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Psyche

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Seignac Guillaume the awakening of Psyche1904

Psyche (Ψυχη) (Psykhe) is the goddess of the soul and the wife of Eros

Family

  • Unnamed King (father)
  • Unnamed Queen (mother)
  • 2 Unnamed Older sisters
  • Aphrodite (mother-in-law)
  • Eros (husband)
  • Hedone (daughter)

Myth

She was originally a beautiful princess who was so gorgous that people would come from far away to see her.  People believed she was the next Aphrodite and began to come and worship Psyche abandoning the temples left to the true goddess of beauty. 

When Aphrodite learned her temples had been left barren because people had gone to worship some princess she desired revenge and called for that loathsome little seducer Eros to extract revenge telling him to "see that the girl is seized with consuming passion for the lowest possible specimen of humanity, for one who as the victim of fortune has lost status, inheritance and security, a man so disreputable that nowhere in the world can he find an equal in wretchedness."

According to some, Eros fell in love the instant he saw Psyche while others claim he inadvertently pricked himself with one of his arrows. Regardless of how, Eros decided not to follow through with his mother's orders.

All the while, though men continued to make pilgrimages to view Psyche to see her beauty none sought her hand though marriages were arranged for Psyche's less beautiful sisters.

Psyche's father unsure of what to do sought advice from The Oracle of Delphi. The king was saddened when he was told to "Adorn this girl, O king, for wedlock dread, and set her on a lofty mountain-rock. Renounce all hope that one of mortal stock can be your son-in-law, for she shall wed a fierce, barbaric, snake-like monster. He, flitting on wings aloft, makes all things smart, plaguing each moving thing with torch and dart. Why, Zeus himself must fearful be. The other gods for him their terror show, and rivers shudder, and the dark realms below."

Despite great sorrow from her parents and others in the kingdom, Psyche fearlessly went to the mountain top and stepped off, to be rescued by the Zepheros who carried Psyche to a golden palace where she was bathed and fed by invisible servants. That night her husband Eros came and made love to her, though as day broke he was not there, he remained invisible during the day becoming visible only at night making love to her, when she could not see him. Soon Psyche became pregnant.

Despite all the wealth, Psyche became lonely having no one to spend time with so she begged her husband to bring her sisters to her, despite his warning that they would bring her downfall he consented.

All the while Psyche's sisters had been endlessly searching for her and were surprised when the Zepheros carried them to a golden palace where there lost sister awaited them. The happiness soon turned to jealousy upon seeing their sister's riches and the deduction (which Psyche had not yet made) that her husband was a god. After they had bathed, eaten a good meal and spoke of affairs including inquiring about the identity of her husband (which Psyche avoided) Psyche filled her sisters arms with riches and called upon the Zephyros to carry them home.

Upon their return to the mountain top, her sisters complained to one another about how horrible their own marriages were and that it was unfair that while they were treated as no better than maidservants in their own homes, their younger sister lived a life of luxury. They complained how she displayed arrogance rushing them away with riches which were but tiny amounts of what she had and how she arrogantly summoned the Zepheros as though she were a goddess. At this time the two sisters decided that they would think on the matter and punish her for her arrogance.

Not long after, Psyche wished to see her sisters again and despite being told that they were laying traps for Psyche most of all getting Psyche to reveal the identity of her husband (which Psyche herself did not know as she had never seen him). Eros further informed Psyche that they would soon be starting a family and that she was already with child telling Psyche if she disclosed information about her husband the child would be mortal but if she kept it secret it would be a deity.

Eventually Eros consented and allowed Psyche to bring her sisters to visit. They once again pressed to who her husband was. This time Psyche wove a tail that he was a middle age businessman which was contradictory to her original tale. The fact that Psyche did not know his appearance confirmed their suspicions that her husband was a god.

Shortly after, those wicked criminals visited again, this time they told Psyche that they had heard her husband was in fact a venomous serpent who was fattening her up and that when she grew to full term, it would eat her and the child she carried in her. They advised her to hide a lamp and dagger so that she may see for herself. If it be true then Psyche should kill it. Despite her better judgement she did as she was told.

As night fell her sisters were taken back to the mountain and Psyche went to bed where she was soon joined by her husband. She waited until she heard his soft breathing and then emerged to get her lamp and knife.  She spied Eros as well as his bow arrows and tourch.  Psyche pricked herself with one of Eros' arrows and fell deeply in love with her husband.  Psyche bent over and kissed the sleeping god repeatedly.  Psyche accidentally dropped oil from her lamp on Eros' shoulder horribly burning him.  He awoke and saw his wife above him holding a knife and instantly took flight.  Psyche grabbed hold of her husband and held as tight as she could as long as she could eventually landing in a field and then Eros took flight to go to his mother and get healed. 

Psyche searched to find her lost husband eventually coming to the kingdom where one of her sisters lived.  When she arrived she realized what her sisters had done.  Psyche told her sister that her husband had been none other than Eros and that when he had seen Psyche with a dagger he had dismissed her claiming "I will have thy sister to my wife, and she shall be placed in my felicity."  Upon hearing these words Psyche's sister went to the mountain top and despite the harsh wind, she leapt and crashed upon the mountains and her body was ripped to pieces.

Shortly after, Psyche came to the land where her other sister lived and told the same story.  Her sister similarly leapt off the mountain where she shared the firsts fate. 

After the deaths of her sisters, Psyche began roaming the lands in search of her husband who had arrived at his mother's palace for medical attention.  A Seagull arrived at the Ocean and sought out Aphrodite where she was told that her son had been gravely wounded.  Upon hearing this she asked "who has hurt my beardless boy."  When told that it was a mortal woman named Psyche her anger about Eros' wound disappeared and she became enraged and threatened to takes away his bow & arrow as well as his tourch.

Aphrodite set off in search of Psyche meeting Demeter and Hera who tried to pursuade Aphrodite not to pursue her.  The two were hoping this might make Eros happy.  Psyche spent her time still wandering the Earth seeking her husband.  She prayed to all the gods but they fell on deaf ears.  She eventually came to a temple belonging to Demeter.  Psyche had beseached her and asked for help.  The goddess of the grain however turned her down not wishing to upset Aphrodite. 

Psyche left the temple and eventually came to the presence yet another temple (this one belonging to Hera).  Psyche asked for help saying she knew Hera showed help to pregnant women who needed aid.  Hera however gave an answer similar to that of Demeter's saying that Aphrodite was searching for Psyche and the law says no goddess may give sanctuary to a servant (who Aphrodite saw Psyche as) whose master is seeking him or her.

Upon hearing that Aphrodite was looking for her Psyche pondered whether she should surrender herself to Aphrodite in an attempt to minimize the goddess' rage.

Aphrodite who had been unable to locate Psyche went to Hermes and told him to give word of Psyche and tell that no man or god would give her shelter.  Aphrodite also promised a reward of seven sweet kisses to whoever brought Psyche to her.  When she heard of the reward Aphrodite was offering all doubt left Psyche's mind and she went to the palace of the goddess.

Upon arriving at Aphrodite's palace, Psyche was whipped and burned before brought before the goddess of beauty who upon seeing Psyche's pregnant state mocked her and beat her then told Psyche the only way she could earn the attention of a husband is through laborous tasks.

Aphrodite took Psyche to a grainery where she mixed the smallest of seeds into a heap and commanded that they be seperated into their sort.  Aphrodite then set off for a wedding.  Psyche stared unmovingly at the pile frozen in shock.  Miraculously however a number of ants emerged.  Their leader said "have pity, noble sons of the Earth, our universal mother; have pity, and with eager haste lend your aid to this refined girl, who is Eros' wife.  A small army of ants arrived and seperated the seeds.  By the time Aphrodite returned the task was complete.  Rather than being pleased Aphrodite angrily said "this is not thine work."  Aphrodite then threw the girl moldy hard black bread and left her to sleep on the cold stone floor while the goddess herself went to lay on a comfortable couch. 

As dawn approached Aphrodite pointed to a flock of golden sheep.  Aphrodite told Psyche to retrieve some of the wool to make a shirt with.  When she approached she saw how violent the sheep were and that they had poisonous breath.  Psyche with no hope decided to drown herself in the waters of a nearby stream.  As she approached, the reeds spoke to her and told her that while violent now, if she waited they would grow tired and fall asleep.  The reeds told her further that once they were asleep she could at her liberty go and take wool that had been tangled on branches.  Psyche heeded the advice she recieved from the reeds and waited for the violent sheep to tire themselves out fighting with one another then Psyche walked over and plucked the wool off the brambles and returned them to her mistress who rather than being pleased was upset that Psyche had survived. The next day Aphrodite took Psyche to the foot of a mountain and pointed at its peak, and said "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 neighboring valley, water the marshes of the River Styx (the river of hatred) and feed the hoarse streams of the River Cocytus (the river of lamentation)? 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."  As Psyche climbed she soon learned how slippery the rocks were and how she was further challenged by serpents.  Once again with hope gone, Psyche decided to throw herself off the mountain peak.  This however she was aided by the Eagle of Zeus who swooped down with the vile and filled it with water from that infernal spring.  Upon returning successfully Aphrodite accused her of being a witch.


She passed the first three, but the fourth was harder. Psykhe had to go down to the Hades and obtain some Persephone's beauty, because Aphrodite's beauty had diminished for the stress of take care of Eros. Psykhe descended to the Hades, gave a cake to Cerberus and paid Karonte to pass the Akheron. Next, she inquired Persephone for some of her beauty. Persephone accepted and gave it to her in a box. Going back, Psykhe wanted to take this beauty to herself but, when she opened the box, a stix dream possessed her. Eros flied faster toward her and deleted the dream of Psykhe's eyes. Then, Eros asked permission to Aphrodite and Zeus to marry with Psykhe and they accepted. Aphrodite danced at the wedding and Psykhe and Eros had a daughter called Hedone and Psykhe became a goddess.


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