In Search of Psyche

In the Gnostic text On the Origin of the World , the first rose is created from the blood of Psyche when she loses her virginity to Cupid. Apuleius's novel was among the ancient texts that made the crucial transition from roll to codex form when it was edited at the end of the late 4th century. It was known to Latin writers such as Augustine of Hippo , Macrobius , Sidonius Apollinaris , Martianus Capella, and Fulgentius, but toward the end of the 6th century lapsed into obscurity and survived what was formerly known as the " Dark Ages " through perhaps a single manuscript.

Eros and Psyche : Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa

One of the most popular images from the tale was Psyche's discovery of a naked Cupid sleeping, found in ceramics, stained glass , and frescos. Mannerist painters were intensely drawn to the scene. A fresco cycle for Hill Hall, Essex , was modeled indirectly after that of the Villa Farnesina around , [37] and Thomas Heywood 's masque Love's Mistress dramatized the tale to celebrate the wedding of Charles I and Henrietta Maria , who later had her withdrawing chamber decorated with a painting Cupid and Psyche cycle by Jacob Jordaens.

The cycle took the divinization of Psyche as the centerpiece of the ceiling, and was a vehicle for the Neoplatonism the queen brought with her from France. Another peak of interest in Cupid and Psyche occurred in the Paris of the late s and early s, reflected in a proliferation of opera, ballet, Salon art , deluxe book editions, interior decoration such as clocks and wall paneling, and even hairstyles. In the aftermath of the French Revolution , the myth became a vehicle for the refashioning of the self.

In writing about the Portland Vase , which was obtained by the British Museum around , Erasmus Darwin speculated that the myth of Cupid and Psyche was part of the Eleusinian cycle. With his interest in natural philosophy , Darwin saw the butterfly as an apt emblem of the soul because it began as an earthbound caterpillar, "died" into the pupal stage , and was then resurrected as a beautiful winged creature.

Shackerley Marmion wrote a verse version called Cupid and Psyche , and La Fontaine a mixed prose and verse romance William Blake's mythology draws on elements of the tale particularly in the figures of Luvah and Vala. Luvah takes on the various guises of Apuleius's Cupid: Blake , who mentions his admiration for Apuleius in his notes, combines the myth with the spiritual quest expressed through the eroticism of the Song of Solomon , with Solomon and the Shulamite as a parallel couple. Mary Tighe published her poem Psyche in She added some details to the story, such placing two springs in Venus' garden, one with sweet water and one with bitter.

When Cupid starts to obey his mother's command, he brings some of both to a sleeping Psyche, but places only the bitter water on Psyche's lips. Tighe's Venus only asks one task of Psyche, to bring her the forbidden water, but in performing this task Psyche wanders into a country bordering on Spenser 's Fairie Queene as Psyche is aided by a mysterious visored knight and his squire Constance, and must escape various traps set by Vanity, Flattery, Ambition, Credulity, Disfida who lives in a "Gothic castle" , Varia and Geloso.

Spenser's Blatant Beast also makes an appearance. A Narrative Poem in Twelve Measures ; Sylvia Townsend Warner transferred the story to Victorian England in her novel The True Heart , though few readers made the connection till she pointed it out herself. Lewis narrated by a sister of Psyche; and the poem "Psyche: Johnson made use of the story in his book She: Adlington seems not to have been interested in a Neoplatonic reading, but his translation consistently suppresses the sensuality of the original.

Motifs from Apuleius occur in several fairy tales, including Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin , in versions collected by folklorists trained in the classical tradition, such as Charles Perrault and the Grimm brothers. Like Cinderella, Psyche has two envious sisters who compete with her for the most desirable male. Cinderella's sisters mutilate their own feet to emulate her, while Psyche's are dashed to death on a rocky cliff.

She cannot bring herself to kill the Prince, however. Unlike Psyche, who becomes immortal, she doesn't receive his love in return, but she, nevertheless, ultimately earns the eternal soul she yearns for. Thomas Bulfinch wrote a shorter adaptation of the Cupid and Psyche tale for his Age of Fable , borrowing Tighe's invention of Cupid's self-wounding, which did not appear in the original.

Till We Have Faces is C. Lewis' last work of fiction and elaborates on Apuleius' story in a modern way. Matthew Locke 's semi-opera Psyche is a loose reworking from the production. In the 19th century, Cupid and Psyche was a source for "transformations," visual interludes involving tableaux vivants , transparencies and stage machinery that were presented between the scenes of a pantomime but extraneous to the plot. To create these tableaux , costumed performers "froze" in poses before a background copied meticulously from the original and enlarged within a giant picture frame.

Nudity was feigned by flesh-colored bodystockings that negotiated standards of realism, good taste, and morality. The play takes a feminist approach in diverging from the original myth, giving Psyche more agency. Viewed in terms of psychology rather than allegory, the tale of Cupid and Psyche shows how "a mutable person … matures within the social constructs of family and marriage".

Cupid and Psyche

Cupid and Psyche has been analyzed from a feminist perspective as a paradigm of how the gender unity of women is disintegrated through rivalry and envy, replacing the bonds of sisterhood with an ideal of heterosexual love. Reimagining the Meaning of Sisterhood by Christine Downing , [64] who uses myth as a medium for psychology. James Hillman made the story the basis for his critique of scientific psychology, The Myth of Analysis: Three Essays in Archetypal Psychology Carol Gilligan uses the story as the basis for much of her analysis of love and relationships in The Birth of Pleasure Knopf, The story of Cupid and Psyche is depicted in a wide range of visual media.

Psyche is often represented with butterfly wings, and the butterfly is her frequent attribute and a symbol of the soul, though the literary Cupid and Psyche never says that she has or acquires wings. In antiquity , an iconographical tradition existed independently of Apuleius's tale and influenced later depictions. Some extant examples suggest that in antiquity Cupid and Psyche could have a religious or mystical meaning. Rings bearing their likeness, several of which come from Roman Britain , may have served an amuletic purpose.

The allegorical pairing depicts perfection of human love in integrated embrace of body and soul 'psyche' Greek for butterfly symbol for transcendent immortal life after death. On sarcophagi , the couple often seem to represent an allegory of love overcoming death. A relief of Cupid and Psyche was displayed at the mithraeum of Capua , but it is unclear whether it expresses a Mithraic quest for salvation, or was simply a subject that appealed to an individual for other reasons.

Psyche is invoked with "Providence" Pronoia at the beginning of the so-called Mithras Liturgy. In late antiquity , the couple are often shown in a "chin-chuck" embrace, a gesture of "erotic communion" with a long history. Other depictions surviving from antiquity include a 2nd-century papyrus illustration possibly of the tale, [75] and a ceiling fresco at Trier executed during the reign of Constantine I.

Works of art proliferated after the rediscovery of Apuleius's text, in conjunction with the influence of classical sculpture. In the midth century, Cupid and Psyche became a popular subject for Italian wedding chests cassoni , [76] particularly those of the Medici. The choice was most likely prompted by Boccaccio's Christianized allegory. The earliest of these cassoni , dated variously to the years —, [77] pictures the narrative in two parts: Cupid and Psyche is a rich source for scenarios, and several artists have produced cycles of works based on it, including the frescoes at the Villa Farnesina ca.

The special interest in the wedding as a subject in Northern Mannerism seems to spring from a large engraving of by Hendrik Goltzius in Haarlem of a drawing by Bartholomeus Spranger now Rijksmuseum that Karel van Mander had brought back from Prague , where Spranger was court painter to Rudolf II. Over 80 figures are shown, placed up in the clouds over a world landscape that can be glimpsed below.

The composition borrows from both Raphael and Giulio Romano's versions. The most popular subjects for single paintings or sculpture are the couple alone, or explorations of the figure of Psyche, who is sometimes depicted in compositions that recall the sleeping Ariadne as she was found by Dionysus. In the s, the National Academy of Art banned William Page 's Cupid and Psyche , called perhaps "the most erotic painting in nineteenth-century America". Portrayals of Psyche alone are often not confined to illustrating a scene from Apuleius, but may draw on the broader Platonic tradition in which Love was a force that shaped the self.

The Psyche Abandoned of Jacques-Louis David , probably based on La Fontaine's version of the tale, depicts the moment when Psyche, having violated the taboo of looking upon her lover, is abandoned alone on a rock, her nakedness expressing dispossession and the color palette a psychological "divestment". The work has been seen as an "emotional proxy" for the artist's own isolation and desperation during his imprisonment, which resulted from his participation in the French Revolution and association with Robespierre.

Cupid and Psyche 2nd century AD. Cupid and Psyche by Clodion d. Psyche by Bertel Thorvaldsen d. Amor and Psyche by Jacopo Zucchi. Allegory of Love, Cupid and Psyche by Goya d. Cupid and Psyche in the nuptial bower by Hugh Douglas Hamilton. The abduction of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Psyche Lifted Up by Zephyrs Romantic , ca. Psyche by John Reinhard Weguelin. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Cupid and Psyche disambiguation. Till We Have Faces: Selected Studies in Roman Religion Brill, , pp.


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Cupid and Psyche Cambridge University Press, , pp. Myth and Magic," Classical Journal The Tale of Cupid and Psyche Hackett, , p. Apuleius Metamorphoses 6,23—24," in Ancient Narrative: Authors, Authority, and Interpreters in the Ancient Novel. Essays in Honor of Gareth L.

Schmeling Barkhuis, , p. Woollett, Rubens and Brueghel: A Working Friendship Getty Publications, , p. Patronage in Late Renaissance Bavaria Ashgate, , pp. The Latin Novel in Context Routledge, , p. MS Harley ," in Ancient Narrative. The fresco cycle, commissioned by Sir Thomas Smith , was based on engravings by the Master of the Die and Agostino Veneziano , which had been taken from the work of Michiel Coxie that was modeled on the Loggia di Psiche.

Empire to Exile Yale University Press, , p. Lawrence Mitchell, "Ray Garnett as Illustrator". Powys Review 10 spring , pp. Levin, The Suppressed Sister: Cupid and Psyche", Indianapolis Museum of Art description. Archived at the Wayback Machine. The sarcophagus was made for retail, and the portrait added later. Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul". Retrieved 20 March — via Google Books. Her ears too were feasted with music from invisible performers; of whom one sang, another played on the lute, and all closed in the wonderful harmony of a full chorus. She had not yet seen her destined husband.

He came only in the hours of darkness and fled before the dawn of morning, but his accents were full of love, and inspired a like passion in her. She often begged him to stay and let her behold him, but he would not consent. On the contrary he charged her to make no attempt to see him, for it was his pleasure, for the best of reasons, to keep concealed. 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. This reasoning somewhat quieted Psyche for a time, and while the novelty lasted she felt quite happy.

But at length the thought of her parents, left in ignorance of her fate, and of her sisters, precluded from sharing with her the delights of her situation, preyed on her mind and made her begin to feel her palace as but a splendid prison. When her husband came one night, she told him her distress, and at last drew from him an unwilling consent that her sisters should be brought to see her. So, calling Zephyr, she acquainted him with her husband's commands, and he, promptly obedient, soon brought them across the mountain down to their sister's valley.

They embraced her and she returned their caresses. Then taking their hands she led them into her golden palace, and committed them to the care of her numerous train of attendant voices, to refresh them in her baths and at her table, and to show them all her treasures. The view of these celestial delights caused envy to enter their bosoms, at seeing their young sister possessed of such state and splendor, so much exceeding their own.

They asked her numberless questions, among others what sort of a person her husband was. Psyche replied that he was a beautiful youth, who generally spent the daytime in hunting upon the mountains. The sisters, not satisfied with this reply, soon made her confess that she had never seen him. Then they proceeded to fill her bosom with dark suspicions. The inhabitants of this valley say that your husband is a terrible and monstrous serpent, who nourishes you for a while with dainties that he may by and by devour you.

Provide yourself with a lamp and a sharp knife; put them in concealment that your husband may not discover them, and when he is sound asleep, slip out of bed, bring forth your lamp, and see for yourself whether what they say is true or not. If it is, hesitate not to cut off the monster's head, and thereby recover your liberty. Psyche resisted these persuasions as well as she could, but they did not fail to have their effect on her mind, and when her sisters were gone, their words and her own curiosity were too strong for her to resist.

Eros and Psyche

So she prepared her lamp and a sharp knife, and hid them out of sight of her husband. When he had fallen into his first sleep, she silently rose and uncovering her lamp beheld not a hideous monster, but the most beautiful and charming of the gods, with his golden ringlets wandering over his snowy neck and crimson cheek, with two dewy wings on his shoulders, whiter than snow, and with shining feathers like the tender blossoms of spring. As she leaned the lamp over to have a better view of his face, a drop of burning oil fell on the shoulder of the god.

Startled, he opened his eyes and fixed them upon her. Then, without saying a word, he spread his white wings and flew out of the window. Psyche, in vain endeavoring to follow him, fell from the window to the ground.

Cupid, beholding her as she lay in the dust, stopped his flight for an instant and said, "Oh foolish Psyche, is it thus you repay my love? After I disobeyed my mother's commands and made you my wife, will you think me a monster and cut off my head? But go; return to your sisters, whose advice you seem to think preferable to mine. I inflict no other punishment on you than to leave you for ever.

Love cannot dwell with suspicion. When she had recovered some degree of composure she looked around her, but the palace and gardens had vanished, and she found herself in the open field not far from the city where her sisters dwelt. She repaired thither and told them the whole story of her misfortunes, at which, pretending to grieve, those spiteful creatures inwardly rejoiced. Psyche meanwhile wandered day and night, without food or repose, in search of her husband.

Casting her eyes on a lofty mountain having on its brow a magnificent temple, she sighed and said to herself, "Perhaps my love, my lord, inhabits there," and directed her steps thither. She had no sooner entered than she saw heaps of corn, some in loose ears and some in sheaves, with mingled ears of barley. Scattered about, lay sickles and rakes, and all the instruments of harvest, without order, as if thrown carelessly out of the weary reapers' hands in the sultry hours of the day. This unseemly confusion the pious Psyche put an end to, by separating and sorting everything to its proper place and kind, believing that she ought to neglect none of the gods, but endeavor by her piety to engage them all in her behalf.

The holy Ceres, whose temple it was, finding her so religiously employed, thus spoke to her, "Oh Psyche, truly worthy of our pity, though I cannot shield you from the frowns of Venus, yet I can teach you how best to allay her displeasure.

Lucius Apuleius

Go, then, and voluntarily surrender yourself to your lady and sovereign, and try by modesty and submission to win her forgiveness, and perhaps her favor will restore you the husband you have lost. Psyche obeyed the commands of Ceres and took her way to the temple of Venus, endeavoring to fortify her mind and ruminating on what she should say and how best propitiate the angry goddess, feeling that the issue was doubtful and perhaps fatal.

Venus received her with angry countenance. Or have you rather come to see your sick husband, yet laid up of the wound given him by his loving wife? You are so ill favored and disagreeable that the only way you can merit your lover must be by dint of industry and diligence. I will make trial of your housewifery. But Psyche, in a perfect consternation at the enormous work, sat stupid and silent, without moving a finger to the inextricable heap.

While she sat despairing, Cupid stirred up the little ant, a native of the fields, to take compassion on her. The leader of the anthill, followed by whole hosts of his six-legged subjects, approached the heap, and with the utmost diligence taking grain by grain, they separated the pile, sorting each kind to its parcel; and when it was all done, they vanished out of sight in a moment. Venus at the approach of twilight returned from the banquet of the gods, breathing odors and crowned with roses.

Seeing the task done, she exclaimed, "This is no work of yours, wicked one, but his, whom to your own and his misfortune you have enticed. Next morning Venus ordered Psyche to be called and said to her, "Behold yonder grove which stretches along the margin of the water. There you will find sheep feeding without a shepherd, with golden-shining fleeces on their backs. Go, fetch me a sample of that precious wool gathered from every one of their fleeces. Psyche obediently went to the riverside, prepared to do her best to execute the command. But the river god inspired the reeds with harmonious murmurs, which seemed to say, "Oh maiden, severely tried, tempt not the dangerous flood, nor venture among the formidable rams on the other side, for as long as they are under the influence of the rising sun, they burn with a cruel rage to destroy mortals with their sharp horns or rude teeth.

But when the noontide sun has driven the cattle to the shade, and the serene spirit of the flood has lulled them to rest, you may then cross in safety, and you will find the woolly gold sticking to the bushes and the trunks of the trees. Thus the compassionate river god gave Psyche instructions how to accomplish her task, and by observing his directions she soon returned to Venus with her arms full of the golden fleece; but she received not the approbation of her implacable mistress, who said, "I know very well it is by none of your own doings that you have succeeded in this task, and I am not satisfied yet that you have any capacity to make yourself useful.

But I have another task for you. Here, take this box and go your way to the infernal shades, and give this box to Proserpine and say, 'My mistress Venus desires you to send her a little of your beauty, for in tending her sick son she has lost some of her own. Psyche was now satisfied that her destruction was at hand, being obliged to go with her own feet directly down to Erebus. Wherefore, to make no delay of what was not to be avoided, she goes to the top of a high tower to precipitate herself headlong, thus to descend the shortest way to the shades below.

But a voice from the tower said to her, "Why, poor unlucky girl, do you design to put an end to your days in so dreadful a manner?

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