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Psykhe (Gr: Ψυχη), Latinized as Psyche, is the goddess of the soul and the wife of Eros.

Myth[]

She was originally a supremely beautiful princess who was so gorgeous that people would come from far away to see her.  People believed she was the next Aphrodite and began to come and worship Psykhe 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 exact 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 Psykhe 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 Psykhe to see her beauty none sought her hand though marriages were arranged for Psykhe's less beautiful sisters.

Psykhe'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, Psykhe fearlessly went to the mountain top and stepped off, to be rescued by the Zepheros who carried Psykhe 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 Psykhe became pregnant.

Despite all the wealth, Psykhe 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 Psykhe'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 Psykhe 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 Psykhe avoided) Psykhe 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, Psykhe wished to see her sisters again and despite being told that they were laying traps for Psykhe most of all getting Psykhe to reveal the identity of her husband (which Psykhe herself did not know as she had never seen him). Eros further informed Psykhe that they would soon be starting a family and that she was already with child telling Psykhe 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 Psykhe to bring her sisters to visit. They once again pressed to who her husband was. This time Psykhe wove a tail that he was a middle age businessman which was contradictory to her original tale. The fact that Psykhe 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 Psykhe 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 Psykhe 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 Psykhe 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 torch.  Psykhe pricked herself with one of Eros' arrows and fell deeply in love with her husband.  Psykhe bent over and kissed the sleeping god repeatedly.  Psykhe 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.  Psykhe 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.

Psykhe 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.  Psykhe told her sister that her husband had been none other than Eros and that when he had seen Psykhe 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 Psykhe'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, Psykhe 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, Psykhe 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 Psykhe her anger about Eros' wound disappeared and she became enraged and threatened to takes away his bow & arrow as well as his torch.

Aphrodite set off in search of Psykhe meeting Demeter and Hera who tried to persuade Aphrodite not to pursue her.  The two were hoping this might make Eros happy.  Psykhe 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.  Psykhe had beseeched her and asked for help.  The goddess of the grain however turned her down not wishing to upset Aphrodite.

Psykhe left the temple and eventually came to the presence yet another temple (this one belonging to Hera).  Psykhe 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 Psykhe and the law says no goddess may give sanctuary to a servant (who Aphrodite saw Psykhe as) whose master is seeking him or her.

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

Aphrodite who had been unable to locate Psykhe 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 Psykhe to her.  When she heard of the reward Aphrodite was offering all doubt left Psykhe's mind and she went to the palace of the goddess.

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

Aphrodite took Psykhe to a grainery where she mixed the smallest of seeds into a heap and commanded that they be separated into their sort.  Aphrodite then set off for a wedding.  Psykhe 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 separated 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 Psykhe 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.  Psykhe 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.  Psykhe heeded the advice she received from the reeds and waited for the violent sheep to tire themselves out fighting with one another then Psykhe walked over and plucked the wool off the brambles and returned them to her mistress who rather than being pleased was upset that Psykhe had survived. The next day Aphrodite took Psykhe 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 Psykhe climbed she soon learned how slippery the rocks were and how she was further challenged by serpents.  Once again with hope gone, Psykhe 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. The couple, had a daughter named Hedone. Psykhe was then immortalized, given a pair of butterfly wings and became the Goddess of the Human Soul.

Family[]

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

Gallery[]

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