"The Myth of Eros and Psyche: Part 2" by Katherine Breeher
Her two older sisters were taken with envy the moment the West Wind delivered them to Eros’ illustrious palace. Psyche made dinner for them and they dined together. Naïve Psyche was too overcome with joy to see the disdain swimming in her sisters’ eyes.
Heated with jealousy, Psyche’s sisters knew what they had to do.
So they began to ask Psyche questions about her suitor. She did not reveal his real name,
knowing that they wouldn’t believe it was really Eros regardless. But when she mentioned the
fact that she’d never seen him fully in the light, her sisters pounced.
“Why is he hiding himself?”
“He has taken you away from your home and lulled you into submission with promises of
“He must be a monster! Why else would he conceal his face?”
“He’ll devour you and the children you bear for him, Psyche!”
Psyche’s love for Eros was strong, but her sisters’ words penetrated her mind and planted seeds of anxiety and doubt. What if they were right? What reason did she have to trust him anyway?
After her sisters left, Psyche confessed to Eros her newfound doubts.
“Once we are wed, we can live happily together in the light,” Eros promised. “Trust me, sweet dove. I have not lied to you. You are the one thing, mortal or immortal, who knows me the most. I would never betray you.”
Psyche felt foolish for doubting him. But she woke up from a terrible nightmare later that night in which she snuck into Eros’ room in the daylight and saw him to be a horrible, twisted serpent with horns and wings, looking much like the figure of evil.
Panic rose in her chest. Eros was not beside her in bed when she awoke. She picked up the oil lamp off her bedside table and followed the route she’d memorized to Eros’ room. With shaking hands, she opened the door.
In the shadows cast by the faint oil lamp, she saw his figure under the sheets. From the sound of his breathing, Psyche knew Eros was sleeping.
Just one peek was all she needed. He’d never have to know and her mind would be eased. Her curiosity was far too strong to resist. As silent as the grave, Psyche crept to Eros’ bedside and held the oil lamp above his chest.
His gorgeous face shone in the light. He was the most breathtaking sight she’d ever beheld. His dark olive skin. Thick, curly, jet-black hair. Facial features looking like they’d been chiseled by the gods. Psyche was so stunned to see her lover’s face for the first time that the oil lamp slipped out of her trembling hands.
Hot oil burned Eros’ chest and face. He woke up with a start and cried out in pain. Psyche leapt up, shocked at what she had done.
“You didn’t trust me!” Eros wailed, clutching at his face and writhing in pain from the burn.
“How could you betray me?”
She turned and took off running into the corridor. Ashamed, heartbroken. And though Eros had warned her to never try leaping from their palace in the clouds back down to earth, she pitched herself from the nearest window in the heat of the moment. The air was biting cold against Psyche’s skin and she lost consciousness as she fell to the earth.
When she awoke, she found herself uninjured. She was resting on the grass beside a riverbank, surrounded by white daisies. Psyche drank from the river and began to walk in the direction of the sun. Soon, a nymph stopped her in her tracks. Psyche implored the nymph to help her find Eros. The nymph had heard a rumor from Aphrodite that Eros had fallen in love with a mortal girl and impregnated her. Mischievously, the nymph directed Psyche to Aphrodite’s temple.
Aphrodite’s wrath was unleashed once Psyche stepped foot inside her temple. Psyche begged to see Eros.
“He is not well; you’ve left permanent scars on him!” Aphrodite spat. “Why would he want to see you after what you did to him? I’ve been taking care of him since you left. The only woman a boy can trust is his mother.”
“Please, I must see him if only to apologize,” Psyche fell to her knees and groveled at
Aphrodite’s feet. “He’s the love of my life.”
“You’ll find plenty of those in your lifetime,” Aphrodite said dismissively.
Psyche clasped her hands together, looking up at Aphrodite’s glowing form, “I will not find another man like him in a thousand lifetimes.”
Her lips pursed taught as she thought for a moment. Perhaps she could put the girl to good use. After all, it was much too dangerous for her to do herself.
“If you complete a task for me, I will allow you to wed my son,” Aphrodite said.
“Anything!” Psyche cried out impatiently. “Oh beautiful goddess, I will do whatever it takes! Please tell me what my task is.”
She smirked to herself deviously. “You must visit the Underworld and bring me back 3
pomegranate seeds from the Queen of the Dead, Persephone.”
The hopeful expression slid off Psyche’s face. The Underworld? She’d never be able to make it back to the surface once she’d gone down there. But the remorse she felt for what she’d done to hurt Eros overpowered any rationale she possessed. And so Psyche swore to Aphrodite that the task would be completed.
Hermes escorted Psyche to the entrance of the Underworld, attempting their whole journey to convince the young girl of the foolish mistake she was making. But Psyche would not be swayed. She would do anything for Eros and her mind was made up.
In the forest surrounding the entrance to the Underworld, Psyche heard beautiful music coming from a lyre. And through the clearing she spotted Orpheus, sitting on a tree stump and playing his lyre, with a flock of wild animals around him, enchanted by his tunes. Though Psyche had never met him before, he smiled at her as if she was an old friend.
“I heard you’d be coming,” he said. “I brought something to help you on your quest.”
Hermes rolled his eyes. “Come along Psyche, we mustn't be distracted by this fool.”
But Psyche was intrigued. “What is it?” she asked Orpheus.
He held out his hand, palm upturned with a dark green crystal unlike any Psyche had ever seen before. It was enchanting to look at and its vibrations drew Psyche in like a magnet.
“Epidote,” Orpheus spoke. “To give to the Queen of the Dead.”
Psyche took the raw cut crystal in her hand and its touch seemed to melt away the negative feelings dwelling inside of her.
“Will I not need an offering for Hades too?’ Psyche asked.
Hermes chuckled, “Persephone will be the only one with whom you’ll speak. She is the true ruler of the Underworld.”
Psyche thanked Orpheus and he nodded, then resumed his music for the animals. Hermes left Psyche at the entrance, bidding her good luck but knowing as he flew away that the naive girl would likely fail.
Under the spell of love and with her epidote in hand, Psyche walked past the many monsters at the entrance of the Underworld without hesitation. The greatest, most appalling beasts known to both man and god alike. And Psyche held her head high as she strutted past them. Nothing would stop her or even make her flinch.
She gave Charon the Ferryman a small sack of gold coins to pay for her toll. Mites fell from his hair as he scratched behind his ear like a dog.
“But you are not dead,” he said, scratching at his filthy, wiry beard in confusion.
“I need you to take me to the Queen,” Psyche said fiercely.
Charon cackled and his smile revealed black rotting teeth. Psyche still did not falter. Charon agreed after counting the gold coins and instructed Psyche to enter his ferry. He warned her not to touch the river water.
They reached the bank of the river on which Cerberus sat. The large dog with three heads and three, fearsome, snarling mouths began to growl at Charon and Psyche. She swallowed the lump in her throat and cautiously exited the ferry, making sure her feet did not touch the water of the River Styx.
Seeing that Psyche was not afraid, Cerberus ceased his intimidation tactics, turned and began to run. Psyche ran after him and then she found herself in the palace of the Queen of the Dead.
Black and white marble lined the floors, walls, and ceilings. Deep red and purple tapestries embroidered with grotesque depictions of the souls of the dead hung everywhere. And Persephone herself emerged from a chamber once she heard Cerberus’ barks. She did not look surprised at all to see Psyche standing there, as if she had known that she was coming.
“Your Highness,” Psyche said nervously, bowing her head.
“You’re the one Aphrodite sent for these?” Persephone asked, holding out her hand. Resting in her palm were 3 pomegranate seeds. Persephone was adorned in silver cuffs on her wrists, engraved with snakes, and an onyx gemstone hung around her neck. She had long, luscious, chocolate-colored hair and a simple silver crown atop her head with emeralds set within. Her tunic was a dark purple color, like wine. And her eyes were shockingly blue. Psyche had not been intimidated by the Gorgons or the Chimera, but only Persephone’s beauty and grace.
“And why should I give them to you? You will likely not make it back to the surface alive,”
Persephone said, hiding away the seeds in her hand. “What Aphrodite wishes for these seeds to give her will be in vain. She will blame you. Why are you wasting your time, child?”
Psyche’s eyes welled with tears and she fell to her knees before the Queen of the Dead. “Your Highness, oh gracious goddess, I am humbly begging you to help me. Without this favor, I will never win back my lover’s heart. I would rather die trying than give up on him.”
She held up the epidote to the goddess, averting her tearful eyes. Persephone’s jaw dropped at the sight of the gorgeous gem. She’d received many offerings of various green gems, but none had been this rare or this powerful. Persephone took it in her hands, the touch melting away her negative feelings. She knew all the healing qualities of this crystal and she felt deep gratitude to the young girl, Psyche, for delivering it to her.
Persephone raised a dark, defined eyebrow. After thinking for a moment, she decided to take an interest in the girl. “Stand up, girl, groveling makes me ill. Walk with me.”