Cupid and Psyche

This is a really special picture to me. It represents something I never thought I would see, when I was that bright-eyed, wide dreaming college student.

The particular sculpture is “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss” and it was created by Antonio Canova in the late 1700s. It is a scene from the story of Cupid and Psyche. This story came out of the latin novel Metamorphoses by Apuleius. The myth suggests that Psyche, the youngest and most beautiful daughter of a king and queen in Greece, was neglecting her prayers and offerings to the love goddess Venus. The goddess enlists Cupid to punish the girl, but upon seeing Psyche falls in love with her. Psyche’s sisters have already married, and her father suspects that the gods are angry with them. After consulting the oracle at Delphi, he is told that he will not have a human son-in-law, but instead a monster who will terrorize the world. This news causes the king to expose his daughter and leave her to die. The West Wind takes pity on the girl and picks her up. He deposits her at the edge of a grove, and outside a rich house. Upon entering the house, Psyche finds herself made a wife to a man that she is forbidden to look upon. Eventually she becomes pregnant.

After Cupid allows a visit from her sisters, Psyche is talked into discovering the identity of her husband. With the intent of looking upon and killing the monster that her sisters told her she married, she shines a light on him and finds that he is beautiful and not a monster at all. She is startled and pricks herself on one of Cupid’s arrows. He flees upon waking, and she is unable to follow. With the help of the wild god Pan, Psyche tries to find her lost love.

Though the course of her wanderings, she is confronts with various tasks from the goddess Venus. The final task takes her down into the underworld, and she is given a box that she is to take to Venus. It is supposed to restore beauty to the love goddess. However, upon returning to the world above the underworld, Psyche, like Pandora, becomes overcome with curiosity and opens the box.  She falls into a deep sleep. It is only because of Cupid, who returns to find her, that she is reawakened and able to deliver the box to Venus. Jupiter, king of the gods, decides to allow them to be married, and gives Psyche a drink to make her immortal.

I read and studied this story in my undergrad coursework, and loved it. Likewise, when I was shown the statue on a powerpoint in class, I longed to see it. It was my good fortune that I got my wish while living in Europe. The statue is located in the Louve in Paris.

Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T4i

Lens: 18-135 mm IS STM

Date: May 2013

Location: Paris, France

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“Psyche did not think the feeling running through her could exist, it was too powerful, too profound and pierced her soul in a way that was a beautiful agony.” ― Jasmine Dubroff

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