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Saturday, June 21, 2003
Eros & Psyche
Psyche (Greek word for soul or mind, iatros is Greek for healer) was the youngest and most beautiful daughter of a Greek king. The local populace began to neglect worship of the local goddess Aphrodite, preferring instead to flock round Psyche whenever she appeared in public. Although Psyche tried to avoid the adulation, Aphrodite was furious and resolved to punish Psyche.
The king, at a consultation with the oracle at Delphi, was told that he must sacrifice his daughter on a mountainside where she would be consumed by a monster, or nothing would be right in his kingdom. He did this. Eros, the son of Aphrodite, had meanwhile fallen in love with Psyche, and bade the West Wind, Zephyrus, lift from the mountainside and take her to a beautiful palace in a valley.
At the palace, all Psyche’s needs were attended to by invisible hands. At night, Psyche was joined in her comfortable bed by a mysterious lover. He instructed her never to look at his face, threatening that terrible things would happen and he would never see her again. This was, of course, Eros who, captivated by Psyche’s gentle ways and beauty, had disobeyed Aphrodite’s instructions to punish Psyche.
After some time at the Palace, Psyche heard in the distance the wails of her sisters who were mourning her loss. Psyche made her way over the mountain and brought them back to the palace. The sisters were extremely envious of the rich palace and Psyche’s invisible lover. They urged her to look at the lover’s face, saying he must be a monster to hide it away from her.
Psyche eventually gave way to the easing and lit an oil lamp, to find the handsome Eros by her side. Eros berated her for her lack of trust and disappeared. Psyche eas extremely upset and tried to kill herself on a number of occasions, on each occasion being saved by the continuing invisible watchfulness of Eros.
Psyche’s searching eventually took her to the palace of Aphrodite, who, still jealous, set her a series of tasks, hoping she would fail them. Psyche, however, pass all the trials (usually with the help of some entity who felt sorry for her). She was eventually reunited with Eros and made immortal by the intercession of Zeus, the king of the Gods.