Eros and Psyche
N ancient Greece long, long ago, the gods still walked on earth. The gods had strength and beauty, but their hearts were vain and foolish. One goddess was more beautiful and more vain than all the gods put together, Venus, the goddess of love. She watched the people of Greece. She listened for their prayers, expecting to be loved and admired more than any other being.
At this time, there lived a king and three young princesses. The two older princesses were beautiful, but the youngest sister, whose name was Psyche, was the most beautiful princess in all of Greece. In face and form she was as beautiful as a goddess, but her heart was so pure and generous that all of Greece loved her. Men who saw her admired her beautiful face saying, “Psyche is as more beautiful than any woman, or god.” Men stopped saying their prayers to Venus. Their hearts were so filled with love and admiration, they proclaimed Psyche the goddess of love. Men did not leave gifts at Venus’s temple. They brought their flowers, songs, food, and gifts to Psyche.
The Queen of Love was filled with jealousy. “Impossible! A mortal has taken my place?” said Venus, livid. “I must make this girl pay.”
Then she sent for her son, the great god Cupid.
“My son,” she said, “if you love me, you will find this girl, Psyche, who all Men admire. I detest her! Find her and kill her. But be careful. The people adore her. They guard her day and night. Go to the Black Castle, at the foot of Mount Olympus. I will see that the girl comes to this abandoned place, then you must get revenge for your mother!”
Quickly, Cupid went away to do what Venus commanded. He waited in the Black Castle and prepared his bow and poisoned arrows.
At that moment, Venus appeared before the king and negotiated a marriage: Psyche would marry a god, but she most go quickly to the Black Castle. She must go alone: no guards and no escort. If Psyche obeyed, a handsome god would be waiting in the Black Castle.
Psyche was not happy to marry a perfect stranger. Nevertheless, she obeyed. She walked down the road alone, with no escort. The silence washed over her. She breathed the still air. Psyche was happy to be alone and think about her future.
At that moment, Cupid was waiting. The knock on the door was so quiet, like a mouse had knocked. He raised his bow and arrow. “Hello, I have come to the Black Castle, as Venus commanded,” said Psyche nervously.
When he looked upon her face, Cupid froze like a statue. The arrow fell out of Cupid’s hand. He had never looked on one so beautiful. His heart pounded in his chest. From that moment he loved her with all his heart. Cupid picked up the arrow and put it back. He would not need the arrow today.
“If she can trust me,” he said, “I will make her love me. She will be mine; but not with an arrow. I will win her heart as men do: with no tricks and no powers.”
Psyche, meanwhile, was unsure about the Black Castle. As she entered, she was immediately wary, nervous, even terrified. There was no light anywhere. She could see two steps in front of her, but no more. She could not find even a small light or a warm fire to warm up.
Suddenly, there was a voice. “Do not be afraid,” said the voice. It was calm, strong, and masculine.
“Sire,” she said, as she walked closer, “Who are you?”
“I am Cupid, son of Venus, a god of love. I am here to marry you,” said Cupid.
Psyche was very sad to hear this, as she did not want to marry a total stranger. “Talk with me first, Mighty God,” said Psyche. The two talked about their lives. They talked all night until the stars appeared. Cupid confessed his eternal love. Psyche was in love too.
Cupid declared, “Psyche, my own, my beloved, at last I have got you, my dear one.” Then two strong arms were round her. Then there was a kiss upon her lips. In her happiness she closed her eyes. She did not see his face. Cupid had used his powers as a god to hide his face. There were no lights, and no lamps in the Black Castle.
Suddenly, Psyche opened her eyes. She was so curious, she had to see her love’s face. “Please, Cupid, I must see you. I will light a fire for just one minute to see you,” asked Psyche.
Cupid’s reply was sad and simple: “No, there can never be any light in the Black Castle. If there is one lamp, one fire, or one stray ray of sunshine, my mother, Venus, will find me. She detests you and you are in danger if she ever finds you.”
Psyche loved and trusted him so much, she never cared to ask him his secret. So the days and nights passed. The couple fell even more in love. One evening when he came to her he was troubled, and said, “My dear, I had a vision. I saw in the future, and you will be offered a lamp. You must refuse the lamp your sisters offer you. Remember, if you light a lamp, all will be lost.”
“My sisters!” Psyche was joyful to think she would see her sisters. She loved her family and missed her dear sisters very much. But Cupid repeated his warning: “My love, ignore your sisters. Do not open the door.” Psyche agreed sadly.
That very next day, Psyche was in the garden tending her flowers. Suddenly, her sisters come to her from a long journey. The princesses called her name, “Psyche, O Psyche! where are you?”
“I am here, come to me, my dear sisters!” said Psyche. She was overjoyed to see her family. She put her arms around them and hugged them.
“Ah, my dear sisters,” Psyche cried, “how happy am I to see you! Welcome to my new home. See, my life is very happy. Come in and relax.”
But the sisters’ eyes filled with tears. The sisters said, “Oh no, dear Psyche. You must have a terrible life. The Black Castle is dark and pitiful. They say the man of the castle is a monster. He is probably not even human…and you, poor Psyche. You must marry a monster!” Both girls cried uncontrollably.
“Oh no, that is ridiculous. A monster? No, he has a gentle heart. He is smart and kind, and I love him very much,” confessed Psyche. She smiled and her face turned pink with this confession.
“Psyche, what does he look like?” said one sister. The princesses were very curious. They were also nervous for their dear sister.
“I do not know,” said Psyche. “I can not see anything in the Black Castle.”
“How sad it must be to never see your love’s face. Here, take this lamp,” said one sister. The princess handed Psyche the lamp. But Psyche remembered her husband’s warning.
“But my love made me promise not to light any lamps,” she said.
At that, the sisters were very suspicious. “See! Only a monster would command you to never light a lamp. Please, Psyche, take the lamp. One day, you may need it,” said the sisters.
The sisters said goodbye to their beloved sister, Psyche. Psyche went to find her love, Cupid. She had a lamp in her hand, thinking, “I will give this lamp to my husband. He will see I am loyal. I did not light the lamp.”
She entered the bedroom, and laid down beside her true love. Psyche’s heart was filled with love, and curiosity. She longed to see his face. “Just for one second, then I will blow out the lamp,” said Psyche. She was sad as she lit the lamp, knowing Cupid would be mad.