Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cupid and Psyche

Story Origin:

(According to Edith Hamilton's Mythology) told by Apuleius, Latin writer of 2nd century modern era. Latin names are used and told tale after manner of Ovid.

Story Summary:

Long time ago, a king had three daughters; of which Psyche was the most beautiful. Many people would travel to see her and often compared her to Venus, which caused the goddess to be extremely jealous and angry. She begged her son Cupid to use an arrow to make Psyche fall in love with the most hideous man in existence. When she showed him the girl, Cupid fell in love with her.

Psyche's admirers dwindled, and her parents, alarmed that no one wanted the girl, went to an oracle of Apollo who told them that Psyche is desired by a god and to put her in mourning and leave her on a hill. Reluctantly, it was done as directed.

The wind, Zephyr, meanwhile, took Psyche to a very beautiful and grand house, and at night her husband visited her, not allowing her to see him. It thus continued for a while until the husband told Psyche of her sisters' grief and warned her not to contact them unless she wanted destruction. Psyche really missed her family, so reluctantly the husband allowed her to see the sisters.

When she saw the sisters, they were happy but the sisters became extremely jealous of her, especially when she gave them gifts and they concocted a plan of Psyche's destruction. Next time they visited, they convinced Psyche that her husband is a monster who will use her and then dispose of her. They advised her to take a knife and kill him.

At night when Psyche had a knife and a lamp, she saw her husband for the first time, and instead of monster as her sisters warned her, she saw a beautiful god and fell in love with him. She dropped the knife and accidentally some wax on him, waking Cupid up. Cupid flew off, telling her who he is, and Psyche, at now deeply in love, trailed after him.

She tried and tried finding where he is, and tried to get gods to favor her, but no one wanted to make an enemy out of Venus. Venus, meanwhile, was outraged at what Psyche had done to her son and was searching for her. They finally find each other.

Venus gives her four tasks to complete; one is to sort out the grains with which the ants help her, another is to get fleece from the sheep with which the reed advises her, then another is to get water from the beginning of the river Styx, an eagle helps her with that, and last is Persepine's beauty. Psyche makes it out okay, except she's curious about what the beauty is and when she opens the box, she falls into a deep sleep.

Meanwhile Cupid has healed up and he begins to desire Psyche once more. The door was locked but he flies outside the window and finds his wife. He wakes her with a prick from his arrows, chides her for her curiosity and the two return.

Cupid makes an appeal to Jupiter to grant him Psyche in marriage, to which Jupiter consents to, and he turns Psyche into a goddess, which really pacifies Venus. The two then live happily ever after.


I've known of this myth as a child and I find it beatiful and well-told, and also the man barely does any seeking or rescuing; despite the odds, Psyche seeks her husband and overcomes obstacles in her way. An interesting fact that some may or may not know: Psyche's name literally means "breath" which could also mean "soul", while Cupid's name means "love." What it means is that the soul cannot live without love, and love cannot live without soul. (Even if Psyche was mortal, Cupid still desired her.)

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Although the ending is a happy one, there is the fact that Cupid happens to be a god and Psyche a mortal such as Montagues and Capulets (One Protestant and another Catholic,) and the coupling was opposed to and involved monumental tasks to be together again.



  1. I recently read that Pysche also alludes to the butterfly and that this represents the "soul" rising from the crysilis (sp) or the body.
    Such a romantic tale: CS Lewis' version is great as well.
    I was inspired to write my own take on the god of love: Cupid's Academy.

  2. @Tai Thanks for commenting on the entry and for another meaning. Any chance I could read Cupid's Academy? Thanks :)


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