Myths of Greece and Rome Narrated with Special Reference to Literature and Art
Page: 56Psyche forsaken.
When he had vanished into the dusky air without, the balmy night winds ceased to blow; and suddenly a tempest began to rage with such fury, that poor frightened Psyche dared not remain alone in the palace, but hastened out into the gardens, where she soon lost consciousness of her misery in a deep swoon. When she opened her eyes once more, the storm had ceased, the sun was high in the heavens, and palace and gardens had vanished.
Poor Psyche lingered there the following and many succeeding nights, vainly hoping for Cupid’s return, and shedding many bitter tears of repentance. Finally she resolved to commit suicide, and, with that purpose in view, plunged into a neighboring river; but the god of the stream caught and carried her ashore, where his daughters, the water nymphs, restored her to life. Thus forced to live, Psyche wandered about disconsolate, seeking Cupid, and questioning all she met, the nymphs, Pan, and Ceres, who compassionately listened to her confession of love for her husband.
Round earthly shrines was mine, but a pure spirit,
Lovelier than all embodied love, more pure
And wonderful; but never on his eyes
I looked, which still were hidden, and I knew not
The fashion of his nature; for by night,
When visual eyes are blind, but the soul sees,
Came he, and bade me seek not to inquire
Or whence he came or wherefore. Nor knew I
His name. And always ere the coming day,
As if he were the Sun god, lingering
With some too well loved maiden, he would rise
And vanish until eve.”
[Pg 128] Ceres had often seen Cupid, and had heard that very morning that he was having a wound in his shoulder dressed by Venus: so she advised Psyche to go to the Goddess of Beauty, to enter her service, and to perform every task with cheerful alacrity, knowing that such a course would ultimately bring about a meeting and reconciliation between the lovers.
Psyche gratefully accepted and followed Ceres’ advice, and labored early and late to satisfy her exacting mistress, who appointed such difficult tasks, that the poor girl would never have been able to accomplish them had she not been aided by all the beasts and insects, who loved her dearly.
Venus repeatedly tested her fidelity and endurance, and finally resolved, as a crucial experiment, to send her to Hades to fetch a box of beauty ointment, for which Proserpina alone had the recipe. Directed by Zephyrus, her old friend, Psyche encountered the terrors of Hades in safety, delivered her message, and in return received a small box. The gates of Hades were closed behind her, and she had nearly finished her last task, when she suddenly fancied that it would be wise to appropriate a little of the magic preparation to efface the traces of sleepless nights and many tears.