From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cupid: More putto than cherub

Sleeping Putto (by Leon Bazile Perrault)
Although the medieval version of Cupid often epitomized spiritual as well as romantic love, he is certainly no angel.
Nor is he the cherub that people mistake him for – since cherubs are simply four-faced, four-winged members of 
the angel hierarchy…

Purportedly the son of Venus (goddess of love) and Mars (god of war), Cupid turned out to be quite the mixed-up kid. Wikipedia reports that he is "frequently invoked as fickle, playful, and perverse."  Often sticking his arrows into other people's business, Cupid eventually became trapped within his own web of passion.  Thinking he would trick the beautiful Psyche into falling in love "with the vilest thing in the world," he wound up pricking himself with the arrow meant for her (thus falling hopelessly in love with his intended victim).

It's complicated.

Nevertheless, one thing seems perfectly clear.  Cupid is far more the putto than he is the cherub.  According to Wikipedia, putti (plural of putto) are "secular, profane and present a non-religious passion," whereas cherubim (plural of cherub) are "biblical angels."  Although putti tend to resemble human babies, they are far from innocent.  In fact, manipulative cleverness is their strong suit.  They have even managed to charm their way into the works of high-caliber artists such as Donatello, Raphael, and (yes!) Walt Disney.

Copyright February 8, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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