Mitología griega >> Dioses griegos >> Dioses del Olimpo >> Mortales deificados  >> Psique (Psique)
Alma ( psykhê )
Psique y Cupido-Eros, mosaico grecorromano de Samandaği C3rd AD, Museo de Arqueología Hatay PSYKHE (Psique) fue la diosa del alma y la esposa de Eros (Cupido romano) dios del amor.
Ella fue una vez una princesa mortal cuya extraordinaria belleza se ganó la ira de Afrodita (Venus romana) cuando los hombres comenzaron a apartar su culto de la diosa hacia la niña. Afrodita ordenó a Eros que hiciera que Psykhe se enamorara de los hombres más horribles, pero el dios se enamoró y la llevó a su palacio escondido. Eros ocultó su verdadera identidad y le dijo a Psykhe que nunca debía mirarlo a la cara. Sin embargo, sus celosas hermanas la engañaron para que desobedeciera y el dios enojado la abandonó. Psykhe buscó en el mundo por su amor perdido y finalmente entró al servicio de Afrodita. La diosa le ordenó que realizara una serie de tareas aparentemente imposibles que culminaron en un viaje al Inframundo. Psykhe se reunió luego con Eros y la pareja se casó en una ceremonia a la que asistieron todos los dioses.
Psykhe fue representada en un antiguo mosaico como una mujer con alas de mariposa en compañía de su esposo Eros. A veces se representaba un par de Pyskhai (Psychae), el segundo quizás representando a su hija Hedone (Placer).
FAMILIA DE PSIQUIA
Padres mortales (Apuleius 4.28)
HEDONE (por Eros ) (Apuleius 6.24)
PSYCHE (Psuchê), es decir, “aliento” o “el alma”, se produce en los últimos tiempos de la antigüedad, como una personificación del alma humana, y Apuleius ( Met. iv. 28 , & c.) relata sobre ella la siguiente bella historia alegórica. Psique era la más joven de las tres hijas de algún rey, y excitaba por su belleza los celos y la envidia de Venus. Para vengarse, la diosa ordenó a Amor que inspirara a Psique con un amor por el hombre más despreciable de todos: pero Amor estaba tan afectado por su belleza que él mismo se enamoró de ella. En consecuencia, la llevó a un lugar encantador, donde él, invisible y desconocido, la visitó todas las noches y la dejó tan pronto como el día comenzó a amanecer. Psique podría haber continuado disfrutando sin interrupción de este estado de felicidad, si hubiera atendido los consejos de su amado, para nunca dar paso a su curiosidad, o para preguntar quién era. Pero sus celosas hermanas le hicieron creer que, en la oscuridad de la noche, estaba abrazando a un monstruo horrible, y en consecuencia una vez, mientras Amor dormía, se le acercó con una lámpara y, para su asombro, vio al más guapo y encantador de todos. los dioses. En su excitación de alegría y miedo, una gota de aceite caliente cayó de su lámpara sobre su hombro. Esto despertó a Amor, quien la censuró por su desconfianza y escapó. La paz de Psique se había ido de una vez, y después de haber intentado en vano arrojarse a un río, vagó de templo en templo, preguntando por su amada, y finalmente llegó al palacio de Venus. Ahí comenzaron sus verdaderos sufrimientos, porque Venus la retuvo, la trató como a una esclava y le impuso los trabajos más duros y humillantes. Psique habría perecido bajo el peso de sus sufrimientos, y no Amor, que todavía la amaba en secreto, la consolaba y ayudaba invisiblemente en sus labores. Con su ayuda, por fin logró vencer los celos y el odio de Venus; ella se volvió inmortal y se unió a él para siempre. No es difícil reconocer en esta encantadora historia la idea de que no es más que la encarnación mítica, porque Psique es evidentemente el alma humana, que está purificada por pasiones y desgracias, y por lo tanto está preparada para el disfrute de la felicidad verdadera y pura. En las obras de arte, Psique se representa como una doncella con las alas de una mariposa, junto con Amor en las diferentes situaciones descritas en la historia alegórica.
Fuente: Diccionario de biografía y mitología griega y romana.
CITA DE LITERATURA CLÁSICA
Psique (detalle), mosaico grecorromano de Samandaği C3rd AD, Museo de Arqueología Hatay Apuleius, The Golden Ass 4. 28 – 6. 24 (Novela romana C2nd AD): “En cierta ciudad vivía un rey y con tres hijas notablemente hermosas. Las dos mayores eran muy atractivas, pero se creía que los elogios apropiados para los humanos eran suficientes para su fama. Pero La belleza de la niña más joven [Psique (Psique)] era tan especial y distinguida que nuestra pobreza del lenguaje humano no podía describirla ni siquiera alabarla adecuadamente. En consecuencia, muchos de sus conciudadanos y hordas de extranjeros, al escuchar el informe de este prodigio inigualable, reunido en multitudes extáticas. Se quedaron estupefactos de admiración por su belleza incomparable. Presionaron sus manos contra sus labios con el dedo índice descansando sobre el pulgar vertical, y la veneraron con adoración devota como si ella no fuera otra que Venus [ Afrodita] ella misma. El rumor ya se había extendido por las ciudades más cercanas y los territorios limítrofes de que la diosa que surgió de las profundidades azul marino del mar y fue alimentada por la espuma de las olas espumosas ahora estaba otorgando el favor de su divinidad entre las reuniones aleatorias de la gente común. ; o, en cualquier caso, que la tierra en lugar del mar estaba recién impregnada por semillas celestiales, y había brotado una segunda Venus [Afrodita] investida de la floración de la virginidad. Esta creencia creció todos los días sin medida. La historia ahora se generalizó; barrió las islas vecinas, a través de zonas del continente y numerosas provincias. Muchos hicieron largos viajes por tierra y viajaron por los cursos más profundos del mar mientras se congregaban para ver esta famosa cinesura de su edad. Nadie tomó el barco para Paphos, Cnidos, o incluso Cythera para ver a la diosa Venus. Los sacrificios en esos lugares fueron pospuestos, los santuarios se volvieron antiestéticos, los sofás se volvieron gastados, los ritos no se realizaron; las estatuas no estaban adornadas con guirnaldas, y los altares estaban desnudos y sucios con cenizas frías. Fue la niña quien fue rogada en oración. La gente miraba el semblante humano de esa chica cuando apaciguaba la voluntad divina de la poderosa diosa. Cuando la doncella surgió por las mañanas, buscaron de ella el favor de la Venus ausente con víctimas sacrificadas y fiestas sagradas. La gente se agolpaba a su alrededor con coronas de flores y flores para hacer frente a sus oraciones, mientras se abría camino por las calles. Dado que los honores divinos se desviaban de esta manera excesiva hacia la adoración de una niña mortal, la ira de la verdadera Venus [Afrodita] se encendió ferozmente. Ella no pudo controlar su irritación. Ella sacudió la cabeza, dejó escapar un gruñido profundo y habló en un soliloquio: ‘Aquí estoy, la antigua madre del universo, la creadora fundadora de los elementos, la Venus que atiende al mundo entero, obligada a compartir la gloria de mi majestad con una doncella mortal, de modo que mi nombre, que tiene su nicho en el cielo, se degrada por la inmundicia de la tierra de abajo. ¿Debo entonces compartir con otros las súplicas a mi poder divino, debo soportar una vaga adoración por poder, permitiendo que una chica mortal se pavonee haciéndose pasar por mi doble? ¡Qué desperdicio de esfuerzo fue para el pastor [París] cuya justicia y honestidad ganó la aprobación del gran Júpiter [Zeus] para reconocer mi belleza incomparable superior a la de esas grandes diosas! Pero esta chica, quien quiera que sea, no va a disfrutar de apropiarse de los honores que son míos; ¡Pronto me aseguraré de que ella diga a la belleza que no es suya por derecho! ” Inmediatamente convocó a su hijo [Cupido-Eros], ese joven alado, más indiscreto, cuyos malos hábitos muestran su desprecio por la moral pública. Atraviesa las casas de la gente por la noche armado con su antorcha y flechas, socavando los matrimonios de todos. Se escapa sin escocesas con este comportamiento vergonzoso, y nada de lo que hace vale la pena. Su propia naturaleza lo hizo excesivamente desenfrenado, pero las palabras de su madre lo excitaron aún más. Ella lo llevó a esa ciudad y le mostró Psique en carne y hueso (ese era el nombre de la niña). Ella le contó toda la historia de su rivalidad en la belleza, y refunfuñando y gruñendo con desagrado agregó: “ Te ruego por el vínculo del afecto de una madre, por las dulces heridas que infligen tus dardos y las ampollas melosas dejadas por esta antorcha tuya. : asegúrate de que tu madre se venga por completo y castiga duramente la arrogante belleza de esta chica. Esté dispuesto a realizar este servicio único que compensará todo lo anterior. Observe que la niña se apodera de la pasión consumidora por el espécimen más bajo posible de la humanidad, por alguien que como víctima de Fortuna (Fortuna) [Tykhe] ha perdido estatus, herencia y seguridad, un hombre tan deshonroso que en ningún lugar del mundo puede encuentra un igual en la miseria. » Con estas palabras besó a su hijo largo y hambriento con los labios entreabiertos. Luego se dirigió a la orilla más cercana bañada por las olas. . . Mientras tanto, Psique por toda su belleza sorprendente no obtuvo recompensa por su aspecto deslumbrante. Ella era el objeto de todos los ojos, y su alabanza estaba en boca de todos, pero ningún rey o príncipe o incluso plebeyo la cortejó para buscar su mano. Todos admiraban su aspecto divino, pero la admiración era tal como se le otorga a una estatua exquisitamente tallada. Desde hace algún tiempo, sus dos hermanas mayores se habían comprometido con pretendientes reales y habían contraído matrimonios espléndidos, aunque su belleza más modesta no había sido aclamada. Pero Psique permaneció en su casa desatendida, lamentando su soledad aislada. Enferma de cuerpo y herida de corazón, detestaba su belleza que todo el mundo admiraba. Por esta razón, el padre de esa niña mal protagonizada era una imagen de miseria, porque sospechaba que los dioses eran hostiles, y temía su ira. Buscó el consejo del oráculo más antiguo del dios de Milesian [Apollon], y con oraciones y víctimas sacrificadas le rogó a esa poderosa deidad un matrimonio y un esposo para esa doncella despreciada. Apolo, un griego jónico, enmarcó su respuesta en latín para acomodar al autor de este cuento de Milesia: ‘Adorna a esta niña, oh rey, por temor al matrimonio, y la colocó en una elevada roca de montaña. Renuncia a toda esperanza de que uno de los mortales pueda ser tu yerno, ya que se casará con un monstruo feroz, bárbaro y con forma de serpiente. Él, revoloteando con las alas en alto, hace todas las cosas inteligentes, plagando cada cosa en movimiento con antorcha y dardo. Por qué, Júpiter [Zeus] mismo debe tener miedo. Los otros dioses para él su espectáculo de terror, y los ríos se estremecen, y los reinos oscuros debajo. ” El rey había disfrutado anteriormente de una vida feliz, pero al escuchar esta venerable profecía lo devolvió reacio y triste. Le reveló a su esposa las órdenes de ese ominoso oráculo, y el dolor, las lágrimas y los lamentos prevalecieron durante varios días. Pero ahora el sombrío cumplimiento del temible oráculo se cernía sobre ellos. Ahora expusieron las trampas para el matrimonio de esa niña maltratada con la muerte; ahora las llamas de la antorcha nupcial parpadeaban tenuemente debajo de las cenizas hollín, la nota alta del laúd de la boda se hundió en el lastimero modo lidio, y el alegre himno matrimonial se desvaneció en un lloroso lamento. Esa futura novia se secó las lágrimas en su velo de novia. El lamento por el duro destino de esa familia angustiada se extendió por toda la ciudad, y se anunció un cese de negocios que reflejaba el dolor público. Pero las advertencias del cielo debían ser obedecidas, y se exigía la presencia de infeliz Psique para su castigo designado. Entonces, en medio de un intenso dolor, el ritual de ese matrimonio con la muerte se solemnizó, y toda la población escoltó su cadáver vivo mientras Psique lloraba no solo a su matrimonio sino a su funeral. Pero cuando sus tristes padres, postrados por su monstruosa desgracia, se retiraron de la realización de su monstruosa tarea, su propia hija los amonestó con estas palabras: ‘¿Por qué acumulan su triste vejez con un llanto prolongado? ¿O por qué cansa el aliento de su vida, que es más querido para mí que para ustedes mismos, con repetidas lamentaciones? ¿Por qué desfiguran esas características, que adoro, con lágrimas ineficaces? ¿Por qué lloras mis ojos torturando los tuyos? ¿Por qué rasgas tus mechones grises? ¿Por qué golpeas esos senos tan sagrados para mí? ¡Qué bonitas recompensas te traerá mi incomparable belleza! Demasiado tarde experimentas las heridas mortales infligidas por la envidia impía. Ese dolor, esas lágrimas, que las lamentaciones por mí como alguien que ya había perdido deberían haber despertado cuando las naciones y las comunidades me dieron fama con honores divinos, cuando con una sola voz me saludaron como la nueva Venus [Afrodita]. Solo ahora me doy cuenta y veo que mi única perdición ha sido el título de Venus que me ha sido otorgado. Escoltame y colócame en la roca a la que el destino me ha enviado. Me apresuro a contemplar a este noble esposo mío. ¿Por qué debería posponer o reducir la llegada de la persona nacida para la destrucción de todo el mundo? ” Después de esta declaración, la doncella se calló, y con paso resuelto se unió a la procesión de escolta de ciudadanos. Se dirigieron a la roca designada en una montaña alta, y cuando instalaron a la niña en su cima, la abandonaron allí. Dejaron atrás las antorchas matrimoniales que habían iluminado su camino pero ahora estaban empapadas con sus lágrimas, y con las cabezas inclinadas se dirigieron a casa. Los infelices padres de la niña, agotados por esta señal de calamidad, se encerraron en la penumbra de su casa cerrada y se entregaron a una vida de oscuridad perpetua. Pero mientras Psique lloraba de miedo y temblaba en esa eminencia rocosa, la brisa amable de Zephyrus (el Viento del Oeste) con su suave agitación flotaba de un lado a otro del dobladillo de su vestido, e hizo que sus pliegues se hincharan. Poco a poco la arrastró hacia arriba, y con un aliento tranquilo la llevó lentamente hacia abajo. Se deslizó hacia abajo en el seno del césped cubierto de flores en el valle de abajo. En ese cenador suave y cubierto de hierba, Psique se recostó agradecida en el sofá del césped cargado de rocío. La gran agitación que oprimía su mente había disminuido, y ella disfrutaba de un placentero descanso. Después de dormir lo suficiente como para sentirse renovada, se levantó con un corazón despreocupado. Ante sus ojos había una arboleda cubierta de árboles altos y extendidos, y un riachuelo reluciente de aguas cristalinas. En el centro de la arboleda y cerca de la corriente deslizante había un palacio real, obra no de manos humanas sino de artesanía divina. En cuanto entras, sabrás que estás viendo el nacimiento y la retirada atractiva de algún dios. El techo alto, artísticamente revestido con madera de cítrico y marfil, se apoyaba en columnas doradas. Todas las paredes fueron trabajadas en plata en relieve; bestias y ganado salvaje se encontraron con la mirada de quienes entraron allí. El que moldeó toda esta plata en forma de animales fue ciertamente un genio, o más bien debe haber sido un semidiós o incluso un dios. Los pisos también se extendieron con diferentes cuadros formados por mosaicos de piedras preciosas; ¡dos veces bendecidos, y más de dos veces bendecidos son aquellos cuyos pies caminan sobre gemas y joyas! Las otras áreas de la vivienda también, en toda su extensión y amplitud, eran incalculablemente costosas. Todas las paredes brillaban con su brillo nativo de oro sólido, de modo que si el sol se negaba a brillar, la casa creaba su propia luz del día. Las habitaciones, la columnata, las puertas también brillaban brillantemente. Las otras riquezas también reflejaron el esplendor de la mansión. Te justificaría pensar que este era un palacio celestial diseñado para el poderoso Júpiter [Zeus] cuando se dedicaba a tratar con hombres. Psique, seducida por la apariencia encantadora de estos alrededores, se acercó y, a medida que crecía su seguridad, cruzó el umbral. Deleitarse con la belleza incomparable de la escena la animó a examinar cada detalle. Sus ojos se iluminaron en los almacenes construidos al otro lado de la casa; estaban abarrotados de abundantes tesoros. No faltaba nada imaginable, y lo que era especialmente sorprendente, aparte de la impresionante abundancia de tales riquezas, era el hecho de que esta casa del tesoro no tenía protección alguna por medio de una cadena, barra o guardia. Mientras contemplaba todo esto con el mayor éxtasis, una voz incorpórea se dirigió a ella: ‘¿Por qué, señora, mira con la boca abierta este desfile de riqueza? Todas estas cosas son tuyas. Así que retírese a su habitación, alivie su cansancio en su cama y báñese a su gusto. Las voces que escucha son las de sus doncellas y atendiremos diligentemente sus necesidades. Una vez que haya completado su baño, se le hará una fiesta real de inmediato. ” Psique sintió la bendición de la provisión del cielo de Herby. Ella escuchó las sugerencias de la voz incorpórea, y después de tomar una siesta y luego un baño para disipar su fatiga, de inmediato notó un sofá semicircular y una mesa al alcance de la mano. Los platos puestos para la cena le permitieron comprender que todo estaba preparado para su refresco, por lo que con gusto se reclinó allí. Inmediatamente el vino estaba delicioso como néctar y varios platos de comida fueron colocados delante de ella, traídos no por manos humanas sino sin apoyo en una ráfaga de viento. No podía ver ningún alma viviente, y simplemente escuchó palabras emergiendo del aire: sus sirvientas eran simplemente voces. Cuando ella disfrutó de la rica fiesta, una cantante entró y actuó sin ser vista, mientras que otro músico tocaba una lira que era igualmente invisible. Entonces las voces armoniosas de un coro afinado golpearon sus oídos, de modo que estaba claro que un grupo coral estaba presente, aunque no se podía ver a nadie. El agradable entretenimiento llegó a su fin, y el advenimiento de la oscuridad indujo a Psique a retirarse a la cama. Cuando la noche estaba bien avanzada, un sonido genial llegó a sus oídos. Como estaba completamente sola, ella tembló y se estremeció de miedo por su virginidad, y temía la presencia desconocida más que cualquier otra amenaza. Pero ahora su novio desconocido llegó y se metió en la cama. Hizo de Psique su esposa, y se fue rápidamente antes de que amaneciera. De inmediato, las voces presentes en su habitación tendieron a la virginidad violada de la nueva novia. Estas visitas continuaron durante un largo período y esta nueva vida en el curso de la naturaleza se volvió deliciosa para Psique a medida que se acostumbró. Escuchar esa voz no identificada consoló su soledad. Mientras tanto, sus padres envejecían en dolor y melancolía incesante. A medida que la noticia se extendió, sus hermanas mayores aprendieron toda la historia. En su tristeza y dolor, compitieron entre ellos al salir apresuradamente de casa y dirigirse directamente hacia sus padres, para verlos y discutir el asunto con ellos. Esa noche, el esposo de Psique (él era invisible para ella, pero ella podía tocarlo y escucharlo) le dijo: ‘La psique más dulce, esposa querida que eres, Fortuna (Fortuna) [Tykhe] se vuelve más salvaje y te amenaza con peligro mortal Te cobro: muestra mayor circunspección. Tus hermanas están preocupadas por el rumor de que estás muerta, y pronto vendrán a esta roca para buscar rastros de ti. Si tiene la oportunidad de escuchar sus gritos de dolor, no debe responder, ni siquiera mirarlos. De lo contrario, me causarás la aflicción más dolorosa y me causarás una destrucción total “. Psique consintió y prometió seguir la guía de su esposo. Pero cuando desapareció en compañía de la oscuridad, la pobre niña pasó todo el día llorando y golpeándose el pecho. Seguía repitiendo que ahora todo estaba en su contra, porque aquí estaba confinada y encerrada en esa prisión bendecida, sin conversación con seres humanos en compañía, sin poder siquiera ofrecer alivio consolador a sus hermanas mientras lloraban por ella, y no se lo permitían. incluso para echarles un vistazo. Ninguna ablución, comida u otra relajación la hicieron sentir mejor, y se retiró a dormir en un torrente de lágrimas. En ese momento su esposo llegó a la cama un poco antes de lo habitual. Todavía estaba llorando, y cuando la abrazó, él protestó con ella: ‘¿Es así como se ha cumplido la promesa que me hiciste, Psique, querida? ¿Qué puede esperar o esperar tu marido de ti? Nunca dejas de torturarte a ti mismo día y noche, incluso cuando nos abrazamos como marido y mujer. Muy bien, hazlo a tu manera, sigue tu propia inclinación al infierno. Pero cuando comiences a arrepentirte a tu antojo, recuerda la advertencia sobria que te di. ” Entonces Psique con oraciones y amenazas de su muerte inminente obligó a su esposo a ceder a su anhelo de ver a sus hermanas, para aliviar su dolor, y también le permitió presentarles cualquier pieza de oro o joyas que ella eligiera. Pero él seguía disuadiéndola con repetidas advertencias de ser inducida alguna vez por la incómoda incitación de sus hermanas a descubrir la apariencia de su esposo. Ella no debe, a través de la curiosidad sacrílega, caer de cabeza desde la altura de su feliz fortuna y perder su abrazo. Ella le agradeció a su esposo, y con el espíritu en alza dijo: ‘Pero preferiría morir cien veces antes que renunciar a la alegría suprema de mi matrimonio contigo. Porque te amo y aprecio apasionadamente, quienquiera que seas, tanto como mi propia vida, y te valoro más que el propio Cupidos [Eros]. Pero una concesión más le ruego por mis oraciones: invite a su sirviente Zephyrus (el Viento del Oeste) a que mis hermanas se acerquen a mí, ya que antes me hizo flotar ”. Le dio besos seductores, le susurró palabras melosas y se acurrucó. cerca de ablandarlo. Agregó cariño a sus encantos: “¡Oh mi dulce y querido esposo, luz de la vida de tu Psique!” Su esposo cedió involuntariamente ante la fuerte presión de estos apasionados susurros, y prometió hacer todo lo que ella le pidiera. Luego, cuando se acercaba el amanecer, desapareció del abrazo de su esposa. Las hermanas de Psique preguntaron sobre la ubicación de la roca en la que había sido abandonada, y rápidamente se dirigieron hacia ella. Allí gritaron con los ojos y se golpearon los senos hasta que las rocas y los riscos resonaron igualmente fuerte con sus repetidas lamentaciones. Luego trataron de conjurar a su hermana llamándola por su nombre, hasta que las notas penetrantes de sus voces gimiendo penetraron por la ladera de la montaña, y Psique salió corriendo de la casa frenética y temerosamente. “¿Por qué?”, Preguntó ella, “¿se torturan sin motivo con sus infelices gritos de dolor? Aquí estoy, el objeto de tu duelo. Así que deja de llorar y ahora, por fin, seca esas mejillas que están húmedas con lágrimas prolongadas, ya que ahora puedes abrazar a la hermana por la que lloraste “. Luego convocó a Zephyrus y le recordó las instrucciones de su marido. Rápidamente obedeció la orden, y de inmediato los derribó a salvo en la más suave brisa. Las hermanas se abrazaron e intercambiaron con entusiasmo besos ansiosos. Las lágrimas que se habían secado brotaron nuevamente, impulsadas por su alegría. “Ahora que estás de buen humor”, dijo Psique, “debes entrar en mi hogar y mi hogar, y dejar que la compañía de tu Psique alegrara tus corazones que estaban turbados”. Después de estas palabras, ella les mostró las magníficas riquezas de la casa dorada, y que escuchen las voces de su gran séquito. Luego les permitió el rico placer de un baño lujoso y una elegante comida servida por sus criadas fantasmales. Pero cuando se llenaron de la abundante abundancia de riquezas claramente otorgadas por el cielo, comenzaron a albergar envidias profundamente arraigadas en sus corazones. Entonces, uno de ellos siguió preguntando con curiosidad persistente sobre el dueño de esas posesiones divinas, sobre la identidad y el estado de su esposo. Psique en lo más profundo de su corazón no desobedeció ni ignoró de ninguna manera las instrucciones de su esposo. Ella inventó una historia improvisada de que era un joven apuesto cuyas mejillas se oscurecían con una suave barba y que pasaba la mayor parte del día cazando en las colinas del campo. Pero estaba ansiosa por no traicionar con un resbalón de lengua su resolución silenciosa al continuar la conversación, por lo que sopesó a sus hermanas con objetos de oro y joyas preciosas, convocó apresuradamente a Zephyrus y se los confió para el viaje de regreso. Esto se llevó a cabo de inmediato, y esas espléndidas hermanas se dirigieron a casa. Ahora estaban carcomidos por la bilis de la creciente envidia, e intercambiaban repetidamente quejas en voz alta. Uno de ellos comenzó: ‘Fortuna (Fortuna), ¡qué ciego, duro e injusto eres! ¿Fue un placer para nosotros, hijas de los mismos padres, soportar un destino tan diferente? Aquí estamos, sus hermanas mayores, nada mejor que las sirvientas de maridos extranjeros, desterradas de su hogar e incluso de nuestra tierra natal, viviendo como exiliados lejos de nuestros padres, mientras que Psique, la descendencia más joven y última del útero cansado de nuestra madre, ha obtenido ¡Toda esta riqueza y un dios para un marido! Ni siquiera tiene una noción de cómo disfrutar de tan abundantes bendiciones. ¿Notaste, hermana, la cantidad y calidad de las piedras preciosas que yacen en la casa, las prendas relucientes, las joyas brillantes, el oro que yace bajo nuestros pies y por toda la casa? Si tiene un marido tan guapo como dice, ninguna mujer que viva en el mundo será más bendecida. Quizás a medida que su intimidad continúe y su amor se fortalezca, su esposo también la hará divina. Así son las cosas, marca mis palabras; ella estaba poniendo tales aires y gracias! ¡Ahora es tan alta y poderosa, se comporta como una diosa, con esas voces que satisfacen sus necesidades, y Winds obedece sus órdenes! Mientras que mi vida es un infierno; Para empezar, tengo un marido mayor que mi padre. También es más calvo que una cebolla, y no tiene la virilidad de un bebé. Y mantiene nuestra casa cercada con bardos y cadenas. ” El otro retomó las quejas. ‘Tengo que aguantar a un marido lisiado y doblado por el reumatismo, para que pueda sucumbir a mis encantos solo una vez en una luna azul. Pasé casi todo el día frotando sus dedos, que están torcidos y duros como un pedernal, y quemé estas suaves manos mías en cataplasmas malolientes, vendas sucias y tiritas malolientes. Soy una auxiliar de enfermería esclava, no una esposa obediente. Debes decidir por ti misma, hermana, con qué paciencia o, permíteme expresarme con franqueza, cuán servil intentas soportar la situación; No puedo soportar más el pensamiento de esta chica que no merece que caiga de pie así. Solo recuerde cuán desdeñosamente y altivamente nos trató, cuán hinchada se había vuelto con su jactancia y su exhibición vulgar inmodesta, cómo nos arrojó a regañadientes algunas baratijas de esa masa de riquezas, y luego de inmediato nos ordenó que fuéramos. arrojado, arrastrado, enviado con el viento porque encontró nuestra presencia tediosa! Tan segura como soy una mujer, tan segura como estoy parada aquí, ¡voy a impulsarla de cabeza a ese montón de riquezas! Si la forma insultante en que nos ha tratado también lo ha provocado, como ciertamente debería haberlo hecho, debemos elaborar un plan efectivo juntos. No debemos mostrar los regalos que poseemos a nuestros padres ni a ninguna otra persona. Ni siquiera debemos traicionar la más mínima conciencia de que está viva. Ya es bastante malo que hayamos sido testigos de la lamentable situación, sin que tengamos que difundir las alegres noticias a nuestros padres y al mundo entero en general. La gente no es realmente afortunada si nadie sabe de sus riquezas. Se dará cuenta de que tiene hermanas mayores, no sirvientas. Así que volvamos ahora a nuestros esposos y hogares, que pueden ser pobres pero honestos. Luego, cuando hayamos pensado más en el asunto, debemos volver más decididos a castigar su arrogancia “. Las dos hermanas malvadas aprobaron este plan malvado. Así que escondieron todos esos regalos más valiosos. Se rasgaron el cabello, se rascaron las mejillas y merecieron un dolor renovado. Sus lágrimas convocadas apresuradamente deprimieron a sus padres, volvieron a despertar su dolor para que coincidiera con el de sus hijas, y luego se hincharon de ira lunática de la que se apresuraron a sus hogares, planificando sus astucias malvadas, o más bien el asesinato de su inocente hermana. Mientras tanto, el marido desconocido de Psique en su conversación nocturna nuevamente la aconsejó con estas palabras: ‘¿Eres consciente de qué inmenso peligro te sobreviene? Fortuna apunta sus dardos hacia ti desde larga distancia y, a menos que tomes las precauciones más estrictas, pronto se enfrentará contigo de la mano. Esas perras traidoras están forzando cada nervio para poner trampas malvadas para ti. Por encima de todo, están tratando de persuadirlo para que se entrometa en mi apariencia, y como a menudo le he advertido, un solo vistazo será el último. Entonces, si esas brujas depravadas aparecen más tarde, listas con sus diseños destructivos, y estoy seguro de que lo harán, no debes intercambiar una sola palabra con ellas, o en cualquier caso, si tu inocencia y tu corazón blando no pueden soportar eso, estás no escuchar ni pronunciar una sola palabra sobre su esposo. Pronto comenzaremos una familia, ya que este útero todavía pequeño lleva para nosotros otro niño como tú. Si ocultas nuestro secreto en silencio, ese niño será un dios; pero si lo revela, él será mortal “. Psique estaba radiante de alegría por la noticia. Ella se glorió en la reconfortante perspectiva de un hijo divino, se regocijó en la fama de que una persona tan querida la traería, se regocijó al pensar en el respetado estatus de madre. Ella contó ansiosamente los días de montaje y los meses de partida, y como una novata que soportaba una carga desconocida, se maravilló de que el pinchazo de un momento pudiera causar una inflamación tan encantadora en su útero fecundo. Pero ahora esas furiosas y furiosas (Furia) [Erinyes] se apresuraban en su camino impío a bordo de un barco, exhalando su veneno de serpiente. Fue entonces cuando el esposo de Psique en su breve visita nuevamente le advirtió: ‘Este es el día de la crisis, el momento de mayor peligro. Esos miembros problemáticos de su sexo, esas relaciones de sangre hostiles suyas ahora se han apoderado de sus brazos, acamparon, dibujaron su línea de batalla y tocaron la nota de trompeta. Tus hermanas impías han desenvainado sus espadas y apuntan a tu yugular. Las calamidades que nos oprimen son, de hecho, la Psique terrible y más querida. Ten piedad de ti mismo y de mí; demuestre un autocontrol diligente para entregar su casa y su esposo, su persona y este pequeño hijo nuestro del infeliz desastre que se cierne sobre nosotros. Do not set eyes on, or open your ears to, these female criminals, whom you cannot call your sisters because of their deadly hatred, and because of the way in which they have trodden underfoot their own flesh and blood, when like Sireni they lean out over the crag, and make the rocks resound with the death-dealing cries!’ Psyche’s response was muffled with tearful sobs. ‘Some time ago, I think, you had proof of my trustworthiness and discretion, and on this occasion too my resolution will likewise win your approval. Only tell our Zephyrus to provide his services again, and allow me at least a glimpse of my sisters as consolation for your unwillingness to let me gaze on your sacred face. I beg you by these locks of yours which with their scent of cinnamon dangle all round your head, by your cheeks as soft and smooth as my own, by your breast which diffuses its hidden heat, as I hope to observe your features as reflected at least in this our tiny child: accede to the devoted prayers of this careworn suppliant, and grant me the blessing of my sisters’ embraces. Then you will give fresh life and joy to your Psyche, your own devoted and dedicated dear one. I no longer seek to see your face; the very darkness of the night is not oppressive to me, for you are my light to which I cling.’ Her husband was bewitched with these words and soft embraces. He wiped away her tears with his curls, promised to do her bidding, and at once departed before dawn broke. The conspiratorial pair of sisters did not even call on their parents. At breakneck speed they made straight from the ships to the familiar rock, and without waiting for the presence of the wafting wind, launched themselves down with impudent rashness into the depths below. Zephyrus, somewhat unwillingly recalling his king’s command, enfolded them in the bosom of his favouring breeze and set them down on solid earth. Without hesitation they at once marched with measured step into the house, and counterfeiting the name of sisters they embraced their prey. With joyful expressions they cloaked he deeply hidden deceit which they treasured within them, and flattered their sister with these words : ‘Psyche, you are no longer the little girl of old; you are now a mother. Just imagine what a blessing you bear in that purse of yours! What pleasures you will bring to our whole family! How lucky we are at the prospect of rearing this prince of infants! If he is as handsome as his parents–and why not?–he is sure to be a thorough Cupidos (Cupid) [Eros]!’ With this pretence of affection they gradually wormed their way into their sister’s heart. As soon as they had rested their feet to recover from the weariness of the journey, and had steeped their bodies in a steaming bath, Psyche served them in the dining-room with a most handsome and delightful meal of meats and savouries. She ordered a lyre to play, and string-music came forth; she ordered pipes to start up, and their notes were heard; she bade choirs to sing, and they duly did. All this music soothed their spirits with the sweetest tunes as they listened, though no human person stood before them. But those baleful sisters were not softened or lulled even by that music so honey-sweet. They guided the conversation towards the deceitful snare which they had laid, and they began to enquire innocently about the status, family background, and walk of life of her husband. Then Psyche’s excessive naivety made her forget her earlier version, and she concocted a fresh story. She said that her husband was a business-man from an adjoining region, and that he was middle-aged, with streaks of grey in his hair. But she did not linger a moment longer in such talk, but again loaded her sisters with rich gifts, and ushered them back to their carriage of the wind.
Eros-Cupid and Psychae, Greco-Roman mosaic from Daphne C3rd A.D., Hatay Archaeology Museum “But as they returned home, after Zephyrus with his serene breath had borne them aloft, they exchanged abusive comments about Psyche. ‘There are no words, sister, to describe the outrageous lie of that idiotic girl. Previously her husband was a young fellow whose beard was beginning to sprout with woolly growth, but now he’s in middle wage with spruce and shining grey hair : What a prodigy he must be! This short interval has brought on old age abruptly, and has changed his appearance! You can be sure, sister, that this noxious female is either telling a pack of lies or does not know what her husband is like. Whatever the truth of the matter, she must be parted from those riches of hers without delay. If she does not know what her husband looks like, she must certainly be married to a god, and its is a god she’s got for us in that womb of hers. Be sure of this, that if she becomes a celebrity as the mother of a divine child–which God forbid–I’ll put a rope round my neck and hang myself. For the moment, then, let us go back to our parents and spin a fairy story to match the one we concocted a first.’ In this impassioned state they greeted their parents disdainfully, and after a restless night those despicable sisters sped to the rock at break of day. They threw themselves down through the air, and the Wind afforded them his usual protection. They squeezed their eyelids to force out some tears, and greeted the girl with these guileful words : ‘While you sit here, content and in happy ignorance of your grim situation, giving no thought to your danger, we in our watchful zeal for your welfare lie awake at night, racked with sadness for your misfortunes. We know for a fact–and as we share your painful plight we cannot hide it from you–that a monstrous Dragon lies unseen with you at night. It creeps along with its numerous knotted coils; its neck is blood-stained, and oozes deadly poison; its monstrous jaws lie gaping open. You must surely remember the Pythian oracle, and its chant that you were doomed to wed a wild beast. Then, too, many farms, local huntsmen, and a number of inhabitants have seen the Dragon returning to its lair at night after seeking its food, or swimming in the shallows of a river close by. All of them maintain that the beast will not continue to fatten you for long by providing you with enticing food, and that as soon as your womb has filled out and your pregnancy comes to term, it will devour the richer fare which you will then offer. In view of this, you must now decide whether you ware willing to side with your sisters, who are anxious for your welfare which is so dear to their hearts, and to live in their company once you escape from death, or whether you prefer to be interred in the stomach of that fiercest of beasts. However, if you opt for the isolation of this rustic haunt inhabited only by voices, preferring the foul and hazardous intimacy of furtive love in the embrace of this venomous Dragon, at any rate we as your devoted sisters will have done our duty.’ Poor Psyche, simple and innocent as she was, at once felt apprehension at these grim tidings. She lost her head, and completely banished her recollection of all her husband’s warnings and her own promises. She launched herself into the abyss of disaster. Trembling and pale as the blood drained from her face, she barely opened her mouth as she gasped and stammered out this reply to them. ‘Dearest sisters, you have acted rightly in continuing to observe your devoted duty, and as for those who make these assertions to you, I do not think that they are telling lies. It is true that I have never seen my husband’s face, and I have no knowledge whatsoever of where he hails form. I merely attend at night to the words of a husband to whom I submit with no knowledge of what he is like, for he certainly shuns the light of day. Your judgement is just that he is some beast, and I rightly agree with you. He constantly and emphatically warns me against seeing what he looks like, and threatens me with great disaster if I show curiosity about his features. So if at this moment you can offer saving help to your sister in her hour of danger, you must come to my rescue now. Otherwise your indifference to the future will tarnish the benefits of your previous concern.’ Those female criminals had now made their way through the open gates, and had occupied the mind of their sister thus exposed. They emerged from beneath the mantlet of their battering-ram, drew their swords, and advanced on the terrified thoughts of that simple girl.
So it was that one of them said to her : ‘Our family ties compel us, in the interests of your safety, to disregard any danger whatsoever which lies before us, so we shall inform you of the one way by which you will attain the safety which has exercised us for so long. You must whet a razor by running it over your softened palm, and when it is quite sharp hide it secretly by the bed where you usually lie. Then fill a well-trimmed lamp with oil, and when it is shining brightly, conceal it beneath the cover of an enclosing jar. Once you have purposefully secreted this equipment, you must wait until your husband ploughs his furrow, and enters and climbs as usual into bed. Then, when he has stretched out and sleep has begun to oppress and enfold him, as soon as he starts the steady breathing which denotes deep sleep, you must slip off the couch. In your bare feet and on tiptoe take mincing steps forward, and remove the lamp from its protective cover of darkness. Then take your cue from the lamp, and seize the moment to perform your own shining deed. Grasp the two-edged weapon boldly, first raise high your right hand, and then with all the force you can muster sever the knot which joins the neck and head of that venomous serpent. You will not act without our help, for we shall be hovering anxiously in attendance, and as soon as you have ensured your safety by his death, we shall fly to your side. All these riches here we shall bear off with you with all speed, and then we shall arrange an enviable marriage for you, human being with human being.’ Their sister was already quite feverish with agitation, but these fiery words set her heart ablaze. At once they left her, for their proximity to this most wicked crime made them fear greatly for themselves. So the customary thrust of the winged Breeze bore them up to the rock, and they at once fled in precipitate haste. Without delay they embarked on their ships and cast off. But Psyche, now left alone, except that being harried by the hostile Furiae (Furies) [Erinyes] was no solitude, tossed in her grief like the waves of the sea. Though her plan was formed and her determination fixed, she still faltered in uncertainty of purpose as she set her hands to action, and was torn between the many impulses of her unhappy plight. She made haste, she temperized; her daring turned more to fear, her diffidence to anger, and to cap everything she loathed the beast but loved the husband, though they were one and the same. But now evening brought on darkness, so with headlong haste she prepared the instruments for the heinous crime. Night fell, and her husband arrived, and having first skirmished in the warfare of love, he fell in to a heavy sleep. Then Psyche, though enfeebled in both body and mind, gained the strength lent her by fate’s harsh decree. She uncovered the lamp, seized the razor, and showed a boldness that belied her sex. But as soon as the lamp was brought near, and the secrets of the couch were revealed, she beheld of all beasts the gentlest and sweetest, Cupidos [Eros] himself, a handsome god lying in a handsome posture. Even the lamplight was cheered and brightened on sighting him, and the razor felt suitable abashed at its sacrilegious sharpness. As for Psyche, she was awe-struck at this wonderful vision, and she lost all her self-control. She swooned and paled with enervation; her knees buckled, and she sought to hide the steel by plunging it into her own breast. Indeed, she would have perpetrated this, but the steel showed its fear of committing so serious a crime by plunging out of her rash grasp. But as in her weariness and giddiness she gazed repeatedly on the beauty of that divine countenance, her mental balance was restored. She beheld on his golden head his luxuriant hair steeped in ambrosia; his neatly pinned ringlets strayed over his milk-white neck and rosy cheeks, some dangling in front and some behind, and their surpassing sheen made even the lamplight flicker. On the winged god’s shoulders his dewy wings gleamed white with flashing brilliance; though they lay motionless, the soft and fragile feathers at their tips fluttered in quivering motion and sported restlessly. The rest of his body, hairless and rosy, and was such that Venus [Aphrodite] would not have been ashamed to acknowledge him as her son. At the foot of the bed lay his bow, quiver, and arrows, the kindly weapons of that great god. As Psyche trained her gaze insatiably and with no little curiosity on these her husband’s weapons, in the course of handling and admiring them she drew out an arrow from the quiver, and tested its point on the tip of her thumb. But because her arm was still trembling she pressed too hard, with the result that it pricked too deeply, and tiny drops of rose-red blood bedewed the surface of the skin. So all unknowing and without prompting Psyche fell in love with Amor (Love) [Eros], being fired more and more with desire for the god of desire. She gazed down on him in distraction, and as she passionately smothered him with wanton kisses from parted lips, she feared that he might stir in his sleep. But while her wounded heart pounded on being roused by such striking beauty, the lamp disgorged a drop of burning oil from the tip of its flame upon the god’s right shoulder; it could have been nefarious treachery, or malicious jealousy, or the desire, so to say, to touch and kiss that glorious body. O you rash, reckless lamp, Amor’s (Love’s) worthless servant, do you burn the very god who possesses all fire, though doubtless you were invented by some lover to ensure that he might possess for longer and even at night the object of his desire? The god started up on being burnt; he saw that he was exposed, and that his trust was defiled. Without a word he at once flew away from the kisses and embrace of his most unhappy wife. But Psyche seized his right leg with both hands just as he rose above her. She made a pitiable appendage as he soured aloft, following in his wake and dangling in company with him as they flew through the clouds. But finally she slipped down to earth exhausted. As she lay there on the ground, her divine lover did not leave her, but flew to the nearest cypress-tree, and from its summit spoke in considerable indignation to her. ‘Poor, ingenuous Psyche, I disregarded my mother Venus’ instructions when she commanded that you be yoked in passionate desire to the meanest of men, and that you be then subjected to the most degrading of marriages. Instead, I preferred to swoop down to become your lover. I admit that my behaviour was not judicious; I, the famed archer, wounded myself with my own weapon, and made you my wife–and all so that you should regard me as a wild beast, and cut off my head with the steel, and with it the eyes that dote on you! I urged you repeatedly, I warned you devotedly always to be on your guard against what has now happened. But before long those fine counsellors of yours will make satisfaction to me for their heinous instructions, whereas for you the punishment will be merely my departure.’ As he finished speaking, he soared aloft on his wings. From her prostrate position on the ground Psyche watched her husband’s flight as far as her eyes allowed, and she tortured her heart with the bitterest lamentations. But once the sculling of his wings had removed him from her sight and he had disappeared into the distance, she hurled herself headlong down from the bank of a river close by. But that kindly stream was doubtless keen to pay homage to the god who often scorches even the waters, and in fear for his person he at once cast her ashore on his current without injuring her, and set her on its grassy bank. The rustic god Pan chanced to be sitting at that moment on the brow of the stream, holding the mountain deity Echo in his arms, and teaching her to repeat after him all kinds of songs. Close by the bank nanny-goats were sporting as they grazed and cropped the river-foliage here and there. The goat-shaped god was well aware of the calamity that had befallen Psyche. He called her gently to him, lovesick and weary as she was, and soothed her with these consoling words. ‘You are an elegant girl, and I am a rustic herdsman, but my advanced years give me the benefit of considerable experience. If my hazard is correct–sages actually call such guesswork divine insight–I infer from your stumbling and frequently wandering steps, from your excessively pale complexion and continual sighs, and not least from your mournful gaze, that you are suffering grievous love-pains. On that account you must hearken to me: do not seek gain to destroy yourself by throwing yourself headlong or by seeking any other means of death. Cease your sorrowing, lay aside your sadness, and instead direct prayers of adoration to Cupidos [Eros], greatest of gods, and by your caressing attentions win the favour of that wanton and extravagant youth.’ Psyche made no reply to this advice from the shepherd-god. She merely paid reverential homage to his divine person, and proceeded on her way. After wandering with weary steps for a considerable distance, as night bell a certain path led her all unknowing to the city where the husband of one of her sisters had his realm. Psyche recognised it, and asked that her arrival be announced to her sister. She was then ushered in, and after they had greeted and embraced each other, her sister enquired why she had come. Psyche began to explain. ‘You recall that plan of yours, by which you both persuaded me to take a two-edged razor and slay the beast who used to lie with me falsely claiming to be my husband, with the intention of later devouring my poor self with his greedy maw? I fell in with your proposal, but when the lamp which conspired with me allowed me to gaze on his face, the vision I beheld was astonishing and utterly divine; it was the son of the goddess Venus [Aphrodite], I mean Cupidos [Eros] himself, who lay peacefully sleeping there. I exulted at the sight of such beauty, and was confused by the sense of overwhelming delight, and as I experienced frustration at being unable to enjoy relations with him, the lamp by dreadful mischance shed a drop of burning oil on his shoulder. At once the pain caused him to start from his sleep, and when he saw me wielding the steel and the flame, he said : “This is a dreadful deed you have done. Leave my bed this instant, and take your goods and chattels with you. I shall now take your sister”–at this point he cited your name specifically–“in solemn marriage.” At once he then ordained Zephyrus to waft me outside the bounds of his estate.’ Psyche had not yet finished speaking when her sister, goaded by mad lust and destructive envy, swung into action. She devised a lying excuse to deceive her husband, pretending that she had learnt of her parents’ death; she at once boarded ship, and then made hot-foot for the rock. Although the wrong wind was blowing, her eagerness was fired by blind hope, and she said : ‘Take me, Cupidos, as your worthy wife; Zephyrus, take your mistress aboard!’ She then took a prodigious leap downward. But not even in death could she reach that abode for her limbs bounced on the rocky crags, and were fragmented. Her insides were torn out, and in her fitting death she offered a ready meal to birds and beasts. The second punitive vengeance was not long delayed. Psyche resumed her wandering, and reached a second city where her other sister similarly dwelt. She too was taken in by her sister’s deception, and in her eagerness to supplant Psyche in the marriage which they had befouled, she hastened to the rock, and fell to her deadly doom in the same way. While Psyche was at this time visiting one community after another in her concentrated search for Cupidos [Eros], he was lying groaning in his mother’s chamber, racked by the pain of the wound from the lamp. But then the tern, the white bird which wings her way over the sea-waves, plunged swiftly into the deep bosom of ocean. She came upon Venus [Aphrodite] conveniently there as the goddess bathed and swam; she perched beside her, and told her that her son had suffered burning, and was lying in considerable pain from the wound, with his life in danger. As a result the entire household of Venus was in bad odour, the object of gossip and rebuke on the lips of people everywhere. They were claiming that Cupidos was relaxing with a leady of easy virtue in the mountains, and that Venus herself was idly swimming in the ocean, with the result that pleasure and favour and elegance had departed from the world; all was unkempt, rustic, uncouth. There were no weddings, no camaraderie between friends, none of the love which children inspire; all was a scene of boundless squalor, of unsavoury tedium in sordid alliances. Such was the gossip which that garrulous and prying bird whispered in Venus’ ear, tearing her son’s reputation to shreds. Venus was absolutely livid. She burst out : ‘So not that fine son of mine has a girl-friend, has he? Come on, then tell me her name, since you are the only one who serves me with affection. Who is it who has tempted my innocent, beardless boy? Is it one of that crowd of Nymphae (Nymphs), or one of the Horae (Seasons), or one of the band of Musae (Muses), or one of my servant Gratiae (Graces)?’ The garrulous bird did not withhold a reply. She said : ‘I do not know, mistress; I think the story goes that he is head over heels in love with a girl by the name of Psyche, if my memory serves me rightly.’ Then Venus in a rage bawled out at the top of her voice : ‘Can it really be true that he is in love with that Psyche who lays claim to my beauty and pretends to my name? That son of mine must surely have regarded me as a procuress, when I pointed the girl out to him so that he could win her acquaintance.’ As she grumbled she made haste to quit the sea, and at once made for her golden chamber. There she found her son lying ill as she had heard, and from the doorway she bellowed out as loudly as she could : ‘This is a fine state of affairs, just what one would expect from a child of mine, from a decent man like you! First of all you trampled underfoot the instructions of your mother–or I should say your employer–and you refused to humble my personal enemy with a vile love-liaison; and then, mark you, a mere boy of tender years, you hugged her close in your wanton, stunted embraces! You wanted me to have to cope with my enemy as a daughter-in-law! You take too much for granted, you good-for-nothing, loathsome seducer! You think of yourself as my only noble heir, and you imagine that I’m now too old to bear another. Just realize that I’ll get another son, one far better than you. In fact I’ll rub your nose in it further. I’ll adopt one of my young slaves, and make him a present of these wings and torches of yours, the bow and arrows, and all the rest of my paraphernalia which I did not entrust to you to be misused like this. None of the cost of kitting you out came from your father’s estate. ‘Ever sine you were a baby you have been badly brought up, too ready with your hands. You show no respect to your elders, pounding them time after time. Even me your own mother you strip naked every day, and many’s the time you’ve cuffed me. You show me total contempt as though I were a widow, and you haven’t an ounce of fear for your stepfather, the bravest and greatest of warriors. And why should you? You are in the habit of supplying him with girls, to cause me the pain of having to compete with rivals. But now I’ll make you sorry for this sport of yours. I’ll ensure that you find your marriage sour and bitter. ‘But what am I to do, now that I’m becoming a laughing-stock? Where shall I go, how shall I curb in this scoundrel? Should I beg the assistance of my enemy Sobrietate (Sobriety), so often alienated from me through this fellow’s loose living? The prospect of having to talk with that unsophisticated, hideous female gives me the creeps. Still I must not despise the consolation of gaining revenge from any quarter. She is absolutely the only one to be given the job of imposing the harshest discipline on this rascal. She must empty his quiver, immobilize his arrows, unstring his bow, extinguish his torch, and retrain his person with sharper correction. Only when she has sheared off his locks–how often I have brushed them shining like gold with my own hands!–nd clipped those wings, which I have steeped in my own breast’s liquid nectar, shall I regard the insult dealt to me as expiated.’ These were her words. Then she bustled out, glowering and incensed with passionate rage. At that moment Ceres [Demeter] and Juno [Hera] came up with her. When they observed her resentful face, they asked her why she was cloaking the rich charm of her radiant eyes with a sullen frown. ‘You have come,’ she answered, ‘at a timely moment to fulfil my wishes, for I am seething inside. I ask you to search with might and main for that fickle runaway of mine called Psyche. I’m sure that the scandalous gossip concerning my household, and the behaviour of that unspeakable son of mine, have not passed you by.’ They knew quite well what had happened, and they south to assuage Venus’ raging temper. ‘My lady, how is it that your son’s peccadillo has caused you to war on his pleasures in this unrelenting way, and also to desire to destroy the girl that he loves? What harm is there, we should like to know, in his giving the glad eye to a nicely turned-out girl? Don’t you realize that he is in the prime of manhood, or are you forgetting his age? Just because he carries his years well, does he strike you as a perpetual boy? You are a mother and a sensible one at that. Are you always going to pry nosily into your son’s diversions, and condemn his wanton ways, censure his love-life, and vilify your own skills and pleasures as practised by your handsome son? What god or what person on earth will bear with your scattering sensual pleasures throughout the world, when you sourly refuse to allow love-liaisons in your own house, and you close down the manufacture of women’s weaknesses which is made available to all?’ This was how the two goddesses sucked up to Cupidos, seeking to win his favour, though he was absent, by taking his part, for they feared his arrows. But Venus was affronted that the insults which she sustained were treated so lightly. She cut the tow of them short, turned on her heel, and stalked quickly off to the sea.
Eros-Cupid and Psyche, Greco-Roman mosaic from Zeugma C1st-2nd A.D., Gaziantep Museum “Meanwhile Psyche in her random wanderings was suffering torment, as she sought day and night to trace her husband. She was restless in mind, but all the more eager, in spite of his anger, to soften him with a wife’s endearments, or at any rate to appease him with a servant’s entreaties. She spied a temple perched on the peak of a high mountain, and she said : ‘Perhaps this is where my lord dwells?’ She made her way quickly there, and though her feet were utterly weary from her unremitting labours, her hope and aspiration quickened them. She mounted the higher ridges with stout heart, and drew close to the sacred shrine. There she saw ears of wheat in a heap, and others woven into a garland, and ears of barley as well. There were sickles lying there, and a whole array of harvesting implements, but they were in a jumbled and neglected heap, thrown carelessly by workmen’s hands, as happens in summer-time. Psyche carefully sorted them out and ordered them in separate piles; no doubt she reflected that she should not neglect the shrines and rites of any deity, but rather implore the kindly spirit of each and all. Kindly Ceres [Demeter] sighted her as she carefully and diligently ordered these offerings, and at once she cried out from afar : ‘Why, you poor Psyche! Venus [Aphrodite] is in a rage, mounting a feverish search for your traces all over the globe. She has marked you down for the sternest punishment, and is using all the resources of her divinity to demand vengeance. And here you are, looking to my interests, with your mind intent on anything but your own safety!’ Then Psyche grovelled at the goddess’s feet, and watered them with a stream of tears. She swept the ground with her hair, and begged Ceres’ [Demeter’s] favour with a litany of prayers. ‘By your fruitful right hand, by the harvest ceremonies which assure plenty, by the silent mysteries of your baskets and the winged courses of your attendant Dracones, by the furrows in your Sicilian soil, by Proserpina’s [Persephone’s] descent to a lightless marriage, and by your daughter’s return to rediscovered light, and by all else which the shrine of Attic Eleusis shrouds in silence–I beg you, lend aid to this soul of Psyche which is deserving of pity, and now entreats you. Allow me to lurk hidden here among these heaps of grain if only for a few days, until the great goddess’s raging fury softens with the passage of time, or at any rate till my strength, which is now exhausted by protracted toil, is assuaged by a period of rest.’ Ceres [Demeter] answered her : ‘Your tearful entreaties certainly affect me and I am keen to help you, but I cannot incur Venus’s displeasure, for I maintain long-standing ties of friendship with her–and besides being my relative, she is also a fine woman. So you must quit this dwelling at once, and count it a blessing that I have not apprehended and imprisoned you.’ So Psyche, in suffering this reverse to her hopes, was now beset by a double grief. As she retraced her steps, she noticed in a glimmering grove in the valley below an elegantly built shrine. Not wishing to disregard any means, however uncertain, which gave promise of brighter hope, and in her eagerness to seek the favour of any divinity whatsoever, she drew close to its sacred portals. There she observed valuable offerings, and ribbons inscribed with gold letters pinned to the branches of trees and to the doorposts. These attested the name of the goddess to whom they were dedicated, together with thanks for favours received. She sank to her knees, and with her hands she grasped the altar still warm from a sacrifice. She wiped away her tears, and then uttered this prayer [to Juno-Hera] : ‘Sister and spouse of mighty Jupiter [Zeus], whether you reside in your ancient shrine at Samos, which alone can pride itself on your birth, your infant cries, and your nurture; or whether you occupy your blessed abode in lofty Carthage, which worships you as the maiden who tours the sky on a lion’s back; or whether you guard the famed walls of the Argives, by the banks of the river-god Inachus, who now hymns you as bride of the Thunderer and as queen of all goddesses; you, whom all the East reveres as the yoking goddess, and whom all the West addresses as Lucina [goddess of childbirth], be for me in my most acute misfortunes Juno [Hera] Sospita (the Saviour), and free me from looming dangers in my weariness from exhausting toils. I am told that it is your practice to lend unsolicited aid to pregnant women in danger.’ As she prayed like this, Juno [Hera] at once appeared before her in all the venerable majesty of her divinity. There and then the goddess said : ‘Believe me, I only wish that I could crown your prayers with my consent. But shame prevents me from opposing the will of Venus [Aphrodite], my daughter-in-law whom I have always loved as my own daughter. There is a second obstacle–the legislation which forbids sanctuary for runaway slaves belonging to others, if their owners forbid it.’ Psyche was aghast at this second shipwreck devised by Fortuna (Fortune). Unable to meet up with her elusive husband, she abandoned all hope of salvation, and had recourse to her own counsel. ‘What other assistance can I seek or harness to meet my desperate plight? Even the goodwill of goddesses however well-disposed has been of no avail to me. Now that I am trapped in a noose as tight as this, where can I make for, under what roof or in what dark corner can I hide, to escape the unwinking eyes of mighty Venus? Why don’t you show a manly spirit, and the strength to renounce idle hope? Why don’t you surrender yourself voluntarily to your mistress, and soften her savage onslaught by showing a humble demeanour, however late in the day? You never know, you may find the object of your long search in her house.’ This was how she steeled herself for the uncertain outcome of showing obedience or rather for her certain destruction, as she mentally rehearsed the opening lines of the plea she was to utter. Venus [Aphrodite] now despaired of a successful search for her by earthly means, and she made for heaven. She ordered her carriage to be prepared; Vulcanus [Hephaistos] had lovingly applied the finishing touches to it with elaborate workmanship, and had given it to her as a wedding-present before her initiation into marriage. The thinning motion of his file had made the metal gleam; the coach’s value was measured by the gold it had lost. Four white doves emerged from the large herd stabled close to their mistress’s chamber. As they strutted gaily forward, turning their dappled necks from side to side. They submitted to the jewelled yoke. They took their mistress aboard and delightedly mounted upwards. Sparrows sported with the combined din of their chatter as they escorted the carriage of the goddess, and the other birds, habitually sweet songsters, announced the goddess’s approach with the pleasurable sound of their honeyed tunes. The clouds parted, and Caelus (Heaven) [Ouranos (Uranus)] admitted his daughter; the topmost region delightedly welcomed the goddess, and the tuneful retinue of mighty Venus had no fear of encounter with eagles or of plundering hawks. She at once made for the royal citadel of Jupiter [Zeus], and in arrogant tones sought the urgent use of the services of the spokesman-god Mercurius (Mercury) [Hermes]. Jupiter’s lowering brow did not refuse her. Venus happily quitted heaven at once with Mercurius accompanying her, and she spoke seriously to him : ‘My brother from Arcaida, you surely know that your sister Venus has never had any success without Mercurius’s attendance, and you are well aware for how long I have been unable to trace my maid who lies in hiding. So I have no recourse other than that you as herald make a public proclamation of a reward for tracking her down. So you must hasten to do my bidding, and clearly indicate the marks by which she can be recognized, so that if someone is charged with unlawfully concealing her, he cannot defend himself on the plea of ignorance.’ With these words she handed him a sheet containing Psyche’s name and other details. Then she at once retired home. Mercurius [Hermes] did not fail to obey her. He sped here and there, appearing before gatherings of every community, and as instructed performed the duty of making proclamation : ‘If anyone can retrieve from her flight the runaway daughter of the king, the maidservant of Venus called Psyche, or indicate her hidden whereabouts, he should meet the herald Mercurius behind the metae Muriae. Whoever does so will obtain as reward from Venus herself seven sweet kisses, and a particularly honeyed one imparted with the thrust of her caressing tongue.’ Longing for this great reward aroused eager competition between men everywhere when Mercurius made the proclamation on these lines, and this above all ended Psyche’s hesitation. As she drew near to her mistress’s door, a member of Venus’s [Aphrodite’s] household called Consueto (Habit) confronted her, and at once cried out at the top of her voice : ‘Most wicked of all servants, have you at last begun to realize that you have a mistress? Or are you, in keeping with the general run of your insolent behaviour, still pretending to be unaware of the exhausting efforts we have endured in searching for you? How appropriate it is that you have fallen into my hands rather than anyone else’s. You are now caught fast in the claws of Orcus [Haides], and believe me, you will suffer the penalty for your gross impudence without delay.’ She then laid a presumptuous hand on Psyche’s hair, and dragged the girl in unresisting. As soon as she was ushered in and presented before Venus’ gaze, the goddess uttered the sort of explosive cackle typical of people in a furious rage. She wagged her head, scratched her right ear, and said : ‘Oh, so you have finally condescended to greet your mother-in-law, have you? Or is the purpose of this visit rather to see your husband, whose life is in danger from the wound which you inflicted? You can rest assured that I shall welcome you as a good mother-in-law should.’ Then she added : ‘Where are my maids Sollicito (Melancholy) and Tristie (Sorrow)?’ They were called in, and the goddess consigned Psyche to them for torture. They obeyed their mistress’s instruction, laid into poor Psyche and tortured her with other implements, and then restored her to their mistress’s presence. Venus renewed her laughter. ‘Just look at her,’ she said. ‘With that appealing swelling in her belly, she makes me feel quite sorry for her. I suppose she intends to make me a happy grandmother of that famed offspring; how lucky I am, in the bloom of my young days, at the prospect of being hailed as a grandma, and having the son of a cheap maidservant called Venus’s grandson! But what a fool I am, mistakenly calling him a son, for the wedding was not between a couple of equal status. Besides, ti took place in a country house, without witnesses and without a father’s consent, so it cannot be pronounced legal. The child will therefore be born a bastard–if we allow you to reach full term with him at all!’ Saying this, she flew at Psyche, ripped her dress to shreds, tore her hair, made her brains rattle, and pummelled her severely. She then brought some wheat, barley, millet, poppyseed, chickpeas, lentils and beans. She mingled them together in an indiscriminate heap, and said to her : ‘You are such an ugly maidservant that I think the only way you win your lovers is by devoted attendance, so I’ll see myself how good you are. Separate out this mixed heap of seeds, and arrange the different kinds in their proper piles. Finish the work before tonight, and show it to me to my satisfaction.’ Having set before her this enormous pile of seeds, she went off to a wedding-dinner. Psyche did not lay a finger on this confused heap, which was impossible to separate. She was dismayed by this massive task imposed on her, and stood in stupefied silence. Then the little country-ant familiar to us all got wind of her great problem. It took pity on the great god’s consort, and cursed the vindictive behaviour of her mother-in-law. Then it scurried about, energetically summoning and assembling a whole army of resident ants : ‘have pity, noble protégées of Terra (Earth) [Gaia], our universal mother; have pity, and with eager haste lend your aid to this refined girl, who is Amor’s [Eros’] wife.’ Wave after wave of the sespedalian tribe swept in; with the utmost enthusiasm each and all divided out the heap grain by grain, and when they had sorted them into their different kinds, they swiftly vanished from sight. As night fell, Venus returned from the wedding-feast flushed with wine and perfumed with balsam, her whole body wreathed with glowing roses. When she observed the astonishing care with which the task had been executed, she said : ‘This is not your work, you foul creature; the hands that accomplished it are not yours, but his whose favour you gained, though little good it’s done you, or him either!’ The goddess threw her a crust of bread, and cleared off to bed. Meanwhile Cupidos [Eros] was alone, closely guarded and confined in a single room at the back of the house. This was partly to ensure that he did not aggravate his wound by wanton misbehaviour, and partly so that he would not meet his dear one. So the lovers though under the one roof were kept apart from each other, and were made to endure a wretched night. But as soon as Aurora’s (the Dawn’s) [Eos’] chariot appeared, Venus summoned Psyche, and spoke to her like this : ‘Do you see the grove there, flanked by the river which flows by it, its banks extending into the distance and its low-lying bushes abutting on the stream? There are sheep in it wandering and grazing unguarded, and their fleeces sprout with the glory of pure gold, I order you to go there ate once, and somehow or other obtain and bring back to me a tuft of wool from the precious fleece.’ Psyche made her way there without reluctance, but with no intention of carrying out this task. She wanted to seek the cessation of her ills by throwing herself headlong from a cliff above the river. But from that stretch of stream one of the green reeds which foster sweet music was divinely inspired by the gentle sound of a caressing breeze, and uttered this prophecy : ‘Psyche, even though you are harrowed by great trials, do not pollute my waters by a most wretched death. You must not approach the fearsome sheep at this hour of the say, when they tend to be fired by the burning heat of the sun and charge about in ferocious rage; with their sharp horns, their rock-hard heads, and sometimes their poisonous bites, they wreak savage destruction on human folk. But one the hours past noon have quelled the sun’s heat, and the flocks have quieted down under the calming influence of the river-breeze, you will be able to conceal yourself under that very tall plane-tree, which sucks in the river-water as I do myself. Then, as soon as the sheep relax their fury and their disposition grows gentle, you must shake the foliage in the neighbouring grove, and you will find golden wool clinging here and there to the curved stems.’ This was how the reed, endowed with human qualities of openness and kindness, told Psyche in her extremity how to gain safety. She did not disregard this careful instruction and suffer accordingly; she followed out every detail, and the theft was easily accomplished. She gathered the soft substance of yellow gold in her dress, and brought it back to Venus. But the hazard endured in this second trial won her no favourable acknowledgement from her mistress at least, for Venus frowned heavily, smiled harshly, and said : ‘I know quite well that this too is the work of that adulterer. But no I shall try you out in earnest, to see if you are indeed endowed with brave spirit and unique circumspection. Do you see that lofty mountain-peak, perched above a dizzily high cliff, from where the livid waters of a dark spring come tumbling down, and when enclosed in the basin of he neighbouring valley, water the marshes of the Styx and feed the hoarse streams of the Cocytus? I want you to hurry and bring me back in this small jug some icy water drawn from the stream’s highest point, where it gushes out from within.’ Handing Psyche a vessel shaped from crystal, she backed this instruction with still harsher threats. Psyche made for the topmost peak with swift and eager step, for she was determined there at least to put an end to her intolerable existence. But the moment she neared the vicinity of the specified mountain-range, she became aware of the lethal difficulty posed by her daunting task. A rock of huge size towered above her, hard to negotiate and treacherous because of its rugged surface. From its stony jaws it belched forth repulsive waters which issued directly from a vertical cleft. [The Greek geographer Pausanias’ description of the Arcadian stream Styx is quite similar]. The stream glided downward, and being concealed in the course of the narrow channel which it had carved out, it made its hidden way into a neighbouring valley. From the hollow rocks on the right and left fierce snakes crept out, extending their long necks, their eyes unblinkingly watchful and maintaining unceasing vigil. The waters themselves formed an additional defence, for they had the power of speech, and from time to time would cry out ‘Clear off!’ or ‘Watch what you’re doing!’, or ‘What’s your game? Lookout!’, or ‘Cut and run!’, or ‘You won’t make it!’ The hopelessness of the situation turned Psyche to stone. She was physically present, but her senses deserted her. She was utterly downcast by the weight of inescapable danger; she could not even summon the ultimate consolation of tears. But the privations of this innocent soul did not escape the steady gaze of benevolent Providentia (Providence). Suddenly highest Jupiter’s [Zeus’] royal bird appeared with both wings outstretched: this is the eagle, the bird of prey who recalled his service of long ago, when following Cupidos’ [Eros’] guidance he had borne the Phrygian cupbearer [Ganymedes] to Jupiter [Zeus]. The bird now lent timely aid, and directed his veneration for Cupidos’s power to aid his wife in her ordeal. He quitted the shining paths of high heaven, flew down before the girl’s gaze, and broke into speech : ‘You are in all respects an ingenuous soul without experience in things such as this, so how can you hope to be able to steal the merest drop from this most sacred and unfriendly stream, or even apply your hand to it? Rumour at any rate, as you know, ahs it that these Stygian waters are an object of fear to the gods and to Jupiter [Zeus] himself, that just as you mortals swear by the gods’ divine power, so those gods frequently swear by the majesty of the Styx. So here, hand me that jug of yours.’ At once he grabbed it, and hastened to fill it with water. Balancing the weight of his drooping wings, he used them as oars on right and left to steer a course between the serpents’ jaws with their menacing teeth and the triple-forked darting of their tongues. He gathered some water in the face of its reluctance and its warning to him to depart before he suffered harm; he falsely claimed the Venus had ordered him to collect it, and that he was acting in her service, which made it a little easier for him to approach. So Psyche joyously took the filled jug and hastened to return it to Venus. Even so, she was unable to conciliate the harsh goddess’s resolve. Venus flashed a menacing smile as she addressed her with threats of yet more monstrous ill-treatment : ‘Now indeed I regard you as a witch with great and lofty powers, for you have carried out so efficiently commands of mine such as these. But you will have to undertake one further task for me, my girl. Take this box’ (she handled it over) ‘and make straight for Hades, for the funereal dwelling of Orcus [Haides] himself. Give the box to Proserpina [Persephone], and say : “Venus [Aphrodite] asks you to send her a small supply of your beauty-preparation, enough for just one day, because she has been tending her sick son, and has used hers all up by rubbing it on him.” Make your way back with it as early as you can, because I need it to doll myself up so as to attend the Deities’ Theatre.’ Then Psyche came to the full realization that this was the end of the road for her. All pretence was at an end; she saw clearly that she was being driven to her immediate doom. It could not be otherwise, for she was being forced to journey on foot of her own accord to Tartarus and the shades below. She lingered no longer, but made for a very high tower, intending to throw herself headlong from it, for she thought that this was the direct and most glorious route down to the world below. But the tower suddenly burst into speech, and said : ‘Pour girl, why do you seek to put an end to yourself by throwing yourself down? What is the point of rash surrender before this, your final hazardous labour? Once your spirit is sundered fro0m your body, you will certainly descent to the depths of Tartarus without the possibility of a return journey. ‘Listen to me. Sparta, the famed Achaean city, lies not far from here. On its borders you must look for Taenarus, which lies hidden in a trackless region. Dis [Haides] has his breathing-vent there, and a sign-post points through open gates to the track which none should tread. Once you have crossed the threshold and committed yourself to that path, the track will lead you directly to Orcus’ very palace. But you are not to advance through that dark region altogether empty-handed, but carry in both hands barley-cakes baked in sweet wine, and have between your lips twin coins. When you are well advanced on your infernal journey, you will meet a lame ass carrying a load of logs, with a driver likewise lame; he will ask you to hand him some sticks which have slipped from his load, but you must pass in silence without uttering a word. Immediately after that you will reach the lifeless river [Acheron] over which Charon presides. He peremptorily demands the fare, and when he receives it he transports travellers on his stitched-up craft over to the further shore. (So even among the dead, greed enjoys its life; even that great god Charon, who gathers taxes for Dis [Haides], does not do anything for nothing. A poor man on the point of death must find his fare, and no one will let him breathe his last until he has his copper ready.) You must allow this squalid elder to take for your fare one of the coins you are to carry, but he must remove it form your mouth with his own hand. Then again, as you cross the sluggish stream, and old man now dead will float up to you, and raising his decaying hands will beg you to drag him into the boat; but you must not be moved by a sense of pity, for that is not permitted. ‘When you have crossed the river and have advanced a little further, some aged women weaving at the loom will beg you to lend a hand for a short time. But you are not permitted to touch that either, for all these and many other distractions are part of the ambush which Venus will set to induce you to release one of the cakes from your hands. Do not imaging that the loss of a mere barley cake is a trivial matter, for if you relinquish either of them, the daylight of this world above will be totally denied you. Posted there is a massive hound with a huge, triple-formed head [Cerberus]. This monstrous, fearsome brute confronts the dead with thunderous barking, though his menaces are futile since he can do them no harm. He keeps constant guard before the very threshold and the dark hall of Proserpina [Persephone], protecting that deserted abode of Dis [Haides]. You must disarm him by offering him a cake as his spoils. Then you can easily pass him, and gain immediate access to Proserpina herself. She will welcome you in genial and kindly fashion, and she will try to induce you to sit on a cushioned seat beside her and enjoy a rich repast. But you must settle on the ground, ask for course bread, and eat it. Then you must tell her why you have come. When you have obtained what she gives you, you must make your way back, using the remaining cake to neutralize the dog’s savagery. Then you must give the greedy mariner the one coin which you have held back, and once again across the river you must retrace your earlier steps and return to the harmony of heaven’s stars. Of all these injunctions I urge you particularly to observe this: do not seek to open or to pry into the box that you will carry, nor be in any way inquisitive about the treasure of divine beauty hidden within it.’ This was how that far-sighted tower performed its prophetic role. Psyche immediately sped to Taenarus, and having duly obtained the coins and cakes she hastened down the path to Hades. She passed the lame ass-driver without a word, handed the fare to the ferryman for the river crossing, ignored the entreaty of the dead man floating on the surface, disregarded the crafty pleas of the weavers, fed the cake to the dog [Cerberus] to quell his fearsome rage, and gained access to the house of Proserpina [Persephone]. Psyche declined the soft cushion and the rich food offered by her hostess; she perched on the ground at her feet, and was content with plain bread. She then reported her mission from Venus [Aphrodite]. The box was at once filled and closed out of her sight, and Psyche took it. She quietened the dog’s barking by disarming it with the second cake, offered her remaining coin to the ferryman, and quite animatedly hastened out of Hades. But once she was back in the light of this world and had reverently hailed it, her mind was dominated by rash curiosity, in spite of her eagerness to see the end of her service. She said : ‘How stupid I am to be carrying this beauty-lotion fit for deities, and not take a single drop of it for myself, for with this at any rate I can be pleasing to my beautiful lover.’ The words were scarcely out of her mouth when she opened the box. But inside there was no beauty-lotion or anything other than the sleep of Hades, a truly Stygian sleep. As soon as the lid was removed and it was laid bare, it attacked her and pervaded all her limbs in a thick cloud. It laid hold of her, so that she fell prostrate on the path where she had stood. She lay there motionless, no more animate than a corpse at rest. But Cupidos was now recovering , for his wound had healed. He could no longer bear Psyche’s long separation from him, so he glided out of the high-set window of the chamber which was his prison. His wings were refreshed after their period of rest, so he progressed much more swiftly to reach his Psyche. Carefully wiping the sleep from her, he restored it to its former lodging in the box. Then he roused Psyche with an innocuous prick of his arrow. ‘Poor, dear Psyche,’ he exclaimed, ‘see how as before your curiosity might have been your undoing! But now hurry to complete the task imposed on you by my mother’s command; I shall see to the rest.’ After saying this, her lover rose lightly on his wings, while Psyche hurried to bear Proserpina’s [Persephone’s] gift back to Venus [Aphrodite]. Meanwhile Cupidos, devoured by overpowering desire and with lovelorn face, feared the sudden arrival of his mother’s sobering presence, so he reverted to his former role and rose to heaven’s peak on swift wings. With a suppliant posture he laid his case before the great Jupiter [Zeus], who took Cupidos’s little cheek between his finger and thumb, raised the boy’s hand to his lips and kissed it, and then said to him : ‘Honoured son, you have never shown me the deference granted me by the gods’ decree. You keep piercing this heart of mine, which regulates the elements and orders the changing motion of the stars, with countless wounds. You have blackened it with repeated impulses of earthly lust, damaging my prestige and reputation by involving me in despicable adulteries which contravene the laws–the lex Julia itself–and public order. You have transformed my smiling countenance into grisly shapes of snakes, fires, beasts, birds, and cattle. Yet in spite of all this, I shall observe my usual moderation, recalling that you were reared in these arms of mine. So I will comply with all that you ask, as long as you know how to cope with your rivals in love; and if at this moment there is on earth any girl of outstanding beauty, as long as you can recompense me with her.’ After saying this, he ordered Mercurius [Hermes] to summon all the gods at once to an assembly, and to declare that any absentee from the convocation of heavenly citizens would be liable to a fine of ten thousand sesterces. The theatre of heaven at once filled up through fear of this sanction. Towering Jupiter [Zeus], seated on his lofty throne, made his proclamation : ‘You gods whose names are inscribed on the register of the Musae, you all surely know this young fellow who was reared by my own hands. I have decided that the hot-headed impulses of his early youth need to be reined in; he has been the subject of enough notoriety in day-to-day gossip on account of his adulteries and all manner of improprieties. We must deprive him of all opportunities; his juvenile behaviour must be shackled with the chains of marriage. He has chosen the girl, and robbed her of her virginity, so he must have and hold her. Let him take Psyche in his embrace and enjoy his dear one ever after.’ Then he turned to address Venus [Aphrodite]. ‘My daughter,’ he said, ‘do not harbour any resentment. Have no fear for you high lineage and distinction in this marriage to a mortal, for I shall declare the union lawful and in keeping with the civil law, and not one between persons of differing social status.’ There and then he ordered that Psyche be detained and brought up to heaven through Mercurius’s agency. He gave her a cup of ambrosia, and said : ‘Take this, Psyche, and become immortal. Cupidos will never part from your embrace; this marriage of yours shall be eternal.’ At once a lavish wedding-feast was laid. The bridegroom reclined on a couch of honour, with Psyche in his lap. Jupiter [Zeus] likewise was paired with Juno [Hera], and all the other deities sat in order of precedence. Then a cup of nectar, the gods’ wine, was served to Jupiter [Zeus] by his personal cup-bearer [Ganymedes], that well-known country-lad, and to the others by Bacchus [Dionysos]. Vulcanus [Hephaistos] cooked the dinner, the Horae (Seasons) brightened the scene with roses and other flowers, the Gratiae (Graces) diffused balsam, and the Musae (Muses), also present, sand in harmony. Apollo sang to the lyre, and Venus [Aphrodite] took to the floor to the strains of sweet music, and danced prettily. She had organized the performance so that the Musae sang in chorus, a Satyrus (Satyr) played the flute, and a Paniscus (Young Pan) sang to the shepherd’s pipes. This was how with due ceremony Psyche was wed to Cupidos, and at full term a daughter was born to them. We call her Voluptas (Pleasure) [Hedone].”
ANCIENT GREEK & ROMAN ART
Z31.1 Eros-Cupid & Psyche
Greco-Roman Samandağı Mosaic C3rd A.D.
Z31.2 Eros-Cupid & Psyche
Greco-Roman Zeugma Floor Mosaic C2nd A.D.
Z31.3 Eros-Cupid & Psychae
Greco-Roman Antioch Floor Mosaic C3rd A.D.
Z16.4 Prometheus, Gaea, Psyche
Greco-Roman Damascus Mosaic A.D.
Apuleius, The Golden Ass – Latin Novel C2nd A.D.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.