Flashfic: Cupid’s Cameo

Zephyr, the West Wind, blew in a batch of scrolls to Cupid that morning. Cupid set aside everything that had a black seal on it. This meant Mother wanted him to inflict his targets with passions for cruel partners.

Such pairings were more of a divine punishment than a divine favor. Nemesis was a more natural executor for such jobs than him. She’d taken on these jobs when he was a child, and he still gave her arrows to do the work.

Sometimes Mother sent him presents and treats for work well done. When he first started out these were pastries. Now they were thoughtful eye-catching trinkets for his art collection.

Her patrons and followers were generous with their offerings. She in turn shared the wealth with him. This time there was an exquisite cameo in the package of scrolls carved with the utmost artistry.

She must’ve inspired an artist to do this. The beauty of the maiden etched in the cameo was divine. Though it was strange, this effect came about without being a likeness of Mother. Was Mother trying out a new look when she inspired this man?

Perhaps this is a sketch for a full statue he hopes she’ll animate for him. I’m almost tempted to commission one for myself.

Mother did this all the time for Hephaestus’s statues and had done it once for Galatea’s mortal creator. “I like to give Hephaestus toys to play with,” she’d told him when he asked why she did this.

Hephaestus was good at weapons. Yet his statues had never been as tempting as the maiden in this cameo. At this rate, Cupid would prefer an artist to make a statue for Mother to animate.

I risk offending Hephaestus if I want my statue to be done by someone with more artistic skill. I must make do with this cameo. I’d carry off any flesh and blood maiden who looked like this…

And so he does in the “Cupid’s Intrigue” story in my latest Greek inspired fantasy collection A Heart for Hubris.

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Did Cupid Ever Stop Being a Mama’s Boy?

You’d expect a God of Love to be bold in the pursuit of love. Yet Cupid is reluctant to pursue someone if he must oppose his mother. So the girl who’s so lovely she’s mistaken for a love goddess disappears.

Everyone knows Cupid’s mother is Venus/Aphrodite. His father is unknown. His Dad could be his mother’s husband Hephaestus/Vulcan. It could be her lover Mars/Ares. It could even be some mortal man who caught her eye. It’s inferred other Olympians have hooked up with her too. Either way Cupid is considered a full god and not a demigod.

No one considers this state of affairs improper for a Goddess of Love. Cupid’s unknown paternity causes him to cling to his mother for his identity. He’s like he’s a mortal child with a single mother and absentee father. Given these circumstances it’s only natural Cupid goes into the family business. He becomes a God of Love.

There’s no legend that shows Cupid having any angsty identity crisis. They do show him being a “mama’s boy.” She overshadows him so much that only a maiden who usurps Venus’s worship can catch his eye. He marries Psyche in secret. Psyche is abused by his mother when their secret marriage is discovered. Despite all this Psyche is added to the Olympian pantheon when he finally speaks up for her. He exchanges favors with the Elder Gods to have make her an immortal.

Perhaps he spoke up for Psyche because she proved her love for him by undergoing trials. Maybe his heart was moved by the imminent birth of their daughter since Psyche was pregnant at the time.

The legend of their courtship says he was pricked by his own arrow when he first saw Psyche. Is this a way for Cupid to deny any responsibility for choosing her as his mate or else to show the blindness of love?

Such ambiguity makes it hard to know if the Psyche and Cupid legend is a coming of age for him. Cupid carries out his share of duties with no more bids for independence from his mother. For Psyche’s sake I hoped they worked together as co-partners. Married life would be miserable if he still blindly obeyed his mother.

I can’t argue for any particular interpretation of the Cupid and Psyche myth. However, my own version of their courtship shows him learning to accept a more active role. “Cupid’s Intrigue” is in my A Heart for Hubris release. A flashfic of when she first catches his eye will debut tomorrow on this blog.

Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein


3 out of 5

I would’ve liked this more if I came from an age before video games.
A young American gets to play hero, but tires of the game when all is not what it appears to be. It was written before video games were made but feels like a video game that goes on too long and gets too boring. His solution is a akin to a gamer who finds a new game to play.

Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard by Mark Finn


5 out of 5

A sympathetic portrait of man often portrayed as a mama’s boy who wrote wish
fulfillment pulp fiction with macho characters. He had his issues but lived a rugged lifestyle
in rough boom towns in his childhood and youth. I feel this is a balanced biography that does him justice. There may still be people convinced that Robert E. Howard only wrote self insert Gary Stu fiction, but this explains how he was able to turn his Gary Stus
into such a strong and iconic characters while others attempts to do so are laughable.

Eris’s Discord

Will they prefer ambrosia or blood? Eris wondered as she considered her offering for the Fates.

Bah, offer them the best you got. Any mortal can spell blood for the Three. Only an Olympian can give them ambrosia and nectar. So she saved her portions for three days. She thought it best to give each of them a serving when she came to visit them.

She wanted and boon and thought it best not to come to them empty-handed. The Three preferred to live in caves but didn’t wish to delve as deep as Hades did. Then again Hades wouldn’t live in the Underworld himself if he had the choice. It was hard to tell why such a life was imposed on him. Was it a decree of the Fates? Or a plot by his brothers to force an unwanted domain on him? They’d played dice over the spoils of their war with Cronus. The results of dice throws were always credited to the Fates but who knew if the dice were already loaded by Zeus and Poseidon?

She knew it was no use to ask for an expansion to her power base from the Olympians. It’d take a war to change their minds, and she didn’t have a capacity for war—yet.

Yet Athena was proof the Fates could be appeased. Aphrodite had more pull with the Olympians than Eris did. They’d seen her new hobby as harmless when she took up weaving so Miss Priss whined to the Fates to put a stop to it. The Fate’s decreed it was Aphrodite’s duty and pleasure to make love. Miss Priss was bound to object when Eris impinged on her domain of war unless she countered it first.

It’ll be different for me. The next time Miss Priss whines she’ll find her last line of appeal already cut off. She would succeed where Aphrodite had failed.

There were tapestries and rungs when she got further into the cave. The Fates are the foremost weavers in the cosmos. It’s probably their handiwork. Yet she was still worried since it reminded her of Athena’s pieces. So standardized and proper. the use of pre-approved themes. It’s little wonder I took Arachne as my personal weaver. Her handiwork is more to my liking. She cackled at the memory of Athena’s rage when Eris granted Arachne her protection and favor. Her laughter rang down the hallway, announcing her presence to the Fates.

Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos were gathered around a table drinking a herbal tea. Eris held up her basket, “I offer you ambrosia and nectar for your repast.”

Lachesis nodded, took the basked and placed it on the table. Clotho, the Maiden, divided the portions among them. “I shall save mine until this business is done. I don’t want to lose my appetite.” Her frown was as disapproving as Athena’s got and Eris’s back stiffened.

The Crone, Atropos smiled, exposing ragged teeth. “I find malice the perfect spice to my meals.”

The Mother, Lachesis, sighed.

“You know why I’m here?”

“You want to become a war goddess.” Lachesis said.

“I see it as a natural extension of my present duties,” Eris said. “But I know Miss Priss will complain I’m impinging on her name. Meanwhile, she has two duties that impinge those of four gods, Mars and yours.”

“Ours?” Clotho repeated.

Eris raised a brow. “You Three weave the Tapestry of Life. That makes you the most fitting patronesses of weaving.”

Atropos cackled while Lachesis sighed and Clotho’s mouth fell open. “You do your job well, Goddess of Discord.”

Eris sighed. “So you see my petition as a way to encourage corruption?”

“You serve us best when you subtlety encourage ambition. The results of such work is the most dramatic and despised in conquerors. Though it is something worth applauding when seen in entrepreneurs and statesmen. That is your place in the Order of Things.” Lachesis said.

Atropos motioned to Clotho who took out a bag. “Lachesis and I have two gifts for you prepared in return for the ambrosia and nectar you gave us.”

There was a jeweled dagger, and an asp let out of the bag.

Lachesis grabbed the dagger and presented the hilt to Eris. “Here is a dagger to place in your enemies’ back.”

Atropos grabbed the asp and wound it around Eris’s wrist like a bracelet. “Let this asp give you poison you can plant into the hearts of whoever you desire to corrupt.”

Eris glanced at Clotho, “Two out of the Three isn’t bad.”

Clotho gave her an arched grin, “Bring me a sample of Arachne’s handiwork and I’ll see what I can do for you.”

“Huh.”

Clotho laughed, “I’m one of her biggest fans. There’s more to Arachne’s tapestry than what is seen in the front. I know what you did for her…

You can see what Eris did for Arachne in my release A Heart for Hubris.