"The Myth of Eros and Psyche: Part 3" by Katherine Breeher
Psyche quickly rose and dust off her knees, hurrying behind Persephone as she walked through a large stained glass door that led to a garden. The soil was black and smelled of volcanic ash. All that grew were measly grapevines and big pomegranate trees. Persephone sat on a garden bench and beckoned Psyche to sit beside her.
“Is this your garden?” Psyche asked the goddess.
Persephone nodded, her eyes in a far off place. “My garden on the surface is much better. The sun is what my plants really need, but we have none of that down here. Some days this garden is all that keeps me from going mad.”
Cerberus trotted through the garden and sat down at Persephone’s feet, panting all three of his tongues and gazing at his master. Persephone scratched behind all of his ears and he kicked one of his hind legs in appreciation.
“I, of course, know of you and Eros’ story,” Persephone revealed, “but I wanted to know what you would tell me of it. I have to admit I did not expect you to be so brave and determined.”
“O-Oh, well, thank you, your Highness,” Psyche said, respectfully avoiding eye contact. “Please just call me Persephone,” the goddess asked. “I do not feel like a Queen.” “Sorry y-... Persephone,” Psyche choked.
“Hades too abducted me from the earth and brought me to a faraway place, expecting me to fall in love with him,” Persephone said. “Not unlike you and Eros. But what I wonder is what you expect is going to happen if you even do make it back to Earth alive. What if Eros still does not forgive you?”
“He will,” Psyche said resolutely. “I know that he and I are meant to be together. Our love is more powerful than life or death.” She knew that her words sounded foolish. But it did not matter what they sounded like to her because she knew in her bones that they were true.
“It did take me quite a while to forgive him for what he did,” Persephone abruptly changed the subject. “But Hades, my husband, I feel our love too is more powerful than life or death.”
Persephone’s hardened, cold heart was persuaded by the resemblance to herself that she saw in Psyche. “I will help you return to the surface world unharmed, my child,” she said.
Psyche’s eyes widened in awe. “Persephone! Oh noble goddess, your humble graciousness does not fall upon deaf ears. How can I ever thank you enough?”
She laughed, Persephone, and she couldn’t remember the last time she’d laughed so freely in the Underworld. “Your company has been enough of a gift, Psyche. Promise me you will visit again when this is all over and tell me of your epic love story?”
“Of course, Persephone, as you wish!” Psyche beamed excitedly.
Persephone put the pomegranate seeds into Psyche’s palm. She stood up and waved her scepter over Psyche’s head. A shower of glittering sparks fell down upon the young maiden until her image had faded and her presence beside the Queen of the Dead was no longer.
Psyche rematerialized in a luscious meadow on the surface world, surrounded by the brightest, most fragrant flowers she had ever seen. The pomegranate seeds were still in her hand and she felt her own flesh to make sure she was still alive. Her heart swelled with gratitude for Persephone’s kindness and empathy. But before she even had the chance to try and figure out where exactly she had been transported, Aphrodite appeared before her.
Aphrodite, though obviously gorgeous as the goddess of beauty, did not have the same beauty as Persephone, in Psyche’s opinion. Persephone was dark, alluring, and mysterious. But Aphrodite was just overwhelmingly beautiful in the stereotypical way. It almost hurt to look at her, her skin shone so brightly.
Her expression was callous as she looked down upon Psyche. Truth be told, the goddess was disappointed to see Psyche had made it out of the Underworld alive.
“Do you have what I seek?” she asked forcefully.
Psyche revealed the sacred seeds in her palm and bowed her head in reverence. “For you, goddess of love and beauty, I present the Queen of the Dead’s blessed pomegranate seeds. May my offering appease you.”
Shocked Aphrodite snatched the seeds from the young maiden’s palm and examined them closely in disbelief. She had not expected Psyche to pass her test by any means. Her miscalculation made her worry if she had lost her touch.
“A-Aphrodite?” Psyche asked meekly. “May I see Eros now? I want to apologize to him.”
Aphrodite glared at Psyche and huffed. “I suppose I must keep my word. But if you ever hurt my son again, wench, be warned that I will not have mercy on you.”
“I would surely die before betraying my love ever again,” Psyche vowed.
Aphrodite pointed to the forest behind Psyche and told her Eros was waiting in a cave for her just beyond the treeline. Though the forest compared to the meadow was menacing, Psyche ran towards it with fervor. She ran as fast as her feet could carry her. Once inside the treeline she could run no more, as the forest itself was dense and cluttered. But she stepped lightly over logs, rocks, and weaved between the trees as fast as she could.
She spotted the entrance to a cave up ahead in a clearing and her heart leaped inside her chest, propelling her forward.
“Eros!” she cried as she stepped into the dark cave. “Eros, my love, please forgive me!”
She heard rustling further back in the blackness of the cave.
“Psyche, is that you?” Eros’ voice said hoarsely.
“Yes, it's me,” she answered. “I have come to ask for your forgiveness.”
Eros stood and dusted himself off, not quite remembering how he got inside this cave in the first place. He stumbled groggily toward the light and Psyche’s figure standing in front of it.
As the sunshine was allowed to fall onto the god’s face, Psyche gasped in horror. The oil from the lamp had left a huge gash, an angry scar, across the entire left side of his face. “Eros, my darling, I will never forgive myself for betraying you and leaving such a nasty mark,” Psyche said quietly. She reached out her fingers and gently grazed the scar. It felt hot to the touch.
“How did you get here?” Eros asked.
“Aphrodite told me I’d be allowed to see you again if I travelled to the Underworld and persuaded Persephone to give me some of her sacred pomegranate seeds.”
“The Underworld? ” Eros said. Anxiety gripped him. “How did you make it back out alive?
Wasn’t it terrifying down there? Psyche, why would you do that?”
“I would have done anything for you,” Psyche said firmly.
It was then that it dawned on her that she was looking at Eros for the first time in the natural light. He was tall and broad, dressed like any regular man would be, save for the quiver of arrows slung across his back and the soft, white wings. He had black curly hair, olive skin and strikingly emerald green eyes. It did not surprise Psyche that he was beautiful, because she’d already known that all along. And it did not shock her to see him for the first time, because she’d already known him from the inside out.
Eros grabbed his lover’s delicate hands and stared deeply into her eyes, “Oh Psyche, you have risked so much for me. I love you.”
“I understand if you no longer trust me or do not want to forgive me Eros,” she replied earnestly, “but please know that I love you too.”
Eros swiftly kissed Psyche on her gentle lips and their kiss was full of pragma.
“I will not hold anything against you,” he promised. “You have proved yourself enough by going to the Underworld and back just for a chance to be reunited with me again. Will you marry me?”
Psyche’s heart sung loudly. Her cheeks felt flushed and her head swooned. She had never felt so happy before in her entire life.
“Yes,” she exclaimed. “Yes!”
And so, Eros and Psyche were wed atop Mount Olympus that same day.
Psyche kept her promise to Persephone and visited her to tell the rest of her story. Aphrodite, though still embarrassed that a mortal girl had passed her test, grew to respect the gumption that Psyche possessed.
She devoured the ambrosia of the gods and she herself was transformed into a demigod. She represented the soul and Eros, the heart, so that their union resembled the truest, deepest meaning of the word ‘soulmate’.