Eros and Psyche: Their separation led to the first love strike
Psyche, whose name means soul in Greek was neither a goddess nor a divine creature of mythology. She was just a woman, but an extraordinary woman. Her attractiveness was such that she rivaled even Aphrodite the very goddess of beauty. This led her to trouble so serious that more than one tales may recount them.
The tale of why love went on strike and how painful this proved for all:
Greek gods, although great and mighty shared all the lesser feelings and desires of mortals. Hera, first amongst them, gave frequent evidence that not even divinity is cure for jealousy. Aphrodite was a close second in this respect. She could not stand the idea that another being, immortal or else, might surpass her in beauty. In her eyes the beauty of Psyche was a “sin”. As such it required a punishment because no one may antagonize gods with impunity. The punishment she planned was for Psyche to fall in love with a vile creature. She demanded Eros, her son, to approach Psyche in her sleep and shoot her with his golden arrow. The rest was up to Aphrodite. It was a vicious plan that might have succeeded but- what joy- eventually did not.
That night, Eros approached her while she was sleeping. He slowly came close to her and readied his arrow set to scratch her shoulder, and then everything went wrong. She felt his presence and swiftly turned on her lantern looking him straight in the eyes despite his invisibility. Eros in surprise moved backwards and unintentionally scratched his own hand with his arrow. He found himself falling in love for Psyche by his own spell… Realizing his error and acting as an obedient Greek son he fled back to heavens and reported what had happened to his mother. Aphrodite angry enraged, placed a curse on Psyche that would keep her from meeting any suitable husband ever. Love-struck Eros could not stand the idea of his precious Psyche’s endless suffering and so played his final card. He went on a strike… For months no man would fall in love, mate, or marry. Earth was slowly growing old. The blame fell on Aphrodite who had no choice but to step back and give in to Eros’s demand: to possess Psyche. So Eros returned to his duties immediately. Indeed love will always prevail, even if it has to resort to excess for that.
The tale of how bitterly you come to regret being jealous of your sister:
Psyche’s parents realized that no man desired to marry their beautiful daughter, and consulted an oracle. The oracle instructed them to leave her on the nearest mountain top for she was too beautiful to be possessed by a human. They followed the oracle’s advice and as the oracle foresaw, Zephyrus the west wind, swept Psyche and carried her up to a distant palace, where Eros married her. However she did not know it was Eros she married because it was dark and Eros demanded his identity to remain secret. She was blissful until jealousy once again appears, this time in the eyes of her two sisters. Her jealous sisters warn her that her husband is no man or god but a serpent that will devour her and her unborn child as soon as he gets the chance. They instructed her to wait until he is asleep and then slay him with a dagger. Psyche unfortunately followed their advice and waited until Eros fell asleep. Myth is not without a hint of irony... She accidentally scratched her own arm with his golden arrow and instantly fell in love with him. Eros betrayed by her disbelief flew away leaving her in despair. Psyche of course took revenge on both her sisters. She secretly told each one what really happened and that Eros in fact wished for them to be his wives. Both vain sisters run to the mountain top and willingly jumped to their death, waiting to be swept away and carried by Zephyrus to Eros palace, but to no avail.
The tale of how blissful animals may prove to people in despair:
Psyche searches in vain for her lover until she decides to go to the temple of Aphrodite to beg for her help. Of course Aphrodite had little interest in aiding Psyche she seized this golden opportunity to lead her to her death. She agreed to help her find Eros provided she fulfilled some tasks for her, tasks that were impossible for any human to accomplish. But how about animals…
The first task she gave her was to separate by kind, all the grains in a large basket before nightfall. She was bound to fail, however an ant took pity on her and helped her with its companions separate all the grains. Aphrodite then decided to ask for something more perilous from Psyche. She demanded Psyche to find a field where golden sheep graze, and bring her back some of the wool. This time a river god warns her that the sheep are dangerous and hints that she should wait until they are fast asleep in the shade and then pick the wool that sticks to the barks and bushes. When Psyche fulfilled this task as well Aphrodite asked for some water from a pond protected by serpents, but this time an eagle aided her to her success.
Aphrodite’s final request however was a sure fail, she asked Psyche to go to the underworld and ask Persephone the queen of the underworld to place a bit of her beauty in a box and bring it back to her, because she has been losing her divine splendor because of laboring her son. She knew that there is no chance Psyche will ever manage to go to the underworld and make it back alive. And even if she does she will be tempted to open that box, and it will not be divine beauty she will find inside but eternal sleep. Psyche again aided by elements of nature makes it to the underworld and comes back alive, but vanity throws her in Aphrodite’s final trap. She opened the box and infernal sleeps arose from the box and overcame her. Eros who has forgiven her watches her dying and so descents from heavens and revives her with a kiss, he wipes the sleep away from her lips and places it back into the box. Eros then expresses his love for Psyche to Zeus, who decides to grant him the favor of marrying her and brings her to mount Olympus were she is offered ambrosia, and becomes a goddess herself. Who said ancient myths don’t have happy endings?
Cassandra: The prophet of bad tidings
Echo and Narcissus: A tale of love, lust and desperation
Cassandra, whose name became a synonym of prophet of bad tidings, was the fourth and most beautiful daughter of Priam, the king of Troy.
Harmonia's necklace: The goddess of harmony and unity
Echo drama begins later when she falls in love with Narcissus, the handsome but vain son of the Nymph Liriope of Thespia. Echo would follow him everywhere longing to address him but would be unable to speak.
Icarus: The sky was not meant for men
Harmonia in Greek mythology is the goddess of harmony and unity, the exact opposite of Eris. She is the patron goddess of the love that unites all people, the embodiment of order and civic unity.
Oedipus: Living a Freudian nightmare
Icarus was the son of Daedalus, the most talented Athenian craftsman of his time.
Oedipus ( swollen-footed) was the son of Laios and Iokaste, king and queen of Thebes.