and Roman traditions.
The story tells of a kind and beautiful princess named Psyche, who attracted the attention of Venus due to her beauty and adoration.
To demonstrate her power, Venus asked her son to use his arrows to make Psyche fall in love with the vilest creature on the planet, which resulted in Cupid getting struck himself and falling madly in love with the princess.
Following this, Cupid would visit Psyche every night while she was sleeping, hiding his face in the shadows and telling her to never look upon his person.
However, Psyche’s interest soon led her to discover the true identity of her lover, which forced Cupid to flee and never return.
Because of this, Psyche would seek assistance from Venus to be reunited with her lover, something the goddess agreed to do in exchange for the completion of several complicated tasks.
For her final task, Psyche was told to take a present to Pluto, while never looking upon its contents.
Unfortunately, Psyche did not follow the rules and was put into an enchanted sleep until Cupid found and woke her.
Following this, the god and the mortal declared their love for each other and Psyche was granted immortality by Jupiter, the leader of the gods. Interestingly, Psyche’s name in Latin translates to soul.
The story of Cupid and Psyche remains one of the most popular romances in classical mythology, with the legend now being cited as a precursor to fairy tales such as Beauty and the Beast and The Sleeping Beauty.
This not only demonstrates the significance of Cupid but also his influence on modern culture.
What About Cupid Tattoos? – The Designs & Meanings
While Cupid can sometimes be described as mischievous due to his matchmaking ways, the character continues to be portrayed as a positive influence, representing both love and human emotion.
In many ways, Cupid embodies the experience of new and sudden love, which in turn conveys connotations of merriment and carelessness.
In most tattoo designs, Cupid is usually depicted in the middle of his work, with the arrow being drawn back and ready to launch.
Sometimes the character will also be accompanied by a heart, especially one that has already been pierced by his arrow. However, this does not mean that his weapon only represents romantic love.
Nowadays, we associated Cupid’s arrows with romantic iconography, even though the god was known to have two different arrows in his arsenal.
According to legend, the golden arrow of Cupid was meant to represent true love, while the leaden arrow would ignite sensual passion in his victims.
This explains why Cupid has been associated with various forms of love, from the romantic to the sexual.
Because of this, tattoos of Cupid’s arrows are also extremely popular, as they relate to the god and can be seen as a symbolic representation of love and desire.
So if you consider yourself a hopeless romantic, a Cupid tattoo could make for a wonderful addition to your collection.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Cupid Tattoos Represent?
As we previously mentioned, Cupid tattoos are seen to represent elements of love and human emotion, with the god also embodying themes of desire, sexuality, and romance.
Of course, a tattoo of Cupid could also be used to convey your spiritual beliefs, whether you are a member of the pagan community or simply the kind of person who views love as the lifeblood of the world.
How Much Does Getting A Tattoo Hurt?
The pain you experience when getting a tattoo will often vary depending on several factors, such as the size of the tattoo, its complexity, and your own tolerance.
However, some people have described the sensation of getting a tattoo as being similar to a cat scratch or sunburn, although this can also vary depending on where the tattoo is being placed, as this can expose your thin skin and nerve endings to the bite of the pen.
What Do Arrow Tattoos Represent?
In Native American cultures, arrow tattoos are meant to represent strength and bravery, especially when hunting for food or facing your enemies on the battlefield.
However, if you are interested in getting a Cupid tattoo, then these arrows will come to represent very different ideas.
As we previously mentioned, Cupid’s arrows are viewed as the objectification of love, which means they represent the sudden feeling of falling in love with someone at first sight.
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