SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Myth of Cupid and Psyche

Here is another story that touched me.I generally keep browsing for stories, and particularly look for stories that can be performed. There is a difference. You see, there are many stories, that need to be read aloud from a book as the language of the text itself is so beautiful, while others sound nice being narrated at some opportune moment, like  a personal story, or a parable.

Stories that can be performed are a different league, not only does one need to relate with the characters, we also have to look at the flow of the story, in terms of the character's quest or search for some resolution. If you are a story writer, you will be well aware of how the story plot has to be carefully planned and characters sketches need to stand out for some unique reason or the other.

So browsing through my collection of stories for a story to tell at the monthly meeting of BSN (Bangalore Storytelling Network) at Atta Galatta, I saw I had saved the story of Cupid and Psyche.
 Ah! a Love story. Was my audience ready for it. I was not sure, but try I must.

So I did, and really enjoyed it and I am told so did my audience.

Here I share a shortened version of the story, taken from the book called Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass (Asinus Aureus) by Latin writer Apuleius, who was a Numidian Berber during the Roman period. It is considered to be the only Latin novel to have survived in its entirety.
(~ reference Wikipedia~)

Psyche, the youngest daughter of a king, is considered the most beautiful mortal born. This makes the Goddess of Love, Venus (Aphrodite) extremely jealous. So she sends her son Cupid, to look for an unsuitable alliance for this maiden.  Yet one look at Psyche and Cupid falls in love and wants to claim her as his own, but knows his mother would not allow it. With the help of the Oracle at Apollo, he has Psyche flown in to his palace in the skies, by Zephyr the West wind (can you see similar story line from Indian Mythology?!). Scared Psyche is appeased when she realises she is loved and cared for by her husband/lover, yet the agreement between them is that, he would live with her at night and not during the day and she was not permitted to see him.Alas, the story turns here, for instigated by her sisters, she succumbs to the temptation to take a peek of her invisible Lover, in the light of a burning candle. The wax falls on the sleeping Cupid, whose angelic countenance makes her realise He is no mortal,but in fact the God of Love himself. yet the deed is done and Cupid leaves her, as he says"Love cannot exist where there is no Trust" .
The story goes on, to tell us how Venus now tests Psyche, by throwing different tasks at her and she passes all of them with help from different sources. One task is to cross the River Styx into Hell itself to collect some precious beauty from Proserpine, wife of Hades. Once again she succumbs to temptation, opens the cask which is supposed to hold the beauty and falls into the sleep of death. Finally she is rescued by Cupid, who frees himself from his mother and arrives to carry Psyche to higher authorities, to finally marry her and live in peace, to beget a daughter called Voluptas ....or Pleasure!   

There are some beautiful Metaphors in this story. If you see Cupid as Love and Psyche as the Soul, then you can work out, how this story shows us that the Soul aspires for Love, but has to go through a number of tests before it is able to live with and to take ownership of Love.

On another angle, the Soul succumbs to temptation time and time again, loses trust, and if it wishes to regain Love, then the Soul has to let go of trust.

I especially like that their child is named Pleasure!!

I am sure we will have many such parallels in Indian Mythology as well. I leave you here to mull over the relationship between the Soul ( Psyche) and Love ( Cupid)...after all the two must marry if we want to walk the path of Happiness.

~till next time....ssstoryteller~