Myths and Folklore - Psyche

I decided to start a new thing/section/whatever about mythology and folklore. Since the elementary school when we read the retelling of the ancient Greek legends by the Czech writer and translator Eduard Petiska I was hooked. Mythology and folklore, folk-tales especially, fascinate me! And I think posting different stories accompanied by pictures, poems etc. would be a great way for me to cherish the stories I love, remind myself of those I forgot, and learn some new ones. Also, I hope it would be interesting for some of you as well :)

I chose Psyche as the first story, not because it's my favourite tale, but I thought it might be a good idea to start with something people might find romantic. Here is her story in short, because I'm sure nobody would read the whole story here :) If you are interested, I recommend to find a book on Greek mythology. You'll that find Psyche's story is very complicated and that there are different variations of the same story.
Psyche was a mortal princess so beautiful that people started to worship her and they almost abandoned the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. This made the goddess angry, and she instructed her son Eros to use his golden arrows on Psyche, so that she would fall in love with a monster. Eros failed to do this, because he fell in love with Psyche. 

Sculpture by Antonio Canova portraying Eros and Psyche

This made Aphrodite even angrier and she cursed Psyche, so that no man would marry her. That of course troubled her parents, and after some time they decided to consult oracle for help, which told them to leave Psyche on the top of a nearest mountain. She fell down the mountain, but the West Wind, Zephyrus, caught her and carried her to a palace. In this palace every night she was visited in her bed by Eros, but she was not allowed to light a candle when he was around, so she didn't know his identity. Then the story gets complicated thanks to Psyche's jealous sisters, and the still angry Aphrodite. But in the end Psyche was accepted by Aphrodite and thanks to Zeus she became a goddess, too.

Here is a poem called "Ode to Psyche" by English Romantic poet John Keats:

O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
Surely I dreamt today, or did I see
The winged Psyche with awakened eyes?
I wandered in a forest thoughtlessly,
And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof
Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
A brooklet, scarce espied:

'Mid hushed, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
They lay calm-breathing on the bedded grass;
Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
Their lips touched not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
The winged boy I knew;
But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
His Psyche true!

and the rest is here.

If you know a good modern retelling of this story, please let me know! :)



Trev said...

Love the keats poem :)

Petra said...

It's a beautiful poem :)

Matthew (The Bibliofreak) said...

Really interesting post Petra! I haven't really read any of the old myths since childhood so it's really nice to be reminded of them. I look forward to further posts about mythology. :)

Petra said...

Thank you Matthew! :) I especially like the Greek mythology. I always choose Greek gods when playing Age of Mythology :)

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