This is a chapter of Evergreen Stories by W. M. L. Hutchinson. It includes the following stories: King Midas and His Strange Adventures — Alcestis, the Noble Wife — The Real Helen — Cupid and Psyche — The Vision of Er — Circe, the Island Witch — Bellerophon, the Rider of Pegasus — How Theseus Slew the Minotaur — Odysseus in the Land of Shadows — Heracles and the Poisoned Robe | The Story of Pheidippides — The Story of Solon, Croesus, and Cyrus
Cupid and Psyche has the following chapters: 1. More Beautiful than Venus | 2. The Curse of Beauty | 3. The Enchanted Palace | 4. The Winged Monster | 5. Psyche’s Sisters | 6. A Plan Out of Envy | 7. Psyche’s Audacity | 8. Venus Finds Out about Cupid | 9. Psyche’s Wandering | 10. Psyche Surrenders to Venus | 11. Psyche’s Labors | 12. Descent to Hades | 13. Psyche’s Curiosity | 14. Cupid and Psyche’s Wedding
Now all this while, the Goddess Venus never doubted that her son had kept his promise, and that Psyche was miserably mated to some churl of low degree. For there was no more talk in the world about the new goddess, and all men worshipped the true Venus as of old. But it chanced that the same morning Cupid fled from Psyche, Venus went down from her palace in the isle of Cythera to bathe in the sea. And while she was bathing there came to her the white seagull, who is the greatest gossip and telltale of all birds that fly, and told her that her son was wounded almost to death by a terrible burn on his shoulder.
“But, saving your presence,” said the bird, “it seems to be his own fault, for it is commonly reported that he does nothing but dally with a vile woman on the western mountains. I would not tell you this —for I hate idle gossip— but that it concerns the honor of your name, which is too much slandered already, since ill-natured people do say you yourself are no better than the woman of your son’s choice.”
Then Venus began to cry, and said, “What, has my young Cupid got a sweetheart? And has she brought him into this dangerous plight? I pray you, kind and loyal bird, tell me who and what she is. Is she some nymph, or goddess — or perhaps one of the heavenly Muses, or one of my own guild of Graces?”
“My Lady,” answered the seagull, “I know not what she is; but this I know, that she is called Psyche.”
At that, Venus cried out indignantly, “What, is it that abominable creature who dared set up for my rival and usurped my honors? Fie upon the boy — does he think I am a go-between, and only sent him to the girl that he might make her his mistress?”
And forthwith she ran back to her house, where she found Cupid lying in an inner chamber and in great pain from his burn. For though the gods cannot die nor fall sick, they can be wounded; and then they suffer more keenly than mortals do, because their flesh is purer and more delicate.
But Venus was in too great a rage to feel the least pity for her son, and she began scolding him most furiously.
“You impudent, idle, good-for-nothing boy!” she cried. “How dared you play such a trick on your mother and sovereign lady? Did I not send you to punish my hated enemy? But instead of finding her some loathsome husband, you go courting her yourself — and intend to make the wretch my daughter-in-law, I suppose! Oh, you have a fine conceit of yourself, my lad, and think you may snap your fingers at your mother, because you are all the child she has or ever will have. Well, I have spoilt and pampered you ever since you were born, you thankless imp, and this is my reward! But you shall learn that I, who made you what you are, can unmake you — I will adopt one of my fair young priests as my son, and give him your wings, your torch, your bow, and arrows, since you dare turn them into weapons against me. Ha, ha, I will clip those gay wing feathers, and cut off those curls that I made more lustrous than gold — it will do my heart good to see the sorry figure you will be then, Master Cupid!”
So saying, Venus flung out of the chamber in a towering rage and locked the door after her. Now just then the goddesses Juno and Ceres came to visit her, and they asked what had happened to put her in such a passion.
“I think you know very well,” replied Venus, “and have come on purpose to condole with me on my son’s wicked behavior. I am ashamed to talk of it — but, if you would do me a kindness, pray help me to find a girl called Psyche, who has turned vagabond and is roaming about the world.”
Juno and Ceres had in truth heard the whole story; and as they much wished to keep friends with Cupid —whose arrows were feared by even the greatest gods— they began to make all the excuses they could for him.
Classicsness 🎙️ the podcast about Classics
Subscribe gratis on your favorite platform and get the new episodes pushed right to your device as soon as they’re published!
Right now, we’re telling myths for all audiences!
“Come, Lady Venus,” said Juno, “it is no such great crime, surely, for your son to fall in love. What else could you expect, now that he is grown up? Why, you seem to forget that he is no longer a child. At his age, it is only natural that his fancy should turn to a maiden — why should you be so offended and vow vengeance on her he loves? Let us entreat you to pardon him, and take him back to favor.”
“Pray do so, gentle Venus,” said Ceres, “and let young Cupid be happy with this bride he has chosen. It will be a strange thing indeed, and ill taken by gods and men, if you that sow the seed of love in every heart forbid the joys of it to your own son. What, must he be punished for practicing the sweet art that he learned from you, its sole mistress?”
But Venus was not to be pacified by either of them; she fancied they meant to affront her, and were secretly mocking at her injuries; so in sullen mood she broke off the talk, saying she must visit her temple in Cyprus. Which she did, and stayed there awhile nursing her wrath.
As for Cupid, he lay on his bed many days, tormented by his wound and grieving for the loss of Psyche, whom he loved as dearly as ever. His one comfort was, her two wicked sisters were already punished as they deserved. For the same hour he left her, he had flown to the eldest sister’s house and appeared to her in Psyche’s likeness, all pale and disheveled.
“What has happened, girl?” cried the eldest sister, astonished, “and how did you get here so quickly?”
“Alas, sister,” said the pretended Psyche, “I did as you bade me, but, when I brought the lamp to the bedside, I saw my husband was no serpent — it was Cupid himself that lay there asleep! I trembled so, that I spilled a drop of hot oil on his shoulder, and he awoke and saw the razor in my hand. ‘Out of my sight, murderess,’ he cried, in a terrible rage, ‘for I renounce and cast you off forever. I will take another wife, more worthy and far more beautiful than you, even your eldest sister. Go and tell her so, and bid her come to reign here in your stead.’ And straightway I was caught up by Zephyrus and wafted hither. Alas, alas, dear sister, what will become of me now? Unless you help me, I must beg my bread from door to door.”
“Yes, that you must,” said the eldest sister, “for I will have nothing to do with you, foolish and wicked girl. Fie on you, to think of murdering your own husband! Away and beg — but not here, or I will set the dogs on you.”
And she drove her seeming sister from the door with threats and curses. Then with all haste, she took ship to the West and climbed the mountain, and crying out, “Oh, Cupid, here is the bride meet for thee! Now, Zephyrus, receive thy mistress,” she flung herself down the precipice. But as no Zephyrus received her, she was instantly dashed in pieces.
Immediately afterward came the second sister and perished in like manner. For Cupid had appeared to her in the same guise and told her the same tale; whereupon she also drove away Psyche —as she thought— and hastened to the mountain, and leaped down.
And that was the end of these two wicked princesses.