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Cupid and Psyche

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One central theme of the myth of Cupid and Psyche is that we cannot have love unless we are willing to work at it.  This myth explores the concept of the cycles of trust and betrayal as well as the tasks Venus gives Psyche.

One example of the cycles of trust and betrayal is when Psyche and Cupid get married, but Psyche is not permitted to ever see who her husband is.  Their relationship is dependent upon her compliance with the conditions Cupid and Venus set forth, but eventually Psyche’s jealous sisters convince her to violate the agreement.  After she inadvertently wakes him up, he has to leave her.

After this, Venus gives Psyche a number of tasks.  First, she has to separate many grains in a short amount of time, but gets help from ants.  After that, she needs to go and get golden fleece from some vicious sheep, but a river god tells her how to get the fleece without being attacked.  Lastly, she has to get water from a deep cavern guarded by serpents, but an eagle gets the water for her.  Cupid and Psyche’s love was not easy.  Psyche really had to work and find ways to complete these tasks in order for their love to survive.

Even though aspects of the myth were somewhat disturbing, it was not as bad as many other classical myths.  The myth does not remind me of any of my own experiences, but it reminds me of the story of a friend’s great-grandparents.  They had been childhood sweethearts in a town in Germany, but were separated by Hitler’s actions in World War II.  However, motivated in part by their love for the other, they survived labor camps and persecution and managed to find each other in a refugee camp after the war.  Psyche’s resourcefulness in finding help completing Venus’ tasks reminds me of their own quest for survival and the strong wish to be reunited with their true love.

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