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Thread: Marriage of Cupid and Psyche : the Golden ***

  1. #1
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    Question Marriage of Cupid and Psyche : the Golden ***

    Hello,

    I was wonder what you all thought of the story of Cupid and Psyche, presented in the book the Golden ***. Specifically, what are your views on the final scene, in which Jupiter gives permission to Cupid to marry Psyche?

    Here is an extract from that scene for reference:

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Cupid, with devouring passion of love for Psyche, but fearful of the anger of his mother, accepts the necessity of desperate measures. With his rapid wings, he pierces the sky, going to present his request to Jupiter, and plead his case before him.

    The master of gods softly pinches his small cheeks, attracts them close to his lips, kisses them, and says:

    My son, you hardly respected, the regulator of the elements, and you regularly made me the target of your arrows. You compromised me in I don’t know how many romances with mortals.

    Despite the laws, notably the law of Julia which regulates marriages by forbidding adultery, you have loaded my conscience as well as my reputation, with many scandalous adulteries. Flame, serpent, bird, wild animals, and domestic animals: it is a disgusting metamorphosis where you stifled the majesty of my traits.


    ‘Having spoken thus, he ordered Mercury to call all the gods at once to an assembly, and to announce that any not present at the divine gathering would suffer a penal fine of ten thousand sesterces; by which threat the heavenly auditorium was filled at once and Jupiter, tall and sitting on his lofty throne, uttered as follows :
    ‘Gods inscribed in the roll of the Muses, surely all of you know that I have brought up the youth you see before you with my own hands. I have thought it right that the hot impulses of his early youth should be restrained by some kind of curb; it is enough that he has been defamed in daily stories, on account of adulteries and all kinds of debaucheries. All such opportunity must be removed, and the licentiousness of boyhood must be tied down by the fetters of marriage. He chose a girl and robbed her of her virginity : let him hold her and possess her, and embracing Psyche let him always enjoy his love.’ And to Venus, facing her, he said : ‘And you, daughter, do not be troubled or have any fear for your great lineage and status as the result of a marriage with a mortal. I will now make this marriage not an unequal one but legal and in accordance with civil law’. And at once he ordered Psyche to be put into custody by Mercury and escorted to heaven. Offering her a cup of ambrosia, he said ‘Take it, Psyche, and be immortal, and Cupid will never depart from your embrace, but this marriage of yours will be for ever’.
    ‘And there was no delay before an abundant wedding-dinner was served. The bridegroom reclined on the top couch, embracing Psyche in his lap. Likewise Jupiter too with his Juno, and then all the gods in order. Then the cup of nectar, the wine of the gods, was served to Jupiter by his own cup-bearer, that boy from the country, and to the rest by Bacchus, while Vulcan cooked the dinner; the Hours made everything crimson with roses and other flowers, the Graces scattered balsam, the Muses, too, made tuneful song resound. Apollo sang to the lyre, while Venus came in to the rhythm of the sweet music and danced in all her beauty, having set up the show to her own taste in the following way, so that the Muses for their part sang the chorus, while a Satyr blew on the tibiae and a small Pan sang to the pan-pipes. Thus Psyche duly passed into the hand of Cupid, and there was born to them in childbirth in due time a daughter, whom we call Pleasure.

    ----------------------------------------

    Honestly, I don't know what to think of it. Why does Jupiter speak so negatively about marriage - and yet celebrate it? Why are the women in this myth only revered for their appearances? Is this extract some how a parallel to the larger story at hand?

    Personally.. I do not see why so many people regard this tale as a beautiful love story. To me it seems like quite the contrary. Psyche starts the tale having to accept sex with someone she does not even know. When she demands him to reveal his identity, she is punished. How can people applaud a story like this?

    What do you think?
    Last edited by Snivellus; 12-12-2010 at 11:43 AM. Reason: Sorry for the bad English, it is not my first language

  2. #2
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snivellus View Post
    Why does Jupiter speak so negatively about marriage - and yet celebrate it? Why are the women in this myth only revered for their appearances? Is this extract some how a parallel to the larger story at hand?

    Personally.. I do not see why so many people regard this tale as a beautiful love story. To me it seems like quite the contrary. Psyche starts the tale having to accept sex with someone she does not even know. When she demands him to reveal his identity, she is punished. How can people applaud a story like this?
    Where do you see Jupiter speaking badly about marriage? He actually likes marriage. In the first part of the excerpt, he actually scolds Cupid for encouraging adultery. Since Jupiter was notorious for his romances with human women, he blames Cupid for embarrassing him (shooting him with love arrows, to make him fall in love with mortal women).

    Women are not revered only for their appearances here. Yes, Psyche is beautiful, but in order for the story to work, she MUST be. Otherwise, how could she rival Venus? It's Venus' jealousy that begins sets the entire story into motion. If you've read the story, you know Psyche is much more celebrated for qualities other than her beauty - her innocence (vs. her evil sisters), her piety (for willing sacrificing herself to the dragon in the beginning, to save her father's kingdom), and her perseverance (in completing Venus' three tasks).

    Personally, I don't read this story as a love story; at least, I don't think that's why the story is valuable. I see it more as Psyche's journey of finding her identity, proving herself, so that in the end she is worthy of becoming a goddess. The Psyche and Cupid story has also become a staple in psychoanalysis. If you're interested in that theory, check out Erich Neumann's book.
    Ecce quam bonum et jocundum, habitares libros in unum!
    ~Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

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    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    The overt message is one of The Law asserting itself through Jupiter. But it is also a Roman satire, a comedy. The speech of Jupiter is contary to his own past actions.
    It is also a commentary on Roman hypocrasy, Claiming to revere marriage, whilst indulging in adultery. I think the pantheon of the gods here, represent the Senate and leaders of Rome at that time.

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