Cupid and Psyche Material
Cupid and Psyche Material CLAS 160D2 - 002
Popular in Classical Mythology Lecture
Popular in Classical Mythology
This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Samantha Work on Saturday March 19, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CLAS 160D2 - 002 at University of Arizona taught by Michael Teske in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 29 views. For similar materials see Classical Mythology Lecture in Classical Mythology at University of Arizona.
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Date Created: 03/19/16
Cupid and Psyche Myth Michael Teske @ 2pm Apuleius’ Golden Ass of 2nd cent. AD contains Cupid and Psyche myth ● The work contains the story of Lucius, a manabouttown with questionable morals, who is turned into a donkey by an encounter with a witch. ● He then undergoes a series of adventures and ordeals as a beast in which he comes to recognize his own bestiality and becomes more human ○ I.e. more sensitive than he ever was a man ● Finally, at the end of the novel, he prays to Venus (or Isis) and by eating some rose petals, he is transformed back into a man. Cupid and Psyche as SelfContained Tale Told to Lucius When in Donkey From ● Allegorical fairy tale about the trials and tribulations of Psyche “Soul” and Cupid “Love” ● Begins like a fairy tale: ○ “Once upon a time there were 3 daughters of a king and the youngest was most beautiful” ■ This most beautiful one, Psyche, came to be worshipped for her beauty, and so incurred the wrath of Venus, the love goddess, who was neglected by her own worshippers; etc ○ Venus tries to punish Psyche by making her fall in love with the most horrible creature in the world. ■ Cupid sees her and falls in love with the most horrible creature in the world. ● But cupid ses her and falls in love with her immediately, so he sees to it that Psyche is only admired, not loved by her worshippers ■ Psyche’s 2 sisters are promptly married off to kings, so Psyche’s father, growing concerned that she remains unmarried, consults the oracle of Apollo (in Miletus) where he is told that Psyche must be left on a mountaintop and a terrible winged serpent will come to claim her as his bride. ■ Apollo’s supposed false prophecy results from acting in collusion with Cupid and thus marks this story as late in the tradition ■ When Psyche is abandoned on the mountain peak, fearfully awaiting her fate, she is wicked away by gentle unseen wind and set down in a beautiful meadow beside an enchanted palace where she is attended by invisible voices and melodious music. ■ At last Psyche meets her unseen lover and quickly falls in love with him ■ What happens to cause “trouble in paradise”? ● Psyche hasn’t seen her DESTINED husband since he only came in the hours of darkness and fled before the dawn of morning. ● She begs him to stay and let her behold him but Cupid doesn’t consent. ● "Why should you wish to behold me?" he said. "Have you any doubt of my love? Have you any wish ungratified? If you saw me, perhaps you would fear me, perhaps adore me, but all I ask of you is to love me. I would rather you would love me as an equal than adore me as a god." ● Psyche was somewhat satisfied for a time, and while the novelty lasted she felt quite happy. That was until she started to feel lonely and felt the palace more as a splendid prison. ■ Psyche’s sisters are out searching for her, and Psyche asks Cupid if they may be allowed to visit her ○ He agrees if she will promise not to reveal anything about his identity to them. ■ The sisters visit Psyche 3 times. What occurs in the visits? ● When they see the splendor in which Psyche lives, they become envious, and undermine her happiness by prodding her to uncover her husband's true identity, since surely as foretold by the oracle she was lying with the vile winged serpent, who would devour her and her child. ■ How does Psyche alienate Cupid from herself? ● One night after Cupid falls asleep, Psyche carries out the plan her sister's devised: she brings out a dagger and a lamp she had hidden in the room, in order to see and kill the monster. But when the light instead reveals the most beautiful creature she has ever seen, she is so startled that she wounds herself on one of the arrows in Cupid's castaside quiver. Struck with a feverish passion, she spills hot oil from the lamp and wakes him. He flees, and though she tries to pursue, he flies away and leaves her on the bank of a river. ■ After Psyche is brought before Venus, what are the 4 tasks which Venus devises to wear down the beauty of her rival, Psych? ● The goddess throws before her a great mass of mixed wheat, barley, poppy seed, chickpeas, lentils, and beans, demanding that she sort them into separate heaps by dawn. ● At dawn, Venus sets a second task for Psyche. She is to cross a river and fetch golden wool from violent sheep who graze on the other side. ● For Psyche's third task, she is given a crystal vessel in which to collect the black water spewed by the source of the rivers Styx and Cocytus. ● The last trial Venus imposes on Psyche is a quest to the underworld itself. She is to take a box (pyxis) and obtain in it a dose of the beauty of Proserpina, queen of the underworld. Venus claims her own beauty has faded through tending her ailing son, and she needs this remedy in order to attend the theatre of the gods (theatrum deorum). ● How are these tasks complete? ○ But when Venus withdraws to attend a wedding feast, a kind ant takes pity on Psyche, and assembles a fleet of insects to accomplish the task. Venus is furious when she returns drunk from the feast, and only tosses Psyche a crust of bread ■ Sort seeds/ grains all mixed up in a huge mound into separate piles by sundown ● T he ants help Psyche ○ At this point in the story, it is revealed that Cupid is also in the house of Venus, languishing from his injury. ○ These sheep are elsewhere identified as belonging to the Sun.] Psyche's only intention is to drown herself on the way, but instead she is saved by instructions from a divinely inspired reed, of the type used to make musical instruments, and gathers the wool caught on briers. ■ Obtain golden wool from “fierce” sheep by the river ● A green reed tells her how (gather the wool from the briars which have snagged it in the thicket ○ Climbing the cliff from which it issues, she is daunted by the foreboding air of the place and dragons slithering through the rocks, and falls into despair. Jupiter himself takes pity on her, and sends his eagle to battle the dragons and retrieve the water for her. ■ Fill a flask with black water from the waterfall which plunges into the underworld ● A n eagle (Zeus’ scared bird) swoops down and takes the flask, soars over 2 guardian dragons, fills the vessel, and safely returns it to Psyche ○ Once again despairing of her task, Psyche climbs a tower, planning to throw herself off. The tower, however, suddenly breaks into speech, and advises her to travel to Lacedaemon, Greece, and to seek out the place called Taenarus, where she will find the entrance to the underworld. The tower offers instructions for navigating the underworld: ■ The airway of Dis is there, and through the yawning gates the pathless route is revealed. Once you cross the threshold, you are committed to the unswerving course that takes you to the very Regia of Orcus. But you shouldn’t go emptyhanded through the shadows past this point, but rather carry cakes of honeyed barley in both hands,[14 and transport two coins in your mouth. ○ The speaking tower warns her to maintain silence as she passes by several ominous figures: a lame man driving a mule loaded with sticks, a dead man swimming in the river that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead, and old women weaving. These, the tower warns, will seek to divert her by pleading for her help: she must ignore them. The cakes are treats for distracting Cerberus, the three headed watchdog of Orcus, and the two coins for Charon the ferryman, so she can make a return trip. ○ Everything comes to pass according to plan, and Proserpina grants Psyche's humble entreaty. As soon as she reenters the light of day, however, Psyche is overcome by a bold curiosity, and can't resist opening the box in the hope of enhancing her own beauty. She finds nothing inside but an "infernal and Stygian sleep," which sends her into a deep and unmoving torpor. ■ Put beauty in a box which she must obtain from Persephone in the underworld ● I .e. a tower tells her how ■ Psyche returns from the underworld, looks in the box, and falls into a deep sleep ■ Cupid, having recovered from Psyche’s betrayal of him, flits about, see's and awakens Psyche, then goes to Zeus to ratify their marriage, and to grant Psyche immortality. Zeus agrees, and the 2 are married with great fanfare at a feast of the gods. ■ How can this myth be interpreted using an allegorical perspective? Allegorical Aspects of Cupid and Psyche Myth ● Cupid ○ Love ● Psyche ○ Soul ● Cupid at first is unseen yet loved ○ Love is blind ● Psyche’s sisters are a graphic representation of forces pitted against love ○ Envy, Doubt/Suspicion, Greed, Infidelity (of mind and body), etc ● Cupid’s physical burn ○ The wound of betrayal ● Psyche’s ordeals are purification tasks to “cleanse” the soul for doubting love ○ And to make way for the ultimate reunification with love ● Psyche’s tasks are like heroic labors to gain immortality ○ Psyche gathers golden wool like Jason obtaining the golden fleece; she goes to the underworld and returns as in a “conquest of death”;etc ● The ants, reed, etc. are forces of nature which promote love ● The aid of the eagle, Zeus’ sacred bird, indicates divine favor for love ● Psyche’s deep sleep is like the sleep of death from which she will be resurrected into her immortality ● Love and the Soul are inextricably and eternally united
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