to see her pass through the city, and sang
hymns in her praise, while strangers took
her for the very goddess of beauty herself.
Venus, and she resolved to cast
down her earthly rival. One day, therefore,
she called hither her son Love (Cupid, some
name him), and bade him sharpen his weapons.
He is an archer more to be dreaded than
Apollo, for Apollo's arrows take life, but
Love's bring joy or sorrow for a whole life
"Come, Love," said Venus. "There is a mortal
maid who robs me of my honors in yonder
city. Avenge your mother. Wound this
precious Psyche, and let her fall in love
with some churlish creature, mean in the
eyes of all men."
Cupid made ready his weapons, and flew down
to earth invisibly. At that moment Psyche
was asleep in her chamber; but he touched
her heart with his golden arrow of love, and
she opened her eyes so suddenly that he
started (forgetting that he was invisible),
and wounded himself with his own shaft.
Heedless of the hurt, moved only by the
loveliness of the maiden, he hastened to
pour over her locks the healing joy that he
ever kept by him, undoing all his work. Back
to her dream the princess went, unshadowed
by any thought of love. But Cupid, not so
light of heart, returned to the heavens
saying not a word of what had passed.
Venus waited long; then, seeing that
Psyche's heart had somehow escaped love, she
sent a spell upon the maiden. From that
time, lovely as she was, not a suitor came
to woo; and her parents, who desired to see
her a queen at least, made a journey to the
Oracle, and asked counsel.
Said the voice: "The princess Psyche shall
never wed a mortal. She shall be given to
one who waits for her on yonder mountain; he
overcomes gods and men."
At this terrible sentence the poor parents
were half distraught, and the people gave
themselves up to grief at the fate in store
for their beloved princess. Psyche alone
bowed to her destiny. "We have angered Venus
unwittingly," she said, "and all for the
sake of me, heedless maiden that I am! Give
me up, therefore, dear father and mother. If
I atone, it may be that the city will
prosper once more."
So she besought them, until, after many
unavailing denials, the parents consented;
and with a great company of people they led
Psyche up the mountain, as an offering to
the monster of whom the Oracle had spoken,
and left her there alone.
Full of courage, yet in a secret agony of
grief, she watched her kindred and her
people wind down the mountain-path, too sad
to look back, until they were lost to sight.
Then, indeed, she wept, but a sudden breeze
drew near, dried her tears, and caressed her
hair, seeming to murmur comfort. In truth,
it was Zephyr, the kindly West Wind, come to
befriend her; and as she took heart, feeling
some benignant presence, he lifted her in
his arms, and carried her on wings as even
as a sea-gull's over the crest of the
fateful mountain and into a valley below.
There he left her, resting on a bank of
hospitable grass, and there the princess
When she awoke, it was near sunset. She
looked about her for some sign of the
monster's approach; she wondered, then, if
her grievous trial had been but a dream.
Near by she saw a sheltering forest, whose
young trees seemed to beckon as one maid
beckons to another; and eager for the
protection of the
Dryads, she went thither.
The call of running waters drew her farther
and farther, till she came out upon an open
place, where there was a wide pool. A
fountain fluttered gladly in the midst of
it, and beyond there stretched a white
palace wonderful to see. Coaxed by the
bright promise of the place, she drew near,
and, seeing no one, entered softly. It was
all kinglier than her father's home, and as
she stood in wonder and awe, soft airs
stirred about her. Little by little the
silence grew murmurous like the woods, and
one voice, sweeter than the rest, took
words. "All that you see is yours, gentle
high princess," it said. "Fear nothing; only
command us, for we are here to serve you."
Full of amazement and delight, Psyche
followed the voice from hall to hall, and
through the lordly rooms, beautiful with
everything that could delight a young
princess. No pleasant thing was lacking.
There was even a pool, brightly tiled and
fed with running waters, where she bathed
her weary limbs; and after she had put on
the new and beautiful raiment that lay ready
for her, she sat down to break her fast,
waited upon and sung to by the unseen
Surely he whom the Oracle had called her
husband was no monster, but some beneficent
power, invisible like all the rest. When
daylight waned he came, and his voice, the
beautiful voice of a god, inspired her to
trust her strange destiny and to look and
long for his return. Often she begged him to
stay with her through the day, that she
might see his face; but this he would not
"Never doubt me, dearest Psyche," said he.
"Perhaps you would fear if you saw me, and
love is all I ask. There is a necessity that
keeps me hidden now. Only believe."
So for many days Psyche was content; but
when she grew used to happiness, she thought
once more of her parents mourning her as
lost, and of her sisters who shared the lot
of mortals while she lived as a goddess. One
night she told her husband of these regrets,
and begged that her sisters at least might
come to see her. He sighed, but did not
"Zephyr shall bring them hither," said he.
And on the following morning, swift as a
bird, the West Wind came over the crest of
the high mountain and down into the
enchanted valley, bearing her two sisters.
They greeted Psyche with joy and amazement,
hardly knowing how they had come hither. But
when this fairest of the sisters led them
through her palace and showed them all the
treasures that were hers, envy grew in their
hearts and choked their old love. Even while
they sat at feast with her, they grew more
and more bitter; and hoping to find some
little flaw in her good fortune, they asked
a thousand questions.
"Where is your husband?" said they. "And why
is he not here with you?"
"Ah," stammered Psyche. " All the day long
he is gone, hunting upon the mountains."
"But what does he look like?" they asked;
and Psyche could find no answer.
When they learned that she had never seen
him, they laughed her faith to scorn.
"Poor Psyche," they said. "You are walking
in a dream. Wake, before it is too late.
Have you forgotten what the Oracle decreed,
that you were destined for a dreadful
creature, the fear of gods and men? And are
you deceived by this show of kindliness? We
have come to warn you. The people told us,
as we came over the mountain, that your
husband is a dragon, who feeds you well for
the present, that he may feast the better,
some day soon. What is it that you trust?
Good words! But only take a dagger some
night, and when the monster is asleep go,
light a lamp, and look at him. You can put
him to death easily, and all his riches will
be yours and ours."
Psyche heard this wicked plan with horror.
Nevertheless, after her sisters were gone,
she brooded over what they had said, not
seeing their evil intent; and she came to
find some wisdom in their words. Little by
little, suspicion ate, like a moth, into her
lovely mind; and at nightfall, in shame and
fear, she hid a lamp and a dagger in her
chamber. Towards midnight, when her husband
was fast asleep, up she rose, hardly daring
to breathe; and coming softly to his side,
she uncovered the lamp to see some horror.
But there the youngest of the gods lay
sleeping, most beautiful, most irresistible
of all immortals. His hair shone golden as
the sun, his face was radiant as dear
Springtime, and from his shoulders sprang
two rainbow wings.
Poor Psyche was overcome with self-reproach.
As she leaned towards him, filled with
worship, her trembling hands held the lamp
ill, and some burning oil fell upon Love's
shoulder and awakened him.
He opened his eyes, to see at once his bride
and the dark suspicion in her heart.
"O doubting Psyche!" he exclaimed with
sudden grief, and then he flew away, out of
Wild with sorrow, Psyche tried to follow,
but she fell to the ground instead. When she
recovered her senses, she stared about her.
She was alone, and the place was beautiful
no longer. Garden and palace had vanished
The Legend and Myth of Cupid and Psyche
The Myth of Cupid and Psyche
The story of Cupid and Psyche is featured in the book
entitled Old Greek Folk Stories by Josephine
Preston Peabody, published in 1907 by
Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.