LOVE: Tale of Cupid and Psyche – Lucius Apuleius

LOVE: Tale of Cupid and Psyche – Lucius Apuleius

A story to remember ~

The story of Psyche and Cupid is one of the most endearing legends of Greek Mythology. The curse of Venus sends both her son, Cupid, and the beautiful Psyche into a long journey of testing faith and trust and how it affects their love.

Faith and trust is the most important thing to have in a marriage. When trust is broken, the marriage will begin to crumble — faith in self and spouse can restore the union and rebuild trust.

 

Cupid, The God Eros (Cupid in Latin)

In classical mythology, Cupid (Latin Cupido, meaning “desire”) is the winged young man who is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus and the war god Mars, and is known in Latin also as Amor (“Love”). His Greek counterpart is Eros.

 

Psyche, The Goddess of Soul

Since ancient times Psyche has been depicted with butterfly wings. This is a reference to the dual meaning of her name, Psukhē, in Greek: soul and butterfly. Thus did the butterfly become the symbol of the immortality of the soul.

The story of Psyche symbolizes the ordeals the soul must undergo in order to achieve happiness and immortality.

 

Image result for cupid in the chamber of psyche pic

Cupid and Psyche is a story originally from Metamorphoses (also called The Golden Ass), written in the 2nd century AD by Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis (or Platonicus). It concerns the overcoming of obstacles to the love between Psyche (/ˈsk/, Greek: Ψυχή, “Soul” or “Breath of Life”) and Cupid (Latin Cupido, “Desire”) or Amor (“Love”, Greek Eros ’′Ερως), and their ultimate union in a sacred marriage. Although the only extended narrative from antiquity is that of Apuleius, Eros and Psyche appear in Greek art as early as the 4th century BC. The story’s Neoplatonic elements and allusions to mystery religions accommodate multiple interpretations, and it has been analyzed as an allegory and in light of folktale, Märchen or fairy tale, and myth.

Since the rediscovery of Apuleius’s novel in the Renaissance, the reception of Cupid and Psyche in the classical tradition has been extensive. The story has been retold in poetry, drama, and opera, and depicted widely in painting, sculpture, and even wallpaper. Psyche’s Roman name through direct translation is Anima. (wikipedia)

There are various version of the myth of Psyche, the mortal woman. And here is one version Cupid and Psyche tale story.

 

  FAIRYTALE STORY OF CUPID AND PSYCHE

Lucius Apuleius

 

 

A certain king and queen had three daughters. The charms of the two elder were more than common, but the beauty of the youngest was so wonderful that the poverty of language is unable to express its due praise.

(photo credit: owl and crow)

 

The fame of her beauty was so great that strangers from neighboring countries came in crowds to enjoy the sight, and looked on her with amazement, paying her that homage which is due only to Venus herself. In fact Venus found her altars deserted, while men turned their devotion to this young virgin. As she passed along, the people sang her praises, and strewed her way with chaplets and flowers.

 

Psyche Honoured by the People (1692–1702) from a series of 12 scenes from the story by Luca Giordano (en.wkipedia .org)

 

This homage to the exaltation of a mortal gave great offense to the real Venus. Shaking her ambrosial locks with indignation, she exclaimed, “Am I then to be eclipsed in my honors by a mortal girl? In vain then did that royal shepherd, whose judgment was approved by Jove himself, give me the palm of beauty over my illustrious rivals, Pallas and Juno. But she shall not so quietly usurp my honors. I will give her cause to repent of so unlawful a beauty.”

 

This is one of Botticelli’s most famous works. It illustrates the birth of Venus, goddess of love and beauty. Tradition tells that Venus was born from the sea-foam, from a shell. She is then brought by a sea-breeze, represented by the two wind gods on the left of the painting, to the shores of Cyprus. In the painting, Venus is recieved by Flora, goddess of spring, who covers her in a cape. Venus is portrayed nude, as in many paintings, but her pose suggests innocence. (claudiasensi.wordpress.com)

 

Thereupon she calls her winged son Cupid, mischievous enough in his own nature, and rouses and provokes him yet more by her complaints. She points out Psyche to him and says, “My dear son, punish that contumacious beauty; give your mother a revenge as sweet as her injuries are great; infuse into the bosom of that haughty girl a passion for some low, mean, unworthy being, so that she may reap a mortification as great as her present exultation and triumph.”

 

Image result for venus goddess of love and beauty picturesVenus and cupid (claudiasensi.wordpress.com)

 

Cupid prepared to obey the commands of his mother. There are two fountains in Venus’s garden, one of sweet waters, the other of bitter. Cupid filled two amber vases, one from each fountain, and suspending them from the top of his quiver, hastened to the chamber of Psyche, whom he found asleep. He shed a few drops from the bitter fountain over her lips, though the sight of her almost moved him to pity; then touched her side with the point of his arrow. At the touch she awoke, and opened eyes upon Cupid (himself invisible), which so startled him that in his confusion he wounded himself with his own arrow. Heedless of his wound, his whole thought now was to repair the mischief he had done, and he poured the balmy drops of joy over all her silken ringlets.

 

Cupid and Psyche 1639 by SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (Source: cupidnpsyche.wordpress.com)

 

Psyche, henceforth frowned upon by Venus, derived no benefit from all her charms. True, all eyes were cast eagerly upon her, and every mouth spoke her praises; but neither king, royal youth, nor plebeian presented himself to demand her in marriage. Her two elder sisters of moderate charms had now long been married to two royal princes; but Psyche, in her lonely apartment, deplored her solitude, sick of that beauty which, while it procured abundance of flattery, had failed to awaken love.

 

Image result for goddess psyche images

 

Her parents, afraid that they had unwittingly incurred the anger of the gods, consulted the oracle of Apollo, and received this answer, “The virgin is destined for the bride of no mortal lover. Her future husband awaits her on the top of the mountain. He is a monster whom neither gods nor men can resist.”

 

Image result for apollo oracle on psyche picpicPsyche’s Parents Offering Sacrifice to Apollo …

 

This dreadful decree of the oracle filled all the people with dismay, and her parents abandoned themselves to grief. But Psyche said, “Why, my dear parents, do you now lament me? You should rather have grieved when the people showered upon me undeserved honors, and with one voice called me a Venus. I now perceive that I am a victim to that name. I submit. Lead me to that rock to which my unhappy fate has destined me.”

 

  The King, sometimes happy when he heard the prophesy of Apollo, returned home sad and sorrowful, and declared to his wife the miserable and unhappy fate of his daughter. (source; HellenicGods.org)

 

Accordingly, all things being prepared, the royal maid took her place in the procession, which more resembled a funeral than a nuptial pomp, and with her parents, amid the lamentations of the people, ascended the mountain, on the summit of which they left her alone, and with sorrowful hearts returned home.

 

Image result for apollo oracle on psyche picpicThus poor Psyche being left alone, weeping and trembling on the top of the rock, was blown by the gentle air and of shrilling Zephyrus (Source: HellenicGods.org)

 

While Psyche stood on the ridge of the mountain, panting with fear and with eyes full of tears, the gentle Zephyr raised her from the earth and bore her with an easy motion into a flowery dale. By degrees her mind became composed, and she laid herself down on the grassy bank to sleep.

 

Zephyrus and his servants carry away Psyche (Source: mythology.wikia.com)

 

When she awoke refreshed with sleep, she looked round and beheld near a pleasant grove of tall and stately trees. She entered it, and in the midst discovered a fountain, sending forth clear and crystal waters, and fast by, a magnificent palace whose august front impressed the spectator that it was not the work of mortal hands, but the happy retreat of some god. Drawn by admiration and wonder, she approached the building and ventured to enter.

 

John William Waterhouse: Psyche Entering Cupids Garden – 1905 (Source: jwwaterhouse.com)

 

Related image Psyche in the garden of cupid by kinuko

 

Every object she met filled her with pleasure and amazement. Golden pillars supported the vaulted roof, and the walls were enriched with carvings and paintings representing beasts of the chase and rural scenes, adapted to delight the eye of the beholder. Proceeding onward, she perceived that besides the apartments of state there were others filled with all manner of treasures, and beautiful and precious productions of nature and art.

While her eyes were thus occupied, a voice addressed her, though she saw no one, uttering these words, “Sovereign lady, all that you see is yours. We whose voices you hear are your servants and shall obey all your commands with our utmost care and diligence. Retire, therefore, to your chamber and repose on your bed of down, and when you see fit, repair to the bath. Supper awaits you in the adjoining alcove when it pleases you to take your seat there.”

 

Psyche Served by Invisible Spirits
Luca Giordano
1692-1702 (Source: jungcurrents.com)

 

When Psyche was set down, all sorts of divine meats and wines were brought in, not by any body, but as it were with a wind, for she saw no person before her, but only heard voices on every side. After that all the services were brought to the table, one came in and sung invisibly, another played on the harp, but she saw no man. The harmony of the Instruments did so greatly shrill in her ears, that though there were no manner of person, yet seemed she in the midst of a multitude of people.

 

All these  pleasures finished, when night approached Psyche went to bed, and when she was laid, that the sweet sleep came upon her, she greatly feared her virginity, because she was alone. Then came her unknown husband and lay with her: and after that he had made a perfect consummation of the marriage, he rose in the morning before day, and departed. Soon after came her invisible servants, and presented to her such things as were necessary for her defloration. And thus she passed forth a great while, and as it happeneth, the novelty of things by continual custom did increase her pleasure, but specially the sound of the instruments was a comfort unto her being alone.

 

Related imagePsyche at her Toilette by Charles-Joseph Natoire (Source: historyandotherthoughts.blogspot.co.uk)

 

The night following, Psyche’s husband spake unto her (for she might feel his eyes, his hands, and his ears) and said, “O my sweet Spouse and dear wife, fortune doth menace unto thee imminent danger, whereof I wish thee greatly to beware: for know that thy sisters, thinking that thou art dead, be greatly troubled, and are come to the mountain by thy steps. Whose lamentations if thou fortune to hear, beware that thou do in no wise either make answer, or look up towards them, for if thou do thou shalt purchase to me great sorrow, and to thy self utter destruction.” Psyche hearing her Husband, was contented to do all things as he had commanded.

She had not yet seen her destined husband. He came only in the hours of darkness and fled before the dawn of morning, but his accents were full of love, and inspired a like passion in her. She often begged him to stay and let her behold him, but he would not consent. On the contrary he charged her to make no attempt to see him, for it was his pleasure, for the best of reasons, to keep concealed.

After that he was departed and the night passed away, Psyche lamented and lamented all the day following, thinking that now she was past all hopes of comfort, in that she was closed within the walls of a prison, deprived of humane conversation, and commanded not to aid her sorrowful Sisters, no nor once to see them. Thus she passed all the day in weeping, and went to bed at night, without any refection (ed. refreshment) of meat or bathing.

 

Related imageFrancois-Edouard Picot (1786-1868)  “Cupid fleeing the sleeping Psyche

Incontinently after came her husband, who when he had embraced her sweetly, began to say, “Is it thus that you perform your promise, my sweet wife? What do I find here? Pass you all the day and the night in weeping? And will you not cease in your husbands arms? Go too, do what ye will, purchase your own destruction, and when you find it so, then remember my words, and repent, but too late. Then she desired her husband more and more, assuring him that she should die, unless he would grant that she might see her sisters, whereby she might speak with them and comfort them, whereat at length he was contented, and moreover he willed that she should give them as much gold and jewels as she would. But he gave her a further charge saying, ” “Why should you wish to behold me?” Have you any doubt of my love? Have you any wish ungratified? If you saw me, perhaps you would fear me, perhaps adore me, but all I ask of you is to love me. I would rather you would love me as an equal than adore me as a god. Beware that ye covet not (being moved by the pernicious counsel of your sisters) to see the shape of my person, lest by your curiosity you deprive your self of so great and worthy estate.” Psyche being glad herewith, rendered unto him most entire thanks, and said, “Sweet husband, I had rather die than to be separated from you, for whosoever you be, I love and retain you within my heart as if you were mine own spirit or Cupid himself: but I pray you grant this likewise, that you would command your servant Zephyrus to bring my sisters down into the valley as he brought me.”

Wherewithal she kissed him sweetly, and desired him gently to grant her request, calling him her Spouse, her Sweetheart, her Joy, and her Solace. Whereby she enforced him to agree to her mind, and when morning came he departed away.

 

Image result for apollo oracle on psyche picpicCupid and Psyche by Orazio  Gentileschi  (Source: mythfolklore.blogspot.co.uk)

 

After long search made, the sisters of Psyche came unto the hill where she was set on the rock, and cried with a loud voice in such sort that the stones answered again. And when they called their sister by her name, that their lamentable cries came unto her ears, she came forth and said, “Behold, here is she for whom you weep, I pray you torment your selves no more, cease your weeping.” And by and by she commanded Zephyrus by the appointment of her husband to bring then down. Neither did he delay, for with gentle blasts he retained them up and laid them softly in the valley. I am not able to express the often embracing, kissing and greeting which was between them three, all sorrows and tears were then laid apart.

Image result for psyche and sisters in cupid's palace pic                                           Psyche and her sisters (emaze)

 

“Come,” said Psyche, “enter with me my house and refresh yourselves with whatever your sister has to offer.”

Then taking their hands she led them into her golden palace, and committed them to the care of her numerous train of attendant voices, to refresh them in her baths and at her table, and to show them all her treasures. The view of these celestial delights caused envy to enter their bosoms, at seeing their young sister possessed of such state and splendor, so much exceeding their own.

          The Bath of Psyche by Lord Leighton (Photo source: hugovandermolen.nl)

 

Psyche showing her Sisters her Gifts from Cupid, 1753, Jean-Honoré Fragonard .. This painting illustrates an episode from the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche, which was originally told by Apuleius in his ‘Golden Ass’. It is an early work by Fragonard, executed in 1753, the year after he had won the Prix de Rome and before his first Italian visit. An immediate success, it was exhibited with other paintings at Versailles in 1754, but later passed into obscurity with an attribution to Carle van Loo. At some date it was cut down along the top and left sides. (nationalgallery.org.uk)

 

After this she showed them the storehouses of treasure, she caused them to hear the voices which served her, the bain (ed. bath) was ready, the meats were brought in, and when they had filled themselves with divine delicacies they conceived great envy within their heart,  they asked her numberless questions, among others what sort of a person her husband was. But Psyche remembering the promise which she had made to her husband,  Psyche replied that he was a young man, of comely stature, with a flaxen beard, and had great delight in hunting in the hills and dales by.

 

Amore e Psiche (1707–09) by Giuseppe Crespi: Psyche’s use of the lamp to see the god is sometimes thought to reflect the magical practice of lychnomancy, a form of divination or spirit conjuring.(Source: en.wikipedia.org)

 

The sisters, not satisfied with this reply, soon made her confess that she had never seen him. Then they proceeded to fill her bosom with dark suspicions. “Call to mind,” they said, “the Pythian oracle that declared you destined to marry a direful and tremendous monster. The inhabitants of this valley say that your husband is a terrible and monstrous serpent, who nourishes you for a while with dainties that he may by and by devour you. Take our advice. Provide yourself with a lamp and a sharp knife; put them in concealment that your husband may not discover them, and when he is sound asleep, slip out of bed, bring forth your lamp, and see for yourself whether what they say is true or not. If it is, hesitate not to cut off the monster’s head, and thereby recover your liberty.”

 

Related imagePsyche’s Sisters Giving her a Lamp and a Dagger, 1697 – Luca Giordano (source: wikiart.org)

 

Psyche resisted these persuasions as well as she could, but they did not fail to have their effect on her mind, and when her sisters were gone, their words and her own curiosity were too strong for her to resist. So she prepared her lamp and a sharp knife, and hid them out of sight of her husband. When he had fallen into his first sleep, she silently rose and uncovering her lamp beheld not a hideous monster, but the most beautiful and charming of the gods, with his golden ringlets wandering over his snowy neck and crimson cheek, with two dewy wings on his shoulders, whiter than snow, and with shining feathers like the tender blossoms of spring.

 

Related imageJean-Baptiste Regnault: Cupid and Psyche, 1828.

 

As she leaned the lamp over to have a better view of his face, a drop of burning oil fell on the shoulder of the god. Startled, he opened his eyes and fixed them upon her. Then, without saying a word, he spread his white wings and flew out of the window. Psyche, in vain endeavoring to follow him, fell from the window to the ground.

 

Psyche abadoned by Coypel (mythfolklore.blogspot.co.uk)

Cupid, beholding her as she lay in the dust, stopped his flight for department.an instant and said, “Oh foolish Psyche, is it thus you repay my love? After I disobeyed my mother’s commands and made you my wife, will you think me a monster and cut off my head? But go; return to your sisters, whose advice you seem to think preferable to mine. I inflict no other punishment on you than to leave you for ever. Love cannot dwell with suspicion.” So saying, he fled away, leaving poor Psyche prostrate on the ground, filling the place with mournful lamentations.

 

Related image

 

When she had recovered some degree of composure she looked around her, but the palace and gardens had vanished, and she found herself in the open field not far from the city where her sisters dwelt. She repaired thither and told them the whole story of her misfortunes, at which, pretending to grieve, those spiteful creatures inwardly rejoiced.

“For now,” said they, “he will perhaps choose one of us.” With this idea, without saying a word of her intentions, each of them rose early the next morning and ascended the mountain, and having reached the top, called upon Zephyr to receive her and bear her to his lord; then leaping up, and not being sustained by Zephyr, fell down the precipice and was dashed to pieces.

Neither was the vengeance of the other delayed, for Psyche travelling in that country, fortuned to come to another city where her other sister did dwell; to whom when she had declared all such things as she told to her other sister, she ran likewise unto the rock and was slain in like sort. Then Psyche traveled about in the country to seek her husband Cupid, but he was gotten into his mothers chamber, and there bewailed the sorrowful wound which he caught by the oil of a burning lamp.

 

(Photo source: HellinicGods.org)

 

Then the white bird the Gull, which swims on the waves of the water, flew toward the Ocean sea, where he found Venus washing and bathing her self: to whom she declared that her son was burned and in danger of death, and moreover that it was a common dispatch in the mouth of every person (who spake evil of all the family of Venus) that her son doth nothing but haunt the harlots in the mountain, and she her self lasciviously use to riot in the sea: whereby they say that they are now become no more gracious pleasant, nor gentle, but uncivil, monstrous and horrible. Moreover, that marriages are not for any amity, or for love of procreation, but full of envy, discord, and debate. This the curious Gull did clatter in the ears of Venus, reprehending her son. But Venus began to cry and said, “What hath my son gotten any Love? I pray thee gentle bird that doest serve me so faithfully, tell me what she is, and what is her name that hath troubled my son in such sort? whether she be any of the Nymphs, of the number of the Goddesses, of the company of the Muses, or of the mystery of the Graces?” To whom the bird answered, “Madam I know not what she is, but this I know that she is called Psyche.” Then Venus with indignation cried out, “What is it she? the usurper of my beauty, the Vicar of my name? What did he think that I was a bawd, by whose shew he fell acquainted with the maid?”

And immediately departed  and went to her chamber, where she found her son wounded as it was told unto her, whom when she beheld she cries out in this sort. “Is this an honest thing, is this honourable to thy parents? is this reason, that thou hast violated and broken the commandment of thy mother and sovereign mistress: and whereas thou shouldst have vexed my enemy with loathsome love, thou hast done otherwise? For being of tender and unripe years, thou hast with too licentious appetite embraced my most mortal Foe, to whom I shall be made a mother, and she a Daughter. Thou presumest and thinkest, thou trifling boy, thou Varlet (ed. rascal), and without all reverence, that thou art most worthy and excellent, and that I am not able by reason of mine age to have another son, which if I should have, thou shouldst well understand that I would bear a more worthier than thou. But to work thee a greater despite, I do determine to adopt one of my servants, and to give him these wings, this fire, this bow, and these Arrows, and all other furniture which I gave to thee, not to this purpose, neither is any thing given thee of thy father for this intent: but first thou hast been evil brought up, and instructed in thy youth thou hast thy hands ready and sharp. Thou hast often offended thy ancestors, and especially me that am thy mother, thou hast pierced me with thy darts, thou contemnest me as a widow, neither dost thou regard thy valiant and invincible father, and to anger me more, thou art amorous of harlots and wenches: but I will cause that thou shalt shortly repent thee, and that this marriage shall be dearly bought. To what point am [I] now driven? What shall I do? Whither shall I go? How shall I repress this beast? Shall I ask aid of mine enemy Sobriety, whom I have often offended to engender thee? Or shall I seek for counsel of every poor rustic woman? No, no, yet I had rather die, howbeit I will not cease my vengeance, to her must I have recourse for help, and to none other (I mean to Sobriety), who may correct thee sharply, take away thy quiver, deprive thee of thy arrows, unbend thy bow, quench thy fire, and thy body with punishment: and when that I have razed and cut off this thy hair, which I have dressed with mine own hands, and made to glitter like gold, and when I have clipped thy wings, which I my self have caused to burgeon, then shall I think to have revenged my self sufficiently upon thee for the injury which thou hast done.” When she had spoken these words she departed in a great rage out of her chamber.

Psyche meanwhile wandered day and night, without food or repose, in search of her husband. Casting her eyes on a lofty mountain having on its brow a magnificent temple, she sighed and said to herself, “Perhaps my love, my lord, inhabits there,” and directed her steps thither.

She had no sooner entered than she saw heaps of corn, some in loose ears and some in sheaves, with mingled ears of barley. Scattered about, lay sickles and rakes, and all the instruments of harvest, without order, as if thrown carelessly out of the weary reapers’ hands in the sultry hours of the day.

This unseemly confusion the pious Psyche put an end to, by separating and sorting everything to its proper place and kind, believing that she ought to neglect none of the gods, but endeavor by her piety to engage them all in her behalf. The holy Ceres, whose temple it was, finding her so religiously employed, thus spoke to her, “Oh Psyche, truly worthy of our pity, though I cannot shield you from the frowns of Venus, yet I can teach you how best to allay her displeasure. Go, then, and voluntarily surrender yourself to your lady and sovereign, and try by modesty and submission to win her forgiveness, and perhaps her favor will restore you the husband you have lost.”

 

Related image“Psyche at the Temple of Ceres,”  1660 .. Ceres refusing any assistance to Psyche (artic.edu)

 

Psyche obeyed the commands of Ceres and took her way to the temple of Venus, endeavoring to fortify her mind and ruminating on what she should say and how best propitiate the angry goddess, feeling that the issue was doubtful and perhaps fatal.

 

                  Psyche at the Throne of Venus by Hale (Source: mythicmojo)

 

Venus received her with angry countenance. “Most undutiful and faithless of servants,” said she, “do you at last remember that you really have a mistress? Or have you rather come to see your sick husband, yet laid up of the wound given him by his loving wife? You are so ill favored and disagreeable that the only way you can merit your lover must be by dint of industry and diligence. I will make trial of your housewifery.”

Venus gives Psyche a chance to win back her love, but first she must perform four tasks. If she can accomplish these she will be reunited with Cupid. Psyche is unsure: These tasks seem impossible!

 

The first is to sort a gigantic pile of seeds, which she must do before nightfall.

Venus ordered Psyche to be led to the storehouse of her temple, where was laid up a great quantity of wheat, barley, millet, vetches, beans, and lentils prepared for food for her pigeons, and said, “Take and separate all these grains, putting all of the same kind in a parcel by themselves, and see that you get it done before evening.” Then Venus departed and left her to her task.

But Psyche, in a perfect consternation at the enormous work, sat stupid and silent, without moving a finger to the inextricable heap.

While she sat despairing, Cupid stirred up the little ant, a native of the fields, to take compassion on her. The leader of the anthill, followed by whole hosts of his six-legged subjects, approached the heap, and with the utmost diligence taking grain by grain, they separated the pile, sorting each kind to its parcel; and when it was all done, they vanished out of sight in a moment.

 

 

Psyche and the Ants (Source: Mythology and Folklore)

 

 

Venus at the approach of twilight returned from the banquet of the gods, breathing odors and crowned with roses. Seeing the task done, she exclaimed, “This is no work of yours, wicked one, but his, whom to your own and his misfortune you have enticed.” So saying, she threw her a piece of black bread for her supper and went away.

The second task requires Psyche to go to a field and collect a bit of golden fleece from the fierce rams corralled there.

Next morning Venus ordered Psyche to be called and said to her, “Behold yonder grove which stretches along the margin of the water. There you will find sheep feeding without a shepherd, with golden-shining fleeces on their backs. Go, fetch me a sample of that precious wool gathered from every one of their fleeces.”

 

Related imageCharon and Psyche by English Pre-Raphaelite painter John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (1829—1908) depicts Psyche preparing to cross the Styx River. (Source: World History)

 

Psyche obediently went to the riverside, prepared to do her best to execute the command. Psyche knows she could be bludgeoned to death by the rams’ horns if she tries to gather the wool directly. She again weeps in despair, and the reeds that grow along the banks of the river hear her and whisper to her the secret to collecting the fleece unharmed. The river god inspired the reeds with harmonious murmurs, which seemed to say, “Oh maiden, severely tried, tempt not the dangerous flood, nor venture among the formidable rams on the other side, for as long as they are under the influence of the rising sun, they burn with a cruel rage to destroy mortals with their sharp horns or rude teeth. But when the noontide sun has driven the cattle to the shade, and the serene spirit of the flood has lulled them to rest, you may then cross in safety, and you will find the woolly gold sticking to the bushes and the trunks of the trees.”

 

Image result for river God and psyche pic               Psyche crossing the river, by Kinuko Y. Craft (Source: Pinterest)

 

Thus the compassionate river god gave Psyche instructions how to accomplish her task.This Psyche does without having to confront danger head on. This, too, is the feminine way. To figure out how to go about reaching a goal without engaging in conflict that might cause more harm than good. To look for peaceful, yet resourceful, resolution. The river god by observing his directions she soon returned to Venus with her arms full of the golden fleece; but she received not the approbation of her implacable mistress, who said, “I know very well it is by none of your own doings that you have succeeded in this task, and I am not satisfied yet that you have any capacity to make yourself useful.

 

Image result for psyche with golden fleece pic                              Psyche with the golden fleece (MrPsMythopedia)

 

The third task Venus sets for Psyche involves collecting water from the River Styx, the great river that one must cross into death, a river that is guarded by terrible monsters of all ilk

Once again, Psyche falls apart, but this time she does not cry because she has no tears left. She holds up the goblet she is to fill and an eagle (sent by Zeus, acting on Eros’s behalf) swoops down, plucks the goblet from her hand, and carries it to the middle of the river. There, the cup is filled, and the eagle brings it back to Psyche. This is the role of the feminine, to see the big picture as the eagle from on high, to see what needs to be done, dive in and do it.  This requires filling one cup at a time before moving on to the next.

 

The fourth and final task is for Psyche to go down into the Underworld to Olympus and ask Proserpina, goddess of Underworld, for a box of her beauty, which she is to bring to Venus.

But I have another task for you. Here, take this box and go your way to the infernal shades, and give this box to Proserpine and say, ‘My mistress Venus desires you to send her a little of your beauty, for in tending her sick son she has lost some of her own.’ Be not too long on your errand, for I must paint myself with it to appear at the circle of the gods and goddesses this evening.”

Psyche was now satisfied that her destruction was at hand, being obliged to go with her own feet directly down to Erebus. Wherefore, to make no delay of what was not to be avoided, she goes to the top of a high tower to precipitate herself headlong, thus to descend the shortest way to the shades below. But a voice from the tower said to her, “Why, poor unlucky girl, do you design to put an end to your days in so dreadful a manner? And what cowardice makes you sink under this last danger who have been so miraculously supported in all your former?” Then the voice told her how by a certain cave she might reach the realms of Pluto, and how to avoid all the dangers of the road, to pass by Cerberus, the three-headed dog, and prevail on Charon, the ferryman, to take her across the black river and bring her back again. But the voice added, “When Proserpine has given you the box filled with her beauty, of all things this is chiefly to be observed by you, that you never once open or look into the box nor allow your curiosity to pry into the treasure of the beauty of the goddesses.”

 

Psyche agli Inferi di Eugène Ernest Hillemacher, 1865 .. Psyche entering the underworld (Source: Pinterest)

 

Psyché by Evariste-Vital Luminais (Source: pinterest)

 

Image result for psyche and prospena picProserpina Gives Psyche the Box of Beauty (Photo source: Art  Institute of Chicago)

 

Image result for task of psyche picPsyche’s tasks – sorting grains, stealing golden fleece, collecting water to the river Styx, and  traveling to the Underworld – are exactly the kind set for male (Photo source: Mythic Mojo)

 

Psyche, encouraged by this advice, obeyed it in all things, and taking heed to her ways traveled safely to the kingdom of Pluto. She was admitted to the palace of Proserpine, and without accepting the delicate seat or delicious banquet that was offered her, but contented with coarse bread for her food, she delivered her message from Venus. Presently the box was returned to her, shut and filled with the precious commodity. Then she returned the way she came, and glad was she to come out once more into the light of day.

 

But having got so far successfully through her dangerous task a longing desire seized her to examine the contents of the box. “What,” said she, “shall I, the carrier of this divine beauty, not take the least bit to put on my cheeks to appear to more advantage in the eyes of my beloved husband!” So she carefully opened the box, but found nothing there of any beauty at all, but an infernal and truly Stygian sleep.Nothing but a heavy sleep comes over her and she fell down upon the ground, and lay there as a sleeping corpse.

 

Image result for cupid found psyche sleeping with the box pic

 

But Cupid, being now recovered from his wound and Malady, and not able longer to bear the absence of his beloved Psyche, slipping through the smallest crack of the window of his chamber which happened to be left open, flew to the spot where Psyche lay, and gathering up the sleep from her body closed it again in the box, and waked Psyche with a light touch of one of his arrows. “Again,” said he, “have you almost perished by the same curiosity. But now perform exactly the task imposed on you by my mother, and I will take care of the rest.” Wherewithal he took his flight into the air, and Psyche brought her present to Venus.

 

Image result for cupid found psyche picAlphonse Legros, ‘Cupid and Psyche’ exhibited 1867.

 

Michel Philiberd Genod (French, 1795 – 1862) Cupid and Psyche 1827 (Source: Pinterest)

 

Cupid being more and more in love with Psyche, and fearing the displeasure of his Mother, did pierce into the heavens and presented himself before Jupiter with his supplication. Jupiter lent a favoring ear, and pleaded the cause of the lovers so earnestly with Venus that he won her consent.

On this Jupiter commanded Mercury to call all the Gods to counsel and if any of the celestial powers did fail of appearance he would be condemned in ten thousand pounds: which sentence was such a terror to all the Goddesses, that the high Theatre was replenished, and Jupiter began to speak in this sort: “O ye Gods, registered in the books of the Muses, you all know this young man Cupid whom I have nourished with mine own hands, whose raging flames of his first youth, I thought best to bridle and restrain. It sufficeth that he is defamed in every place for his adulterous living, wherefore all occasion ought to be taken away by means of marriage: he hath chosen a maiden that fancieth him well, and hath bereaved her of her virginity, let him have her still, and possess her according to his own pleasure.” Then he returned to Venus, and said, “And you my daughter, take you no care, neither fear the dishonour of your progeny and estate, neither have regard in that it is a mortal marriage, for it seemeth unto me just, lawful, and legitimate by the law civil.”

 

Jupiter sent Mercury to bring Psyche, the spouse of cupid into the Palace of Heavenly, and when she arrived, handing her a cup of  nectar and ambrosia, he said, ” “Hold Psyche, and drink, to the end thou mayst be immortal, and that Cupid may be thine everlasting husband.” Then they consecrated her goddess of the soul.

 

Image result for mercury and psyche pic                  Mercury and Psyche (Photo source: hort.purdue.edu)

 

 

Thus Psyche became at last united to Cupid, and in due time they had a daughter born to them whose name was Pleasure.

 

Image result for cupid pictures Andrea Schiavone (Andrea Meldola) | The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche  (Source:The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

 

Source:

pitt.edu

hellenicgods.org

owlandcrow.saladd.com

 

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Image result for cupid in the chamber of psyche pic

 

 

 

 

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