Joel Christensen in The Conversation:
Each Valentine’s Day, when I see images of the chubby winged god Cupid taking aim with his bow and arrow at his unsuspecting victims, I take refuge in my training as a scholar of early Greek poetry and myth to muse on the strangeness of this image and the nature of love.
In Roman culture, Cupid was the child of the goddess Venus, popularly known today as the goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war. But for ancient audiences, as myths and texts show, she was really the patron deity of “sexual intercourse” and “procreation.” The name Cupid, which comes from the Latin verb cupere, means desire, love or lust. But in the odd combination of a baby’s body with lethal weapons, along with parents associated with both love and war, Cupid is a figure of contradictions – a symbol of conflict and desire.
This history isn’t often reflected in the modern-day Valentine celebrations.