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Ψυχή), “the soul,” occurs, in the later times of antiquity, as a personification of the human soul. Psyché was the youngest of the three daughters of a king, and excited by her beauty the jealousy and envy of Venus. In order to avenge herself, the goddess ordered Cupid or Eros to inspire Psyché with a love for the most contemptible of all men; but Cupid was so stricken with her beauty that he himself fell in love with her. He accordingly conveyed her to a charming spot, where, unseen and unknown, he visited her every night, and left her as soon as the day began to dawn. Psyché might have continued to enjoy this state of happiness if she had attended to the advice of her lover, who told her never to give way to her curiosity, or to inquire who he was. But her jealous sisters made her believe that in the darkness of night she was embracing some hideous monster, and accordingly once, while Cupid was asleep, she drew near to him with a lamp, and, to her amazement, beheld the most handsome and lovely of the gods. In her excitement of joy and fear, a drop of hot oil fell from her lamp upon his shoulder. This awoke Cupid, who censured her for her mistrust, and escaped. Psyché's happiness was now gone, and after attempting in vain to throw herself into a river, she wandered about from temple to temple, inquiring after her lover, and at length came to the palace of Venus. There her real sufferings began, for Venus retained her, treated her as a slave, and imposed upon her the hardest and most humiliating labours. Psyché would have perished under the weight of her sufferings, had not Cupid, who still loved her in secret, invisibly comforted and assisted her in her toils. With his aid she at last succeeded in overcoming the jealousy and hatred of Venus: she became immortal, and was united to him forever. Many have tried to see in this lovely story an idea of which it is said to be the mythical embodiment; that Psyché is the human soul, which is purified by passions and misfortunes, and is thus prepared for the enjoyment of true and pure happiness. The story, however, is only a variation of an IndoEuropean folk-tale found among many peoples. See Zingow, Psyche und Eros (1881). It forms an episode in the Metamorphoses of Apuleius (iv. 28- vi. 24), and is borrowed by him from a Greek original. This episode is separately edited by Jahn and Michaelis (3d ed. Leipzig, 1883). See Jahn in his Populäre Aufsätze (Bonn, 1868); and the article Apuleius. In works of art Psyche is represented as a maiden with the wings of a butterfly, along with Cupid in the different situations described in the allegory.

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