Love stories have made some of the best fairy tales of all time. Of all of these stories, nothing beats the story of Eros and Psyche. Eros, also known as Cupid is the god of love while Psyche is an embodiment of the human soul. It is a myth showing the power of beauty, the poison that is envy, the need for trust, and the ultimate truth that love always wins. First, here’s the story:
There lived a king who had three beautiful daughters. Of his daughters, one was the most beautiful girl ever seen. She was so beautiful that not only were tons of men in awe of her, but even the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite (or Venus) became so jealous of her. Men no longer worshiped Aphrodite because they were struck by the beauty of a mere mortal. In order to get her spot back, Aphrodite sent her son Cupid, to strike her with one of his arrows so she ends up falling for an evil monster.
However, on getting there, even the god of love fell for her beauty. Cupid was so struck that he pricked himself with his own arrow and fell in love with her. Aphrodite, displeased by this occurrence, cursed her that no man would want her for himself. Hence, men only admired Psyche from a distance. The king’s other daughters, who were not nearly as fine as Psyche, were soon married off to rich kings. The king grew increasingly worried that he contacted the oracle of Delphi to ask Apollo about who his daughter was going to marry. There he was told that Psyche needed to be abandoned on a mountain until an evil winged beast comes to marry her.
Psyche was dragged and left to her fate. However, as she cried on the mountain, the mild wind of Zephyr put her to sleep and carefully carried her to a beautiful castle – one where her true love lived. Cupid’s mansion was a beautiful fortress and Psyche was pampered. She listened to good music, ate great food, and every night, cupid came and lay by her side in the dark. He didn’t want her to see his face since she was human and he was a god. Psyche enjoyed her new life until worry started setting in. She had never seen the face of her true love.
This got worse when her sisters came visiting. She had told Cupid to allow her sisters come visiting so they knew she was fine. Her sisters were surprised by how wonderful Psyche’s abode was. It was far finer than their own palaces even though they were married to kings. They poisoned Psyche’s mind. They told her that she was probably married to a hideous monster. Why else would he hide his face? That night, Psyche woke up in the middle of the night and went with an oil lamp to where he slept. On seeing him, she was spellbound. For not only was he handsome, he was Cupid – she was with the god of Love!
However, in her excitement, she mistakenly spilled oil from the lamp, burning Cupid. He woke up in pain and was disappointed in her. He immediately left without turning back for he felt that without trust, there can be no love. Psyche cried and cried for days, but he was gone. In an attempt to get him back, she went to Aphrodite to seek help. She begged Aphrodite to speak to her son and persuade him to get back. Aphrodite who was still jealous of Psyche saw this as an opportunity for revenge. She told poor Psyche that she needed to be completely sure that she was good for her son. To prove her love, Psyche had to complete three tasks. If she failed at even one, her love was going to be lost forever.
Determined, Psyche took up the challenge. The first task was to sort seeds. She was given a heap of different types of seeds and asked to separate them one after the other until the big heap was made into smaller dunes of same seeds. After struggling for hours, she realized that it was going to be impossible to finish before her set deadline and started crying. Just then, an ant saw her crying and took pity on her. He called his ant friends and they helped her sort it in no time. Aphrodite was so sure she would fail and knew she had gotten help, but proceeded to the next task anyway.
For her next task, she was to fill a bottle with water flowing from the water descending from dangerous rocks in a hill. There, the surrounding rocks were slippery and very steep. There are variations to this second task however. It was either that she was helped by an eagle to get this water, or she was asked to get the Golden Fleece belonging to a fearsome ram that had already killed many heroes. In both cases, she was helped.
For her last task, she had to go to the underworld to get a jar containing beauty (or sleep) from Persephone. She was also assisted and given helpful advices and was able to complete the task. However, on her way back to Aphrodite, she opened the jar and fell into a deep sleep. This was the last straw for the gods. They saw how she was suffering and told Eros about her suffering. He took pity on her and forgave her. Soon, they were married. As a wedding gift, Zeus made Psyche immortal and gave her the drink of the gods known as ambrosia. Psyche was made a god by this action. Now, even Aphrodite was happy because, Psyche had to live in the sky with her husband, so men on earth forgot her and resumed worshiping the original goddess of beauty. And, yea; Cupid and the human soul bore a daughter and named her pleasure. Magical!
Inasmuch as I tried summarizing this, it’s one heck of a long story.
– Jealousy is a ***: It’s almost like love stories aren’t complete without wicked stepmothers and other almost slightly pretty villains. Mirror Mirror on the wall, there has to be only one ultimate beauty. At the end of the day, however, there was compromise and they both could live happily ever after. In other words, our wins do not necessarily require the losses of others.
– There is no love without trust: Inasmuch as there are tons of lessons to be derived from the story, the reason for majority of Psyche’s perils were created after she broke Eros’s trust. There can be no love where there is no trust and that is evident even till this day. Then again, how do you love somebody you haven’t seen before? I suppose it’s all part of the conundrum that is love.
The story OF Eros and Psyche is one that shows the relationship between the human soul and God. A perfect marrying of which requires trust in the unseen to co-exist, a level of sacrifice, and at the end of the day, pure pleasure would be birthed.