Cupid and Psyche by ApuleiusThe story of Cupid and Psyche is part of The Golden Ass or Metamorphoses, a Latin novel by Apuleius (second century A.D.). It is both a charming fairytale and an allegory of the search of the Soul for happiness and fulfillment. This edition, the first with a full commentary in English to appear for eighty years, comprises a Latin text with facing translation, making the edition more accessible to students of comparative literature. An introduction and a commentary provide help with interpretation and up-to-date guidance to scholarship in the field.
Cupid and Psyche: True Love Conquers All
A certain king and queen had three daughters. The charms of the two elder were more than common, but the beauty of the youngest was so wonderful that the poverty of language is unable 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.
Psyche, abandoned to her fate on the mountain top, is rescued and carried away by Zephyrus, the West Wind. Psyche is a princess so beautiful that the goddess Venus becomes jealous. In revenge, she instructs her son Cupid to make her fall in love with a hideous monster; but instead he falls in love with her himself. He becomes her unseen husband, visiting her only at night. Psyche disobeys his orders not to attempt to look at him, and in doing so she loses him.
THERE was once a certain king, inhabiting in the West parts, who had to wife a noble dame by whom he had three daughters, exceeding fair of whom the two elder were of such comely shape and beauty as to excel and pass all other women living, whereby they were thought, worthily, to deserve the praise and commendation of every person, and deservedly to be preferred above the residue of the common sort. Yet the singular passing beauty and maidenly majesty of the youngest daughter did so far surmount and excel them two that no earthly creature could by any means sufficiently express or set out the same; by reason whereof after the fame of this excellent maiden was spread abroad in every part of the city the citizens and strangers there, being inwardly pricked by zealous affection to behold her famous person, came daily by thousands, hundreds and scores to her father's palace, and as if astonished with admiration of her incomparable beauty did no less worship and reverence her, with crosses, signs and tokens, and other divine adorations, according to the custom of the old used rites and ceremonies, than if she were Lady Venus indeed. And shortly after the report was spread into the next cities and bordering regions that the goddess whom the deep seas had borne and brought forth, and the froth of the surging waves had nourished, to the intent to show her high magnificency and divine power in earth, to such as erst did honour and worship her, was now conversant amongst mortal men, or else that the earth, and not the seas, by a new concourse and influence of the celestial planets, had budded and yielded forth a new Venus, endued with the flower of virginity. So daily more and more increased this opinion, and now is her flying fame dispersed into the next island, and well-nigh into every part and province of the whole world. Whereupon innumerable strangers resorted from far countries, adventuring themselves by long journeys on land, and by great perils on water, to behold this glorious virgin. By occasion whereof such a contempt grew towards the goddess Venus, that no person travelled to the town Paphos, nor to the isle of Cnidus, no, nor to Cythera, to worship her.