Greek Myths: Cupid and Psyche

By Jessica Copland

Narrative First retold by C.S. Lewis

Original version

Cupid and Psyche
Once upon a time there was a king with three daughters, all were lovely. The youngest Psyche, excelled in beauty compared to her sisters. Her fame of her beauty spreads far and many came to worship her. Meanwhile her sister Venus (Aphrodite) the true goddess of love became neglected and jealous. So she turned to her son Cupid (Eros) for help. Venus instructed cupid to go and shoot Psyche with an arrow to make her fall in love with the most vile, horrible monster upon earth. Cupid
Psyche with the box of Beauty
his bow and arrow, and flew on, one look at Psyche and he was lost. No victim of his gold arrows was any more in love than he was now. Everyone admired and worshiped Psyche her beauty so fearsome men were scared to express their love or make plain their sentiments. Both of Psyches’ sisters were married and she was to only be admired but not loved. The king began to suspect some sort of a curse was placed on Psyche so he went to town and consulted the oracle of Apollo. And he said “Psyche must be dressed in clothes of mourning and placed on the summit at the top of a mountain there is where she will be taken away by a fierce winged serpent to be his wife”. They prepared for this marriage for their unfortunate daughter. All the people mourned and wept while she was escorted to her fate. As she sat awaiting a warm breathe of air caresses her neck and the invisible wind god Zephyrus took her and laid her gently upon the ground. Psyche forgot her fears and fell asleep then.Once she awoke she saw a beautiful palace in the distance and as she reached the unguarded gates she is told that it was all for her. She was graced with delicious food and servants at her every need she felt reassured that soon she would meet her husband. At night he came and whispered to her and she realized he was no monster but which at each dawn he would disappear. As time passed, Psyche became very accustomed to life of luxury. But because her time with her husband was so brief and only at night she became bored and lonely. One night she begged her husband to allow her sisters to come and visit. Reluctantly he agreed but had warned her not to discuss him or the nature of their relationship to them. Her sisters came and greeted her with warm

The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche

smiles but became very jealous and began to plot against her. Psyches sisters began to corrupt her mind telling her that her husband was not a handsome god and was truly the serpent monster prophesied by the oracle. They wanted her to fear him. Her sisters told her to be frightened and to arm herself with a sharp knife and to check out his face with the lamp while he was asleep. Her heart began to fill with terror instead of love and that very night she did as her sisters told her to do and took a sharp dagger to bed. As she lit her lamp she realized it was not a monster but a beautiful man. Cupid himself in all of his glory, she was shocked to what she found. She trembled and a drop of hot oil from the lamp fell and landed upon his shoulder, the pain awakened him. And at that sight he fled without a word. She roamed all night in search of her husband but he could not be found.
Meanwhile cupid went to his mother to have his wound cared for, but soon Venus her what happened. Becoming more jealous and angry she vowed to show Psyche what it felt like to bring down “The wrath of a goddess”. Psyches search for Cupids was to no avail. So she went to Venus to beg for forgiveness and offer to do penance so she could see Cupid again. Venus led Psyche to a temple where she must perform tasks. At this tower was one huge heap of wheat, barely, millet, beans, lentils, and poppy seeds and she said” sort these grains putting them all in the same kind of pie by themselves and have it done before twilight”. Psyche sat at her despair, overwhelmed by her task. Cupid stirred up a little ant to take compassion to Psyche. He summoned an army of ants to help separate. When Venus returned she was surprised to find the task had been completed. The next morning another task was given she must cut the golden wool off of the sheep down in the valley. When she reached a river she thought to drown herself but a voice bade her not to. Telling her not to give up warning her that the rams will kill her if she gets to close and to wait until sunset when the flock is tired and resting to get the fleece. So she did so and grabbed the fleece out of the bushes and trees that it was stuck in. Venus shocked yet again devised another task to test Psyches courage and she demanded a jar of ice cold water from the mountain peak. As she approached the waterfall a winged creature came and took the jar filling it with water for her and quickly placed it back in her hands.
Gerard-Amor&Psyche.jpgBut yet she had to complete one final task. “Go down to the underworld and ask Persephone to fill this box with some of her beauty” explained Venus. While Psyche was on her way she found herself a guide in a tower. The guide gave her very particular directions on how to get to Persephone’s palace. She had been told to bring two coins in her mouth as the round trip fees for Charon, the Styx ferryman. As well as six honey cakes to feed the three-headed monster dog, Cerberus. Psyche followed these instructions and Persephone was more than happy to do Venus the favor.
Charon receiving the coin fair
She filled the box for her and she began her journey back home. The voice in the tower had warned Psyche not to open the box reminding that an evil spell would fall on to her if she did so. With everything she had been through she needed the beauty if she was to ever see Cupid again. Psyche opened the box and was surprised to find nothing in it and suddenly she fell into a deathlike sleep. Cupid had finally healed and was ready to see Psyche; he slipped through the window and flew to where Psyche had fallen asleep. He awoke her with the light touch of one of his arrows, and exclaimed “Again you have almost been perished by your curiosity”. He wiped the sleep from her eyes and placed it back into the box he told her “Take it to my mother and all will be fine”. To make sure of this he went to mount Olympus himself to speak to Venus about it. He agreed to stop his mischief of making people fall in love so that he could be with Psyche. After all was over Jupiter summoned everyone and announced their marriage. Mercury brought Psyche to the palace of gods and Jupiter gave her the ambrosia to make her immortal. Venus was finally satisfied and would not command attention and admiration from the men of earth anymore. Later on Cupid and Psyche had a daughter whom they named Pleasure.

For more on Cupid and Psyche

Interpretation By Jessica Copland

The myth of Cupid and Psyche explores the journey that love can sometimes give, to travel down.When the truth is revealed to Psyche about Cupid, the result depicts that true admiration of another can power through anything and the essence of this myth creates an expression of true love. The values of love are expressed through tasks therefore showcases courage and trust because a person must inquire these traits to be successful in accomplishing these tasks.

Cupid and Psyche interpreted to me is a fight for love. Psyche must go through a series of tasks in order to win her husband in the battle of love. Venus wants to see what Psyche is willing to endure for her son cupid and love. She is certain Psyche will fail and die, yet her fight for love is strong. To myself I think that love is powerful, and that over all things it can give you the courage to do things you didn’t think you could.It is told that Psyche symbolizes the human soul that is purified by misfortune, and sufferings. This is until she shows courage within her, and to be rewarded with love and joy for eternality at the end. “The tasks which Venus imposed on Psyche may be related to the four elements of the Greeks” (Caris, 2).

The separation of the grains is the earth due to the fact that they bury it to be grown. Acquiring the golden fleece not in the sun, but when its night out so that they don’t burn is fire. The cascading stream symbolizes the water. And the heavy mist of beauty represents the air. Completing all of these tasks will give her power of the fifth element of love.