Venus’s little companion

Venus is often accompanied by a small figure who is recognisable on this terracotta oil lamp - a Cupid.
According to tradition, Cupid was the son of Venus, which is why he was generally portrayed as a child with chubby arms and legs. He often had a pair of wings too; on this work, they are visible in slight relief behind his shoulders. He often used a bow and arrows to inspire feelings of love (or rejection) in men and gods.
In mythological accounts, he was often presented as a playful child next to Venus - maybe being scolded, pricked by roses, or cuddled by his mother. The image we have here is one of a long series of images showing Cupid playing at human activities (there are many examples in the Pompeii frescoes).