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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials: Cupid

Cupid is the Greek god of love. He is the son of Venus and husband of Psyche (with whom he fathered Hedone, the goddess of pleasure). He is usually depicted as winged and carrying a quiver of arrows that he shoots to make his targets fall in love.

Bronzino's painting Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time. Part of the Qwiz5 series by Qwiz Quizbowl Camp, written to help quiz bowl teams power more tossups!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer more tossups. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on Cupid.


Psyche was the mortal lover of Cupid. She was kidnapped by Venus (Cupid’s mother) and forced to marry what she believed to be a hideous monster. Her husband would only visit her at night and refused to show his face. Curiosity got the best of her, however, and one night she lit her lamp to reveal that her husband was really Cupid. But in so doing, she accidentally spilled oil on Cupid, scarring him. As punishment, Venus forced her to sort a giant pile of grain in one night, an impossible task. She was aided, however, by some very helpful ants who sorted the grain so that Cupid and Psyche could reunite.


Much of the story of Cupid and Psyche comes from the novel The Golden Ass, written by the Roman Lucius Apuleius. The story of Cupid and Psyche is told by an old woman to a bride who is kidnapped on her wedding day and held for ransom in a cave.


Cupid plays a central role in the story of Apollo and Daphne. When Apollo insulted Cupid’s archery skills, Cupid punished him by shooting him with a golden arrow, causing him to fall madly in love with Daphne. However, Cupid shot Daphne with an arrow of lead, causing her to be repulsed by Apollo. She runs to get away from Apollo, and her father, the river god Peneus, transforms her into a laurel tree to protect her from Apollo’s advances.


Perhaps the best known artistic depiction of Cupid comes in Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time, a 16th century painting by Italian Mannerist Agnolo Bronzino. The painting, which depicts an incestuous kiss between Cupid and his mother Venus, is full of noteworthy imagery, including an old woman with green skin pulling her hair (possibly symbolizing syphilis) and a girl with the legs of a lion and tail of a serpent clutching a honeycomb (possibly a reference to Cupid’s ill-fated attempt to steal honey). This painting can be seen above.


Cupid also features prominently in The Rokeby Venus (also known as Venus at her Toilet) by 17th century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez. In the painting, Cupid holds a mirror as his mother, a nude Venus, admires her reflection.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

* In this excerpt from The Golden Ass by Apuleius tells the story of Cupid and Psyche.

* Read more about the story of Apollo, Daphne, and Cupid here.

* Here’s an interesting article about a politically-motivated vandalism of Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus.

* Watch a Khan Academy video analyzing Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time:


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