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CUPIDE, CUPIDES, CUPIDO. Cupid, son of Venus and Mars, is a Roman adaptation of the Greek god Eros. He is depicted winged, blindfolded, and armed with a bow and arrows. Ovid describes two kinds of arrows: blunt and tipped with lead, the kind that causes flight from the lover; sharp, golden, with a gleaming point, the other kind that kindles love (Met I.469-471). Isidore sees Cupid as a demon of fornication, who represents foolish and irrational love (Etym VIII.xi.80). Petrus Berchorius says that Cupid, son of Venus Voluptaria, is the god of carnality; he is painted winged because love flies away suddenly, and he is also blind (De formis figurisque deorum, fol.5va. 49-51, fol 6ra.13-14). Ovid refers to caecus amor (blind love) in Fasti II.762.

The Knight invokes Cupide, who is out of all charity, KnT 1623. Cupido appears in the temple of Venus, KnT 1963-1966, HF I.137. The Man of Law calls Chaucer's book of noble wives and lovers The Seintes Legende of Cupide, MLI 61. The Learned Eagle calls Cupido, "blynde nevew of Jove," HF II.617. According to one tradition, Venus is the daughter of Jupiter and Dione, Cupid is then Jupiter's grandson. According to another tradition, Venus is the daughter of the mutilated Saturn, Jupiter's father; Cupid is then his nephew. ME nevew also means "relative." The Dreamer sees Cupide under a tree, beside a well, PF 211-212. The formel eagle says that she is not ready to serve Venus or Cupid, PF 651-652. Cupide is the god of love throughout Troilus and Criseyde.

Cupid of the Prologue to The Legend of Good Women is different from Cupid who accompanies Venus in the other poems. He is the mighty God of Love, clothed in silk embroidered with green boughs, and he wears a garland of rose petals, LGW G 160; a sun crowns his blond hair, LGW F 230-231. His face shines so brightly that the Dreamer, standing a furlong away, cannot look at his face. In one hand he carries two fiery darts; his wings are like an angel's, and he is not blind, but sees. Chaucer's source may have been RR 545-546, where Idleness is clothed in a green coat sewed with silk, and RR 847-872, where the God of Love is robed in flowers and is not blind. [Alceste: Mars: Venus: Wille]

Cupide, the ME variant, appears twice initially, PF 212; Tr III.186, and twice in medial positions, KnT 1623; Scogan 22, and five times in final rhyming position, MLI 61; PF 652; Tr III.1808, V.207, 582. Cupides, the ME genitive case, occurs once initially, Tr V.1590. Cupido, medieval Latin and OF variant, never appears initially, but three times in medial positions, HF II.668; Tr III.461; LGW 1140; and three times in final rhyming position, KnT 1963; HF I.137, HF II.617.

Petrus Berchorius, Ovidius Moralizatus, ed. J. Engels, 22, 24; D.S. Fansler, Chaucer and the Roman de la Rose, 62-72; Isidore, Etymologiae, ed. W.M. Lindsay, I; Ovid, Fasti, ed. and trans. J.G. Frazer, 112-113; ibid., Met, ed. and trans. F.J. Miller, I: 34-35; RR, ed. E. Langlois, 29, 44-45; RR, trans. C. Dahlberg, 38, 42.
Copyright © 1988, 1996 Jacqueline de Weever
Published by Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London.

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