Cupid carries two kinds of arrows, one with a sharp golden point, and the other with a blunt tip of lead.

A person wounded by the golden arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire, but the one struck by the lead feels aversion and desires only to flee.

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At the same time, the Eros who was pictured as a boy or slim youth was regarded as the child of a divine couple, the identity of whom varied by source.

The influential Renaissance mythographer Natale Conti began his chapter on Cupid/Eros by declaring that the Greeks themselves were unsure about his parentage: Heaven and Earth, The Greek travel writer Pausanias, he notes, contradicts himself by saying at one point that Eros welcomed Aphrodite into the world, and at another that Eros was the son of Aphrodite and the youngest of the gods.

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His symbols are the arrow and torch, "because love wounds and inflames the heart." These attributes and their interpretation were established by late antiquity, as summarized by Isidore of Seville (d. Cupid is also sometimes depicted blindfolded and described as blind, not so much in the sense of sightless—since the sight of the beloved can be a spur to love—as blinkered and arbitrary.

As described by Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1590s): Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.Cupid continued to be a popular figure in the Middle Ages, when under Christian influence he often had a dual nature as Heavenly and Earthly love.In the Renaissance, a renewed interest in classical philosophy endowed him with complex allegorical meanings.The multiple Cupids frolicking in art are the decorative manifestation of these proliferating loves and desires.During the English Renaissance, Christopher Marlowe wrote of "ten thousand Cupids"; in Ben Jonson's wedding masque Hymenaei, "a thousand several-coloured loves ... Cupid is winged, allegedly, because lovers are flighty and likely to change their minds, and boyish because love is irrational.The use of these arrows is described by the Latin poet Ovid in the first book of his Metamorphoses.