The Real Story of Cupid with YOUR Southern Gentleman
Now that we have brought in the New Year, it’s time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day. And, of course, when you do — Cupid always pops up. You know, the guy in a diaper with the wings and bow and arrow? Synonymous with hearts and chocolate and love…this mythical figure agreed to sit down and talk amore, and I jumped at the chance to learn more about this mysterious iconic figure.
SG: Thank you so much for sharing some time with me. I am so excited to meet you. I have seen photos on cards and boxes of candy with your likeness all my life. Let’s talk more about you and try to separate fact from fiction. As with most legends, there are many unknown and not exactly accurate depictions of you.
Cupid: Haha. I am happy to chat. First, as you can see, I am a grown man — not a chubby baby in a diaper. That was an image created several years ago by the clever marketing people selling cards and candy for this holiday of love. As you mentioned….inaccurate information abounds!
My life story is a long one. SO, let’s start with Mom and Dad. My parents are Greek gods. My mother, Venus, is the Goddess of Love , and my father, Mars, is known as the God of War. They gave me the name Cupid which means “to desire.”
I was given the conventional attributes of the Olympian gods, such as superhuman strength, endurance and longevity. However, I was also given extensive archery skills with powers to shoot loving, gold and magical tipped arrows to cause affection for the first thing my victims see after getting hit.
I am not bragging or complaining. I am just telling it like it is. Being the son of Greek gods is no easy task. There are some big carbatines (ancient Greek sandals) to fill and a lot of expectations. I am sure a lot of your readers know exactly what I mean.
SG: So, you mentioned your family. Tell me more about your childhood and what it is like being raised by Greek gods.
Cupid: I was always under the very close eye of my parents, like most kids, full of mischief and curiosity. When you are young and have superpowers, it can be dangerous. At times I was a little callous and careless. Sometimes, just as a harmless troublemaker having fun, shooting my arrow at the oddest couples, just to see how it would go. One time, I had a conflict with another young male. I felt that he was making fun of me. So, I struck him with an arrow to make him fall for a beautiful young lady — who I then made fall in love with someone else. I believe that was the worst thing I ever did. For, it inflicted terrible pain. I mean, have you ever loved someone who loved someone else?
No doubt, I got this mischief and sometimes poor behavior from my mother. However, this all changed when I fell in love.
My mother, Venus, had trouble dealing with women whose beauty rivaled her own. She once bribed a Trojan prince named Paris to choose her over two other goddesses in a beauty pageant. His reward was a Greek beauty named Helen. Unfortunately, Helen was already married to Menelaus, King of Sparta, as we all know from the story. When Paris took Helen to Troy, a thousand ships were launched to bring her back, resulting in the Trojan War.
A tale of jealousy all my own is where my life changed.
There was a young lady named Psyche. Though a mortal, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Men would travel from far away lands to get a glimpse of her. This infuriated my mother because Psyche was getting so much attention. So she sent me to make Psyche’s life miserable by using one of my arrows to make her fall in love with the ugliest monster-like man I could find. Being an obedient son, I went on my mission. When I had Psyche in my sights, preparing to shoot as she caught eyes with the ugliest man in the crowd outside her house... I then saw her face. That was it. I literally shot myself in the foot. I was in love.
Now, what to do. I couldn’t marry her - I am a God, and she a mortal. Not to mention what mother would say or do. So, in secret at night, I started having her meet me so she could not see my face. Yes, we were falling in love. I took her to live in a luxurious palace and visited every night. I had servants cater to all her needs each day. But I insisted she could never see my face. If she did, I would leave her.
One day she had her sisters come to visit. They became extremely jealous of her new home, the servants and all she was given. They told her that I must be a monster if I wouldn’t let her see my face and suggested that she shine my face with light while I was sleeping. That night she did, and she saw who I was a god, not a monster. The light woke me, and I felt betrayed and left.
As Psyche did not have wings, she could not follow me. She searched everywhere for me while I was trying to figure out what to do. Unable to find me, Psyche ended up coming to my mother for help. My mother told her that she would tell her where I was if she completed a specific task which she willingly agreed to do. The task took her to the Underworld, where she was to bring back a beautiful box but was told not to open the box, no matter what. But again, curiosity got the best of her, and she opened to look inside. It contained the sleep of darkness, which swiftly put her into an eternal sleep.
Knowing my mother had something to do with her disappearance, I searched and found Psyche. Crushed with grief and sadness, I gave her a kiss, and she awoke. I knew then that I could never again be without her. I went to Jupiter, the King of Gods, told him my story, and he agreed to help me. He granted Psyche immortality so she could live with me as my wife in Olympus among the gods, where she became the Goddess of the Soul. We had a daughter named Hedone, the Goddess of Pleasure. Yes, ours is a true love story.
The lesson we learned from all this is that there can be no love without trust. Or, as Elvis put it… “we can’t go on together with suspicious minds.”
SG: Wow! What a story. So, does it always work when you shoot your arrow in someone? Does it last?
Cupid: Johnny, nothing is perfect. Heck, I know you’re a Kentucky Wildcat basketball fan. Even they only win ninety percent of their home games at Rupp Arena. With love or whatever you want to call it, you just never know sometimes. Obviously, love can be fleeting. But then, was that really TRUE love? Sometimes people think they were shot with one of my arrows but end up realizing it wasn’t love at all. It may have been something…something that had a hold, but was it love or something dang near like it?
Others just find a way to mess things up. You know, they find that love is grand, and divorce is 200 grand.
The phrase “love is blind” comes from people falling in love with an image of what they want that person to be or what they hope they will become. As a result, they only see the good early on and overlook the bad, the shortcomings. But, for that to last, it will take some work from both sides.
Mostly, I just want to impart happiness to both mortal and immortal couples. I can only light the spark, so to speak. It’s up to the lovers to see it through.
SG: Thank you, Cupid.
Love. It has caused wars, costs lives, broken up homes, families and friendships. Oh, yeah and broken many a heart. Maybe that is why over sixty percent of all recorded hit songs are about love, and don’t we all have a favorite love story on the big screen we watch over and over (cry over is more like it). Art imitates life, as they say – and in no greater way than a romantic movie with a happy ending.
Not a man (or woman) or god, in Heaven or on Earth, really knows the secret to love. But let me know if you figure it out. In the meantime, Happy Valentine’s Day. Here’s to love and all that goes with it. Fortunately for us mortals, matters of the heart don’t usually involve a jealous goddess. So, celebrate this Valentine’s Day with the one you love, and may Cupid’s arrow work its magic!
“Love is something sent from heaven to worry the hell out of you.”
— Dolly Parton
Your Southern Gentleman, Johnny Birdsong
Johnny Birdsong, Publisher at YOUR Williamson Magazine, is a Kentucky native and Williamson County convert but above all, a Southern Gentleman. In upcoming issues, this column will feature Johnny to offer time-honored advice in the area of manners, hospitality, and what being a gentleman means as he chats and visits with such gentlemen from all over our county. You never know who he may be sitting down with next!