Can you feel the love tonight?
Valentine’s day is upon us. A day full of flowers and chocolates. None for you Gretchen Weiner.
For some, it’s a day of receiving and giving love. For others, it’s only a day of sadness and loneliness. And for others, it’s a day of tangled emotion.
Cupid, the god of love in classical mythology, is one of the most iconic characters on Valentine’s day. Sorry St. Valentine.
Yet most are unaware that Cupid, the sweet cherubic baby, was no baby. He, himself, endured heartache and betrayal from his own loved one.
Psyche, a mere human, was born with the physical perfection so complete and beautiful that she was known as the goddess of love. People were so intimidated by her beauty that they could not even approach her.
One day, Psyche’s father asked for guidance from the Oracle of Apollo, the god of light, reason and prophecy. Apollo told him to abandon his daughter on a rocky cliff in which she would marry a cruel and savage, serpent-like winged evil. And so he did.
Psyche, abandoned on this cliff, muttered “beauty is a curse.”
Alone on the cliff, Psyche was gently lifted off by Zephyr, the West Wind, into the air and set down before a palace.
“You are home,” an unseen voice said. “Your husband awaits you, if you dare to meet him.”
Psyche, feeling brave, walked inside the palace and into a dark room. The room was so dark that she had to feel her way across the room in search for her husband. Yet, when she touched him, he didn’t feel like a serpent. His skin was soft. His voice and manner was gentle.
“Who are you?” asked Psyche.
He replied and told her that that was the one question he could never answer.
“If you loved me, you would not need to know,” he said.
Psyche’s mysterious husband visited night after night, disappearing once light appeared.
Soon, she was pregnant. Psyche was thrilled in the prospects of having a baby, but she was also torn. How could she raise a child without knowing what her husband looked like?
That night, she approached her sleeping husband, holding an oil lamp. What she saw shocked her so much that she dropped her oil lamp and spilt the hot oil on Cupid himself.
It was Cupid—the god who sent gods and humans chasing after each other with the pinpricks of his arrows.
The oil on Psyche’s lamp burnt Cupid.
Cupid confessed that he had been in love with Psyche ever since his mother, Venus, had sent him to embarrass her by pricking her with one of his arrows. Instead, after seeing how beautiful Psyche was, Cupid pricked himself with the arrow. However, Cupid did not believe that gods and humans could love equally.
After she was exposed to him, Cupid flew away with the belief that their hope for happiness was lost.
In Psyche’s moment of hopelessness, the unseen voice sought her again and told her that it was possible for her and Cupid to love each other equally.
In her quest to find Cupid, his mother Venus stopped Psyche and told her that she could only find him if she completed a series of impossible tasks.
The first task consisted of sorting an enormous mixed pile of seeds in a single night. Just when Psyche was giving up, some ants took pity and helped her sort the seeds.
In the second task, Venus told Psyche that she had to bring the fleece of the golden sheep. The golden sheep had a reputation for disemboweling stray adventurers. Amidst her worry, a river god showed her how she could collect the fleece the golden sheep had left on briars and thorns.
In her last and final task, Psyche was told to travel to the underworld to try and persuade Proserpina, the queen of the dead, to give Psyche a drop of her beauty to give to Venus.
In Psyche’s journey to the Underworld, the unforeseen voice instructed her to bring barley cakes for Cerberus, the guard dogs of the underworld and to bring coins to pay Charon, the boatman, to row her across the river Styx.
Just before entering Venus’ palace, in her moment of curiosity, she took out the container with the drop of Proserpina’s beauty and opened it. The container did not hold beauty but, instead, sleep. Psyche collapsed into sleep.
After recovering from the wounds of the oil, Cupid flew to Psyche’s side. Cupid told her that he had been wrong and stupid. Her courage in the midst of the unknown was proof that she was more than his equal.
Cupid gave her ambrosia, the nectar of the gods, that made her immortal.
She soon gave birth to a daughter and they named her Pleasure.
The trio, Pleasure, Cupid and Pysche have been muddling up people’s love lives ever since.