The story of Cupid and Psyche is one that has come to represent the hardship of love, the desire we have for our significant other, and shows us the passion we must put into relationships to make them last. The story demonstrates that true love can surpass anything, and that working at being with the person you love does pay off. When we interpret the story in a modern sense, we are able to look past the literal story and explore the themes and ideas expressed through the characters. In the instance of Cupid and Psyche, the message that can be taken is that of jealousy: how it interacts with a relationship and can deal a tough blow.
For those unfamiliar with the story of Cupid and Psyche, it follows Psyche as she is born as the most beautiful woman in the world. Jealous of her beauty, Venus orders her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a hideous beast. Just as when Cupid is about to shoot his arrow into Psyche, he realises just how beautiful she is. Instead of shooting the arrow into Psyche, he shoots the arrow into himself. Psyche is told by a voice to go and meet her husband, and when she obeys, is never allowed to see his face. One night, after being with this person for many weeks, she uses a lamp to see who he is. Her lover is Cupid, and not the disgusting beast she was expecting. Venus, angry that Cupid and Psyche have fallen in love, forces Psyche to complete three impossible tasks if she ever wants to see Cupid again. Against all odds, Psyche passes the tests and is allowed to see Cupid. The two are happily married and have a child, who they name Voluptas, meaning pleasure.
This classic Roman myth has been interpreted as an allegory for love and the hardships we go through in an effort to achieve ever-lasting love and companionship. It can also prove useful when thinking about our own current intimate relationships.
Venus’ jealousy and her powers to banish Psyche might today be translated into a close friend’s jealousy of a relationship they want, but cannot have. We can view Venus perhaps as an irritated onlooker, feeling contempt about her own lack of love. This can make us question how we go about dealing with friends who try to meddle in our own relationships. Yes, jealousy exists, it is a normal part of the human experience. But to what extent do we allow someone else to interfere in our relationships? There are countless cases of two people fighting over a third person, wishing they would be their ‘one-and-only’. This fighting can then raise issues about how healthy the relationship is, and how well it can be sustained moving forward after major fights.
If we follow the story of Cupid and Psyche, we should assume that the two people who truly love each other will find a way to be together, and their relationship will be wholesome and happy.
Allegories, such as Cupid and Psyche, offer us the opportunity to consider the hidden meanings within such stories and reflect on our own lives. The story invites the reader to consider the characters and their story lines, which then allows us to apply them to our own lives.
In no way can the story of Cupid and Psyche be applicable to every love story. In real life, relationships are far more intricate and require more than just battling through impossible tasks to be with your true love. But the message of hard work and perseverance is still important to consider in a relationship. Failure to prove to your significant other how much you love them may be all the invitation ‘Venus’ needs to take them from you.
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