- Cupid is winged, allegedly, because lovers are flighty and likely to change their minds, and boyish because love is irrational. 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. 636 AD) in his Etymologies.
- The Romans reinterpreted myths and concepts pertaining to the Greek Eros for Cupid in their own literature and art, and medieval and Renaissance mythographers conflate the two freely. In the Greek tradition, Eros had a dual, contradictory geneaology. He was among the primordial gods who came into existence asexually; after his generation, deities were begotten through male-female unions. In Hesiod's Theogony, only Chaos and Gaia (Earth) are older. Before the existence of gender dichotomy, Eros functioned by causing entities to separate from themselves that which they already contained.
- 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, Ares and Aphrodite, Night and Ether, or Strife and Zephyr.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.