Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "Water is the most neglected nutrient in your diet but one of the most vital."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 6

    • Rate it:
    • 1 Favorite on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 6
    Previous Chapter
    Chapter VI
    Vertumnus and Pomona. Cupid and Psyche

    The Hamadryads were Wood-nymphs. Among them was Pomona, and no
    one excelled her in love of the garden and the culture of fruit.
    She cared not for forests and rivers, but loved the cultivated
    country and trees that bear delicious apples. Her right hand
    bore for its weapon not a javelin, but a pruning knife. Armed
    with this, she worked at one time, to repress the too luxuriant
    growths, and curtail the branches that straggled out of place; at
    another, to split the twig and insert therein a graft, making the
    branch adopt a nursling not its own. She took care, too, that
    her favorites should not suffer from drought, and led streams of
    water by them that the thirsty roots might drink. This
    occupation was her pursuit, her passion; and she was free from
    that which Venus inspires. She was not without fear of the
    country people, and kept her orchard locked, and allowed not men
    to enter. The Fauns and Satyrs would have given all they
    possessed to win her, and so would old Sylvanus, who looks young
    for his years, and Pan, who wears a garland of pine leaves around
    his head. But Vertumnus loved her best of all; yet he sped no
    better than the rest. Oh, how often, in the disguise of a
    reaper, did he bring her corn in a basket, and looked the very
    image of a reaper! With a hay-band tied round him, one would
    think he had just come from turning over the grass. Sometimes he
    would have an ox-goad in his hand, and you would have said he had
    just unyoked his weary oxen. Now he bore a pruning-hook, and
    personated a vine-dresser; and again with a ladder on his
    shoulder, he seemed as if he was going to gather apples.
    Sometimes he trudged along as a discharged soldier, and again he
    bore a fishing-rod as if going to fish. In this way, he gained
    admission to her, again and again, and fed his passion with the
    sight of her.

    One day he came in the guise of an old woman, her gray hair
    surmounted with a cap, and a staff in her hand. She entered the
    garden and admired the fruit. "It does you credit, my dear," she
    said, and kissed Pomona, not exactly with an old woman's kiss.
    She sat down on a bank, and looked up at the branches laden with
    fruit which hung over her. Opposite was an elm entwined with a
    vine loaded with swelling grapes. She praised the tree and its
    associated vine, equally. "But," said Vertumnus, "if the tree
    stood alone, and had no vine clinging to it, it would lie
    prostrate on the ground. Why will you not take a lesson from the
    tree and the vine, and consent to unite yourself with some one?
    I wish you would. Helen herself had not more numerous suitors,
    nor Penelope, the wife of shrewd Ulysses. Even while you spurn
    them, they court you rural deities and others of every kind that
    frequent these mountains. But if you are prudent and want to
    make a good alliance, and will let an old woman advise you, who
    loves you better than you have any idea of, dismiss all the
    rest and accept Vertumnus, on my recommendation. I know him as
    well as he knows himself. He is not a wandering deity, but
    belongs to these mountains. Nor is he like too many of the
    lovers nowadays, who love any one they happen to see; he loves
    you, and you only. Add to this, he is young and handsome, and
    has the art of assuming any shape he pleases, and can make
    himself just what you command him. Moreover, he loves the same
    things that you do, delights in gardening, and handles your
    apples with admiration. But NOW he cares nothing for fruits, nor
    flowers, nor anything else, but only yourself. Take pity on him,
    and fancy him speaking now with my mouth. Remember that the gods
    punish cruelty, and that Venus hates a hard heart, and will visit
    such offenses sooner or later. To prove this, let me tell you a
    story, which is well known in Cyprus to be a fact; and I hope it
    will have the effect to make you more merciful.

    "Iphis was a young man of humble parentage, who saw and loved
    Anaxarete, a noble lady of the ancient family of Teucer. He
    struggled long with his passion, but when he found he could not
    subdue it, he came a suppliant to her mansion. First he told his
    passion to her nurse, and begged her as she loved her foster-
    child to favor his suit. And then he tried to win her domestics
    to his side. Sometimes he committed his vows to written tablets,
    and often hung at her door garlands which he had moistened with
    his tears. He stretched himself on her threshold, and uttered
    his complaints to the cruel bolts and bars. She was deafer than
    the surges which rise in the November gale; harder than steel
    from the German forges, or a rock that still clings to its native
    cliff. She mocked and laughed at him, adding cruel words to her
    ungentle treatment, and gave not the slightest gleam of hope.

    "Iphis could not any longer endure the torments of hopeless love,
    and standing before her doors, he spake these last words:
    'Anaxarete, you have conquered, and shall no longer have to bear
    my importunities. Enjoy your triumph! Sing songs of joy, and
    bind your forehead with laurel, you have conquered! I die;
    stony heart, rejoice! This at least I can do to gratify you, and
    force you to praise me; and thus shall I prove that the love of
    you left me but with life. Nor will I leave it to rumor to tell
    you of my death. I will come myself, and you shall see me die,
    and feast your eyes on the spectacle. Yet, Oh, ye gods, who look
    down on mortal woes, observe my fate! I ask but this! Let me be
    remembered in coming ages, and add those years to my name which
    you have reft from my life.' Thus he said, and, turning his pale
    face and weeping eyes towards her mansion, he fastened a rope to
    the gate-post, on which he had hung garlands, and putting his
    head into the noose, he murmured, 'This garland at least will
    please you, cruel girl!' And falling, hung suspended with his
    neck broken. As he fell he struck against the gate, and the
    sound was as the sound of a groan. The servants opened the door
    and found him dead, and with exclamations of pity raised him and
    carried him home to his mother, for his father was not living.
    She received the dead body of her son, and folded the cold form
    to her bosom; while she poured forth the sad words which bereaved
    mothers utter. The mournful funeral passed through the town, and
    the pale corpse was borne on a bier to the place of the funeral
    pile. By chance the home of Anaxarete was on the street where
    the procession passed, and the lamentations of the mourners met
    the ears of her whom the avenging deity had already marked for

    "'Let us see this sad procession,' said she, and mounted to a
    turret, whence through an open window she looked upon the
    funeral. Scarce had her eyes rested upon the form of Iphis
    stretched on the bier, when they began to stiffen, and the warm
    blood in her body to become cold. Endeavoring to step back, she
    found she could not move her feet; trying to turn away her face,
    she tried in vain; and by degrees all her limbs became stony like
    her heart. That you may not doubt the fact, the statue still
    remains, and stands in the temple of Venus at Salamis, in the
    exact form of the lady. Now think of these things, my dear, and
    lay aside your scorn and your delays, and accept a lover. So may
    neither the vernal frosts blight your young fruits, nor furious
    winds scatter your blossoms!"

    When Vertumnus had spoken thus, he dropped the disguise of an old
    woman, and stood before her in his proper person, as a comely
    youth. It appeared to her like the sun bursting through a cloud.
    He would have renewed his entreaties, but there was no need; his
    arguments and the sight of his true form prevailed, and the Nymph
    no longer resisted, but owned a mutual flame.

    Pomona was the especial patroness of the apple-orchard, and as
    such she was invoked by Phillips, the author of a poem on Cider,
    in blank verse, in the following lines:

    "What soil the apple loves, what care is due
    To orchats, timeliest when to press the fruits,
    Thy gift, Pomona, in Miltonian verse
    Adventurous I presume to sing."

    Thomson, in the Seasons, alludes to Phillips:

    "Phillips, Pomona's bard, the second thou
    Who nobly durst, in rhyme-unfettered verse,
    With British freedom, sing the British song."

    It will be seen that Thomson refers to the poet's reference to
    Milton, but it is not true that Phillips is only the second
    writer of English blank verse. Many other poets beside Milton
    had used it long before Phillips' time.

    But Pomona was also regarded as presiding over other fruits, and,
    as such, is invoked by Thomson:

    "Bear me, Pomona, to thy citron groves,
    To where the lemon and the piercing lime,
    With the deep orange, glowing through the green,
    Their lighter glories blend. Lay me reclined
    Beneath the spreading tamarind, that shakes,
    Fanned by the breeze, its fever-cooling fruit."


    A certain king had three daughters. (This seems to be one of the
    latest fables of the Greek mythology. It has not been found
    earlier than the close of the second century of the Christian
    era. It bears marks of the higher religious notions of that
    time.) The two elder were charming girls, but the beauty of the
    youngest was so wonderful that language is too poor to express
    its due praise. The fame of her beauty was so great that
    strangers from neighboring countries came in crowds to enjoy the
    sight, and looked on her with amazement, paying her that homage
    which is due only to Venus herself. In fact, Venus found her
    altars deserted, while men turned their devotion to this young
    virgin. As she passed along, the people sang her praises, and
    strewed her way with chaplets and flowers.

    This perversion to a mortal of the homage due only to the
    immortal powers gave great offence to the real Venus. Shaking
    her ambrosial locks with indignation, she exclaimed, "Am I then
    to be eclipsed in my honors by a mortal girl? In vain then did
    that royal shepherd, whose judgment was approved by Jove himself,
    give me the palm of beauty over my illustrious rivals, Pallas and
    June. But she shall not so quietly usurp my honors. I will give
    her cause to repent of so unlawful a beauty."

    Thereupon she calls her winged son Cupid, mischievous enough in
    his own nature, and rouses and provokes him yet more by her
    complaints. She points out Psyche to him, and says, "My dear
    son, punish that contumacious beauty; give thy mother a revenge
    as sweet as her injuries are great; infuse into the bosom of that
    haughty girl a passion for some low, mean, unworthy being, so
    that she may reap a mortification as great as her present
    exultation and triumph."

    Cupid prepared to obey the commands of his mother. There are two
    fountains in Venus's garden, one of sweet waters, the other of
    bitter. Cupid filled two amber vases, one from each fountain,
    and suspending them from the top of his quiver, hastened to the
    chamber of Psyche, whom he found asleep. He shed a few drops
    from the bitter fountain over her lips, though the sight of her
    almost moved him to pity; then touched her side with the point of
    his arrow. At the touch she awoke, and opened eyes upon Cupid
    (himself invisible) which so startled him that in his confusion
    he wounded himself with his own arrow. Heedless of his wound his
    whole thought now was to repair the mischief he had done, and he
    poured the balmy drops of joy over all her silken ringlets.

    Psyche, henceforth frowned upon by Venus, derived no benefit from
    all her charms. True, all eyes were cast eagerly upon her, and
    every mouth spoke her praises; but neither king, royal youth, nor
    plebeian presented himself to demand her in marriage. Her two
    elder sisters of moderate charms had now long been married to two
    royal princes; but Psyche, in her lonely apartment, deplored her
    solitude, sick of that beauty, which, while it procured abundance
    of flattery, had failed to awaken love.

    Her parents, afraid that they had unwittingly incurred the anger
    of the gods, consulted the oracle of Apollo, and received this
    answer: "The virgin is destined for the bride of no mortal lover.
    Her future husband awaits her on the top of the mountain. He is
    a monster whom neither gods nor men can resist."

    This dreadful decree of the oracle filled all the people with
    dismay, and her parents abandoned themselves to grief. But
    Psyche said, "Why, my dear parents, do you now lament me? You
    should rather have grieved when the people showered upon me
    undeserved honors, and with one voice called me a Venus. I now
    perceive that I am a victim to that name. I submit. Lead me to
    that rock to which my unhappy fate has destined me." Accordingly,
    all things being prepared, the royal maid took her place in the
    procession, which more resembled a funeral than a nuptial pomp,
    and with her parents, amid the lamentations of the people,
    ascended the mountain, on the summit of which they left her
    alone, and with sorrowful hearts returned home.

    While Psyche stood on the ridge of the mountain, panting with
    fear and with eyes full of tears, the gentle Zephyr raised her
    from the earth and bore her with an easy motion into a flowery
    dale. By degrees her mind became composed, and she laid herself
    down on the grassy bank to sleep. When she awoke, refreshed with
    sleep, she looked round and beheld nearby a pleasant grove of
    tall and stately trees. She entered it, and in the midst
    discovered a fountain, sending forth clear and crystal waters,
    and hard by, a magnificent palace whose August front impressed
    the spectator that it was not the work of mortal hands, but the
    happy retreat of some god. Drawn by admiration and wonder, she
    approached the building and ventured to enter. Every object she
    met filled her with pleasure and amazement. Golden pillars
    supported the vaulted roof, and the walls were enriched with
    carvings and paintings representing beasts of the chase and rural
    scenes, adapted to delight the eye of the beholder. Proceeding
    onward she perceived that besides the apartments of state there
    were others, filled with all manner of treasures, and beautiful
    and precious productions of nature and art.

    While her eyes were thus occupied, a voice addressed her, though
    she saw no one, uttering these words: "Sovereign lady, all that
    you see is yours. We whose voices you hear are your servants,
    and shall obey all your commands with our utmost care and
    diligence. Retire therefore to your chamber and repose on your
    bed of down, and when you see fit repair to the bath. Supper
    will await you in the adjoining alcove when it pleases you to
    take your seat there."

    Psyche gave ear to the admonitions of her vocal attendants, and
    after repose and the refreshment of the bath, seated herself in
    the alcove, where a table immediately presented itself, without
    any visible aid from waiters or servants, and covered with the
    greatest delicacies of food and the most nectareous wines. 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. "Why should you wish to behold me?" he said.
    "Have you any doubt of my love? 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. "Come," said Psyche, "enter with me
    my house and refresh yourselves with whatever your sister has to
    offer." 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. "Call to mind," they said,
    "the Pythian oracle that declared you destined to marry a direful
    and tremendous monster. 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.
    Take our advice. 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. 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
    nearer view of his face a drop of burning oil fell on the
    shoulder of the god, startled with which he opened his eyes and
    fixed them full upon her; then, without saying one 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, "O foolish Psyche, is it thus you
    repay my love? After having 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 forever. Love cannot dwell with suspicion."
    So saying he fled away, leaving poor Psyche prostrate on the
    ground, filling the place with mournful lamentations.

    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; "for now," said they, "he will
    perhaps choose one of us." With this idea, without saying a word
    of her intentions, each of them rose early the next morning and
    ascended the mountain, and having reached the top, called upon
    Zephyr to receive her and bear her to his lord; then leaping up,
    and not being sustained by Zephyr, fell down the precipice and
    was dashed to pieces.

    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 every thing 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: "O 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. Go then, voluntarily
    surrender yourself to your lady and sovereign, and try by modesty
    and submission to win her forgiveness; 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 thinking of
    what she should say and how she should best propitiate the angry
    goddess, feeling that the issue was doubtful and perhaps fatal.

    Venus received her with angry countenance. "Most undutiful and
    faithless of servants," said she, "do you at last remember that
    you really have a mistress? Or have you rather come to see your
    sick husband, yet suffering from 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." Then she
    ordered Psyche to be led to the storehouse of her temple, where
    was laid up a great quantity of wheat, barley, millet, vetches,
    beans, and lentils prepared for food for her doves, and said,
    "Take and separate all these grains, putting all of the same kind
    in a parcel by themselves, and see that you get it done before
    evening." Then Venus departed and left her to her task.

    But Psyche, in perfect consternation at the enormous work, sat
    stupid and silent, without moving a finger to the inextricable

    While she sat despairing, Cupid stirred up the little ant, a
    native of the fields, to take compassion on her. The leader of
    the ant-hill, 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

    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."
    So saying, she threw her a piece of black bread for her supper
    and went away.

    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

    Psyche obediently went to the river-side, prepared to do her best
    to execute the command. But the river-god inspired the reeds
    with harmonious murmurs, which seemed to say, "O 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 flock 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 come of her own.' Be
    not too long on your errand, for I must paint myself with it to
    appear at the circle of the gods and goddesses this evening."

    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, dost
    thou design to put an end to thy days in so dreadful a manner?
    And what cowardice makes thee sink under this last danger, who
    hast been so miraculously supported in all thy former?" Then the
    voice told her how by a certain cave she might reach the realms
    of Pluto, and how to avoid all the dangers of the road, to pass
    by Cerberus, the three-headed dog, and prevail on Charon, the
    ferryman, to take her across the black river and bring her back
    again. But the voice added, "When Proserpine has given you the
    box, filled with her beauty, of all things this is chiefly to be
    observed by you, that you never once open or look into the box
    nor allow your curiosity to pry into the treasure of the beauty
    of the goddesses.

    Psyche encouraged by this advice obeyed it in all things, and
    taking heed to her ways travelled safely to the kingdom of Pluto.
    She was admitted to the palace of Proserpine, and without
    accepting the delicate seat or delicious banquet that was offered
    her, but contented with coarse bread for her food, she delivered
    her message from Venus. Presently the box was returned to her,
    shut and filled with the precious commodity. Then she returned
    the way she came, and glad was she to come out once more into the
    light of day.

    But having got so far successfully through her dangerous task a
    longing desire seized her to examine the contents of the box.
    "What," said she, "shall I, the carrier of this divine beauty,
    not take the least bit to put on my cheeks to appear to more
    advantage in the eyes of my beloved husband!:" So she carefully
    opened the box, but found nothing there of any beauty at all, but
    an infernal and truly Stygian sleep, which being thus set free
    from its prison, took possession of her, and she fell down in the
    midst of the road, a sleepy corpse without sense or motion.

    But Cupid being now recovered from his wound, and not able longer
    to bear the absence of his beloved Psyche, slipping through the
    smallest crack of the window of his chamber which happened to be
    left open, flew to the spot where Psyche lay, and gathering up
    the sleep from her body closed it again in the box, and waked
    Psyche with a light touch of one of his arrows. "Again," said
    he, "hast thou almost perished by the same curiosity. But now
    perform exactly the task imposed on you by my mother, and I will
    take care of the rest."

    Then Cupid, as swift as lightning penetrating the heights of
    heaven, presented himself before Jupiter with his supplication.
    Jupiter lent a favoring ear, and pleaded the cause of the lovers
    so earnestly with Venus that he won her consent. On this he sent
    Mercury to bring Psyche up to the heavenly assembly, and when she
    arrived, handing her a cup of ambrosia, he said, "Drink this,
    Psyche, and be immortal; nor shall Cupid ever break away from the
    knot in which he is tied, but these nuptials shall be perpetual."

    Thus Psyche became at last united to Cupid, and in due time they
    had a daughter born to them whose name was Pleasure.

    The fable of Cupid and Psyche is usually considered allegorical.
    The Greek name for a butterfly is Psyche, and the same word means
    the soul. There is no illustration of the immortality of the
    soul so striking and beautiful as the butterfly, bursting on
    brilliant wings from the tomb in which it has lain, after a dull,
    grovelling caterpillar existence, to flutter in the blaze of day
    and feed on the most fragrant and delicate productions of the
    spring. Psyche, then, is the human soul, which is purified by
    sufferings and misfortunes, and is thus prepared for the
    enjoyment of true and pure happiness.

    In works of art Psyche is represented as a maiden with the wings
    of a butterfly, alone or with Cupid, in the different situations
    described in the allegory.

    Milton alludes to the story of Cupid and Psyche in the conclusion
    of his Comus:--

    "Celestial Cupid, her famed son, advanced,
    Holds his dear Psyche sweet entranced,
    After her wandering labors long,
    Till free consent the gods among
    Make her his eternal bride;
    And from her fair unspotted side
    Two blissful twins are to be born,
    Youth and Joy; so Jove hath sworn."

    The allegory of the story of Cupid and Psyche is well presented
    in the beautiful lines of T. K. Hervey:--

    "They wove bright fables in the days of old
    When reason borrowed fancy's painted wings;
    When truth's clear river flowed o'er sands of gold,
    And told in song its high and mystic things!
    And such the sweet and solemn tale of her
    The pilgrim-heart, to whom a dream was given.
    That led her through the world, Love's worshipper,
    To seek on earth for him whose home was heaven!

    "In the full city, by the haunted fount,
    Through the dim grotto's tracery of spars,
    'Mid the pine temples, on the moonlit mount,
    Where silence sits to listen to the stars;
    In the deep glade where dwells the brooding dove,
    The painted valley, and the scented air,
    She heard far echoes of the voice of Love,
    And found his footsteps' traces everywhere.

    "But never more they met! Since doubts and fears,
    Those phantom-shapes that haunt and blight the earth,
    Had come 'twixt her, a child of sin and tears,
    And that bright spirit of immortal birth;
    Until her pining soul and weeping eyes
    Had learned to seek him only in the skies;
    Till wings unto the weary heart were given,
    And she became Love's angel bride in heaven!"

    The story of Cupid and Psyche first appears in the works of
    Apuleius, a writer of the second century of our era. It is
    therefore of much more recent date than most of the legends of
    the Age of Fable. It is this that Keats alludes to in his Ode to

    "O latest born and loveliest vision far
    Of all Olympus' faded hierarchy!
    Fairer than Phoebe's sapphire-regioned star
    Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
    Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
    Nor altar heaped with flowers;
    Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
    Upon the midnight hours;
    No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet,
    >From chain-swung censer teeming;
    No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
    Of Pale-mouthed prophet dreaming."

    In Moore's Summer Fete, a fancy ball is described, in which one
    of the characters personated is Psyche.

    " not in dark disguise to-night
    Hath our young heroine veiled her light;
    For see, she walks the earth, Love's own.
    His wedded bride, by holiest vow
    Pledged in Olympus, and made known
    To mortals by the type which now
    Hangs glittering on her snowy brow,
    That butterfly, mysterious trinket,
    Which means the soul (though few would think it),
    And sparkling thus on brow so white,
    Tells us we've Psyche here to-night."

    Next Chapter
    Chapter 6
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Thomas Bulfinch essay and need some advice, post your Thomas Bulfinch essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?