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Cupid and Psyche

February 19, 2014

I missed the opportunity to write about this around Valentines Day. However, as the Valentines cards are still up, I thought I had a good excuse to post about Cupid and Psyche today. Thank you for the suggestion for this post Annie.

Psyche was born an exceptionally beautiful mortal. Venus jealous of her beauty ordered her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a monster. However, Cupid upon seeing Psyche fell in love with her and stole her away for himself. Cupid told Psyche that she can never look upon his face and as such he would only come to her at night. Psyche spent many years with Cupid not knowing who he was but having become homesick convinced him to let her sisters visit. Psyche’s sisters jealous of the luxury in which she lived convinced her to look upon Cupid’s face. Cupid abandoned Psyche for having violated his trust, but she had fallen in love with him. Searching for Cupid without success Psyche eventually came to Venus who charged her with a number of trials before she would assist her. After completing a final trial in the underworld Cupid and Psyche finally married. Following Psyche’s marriage she became an immortal goddess and the personification of the human soul.

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Psyche and Cupid in the Musee de Louvre (Jastrow 2007)

Graves (1996:62) observed that the representation of Cupid was initially an abstraction. However, in later portrayals Cupid became a beautiful youth whose antics were an interesting subject for poets. The story of Cupid and Psyche is a late myth, described most fully in Apuleius The Golden Ass written in the 2nd century AD. There are similarities to other myths; Psyche like Pandora opens a receptacle that she should not, she undertakes labours like Heracles and is abducted by Cupid as is Ganymede by Zeus. There are a number of themes and messages within the work but I would argue that Psyche’s decent into the underworld and subsequent accent to Olympus represents the enduring spirit of the soul and it’s divine origin.

Bibliography

Graves, R. The Greek Myths Volume I The Folio Society, 2000.

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From → Mythical Figures

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