Monday, February 14, 2011

For Valentine's Day, a discussion of the myth of Eros and Psyche.

Being that today is Valentine's Day, I thought I'd deal with the theme of love.  Forget the chubby little baby we know as Cupid.  To the ancient Greeks, love was personified as a youth, Eros, the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.  He was in a sense a teenager prone to the wayward lusts of that age.  His chief function was to shoot his arrows (cough) at unsuspecting mortals, inspiring the desire in them to mate and perpetuate the species.

A lot of people are curious about the butterfly cover design on my first Immortyl Revolution novel, Cara Mia. First off, let me credit Linda Houle, one of the owners of L&L Dreamspell, for her beautiful design. The butterfly (psyche in Greek) is symbolic of metamorphosis and the soul. In Immortyl culture, the human form is considered like a caterpillar not yet having achieved butterfly status. A vampire is in a sense a  more evolved form of human being. Only when he or she receives the progenitor’s blood, do they become fully realized. But for Mia the butterfly symbolizes the soul. In the book, her master, Ethan gives her a butterfly necklace to commemorate her transformation into an Immortyl. When he casts her out to the elements, with only the clothes on her back and this necklace around her neck, she pawns the necklace. In her mind, she has already sold her soul for immortality. Her struggle is find her way back to her humanity. 
Mia and Kurt’s love story evokes the myth of Eros and Psyche. Psyche, the Greek goddess of the soul is usually depicted with butterfly wings. The word psyche means both butterfly and soul.

But back to the myth, Psyche is a beautiful maiden who rouses the jealousy of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Aphrodite sends her son, Eros (Cupid, Amour) to prick Psyche with one of his arrows and make her fall in love with some horrible beast.  Eros, like many an adolescent, is a little weak on the follow-through of orders from a parent and easily undone by the sight of a pretty girl.  When the winged young man sees the girl, he’s startled by her beauty and falls on one of his own arrows, thus falling in love with her. He spirits her off to a house and only visits her in the night, when she cannot see his divinity. Eros makes her promise never to look upon him. The girl is naturally curious. While he sleeps, she lifts a lamp to look on him. Amazed by the beauty of the God, she trembles and spills a drop of hot oil on his shoulder. He awakens and flies off, saying that Love cannot live with deceit. Aprhodite, the archetypal mother-in-law, gives Psyche many tasks to perform before she is allowed to join her Eros again, even to the point of traveling into the underworld. Finally, Love and Soul are united for eternity. Love and Soul conceive a daughter, who is named, Bliss.

The myth is such a lovely story, about how winning love is hard work and sacrifice, never an easy path to tread.  It's also about how love without soul is mere lust.  Here’s a girl who goes to hell and back for the boy she loves. You can also interpret the myth to be a struggle to realize the self, something Mia, a slave understands all too well.  She even looks upon the deepest secret of her lover, who learns that it's never a good statrgy to live a lie.

I've always loved this story, because it says so much about the nature of true love.  Both lovers find that deceit isn't conducive to the realtionship.  They both must make sacrifices and stand up the accepted veiw of things to win the other.

So, this Valentine's Day, forget the cute little chubby kid and remeber the two lovers who fought hard to attain the bliss they deserved.. 

Aphrodite with the infant Eros

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