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Legend Of Cupid & Psyche
It has since been interpreted as a Märchen, an allegory and a myth.
Envious and jealous of the beauty of her mortal daughter named Psyche, Venus asks her son Cupid to use his golden arrows to cause Psyche to fall in love with the vilest creature on earth. Cupid agrees, but then falls in love with Psyche on his own. When he leans over from a distance to kiss her, he causes one of his own arrows to fall forward, piercing him.
Psyche then finds herself in the city where one of her jealous elder sisters lives. She tells her what had happened, then tricks her sister into believing that Cupid has chosen her as a wife instead. She later meets her other sister and deceives her likewise. Each returns to the top of the peak and jumped down eagerly, but Zephyrus does not bear them and they fall to their deaths at the base of the mountain.
Psyche searches far and wide for her lover, finally stumbling into a temple where everything is in slovenly disarray. As Psyche is sorting and clearing, Ceres appears, but refuses any help but advice, saying Psyche must call directly on Venus, the jealous shrew that caused all the problems in the first place. Psyche next calls on Juno in her temple, but Juno, superior as always, says the same. So Psyche finds a temple to Venus and enters it. Venus orders Psyche to separate all the grains in a large basket of mixed kinds before nightfall. An ant takes pity on Psyche and with its ant companions separates the grains for her.
Psyche and Cupid's daughter was Voluptas or Delight, the goddess of "sensual pleasures," whose Latin name means "pleasure" or "bliss".
Relations and origin
In Greek and Roman mythology, Psyche was the personification of the passion of love. She was the youngest daughter of the king and queen of Sicily. She was the most beautiful person on the island and suitors flocked to ask for her hand. In the end she boasted that she was more beautiful than Aphrodite (Venus) herself, and Aphrodite sent Eros to transfix her with an arrow of desire and make her fall in love with the nearest person or thing available. But even Eros (Cupid) fell in love with her and took her to a secret place and eventually married her and had her made a goddess by Zeus (Jupiter).
Though concerning gods and goddesses, Apuleius' Cupid and Psyche was generally relegated to the status of a "mere" folktale, or in English a fairy tale or in German Märchen. Through a common Perrault's Mother Goose Tales and following popularity of other such collections in 17th century did folk tales become recognized in Europe as a legitimate literary genre.
As Bruno Bettelheim notes in The Uses of Enchantment, "Beauty and the Beast" is a variant version of Cupid and Psyche.
As Platonic allegory
Apuleius's narrative of Cupid and Psyche has frequently been viewed as an allegory of Platonism:
|“||The tripartite division of the soul, the desire of the soul to be united with the divine, the fall of the winged soul to the earth because of its evil burden, and the distinction between the heavenly and the vulgar types of love are Platonic ideas, which, according to some scholars, resemble specific events in the tale of Psyche; thus Psyche's name, the portrayal of her character in relation to her two sisters, her futile attempt to seize Cupid and fly with him to the sky, and the ambiguous role the goddess Venus and her son Cupid play in the heroine's life are themes that seem to transform Apuleius' literary fairytale into a philosophical allegory. ||”|
At the conclusion of Comus (1634), the poet John Milton alluded to the story of Cupid and Psyche.
"Celestial Cupid, her famed son, advanced,Holds his dear Psyche sweet entranced,After her wandering labours long,Till free consent the gods amongMake her his eternal bride;And from her fair unspotted sideTwo blissful twins are to be born,Youth and Joy; so Jove hath sworn."
The poet T. K. Harvey wrote:
"They wove bright fables in the days of old,When reason borrowed fancy's painted wings;When truth's clear river flowed o'er sands of gold,And told in song its high and mystic things!And such the sweet and solemn tale of herThe pilgrim heart, to whom a dream was given,That led her through the world,– Love's worshipper,–To seek on earth for him whose home was heaven!"In the full city,– by the haunted fount,–Through the dim grotto's tracery of spars,–'Mid the pine temples, on the moonlit mount,Where silence sits to listen to the stars;In the deep glade where dwells the brooding dove,The painted valley, and the scented air,She heard far echoes of the voice of Love,And found his footsteps' traces everywhere."But nevermore they met! since doubts and fears,Those phantom shapes that haunt and blight the earth,Had come 'twixt her, a child of sin and tears,And that bright spirit of immortal birth;Until her pining soul and weeping eyesHad learned to seek him only in the skies;Till wings unto the weary heart were given,And she became Love's angel bride in heaven!"
Shackerley Marmion wrote a verse version of the Apuleius story called Cupid and Psyche which was published in 1637.
Mary Tighe in her poem Cupid and Psyche first published in 1805 explains the origin of Cupid's love for Psyche. She adds two springs in Venus' garden, one with sweet water and one with bitter. When Cupid starts to obey his mother's command, he brings some of both to a sleeping Psyche but places only some of the bitter water on Psyche's lips and prepares also to pierce her with an arrow:
Nor yet content, he from his quiver drew,Sharpened with skill divine, a shining dart:No need had he for bow, since thus too trueHis hand might wound her all-exposed heart;Yet her fair side he touched with gentlest art,And half relenting on her beauties gazed;Just then awaking with a sudden startHer opening eye in humid lustre blazed,Unseen he still remained, enchanted and amazed. The dart which in his hand now trembling stood,As o'er the couch he bent with ravished eye,Drew with its daring point celestial bloodFrom his smooth neck's unblemished ivory:Heedless of this, but with a pitying sighThe evil done now anxious to repair,He shed in haste the balmy drops of joyO'er all the silky ringlets of her hair;Then stretched his plumes divine, and breathed celestial air.
In the later part of her tale, Tighe's Venus only asks one task of Psyche, to bring her the forbidden water, but in performing this task Tighe's Psyche wanders into a country bordering on Spenser's Fairie Queene as Psyche is aided by a mysterious visored knight and his squire Constance and must escape various traps set by Vanity, Flattery, Ambition, Credulity, Disfida (who lives in a "Gothic castle"), Varia and Geloso. Spenser's Blatant Beast also makes an appearance.
Tighe's work was appreciated by William Wordsworth and also an early influence on John Keats whose short Ode to Psyche appeared in 1820.
William Morris retold the story in verse in The Earthly Paradise (1868–70). Robert Bridges wrote Eros and Psyche: A Narrative Poem in Twelve Measures (1885; 1894). A full prose adaptation was included as part of Walter Pater's novel Marius the Epicurean in 1885. Josephine Preston Peabody wrote a version for children in her Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew (1897). Thomas Bulfinch wrote a short adaptation for his Age of Fable which borrowed Tighe's account of Cupid's self-wounding. C.S. Lewis retold the story in his 1956 book "Till We Have Faces".
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