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The Myth of Psyche and Cupid

A Tale of Love, Betrayal, and Redemption

By GRACEYYPublished 6 months ago 3 min read
Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss by Antonio Canova (1787-93)

"Beauty is a curse," Psyche thought as she looked over the cliff's edge where she'd been abandoned by her father.

Her physical flawlessness was so absolute from birth that she was revered as a modern manifestation of Venus, the deity who embodies passion and adoration.

The mere thought of approaching her was enough to intimidate any potential human lover.

As her father sought counsel from the Oracle of Apollo, the deity of illumination, logic, and foresight, he was advised to abandon his daughter on a rugged precipice. There, she would be wed to a malevolent, serpent-like creature with wings known for its brutality and savagery.

Alone on the rock, Psyche breathlessly felt the westerly wind
Gently lift it up in the air.
I put it in front of the palace.
I heard an invisible voice say, "You're home."
"Your husband is waiting for you in the bedroom if you dare to meet him."

Psyche mustered up enough courage to reassure herself. The bedroom was enveloped in darkness, concealing her husband from her sight. Contrary to her expectations, he did not exude any serpent-like qualities. Rather, his demeanor and voice were placid, and his skin was supple to the touch. Inquisitive, Psyche posed the query of his identity, but he remained elusive, stating that it was the only question he could not divulge. He implored her to believe that true love transcends the need for such knowledge.

Night after night, he continued to pay his visits. In due course, Psyche found herself with child. Though she felt immense joy, her heart was also filled with turmoil. How could she mother a child with a man she had never laid eyes on? And so, that night, she approached her slumbering spouse with an oil lamp in hand.

In her search, she encountered the divine Cupid, the deity responsible for igniting desire and passion between gods and mortals through the piercing touch of his arrows. Psyche accidentally spilled hot oil on Cupid, causing him injury.

Since the moment his envious mother, Venus, instructed him to humiliate Psyche by piercing her with an arrow, he professed adoration for her. However, Cupid was captivated by Psyche's loveliness and chose to utilize the arrow on himself.

The notion of gods and humans loving each other as peers was not a belief he held.

In the wake of discovering his true identity, their prospects for joy were shattered, causing him to take flight. Psyche was left in desolation until the voice of an unseen presence resurfaced, assuring her that it was feasible for her and Cupid to share a love that was balanced. Bolstered by this, she embarked on a quest to locate him. However, Venus intervened and decreed that Psyche and Cupid could only be joined in matrimony under certain conditions.

Should Psyche be able to accomplish a series of insurmountable challenges, she must begin by organizing an immense jumble of seeds within a mere evening.

As she was on the brink of despair, a compassionate ant colony came to her aid and assisted with the laborious task.

Psyche passed the first trial and then had to retrieve the fleece of the golden sheep, known for killing those who attempted it. However, a river god showed her how to collect the fleece that was snagged on briars, and she succeeded. Her final task was to travel to the Underworld and convince Proserpina to give her a drop of her beauty for Venus. With the help of an unseen voice, Psyche was instructed to bring barley cakes for Cerberus, the guard dog of the Underworld.

With currency in hand, she offered payment to Charon, the boatman tasked with transporting her across the formidable waters of the River Styx.

After fulfilling her third and final task, Psyche returned to the realm of the living. Just outside the grand palace of Venus, she unsealed the box of Proserpina's beauty with the hope of retaining a portion for herself. However, to her dismay, the container was brimming with slumber instead of the promised allure.

Overwhelmed by exhaustion, Psyche collapsed in the middle of the road. Cupid, who had by now recuperated from his injuries, hastened to his slumbering bride's side. He expressed regret for his errant behavior and acknowledged Psyche's fearlessness when confronted with the unknown.

This unwavering courage demonstrated that she was, without a doubt, his equal. Cupid administered ambrosia, the nectar of the gods, to Psyche, rendering her immortal.

Not long after, the couple bore a daughter whom they christened Pleasure. Together with Cupid and Psyche, whose name signifies soul, they have been complicating the love lives of people ever since.

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