François-Nicolas Delaistre , L’Amour et Psyché
Edward Burne-Jones, Cupid and Psyche (different versions)
Antonio Canova, Amore e Psiche stanti
The Myth of Psyche and Eros has been proven to have been just a myth, and first appeared in Lucius Apuleius’ novel, The Golden Ass, which was written in the 2nd Century AD. It is a story about Psyche, a princess - of Sicily - so beautiful that she could have rivalled the Goddess of beauty, Aphrodite. Aphrodite was jealous of Psyche’s beauty, and sent her son, Eros (Cupid) to shoot her with an arrow and make her fall in love with the ugliest creature on earth. Eros went to Psyche’s room, pulled out his bow and golden arrows, and accidentally scratched himself when Psyche woke up and looked right into his eyes. Enraged, Aphrodite cursed Psyche with never being able to find a suitable husband. Her father, the King of Sicily, gets worried and consults an oracle, who tells him to take her to a mountaintop and leave her. Eros took her to a secret palace and eventually ended up marrying her. Zeus, the King of Olympus, makes her Psyche the Goddess of Soul. She and Eros have one child; Voluptas the Goddess of Sensual Pleasures.
Psyche in the underworld, by Paul Alfred de Curzon
John William Waterhouse, Psyche Opening the Golden Box, 1903
Edward Burne-Jones, Psyche’s Wedding, 1895
Psyche in Somerville, by Denise Levertov
I am angry with X, with Y, with Z,
for not being you.
Enthusiasms jump at me,
wagging and barking. Go away.
I am angry with my eyes for not seeing you,
they smart and ache and see the snow,
an insistent brilliance.
If I were Psyche how could I not
bring the lamp to our bedside?
I would have known in advance
all the travails my gazing
would bring, more than Psyche
and even so, how could I not have raised
the amber flame to see
the human person I knew
was to be revealed.
She did not even know! She dreaded
a beast and discovered
a god. But I
know, and hunger
to witness again the form
of mortal love itself.
I am angry with everything that is filling
the space of your absence,
breathing your air.
how blessed you were
in the dark, knowing him in your flesh:
I was wrong! If I were Psyche
I would live on in darkness, and endure
the foolish voices, barking of aeolian dogs,
the desert glitter
of days full of boring treasures,
walking on precious stones till my feet hurt,
to hold you each night and be held
close in your warmth in a pitchblack cave of a room
and not have to wait
for Mercury, dressed in the sad gray coat of a mailman
and no wings on his feet,
to bring me your words.
Zephyr Transporting Psyche to the Island of Delight, Maurice Denis