The simple minded mechanic in me sees these likely possibilities in the Cupid Gem. The  colorful annotation in the first plate may obscure some of the detail.  The second plate may be helpful for comparison.

First let’s get our bearings:   Arrow 1 is pointing at something that seems  to be pretty clearly the catch that holds the bowstring.

Arrow 3  is pointing at something interesting.  You can see it more clearly if you magnify and then tilt your computer screen back and forth a smidge.  ……… Yeah, that’s it.  A toothed side plate grinning out at you from antiquity.   How cool is that?

And now to it:   Arrow 2  could be pointing at a bolt.  ….. On the other hand perhaps it’s pointing to something a little more risque…..  Something you have to squint at with your imagination to see afresh:  the acutely angled string on an inswinger as it pulls the machine’s  limbs through their massive  120 degree  draw range?

Not buying it?  ….. Oh well, talking catapult smack is not all elegance and manners you know.   Concocting all this crap takes a lot of energy.  That’s why I usually give irresolvable controversies a wide berth.  All I can say is that my eyes tell me what my eyes tell me.  Cupid is hard at work cocking something.   Whatever it is doesn’t look  like any kind of outswinger I’ve ever seen.

Arrow 4 shows a rough concept for what the artist could have chosen to render if he or she had wished to show this depiction as an outswinger.     On the other hand, it may be that Roman perspective drawing wasn’t all I’ve cracked it up to be with my little black crayon.  This would be the point some valiant art historian needs to step in and settle this silliness.

One last point on the line drawing below:  given the truncated treatment of the bowstring as it becomes eclipsed by the starboard field frame,  we might suspect  even the mighty Marsden  glimpsed an inswinger here too.     (Yeah, Yeah,  I know.  They hadn’t invented them in his day…..urp.)

Click on the drawing for a closer look. Conclusion: A humble approach to historical inquiry  recognizes that we will only ever know an infinitesimal fraction of all that came before us.  Pearls, however,  are not always in the shadows.  Sometimes they can blind you with their obviousness.

Clearly I’m a besotted sop for inswingers.  How’s that for obvious?  Here’s betting a hipster like Cupid loved using one  to pierce the hearts of all those hard cases he had to deal with.

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