Cupid with Weapons of Mars

Artist: Adamo (Ghisi) Scultori (Italian, Mantua ca. 1530–1587 Rome)

Date: ca. 1547–62

Medium: Engraving, first state

Dimensions: Sheet: 5 3/4 x 4 7/16 in. (14.6 x 11.3 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949

Accession Number: 49.97.479


The union between Venus, goddess of love, and Mars, god of war, was often understood as emblematic of love's power to calm the aggressive spirit. In 'De rerum natura' (On the Nature of Things, 1.29–40) of 55 B.C., Lucretius called on Venus to seduce Mars and bring peace to the Romans. Scultori's image suggests that she has done so. While his parents are occupied, Cupid carries off the heavy shield and sword of Mars, ensuring love's victory over war.