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Part 2: The myth of Eros and Psyche

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To summarize the first part of this myth, the goddess Aphrodite was jealous of the beautiful mortal Psyche so she sent her son Eros to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest creature alive. However, Eros fell in love with her himself so Aphrodite cursed Psyche to never marry instead. An oracle told Psyche her fate was to climb to the summit of the nearest mountain and jump. Psyche despaired but did as she was told and when she jumped, the west wind Zephyr carried her off to a mountain palace where her bridegroom, Eros, awaited her. He refused to let her see him and they lived happily for a time. But Psyche’s sister was jealous of her and convinced her to light a lamp when Eros was asleep to make sure he wasn’t a monster who was going to eat her. But when Psyche did this Eros awoke and left her, declaring where there was no trust there could be no love.

When her sister heard what happened, she climbed to the top of the same mountain Psyche had and threw herself off as well, expecting Zephyr to carry her away to the palace as it had done before with Psyche so she would become Eros’ new wife. But it didn’t and she fell to her death.

Psyche, on the other hand, wandered for a long time trying to find Eros and win him back to her. But when she couldn’t find him, she went to a temple of Aphrodite and pleaded her case with the goddess. But Aphrodite still held jealousy and hate for Psyche in her heart and she gave her impossible tasks to perform. If Psyche was able to fulfill her wishes, then Aphrodite would bring the lovers back together.

Psyche’s first task was to separate all the grains that had been mixed together in a large basket. She had until nightfall to complete the task. Failure loomed before the fair maiden but ants came and helped her so all of the grain was sorted in time. Furious at her success, Aphrodite then told her to go to a field where golden sheep graze and get some of their golden wool. However, Psyche was warned in time by a river god that the sheep would kill her if she stepped within their midst. He advised her to wait until the sheep left the area and then she would be able to get the wool. Sure enough, after the sheep left, bits of their golden wool was stuck amongst the brambles and all Psyche had to do was pick it up which she did.

Aphrodite then demanded that Psyche retrieve water from a mountain cleft that no mortal could possibly reach and which was guarded by powerful serpents. An eagle helped her that time by getting the water for her instead.

To be continued…

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