| Gods and Heroes|
|by Robert Edward Francillon|
|One of the best introductions to Greek mythology for children. Includes the stories of all the prominent gods and heroes, woven together into a continuous narrative, ending with a full treatment of the twelve labors of Hercules. Ages 8-12 |
LOVE AND THE SOUL; OR, THE STORY OF CUPID AND PSYCHE
HE fact was, that Jupiter himself had fallen in
love with the beautiful new goddess. But she
would have nothing to say to him: and so, just out of
anger and revenge, he ordered her to marry Vulcan,
because he was ugly, deformed, and always black with
working at his forges.
Altogether it was an unlucky day when Venus came
into the sky. Her beauty turned the heads of the gods,
and filled the goddesses with envy and jealousy. But
all that mattered nothing to her, for she had a magic
zone, or girdle, called "Cestus" in Latin: and whenever
she put it on she became so irresistibly charming
that everybody forgave her everything. Not only the
gods, but men also, became her lovers, her own favorite
among them all being Mars, the god of War—a cruel
and savage god, very unlike the rest, delighting in
battle and slaughter. Then, on earth, she tried her
best to make a very handsome young prince named
Adōnis fall in love with her.
But he—strange to say—cared nothing for her.
The only thing he cared for
 in the world was hunting: he scorned everything else,
Venus included. Still, in spite of his scorn for her,
she mourned for him miserably when he was killed by
a wild boar. She changed him into the flower called
Anemone, so that she might still find him upon earth:
though some people say her grief was such that Death
took pity on her, and allowed him to come to life again
for six months at a time every year. This might mean
that Adōnis is only another name for the beauty of the
earth, which comes to life for the six months of spring
and summer, and dies for the six months of autumn and
winter. For most of these stories have some sort of
Venus had a child, named Cupid, which means love.
You must often have seen pictures and statues of him—a
very beautiful boy, with wings, carrying a bow and
arrows. They were magic arrows. For if any man
was pricked by one of their points, he fell in love with
the first woman he saw: or a woman, in like manner,
with the first man. And as Cupid was exceedingly
mischievous, and fond of aiming his arrows at people
for his own amusement, the wrong women were always
falling in love with the wrong men, and the wrong men
with the wrong women: and so a great deal of fresh
trouble came into the world, as if there had not been
enough before, without the mischievous tricks of Cupid.
 Sometimes he went about blindfolded, shooting his
arrows about at random: and then, of course, the confusion
was worse than ever. It has been said that the
bandage over his eyes means that love is blind to faults.
But he does not always wear the bandage: and when
he does, I believe it is only when he does not choose to
Now in a certain city there lived a king and queen,
who had three beautiful daughters. The name of the
youngest was Psyche, and she was the most beautiful
of all. So beautiful and so charming was she that the
people worshiped her as a goddess, instead of Venus.
This made Venus very angry indeed, that a mortal girl
should receive the honor and worship due to the goddess
of Beauty. So, in her jealous wrath, she said to
"Do you see that girl yonder? I order you, as your
mother, to make her fall in love with the very meanest
of mankind—one so degraded that he cannot find his
equal in wretchedness throughout the whole wide
Psyche's elder sisters were both married to kings;
but she herself was so marvelously beautiful that no
mere mortal dared to ask for her in marriage. This
distressed the king, her father, greatly: for it was
thought dishonorable for a princess not to marry. So
he consulted the oracle of Apollo—an "oracle" being
 a place where a god's voice answered questions. And
the voice answered him thus:—
"On a cliff the maiden place:
Deck her as you deck the dead
None that is of mortal race
Shall so fair a maiden wed.
But a being dread and dire,
Feared by earth, by heaven abhorred,
Breathing venom, sword, and fire—
He shall be the lady's lord."
This answer made the king more unhappy than ever
at the thought of having to give his favorite daughter
to be devoured by some terrible monster. However,
the oracle had to be obeyed, and the whole city gave
itself up to mourning for many days. Then at last a
funeral procession set out to conduct the poor princess
to her doom. Her father and mother were distracted
with grief, and Psyche alone showed cheerfulness and
courage, doing all she could to comfort them, and to
make then resigned to the will of heaven.
When the procession reached the highest peak of a
neighboring mountain, it returned to the city, and
Psyche was left there all alone. There her courage left
her, and she threw herself upon the rock all trembling
and weeping. But suddenly, in the midst of her distress,
she was gently lifted up by the wind, and as
gently let down upon the soft turf of a secret valley in
the very heart of the hill.
 It was a very delightful place, and Psyche fell
pleasantly asleep. When she woke she saw a grove,
with a fountain of water as clear as crystal, and near
the fountain was a splendid palace, built of gold, cedar,
and ivory, and paved with precious stones. Psyche
approached it timidly, and presently found courage to
enter. The beauty of the chambers lured her on and
on, until at last she was fairly bewildered with admiration.
All the wealth and beauty of the world seemed
collected in this wonderful palace, and all without a
lock or a chain to guard them.
Suddenly, in the midst of her wonder, she heard a
musical voice, saying:—
"Lady, wonder not nor fear;
All is thine thou findest here.
On yon couch let slumber bless thee,
hands unseen shall bathe and dress thee,
Bring thee meat and pour thee wine—
Thine are we, and all is thine."
She looked round, but saw nobody. However, she saw
the couch, and, being very tired with wandering about
the palace and seeing so many wonders, lay down upon
it and soon fell asleep. When quite rested, she rose
and took a bath, being waited upon by invisible hands.
Then she saw dishes of all sorts of dainties, and cups of
wine, carried apparently without hands to a table, at
which, being by this time exceedingly hungry, she sat
 down and made a delicious meal, attended by voices for
servants. When she had finished eating, another voice
sang to an invisible harp, and this performance was
followed by a full chorus of such music as is only heard
in heaven. And so at last the darkness of night came
Then she heard a voice, different from all the rest,
whisper close in her ear:—
"I am your husband, Psyche, of whom the oracle
foretold. This my palace, with all its delight, is yours,
and I shall make you very happy. But you must obey
me in two things. You must never see your father or
your mother or your sisters again, and you must never
seek to see me at all. If you promise this, I swear to
you that no harm shall befall your kindred, and that
you shall be happy forever."
The whisper was strangely sweet and gentle for a
terrible monster's. Indeed, it was so loving and so
tender that she forgot even to tremble. It went to
her heart, and she could only whisper back:—
"I promise you."
Thenceforth Psyche lived in the palace, every day
bringing her fresh surprises and pleasures, the voices
keeping her company, and delighting her with their
marvelous music. And as soon as it became too dark
for her to see him, the lord of the palace, her husband,
 came to her and stayed with her till nearly daybreak,
until at last she forgot everything except how good he
was to her, and how much she had learned to love him.
It did not even trouble her that she had never seen
him, for she thought of nothing but pleasing him and
obeying his commands.
But one day Psyche's sisters, having heard of her
fate, and having come all the way from their husbands'
kingdoms to learn all about it, climbed together to the
top of the mountain-peak to see if they could find
any traces of her. Finding none, they wept and beat
their breasts till the rocks resounded with their cries.
Nay, their lamentations reached the palace itself; and
Psyche, who loved her sisters, ran, forgetful of her
promise, to the foot of the mountain, whence she saw
them above mourning for her in an agony of woe.
The sight of their grief was too much for Psyche:
it seemed so cruel that her sisters should mourn for her
as dead while all the while she was alive and happy.
Surely the husband who loved her so much did not
mean the promise to prevent her from putting their
hearts at ease. So she gave a command, and forthwith
the invisible hands lifted her sisters, and carried them
down safely into the secret valley.
Imagine their surprise! But imagine it still more
when their lost sister, after embracing them, led them
into her palace, showed them her treasures, entertained
 them with invisible concerts, and feasted them sumptuously.
"And the lord, your husband," asked the eldest sister
at last, "what manner of man may he be? And does
he use you well and make you happy?"
The sudden question took Psyche aback. It seemed
so strange to have to answer that she had never seen
the face of her husband—that she no more knew what
he was like than they. So, to avert their curiosity,
"He is an excellent husband and makes me very
happy indeed—a handsome young man, who has not
yet grown a beard: he spends his days in hunting
among the mountains, or no doubt you would have
seen him. . . . But it is time for us to part, my
sisters, or it will be dark before you get home."
So, loading them with jewels and golden ornaments,
she embraced them, and, calling the invisible hands, had
them conveyed safely back to the top of the mountain.
Whether the sisters had been honest in their mourning
for Psyche I cannot tell: though I think they
made more noise about it than people make who really
and truly grieve. Anyhow, they were now filled with
envy of Psyche's wealth and happiness.
"To think of my being married to a bald, miserly
old man," said the eldest sister on their way home,
"while that minx has a handsome young husband who
 squanders untold wealth upon her! And how proud
she has grown! Why, she spoke to us as if we were
"And to think," said the second sister, "of my
being married to a gouty cripple! You may take
things patiently, sister, and put up with her airs:
but not I. I propose that we hit on some plan to
take down her pride."
So they hid the presents that Psyche had given them,
redoubled their cries and groans, told their father and
mother that Psyche had certainly been devoured, and
returned to their own kingdoms for a while. But only
for a while. Having arranged a plan, they returned to
the top of the mountain: and in such a hurry were
they to revisit Psyche that they leapt into the valley
and would have come down with broken necks had
not a passing breeze, who recognized them as Psyche's
sisters, caught them and made their fall easy. Psyche
could not help being glad to see them again, for she
loved them very dearly, and, in spite of her happiness,
hungered for news from home.
After she had entertained them as before:—
"By the way," asked the eldest sister, "the lord,
your husband—what manner of man is he? You
told us; but I have forgotten."
And so had poor Psyche forgotten what she had told
them. So she said, this time:—
 "He is a middle-aged man, with a big beard, and a
few gray hairs sprinkled here and there. He is a merchant,
and travels into distant countries, or no doubt
he would have been here to give you welcome."
"Oh, you poor innocent!" said the sister. "As if
he could be young and middle-aged, bearded and beardless,
a merchant and a hunter! It's plain you've never
seen that husband of yours, and no wonder he wouldn't
let you. For we have—we, who spend our lives in
watching over your interests," she went on, squeezing
out a hypocritical tear. "Your husband is an enormous
dragon, with many folds and coils, a neck swollen with
poison, and huge gaping jaws. Think of the oracle,
you poor, dear, deluded girl. He is only feeding you
up with delicacies in order to eat you. Well—if you
like the prospect, we have done our duty. And when
you are eaten up, you won't be able to say we didn't
tell you so."
Psyche was aghast with dismay. She trusted her
sisters: there was the oracle: and it was certainly
mysterious that her husband had never allowed her
to look upon him.
"Oh! what shall I do?" she cried.
"Do? Why, there's only one thing to do. We have
thought it all out for you. Here is a lamp. Light
it and hide it under a piece of tapestry. When the
monster sleeps, uncover the lamp, and throw the light
 full upon him. Then take this knife, which has been
well sharpened, and sever his head from his body.
Thus the world will be freed from a curse, and you
will be saved."
Thereupon they left her. And how shall Psyche's
feelings be described? Was it possible she was the
wife of a horrible dragon? Promise or no promise,
that she must know. So she hid the lighted lamp,
as directed. The night came and her husband with
it. When he had fallen into a deep sleep, Psyche,
with naked feet, crept noiselessly across the floor, drew
off the tapestry, and flooded the room with light, and
A dragon? No—Cupid himself, asleep in all his
beauty, with folded wings, and his bow and arrows by
She hung over him in love and wonder. Alas! a
drop of oil from the lamp fell upon him, and scalded
his shoulder. He woke, cast a look of reproach and
sorrow upon poor faithless Psyche, seized his bow and
arrows, spread his wings, and flew. She, overwhelmed
with penitence for her disobedience and distrust, and
desperate at the thought of losing him, clung with
both hands to one of his feet, and was thus carried
through the window and far away through the night
till her strength failed her and she fell fainting to the
 When she came to her senses, she found herself on
the bank of a river, and, in her despair, threw herself
into the stream. But the river took pity on her, and
carried her into a bed of reeds, to whom the god Pan
was giving a music-lesson. Pan told her how foolish
she was to think she could mend matters by killing
herself, and advised patience, which was none the worse
counsel for being easy to preach and difficult to follow.
However, he was very kind, so she thanked him, and
wandered out into the world, hoping that she might
meet Cupid some day, and beg him to forgive her.
Meanwhile Cupid lay tossing and groaning in his bed
in his mother's palace, for his scalded shoulder gave
him great pain. Venus wondered what could possibly
have happened, for all her questioning could get nothing
from him but moans. And maybe she would never
have known, had not a sea-gull come to her with a
whole budget of scandal: among the rest, how Cupid
was carrying on a love affair with a mortal. And when
the gull told her that the girl's name was said to be
Psyche, the rage of the goddess knew no bounds. She
hurried to Cupid's bedside, and gave him such a scolding
that he must have forgotten the pain of the scald.
Then she went, still storming, to Juno, and demanded
the instant arrest and punishment of Psyche. From
Juno she went to Jupiter himself, who put Mercury at
 her service. Mercury received from her a little book
in which was written the name and description of
Psyche, and with this he went about the world, proclaiming
that whoever should seize a certain princess of
that name, an escaped handmaid of Venus, should
receive seven kisses from the goddess herself for a
Knowing nothing of all this, Psyche wandered on
and on till she saw a temple on the top of a mountain.
She thought it might be the dwelling of Cupid, so she
climbed up to it and found it littered with sheaves of
corn, bound and unbound, scythes, sickles, and such
things, all lying about in confusion. Shocked at finding
a temple in such a state, she set to work to put
everything in order. She was in the middle of her
work, when a beautiful lady appeared before her,
crowned with a wreath of wheat ears, whom she knew
to be Ceres, the goddess of harvest.
"Who are you?" said the goddess graciously, "who
work so hard to put the floor of my house in order?"
"Psyche," said she; "and I implore you, great goddess,
to grant me shelter for a few days. I will serve
you faithfully and well."
But when the goddess heard the name of Psyche, her
face changed. "Willingly would I shelter you," said
she. "But I dare not shelter one whom the wrath of
Venus is following through earth and air. Begone!
 and be thankful that I do not keep you as a prisoner.
Not even I dare offend Venus. My poor girl! I am
sorry for you. But begone!"
Turned away by the kindest of all the goddesses,
Psyche wandered on and on till she came to another
temple in a gloomy valley, which proved to be the
temple of Juno, to whom Psyche, falling on her knees
before the alter, prayed for succour. But Juno, appearing
to her, said:—
"Willingly would I help you; but though I am the
Queen of Heaven, I must obey the law. Venus claims
you as her handmaid, and nobody may give protection
to a fugitive slave. Be thankful that I do not deliver
you to your mistress. I pity you; but begone!"
So not even the greatest of all the goddesses could
help her against the vengeance of Venus. Again she
wandered on and on, helpless and despairing, till one
of the servants of Venus met her and knew her. Seizing
Psyche by the hair, she dragged her into the presence
of the terribly beautiful goddess, who broke into a laugh
of cruel triumph when she found her rival in her power.
Venus delivered her over to her torturers, Anguish and
Sorrow. They, having scourged and tormented her,
brought her again before Venus, who flew at her like a
fury, as if she would tear her limb from limb.
"You ugly slave!" said Venus, as soon as she
recovered breath; "you want a lover, do you? Well,
 perhaps you may get one if you know how to drudge;
you certainly won't any other way. I'll give you a
So she took wheat, barley, millet, poppy seed, vetches,
lentils, and beans, mixed them up together, and said:—
"Sort out every seed into its proper heap before
evening. If you can do that, you shall not be scourged
Psyche sat down before her task in silent despair,
crushed in heart, and aching in every limb. She could
only pray that death would come to her before nightfall;
for she could not bear the thought of those cruel
scourges. And so she sat motionless until a little
white ant, taking more pity on her than Ceres or Juno,
called together his whole tribe, who sorted out the
heap, grain by grain, into proper parcels, in no time,
and then ran away.
Judge of the surprise of Venus when she found the
work done. "Somebody has helped you!" said she.
But she could not order her to be scourged, the work
being done; so she threw her a piece of coarse bread
for supper, and had her shut up in a wretched shed till
In the morning Venus came to her again. "Do you
see yonder sheep, with golden fleeces, wandering without
a shepherd? Go and bring me a piece of their
wool, that you may escape another scourging."
 Psyche set out, not to get the wool, but to drown
herself in the river that ran along the meadow where
the sheep were feeding. She was about to leap into
the water, when one of the reeds spoke to her, and
"Pollute not these pure waters by thy death, nor yet
venture to approach yonder sheep during the heat of
the sun; for they are fierce and savage, and they will
slay thee with their horns. But when they are resting
towards evening, creep into the meadow, and collect
the wool that has clung to the bushes."
Thus Psyche brought to Venus a whole lapful of
golden wool. "Somebody has helped you!" again said
the goddess, angrily. But she had to keep her word.
Still she could not bring herself to believe that
Psyche could have performed these tasks unaided. She
strongly suspected Cupid, though she kept him closely
shut up in his chamber, making believe that his scalded
shoulder still wanted careful nursing, for fear lest he
might come across Psyche. She was quite sure he had
never left his chamber for a moment. Nevertheless
she resolved to send Psyche next time where not Love
himself could follow or help her.
"Do you see yonder mountain-peak?" she said to
her next morning. "From that peak falls a black
fountain, as cold as ice. Take this urn, fill it with the
cold back water, and bring it to me."
 Psyche started off at once for the mountain-peak,
meaning to throw herself from it, and so bring her
miseries to an end. But it was not so easy to reach the
top as she had hoped. The black fountain fell headlong
from the middle of a terrible rock into a still more dark
and terrible ravine, from which fierce and horrible
dragons stretched up their long necks to guard the
waters; and the roar of the water as it fell was this—"Begone,
In the midst of her terror, an eagle came flying overhead,
and called out to her:—
"Do not touch the water: this is the spring of the
Styx, that sacred and dreadful river by whom the gods
swear. Give me your urn."
So, swooping down, he took the urn in his talons,
and flew with it through the gaping jaws of the dragons
so swiftly that they had not time to close upon him, or
to pierce him with their fiery tongues. Thus he reached
the water, filled the urn, and flew back with it to
Psyche, who brought it to Venus just as she had been
Venus was more enraged than ever; but this time
she hid her anger with a smile. "I see there is nothing
too hard for you," she said—"nothing. So do no one
little service before we make friends. Nobody else
could do it; but then one who is clever enough to steal
the waters of the Styx can do everything. You see I
 have grown pale and thin with anxiety about my poor
boy. Go as quickly as you can to the palace of King
Pluto, and ask to see the Lady Proserpine. When you
see her, say to her, 'Madam, Venus requests you to
lend her a little of your beauty till to-morrow morning.'
Here is a casket to bring it in; and be quick with your
Then indeed did Psyche give herself up for lost.
For she knew what you have read in the story of the
Gods and the Giants—that Pluto was the King of
Hades, that underground world of ghosts and spirits
where men and women go when they die. And of this
world of Hades the Lady Proserpine was queen.
Thinking that the shortest way to the world below
was the best, she went to the top of a high tower,
meaning to hurl herself out of life headlong. But the
"Pause! for know that from the world where you
are going none ever return. There is only one path
by which you can reach Pluto's palace and come back
again: and that path I will tell you. Listen carefully
to all I say. Near to the city of Lacedæmon is a hill
called Tænărus. In the hill is hidden a cavern which
you must find; and from this cavern a path, which
no mortal has yet trodden, runs straight into the hill.
Take the path, but provide yourself first with these
things: two pieces of barley-bread sopped in
honey—  one in each hand—and two pieces of money in your
mouth. If anybody accosts you on the way, pass him
by in silence. Give nothing to anybody with your
hand. Show no pity. Help nobody. Taste nothing
but dry bread, and open not the box you carry; for
Venus knows you to be pitiful and helpful, and a
little inquisitive as well, and will set traps for you
to fall into. Therefore, be wise, and trust to nothing
you see in the world of dreams and shadows. If you
follow my directions, you may go and return in safety;
if you fail in the least of them, you are a lost soul."
Psyche set off at once to the city of Lacedæmon,
and, with a honey-sop in each hand and two silver
coins in her mouth, sought for the cavern in the hill.
She found it at last, and started along the path, blacker
than night, which wound downwards into the heart of
the earth. After she had traveled many hours, the
path became illuminated with a pale twilight, by which
she could just manage to see—a strange sort of half-light,
such as one never sees above ground. It seemed
to Psyche as if the path would never end. At last she
saw figures approaching her in the distance; and these, as
they approached, proved to be a lame man driving a lame
ass laden with wood, which was slipping from its cords.
"Lady," said the lame man, "you see I am weak
and helpless; help me to tie up my wood again so that
it may not fall."
 Psyche was just about to lay down her honey-sops
and help him, when she remembered the tower's warning,
and passed him by without a word.
On she went until she came to the bank of a broad
river with water as black as ink; and just where the
path ran down to the water was a ferry-boat, in which
sat a very old man naked to the waist, and holding an
oar. Psyche stepped into the boat, and the old man,
in dead silence, pushed off, and began to row heavily
across the black and sluggish stream. When the boat
reached the middle, she looked down, and saw a skinny
hand raise itself slowly out of the water. Then she
perceived that the hand belonged to a corpse-like form
floating half under the black ooze, which, in a hollow
voice, thus besought her:—
"Lady, for pity's sake take me into your boat, that
I may reach the other side. Else must I float here
between life and death forever."
Psyche was about to bid the ferryman take the poor,
half-dead creature into the boat, when she remembered
the tower's warning against pity, and let the body
Arrived at the other side, the ferryman held out his
hand for his fee. Psyche was about to take one of the
coins from her mouth, when she suddenly remembered
the tower's warning to give nothing to anybody with
her hand. So, bringing one of the coins between her
 teeth, she dropped it into the open palm of the ferryman,
and went her way.
A little farther on she came upon some old women
"Lady," said the eldest, "we are old, and it is dark,
and our eyes are dim, and we have much to do before
nightfall. Help us with our web, we pray you."
Psyche was about to comply, when she remembered
the tower's warning against giving help, and passed on.
Still on and on she went until she reached a huge
palace built of black marble, which she knew at once
to be the abode of Pluto and Proserpine. But how was
she to enter? For on the threshold stood a monstrous
dog, with three heads and six flaming eyes, barking
thunderously, and with horrible yawning jaws. This
was the dog Cerberus, who never sleeps, and guards
the palace of Pluto night and day. There was only
one chance of passing him, and Psyche took it. She
threw him one of her honey-sops, and ran past him
while he was swallowing it down.
In the hall beyond the threshold sat Proserpine,
Queen of Hades, and goddess of the Underworld,
dark and beautiful, and crowned with white poppies
and stars, with a two-pronged scepter in her hand.
She received Psyche kindly, made her sit down on a
cushion beside her, and bade the attendants bring meat,
fruit, and wine. Psyche, hungry and thirsty after her
 long journey, was about to eat, when she remembered
the tower's warning, and refreshed herself with a little
dry bread only. Then rising, she said to Proserpine:—
"Madam, Venus requests you to lend her a little of
your beauty till to-morrow morning, and here is a
casket for me to carry it in."
"With pleasure," said Proserpine, taking the casket,
opening it, breathing into it, closing it again, and
returning it is Psyche, who, having performed her
errand, departed reverently.
She got past Cerberus by throwing him her other
sop, and gave the ferryman her other piece of money to
row her back across the river. And so, without further
peril or adventure, she reached the cavern in the hill,
and the sunshine, and the broad light of day, with the
casketful of beauty safe in her hand.
Then a great curiosity came upon her to know what
this beauty of the Underworld might be—beauty so
great that even Venus desired it to add to her charms.
At last Psyche's curiosity grew so strong that she could
withstand it no longer, and the tower's last warning
was forgotten. What harm could a single glimpse do?
So, first timidly, then more boldly, she raised the lid of
the casket. And from the casket into which Proserpine
had breathed there came forth a deep sleep, which fell
over Psyche, so that first she felt faint, then her blood
turned dull and cold, and the color left her cheeks, then
 her heart stopped, and then her breath,—for the Sleep
of Death had come upon her, and she lay in the sunshine,
pale and cold. For Death is the beauty of
Cupid, wearied out of patience by being kept prisoner
in his chamber on account of a trifling hurt that no
longer pained him, and loving his lost Psyche as much
as ever, thought and thought how he might escape from
the tiresome watchfulness of his mother. And it happened
at last that the nurse on duty threw open the
window for a moment to let in a breath of air. That
moment was enough for Cupid: spreading his wings,
he was through the window and away before the nurse
could tell him from a bird. His wings had grown the
stronger from their long rest, and he reveled in the
freedom of the sunshine and the open air. Never had
life felt so full of joy. Ah, if he could only find
Psyche, not his mother herself should part them any
more! And surely he would find her, for what cannot
Love find or do?
He fled fast to the palace in the secret valley, but
she was not there. There was scarce a corner of the
world where he did not fly, in less time than it would
take the very swiftest of birds. And at last—
He found her; and his wings lost their strength, and
his heart melted for sorrow when he saw her stretched
 in the Sleep of Death upon the hillside—beautiful
still, but with the beauty of Proserpine. The fatal
casket lay open beside her, so he knew what had
befallen. "Alas!" he thought, "if I had not flown
from her in my anger she would not have died." He
clasped her in his arms; he kissed her lips with enough
love to wake the dead, if such a thing could be.
And such a thing could be—such a thing was! For
at the kiss of Love the Sleep of Death began to slowly
pass away. Back came the color to her lips and cheeks;
her heart fluttered and beat; she breathed; she opened
her eyes. And then she woke in his arms, glad and
This is the story of Cupid and Psyche, of which
there is nothing more to tell except that Psyche's
troubles had a very happy and glorious ending indeed.
For Jupiter, to make her a fitting wife for Cupid,
received her into heaven, and on her arrival gave her
with his own hands a goblet of nectar to drink—the
wine of the gods, which makes all who taste of it
immortal. Even Venus became reconciled to her, and
the wedding-feast of Cupid and Psyche is one of the
most famous festivals in the whole history of the skies.
I said a little way back that most of these stories
have some sort of meaning, and people have found more
meaning in the story of Psyche than in most of them.
 "Psyche" is the Greek for "soul," and I have already
told you that "Cupid" means "love." So the story
may show how the soul of man is loved by heaven; but
how it has to pass through many sufferings and trials,
and at last through death, before it reaches immortal
"Psyche" also means "butterfly," and Psyche herself,
after she was received into heaven, always appears
in pictures with a butterfly's wings. It seems curious
at first that the same word means "soul" and "butterfly";
but it is not so curious when one thinks a little
of the story. Just as the caterpillar that crawls on the
earth seems to die when it becomes a chrysalis and then
rises again as a winged butterfly, so man, bound down
to earth like a caterpillar, seems to die, and then lives
again, only changed.
In some very old pictures you may see a butterfly
flying out from between a man's lips. That means that
he is dying, and that his "Psyche," his "soul" or
"butterfly," is leaving him.
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