The Tale of Cupid and Psyche from Apuleius’s Metamorphoses
Psyche was the most beautiful woman in the world and for that, Venus envied her. Venus envied her so much that she sent her son, Cupid, to use one of his golden arrows to make Psyche fall in love with a murderous beast.
Cupid flew down to Psyche’s room at night and took out one of his golden arrows and just as he readied himself to scratch her with the arrow, she woke up. Startled, Cupid accidentally scratched himself and fell madly in love with Psyche. Unable to complete his mission, he returned to Venus and she placed a curse on Psyche that would make it impossible for her to ever find a husband. Upset by the curse, Cupid proclaimed that he would not shoot arrows for Venus as long as there is a curse on Psyche, which would cause the temple of Venus to fall apart in his absence.
Months pass and no man or animal on Earth falls in love, marries or mates due to Cupid’s absence and Venus finally conceded to his demands. When Psyche’s parents became worried that she is not yet married, they went to see an oracle who told them to leave Psyche on on the nearest mountain for her beauty was far too overwhelming. Her parents followed the instructions, however Zephyrus, the west wind, carried Psyche away to another village where she was married to Cupid. Psyche did not know that her husband was Cupid since he did not want her to known until the time was right to tell her.
Eventually, Psyche realized that her husband was Cupid one night while he slept. Just like Cupid, Psyche accidentally pricked herself with one of his golden arrows and fell madly in love with him. However, when Psyche awoke him by kissing him, Cupid immediately left and Psyche fell out of her window while she watched him fly away.
To be continued…
The Oceanus Fountain at the Rockfeller Estate in New York
This fountain depicts Oceanus, the Titan god of the great world-encompassing river Okeanos. He stands with the three great rivers, Nile, Eridanus and Styx (who is not visible from this angle). He is also depicted at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.
According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Oceanus fathered every river on Earth, every fountain and every lake.
Pandora from Hesiod’s Works and Days
After fire had been stolen from him and given back to humanity, see the myth of Prometheus, Zeus was so furious that he decided to punish mankind to remind them of his power. He asked Hephaestus, the god of technology and craftsmanship, to create the first woman from earth and clay.
The woman was named Pandora, or “all-gifted”. The origins of her name came from the talents that the gods and goddesses bestowed onto her. From Aphrodite, she was given beauty; Apollo gave her music; Hermes and his persuasion and power of speech; Athena taught her needlework and weaving and so forth.
Her sole purpose was to inflict as much misery on mankind as possible. In her story, she brought a jar with her everywhere she went. The jar contained toil and disease that brought death to men and a myriad of other pains and evils.
Prometheus had tried to warn his brother Epimetheus about Zeus’s revenge and specifically not to accept any gifts from him, but his brother did not listen. He accepted Pandora and she unleashed the contents of her jar to the world. The world was tarnished by the evils of the jar, but one item wasn’t able to escape: hope.
Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house,
she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not
fly away. Before [she could], Pandora replaced the
lid of the jar. This was the will of aegis-bearing
Zeus the Cloudgatherer.
Prometheus from Hesiod’s Theogony
Prometheus was the son of Iapetus, one of Oceanid’s Titan sons. His brothers were Menoetius, Atlas, and Epimetheus.
Most notably, he challenge Zeus and his power. To challenge Zeus’s omniscience, Prometheus set up a trick. He placed two sacrificial offerings before Zeus. The first was a piece of beef hidden inside an ox’s stomach, symbolizing nourishment hidden inside an unappealing exterior; the second was a plate of bones wrapped with fat, symbolizing something appealing hiding the trick inside of it.
When Zeus realized the trick, he became furious and hid fire from humans as punishment. In return, Prometheus stole fire back from the God, using a giant fennel-stalk, and gave it back to humanity.
As eternal punishment, Prometheus was chained to a rock and an eagle would visit him every day to slowly peck and eat his liver. His liver regrew every night and the torture to continue for the rest of eternity.
Endymion by Apollonius of Rhodes
Endymion was a handsome mortal whom Selene, the goddess of the moon, fell madly in love with. She asked Zeus to grant him eternal youth for one of two reasons; first, because she wanted him to stay young forever or because she thought he looked the most peaceful and beautiful when he slept.
Zeus granted Selene her wish and put Endymion into an eternal sleep. Every night, Selene would come down and watch him sleep. Since she spent so much time watching Endymion, whenever the moon was not in the night sky, it was said that Selene was too captivated by his beauty to return to her place in the sky.
The Tholos at Athena Pronaia, Delphi, Greece
Athena Pronaia was the gateway to Delphi, where the Delphic oracle could found. Delphi was originally dedicated to worship an Earth Goddess, but it was eventually occupied by Olympian deities, Athena in particular. Athena’s shrine stood near the entrance of Apollo’s, which is why Athena Pronaia can also be called ‘Athena before Temple’ or ‘Athena of forethought’.
Phaedra by Seneca
Phaedra was the wife of King Theseus and the daughter of King Minos of Crete. While Theseus and Pirithous, his friend, ventured to the Underworld to capture Persephone, she was left to run her husband’s palace and developed an unexplainable desire for passion.
Her nurse told Phaedra to control her passion, for love can be terribly destructive. Phaedra explained that she was consumed by an uncontrollable lust and wasn’t being reasonable. Hippolytus, Theseus’s son and Phaedra’s stepson, became the object of her lust — despite the fact that he loathed her.
When her nurse tried to reason with her, Phaedra declared that she would commit suicide, but her nurse begged her to reconsider. Her nurse prayed to the goddess Diana to soften Hippolytus’ heart and make him fall in love with Phaedra.
When Phaedra confessed her love to Hippolytus, he was appalled and drew his sword to kill her. However, instead of killing her, he fled into the forest and Phaedra accused him of incestuous lust and of trying to murder her.
Theseus then returned from the Underworld and found Phaedra about to kill herself out of grief. She told Theseus that Hippolytus had raped her and Theseus then called upon his father Neptune to kill his son. When Phaedra saw Hippolytus’ dead corpse, which had been brought to the palace by Neptune’s chariot, she revealed the truth and then fell on her own sword and died.
Theseus uttered the play’s closing line: “As for [Phaedra], let her be buried deep in earth, and heavy may the soil lie on her unholy head!"
Pygmalion and Galatea from Ovid’s Metamorphoses
Pygmalion was a sculptor who decided to carve a sculpture of a woman out of ivory. His statue was so beautiful and life-like that he couldn’t help but fall madly in love with it.
When Aphrodite’s festival day came, he made an offering in her honour at the altar of Venus and wished that his statue would be turned to life.
Later that day, he kissed the ivory sculpture and instead of cold and hard ivory, the statue’s lips were soft and warm.
Venus had granted him his wish.
Echo and Narcissus from Ovid’s Metamorphoses
Echo was a talkative nymph who was punished by the goddess Hera for her constant talking, which Echo used as a way to distract Hera while Zeus went off and had amorous relationships with the other nymphs. As punishment, Hera removed her voice, but did not leave her completely mute. Instead, Echo could repeat what others said.
Narcissus was an extraordinarily beautiful young man. His mother, Liriope, a river nymph, asked the prophet Tiresias about his future. The prophet said: If he fails to recognize himself, a long life he may have.
Echo fell in love with Narcissus when she saw him, however, Narcissus rejected her love. With her heart broken, Echo wasted away until only her voice remains. Her voice can still be heard echoing others.
In another instance, Narcissus rejected a lover and was cursed by Nemesis, the goddess of Justice. If he should love, deny him what he loves.
While hunting, Narcissus stopped to take a break from the heat and found a spring and drank from it. He was so captivated by the beautiful creature looking back at him that he fell madly in love with his own reflection. Because of Nemesis’s curse, he was denied his love and he wasted away just as Echo had.
His body was never found and in its place grew a narcissus flower, known today as a daffodil.