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Cupid and Psyche Material

by: Samantha Work

Cupid and Psyche Material CLAS 160D2 - 002

Samantha Work

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Notes over Cupid and Psyche Myth plus Allegorical Aspects
Classical Mythology Lecture
Michael Teske
Class Notes
mythology, Psyche, Cupid, Teske
25 ?




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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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