Mystical tales Children

Psyche’s trials come to an end

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi   | Photo Credit: Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Story so far: Princess Psyche’s beauty made Aphrodite, the Godess of Love, jealous. She told her son Eros to make Psyche fall in love with a horrible monster. Instead, Eros fell in love with Psyche and married her. But he never showed himself. Roused by her jealous sisters’ comments, Psyche held a candle over the sleeping Eros. When she saw him, she grew so excited and a drop of grease fell on him, and woke him up. Angry with her, he flew away.

Though she waited for many days, Eros didn’t come back. So, Psyche went in search of him. She prayed to Aphrodite to re-unite her with her husband but the goddess wanted to punish her, so she asked the girl to complete three tasks to prove she was indeed the right wife for Eros.

Firsttask

First, Aphrodite took her to a small hillock of wheat, poppy seeds, millets and other grains. “Separate these grains by end of day,” Aphrodite ordered. Psyche was in despair. How on earth was she to do that? A group of ants came to help and soon, each seed was in its own mound.

Enraged, Aphrodite told Psyche to sleep on the floor without any food, hoping that lack of food and hard work would take away her beauty. The next day’s task was to fill a bottle of water from the Estige. The waters of the river flowed down a mountain with great force, and the surrounding rocks were both steep and slippery. A passing eagle took pity on Psyche and filled her bottle.

For the final task, Aphrodite gave Psyche a beautiful box and told her to go to Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, and ask for a bit of her beauty. Psyche wept because she knew she could not accomplish this. Suddenly a voice whispered in her ear: “Carry some money for Charon, the boatman. Take some bread for Cereberus, the three-headed dog. Do not eat anything, not even a seed. And, finally, do not open the box.” Reassured that someone was looking after her, Psyche set out. She crossed the Styx by paying Charon and fed Cereberus and finally offered the box to Persephone.

Deadly sleep

When it was given back to her, she set out on her return. Just as she reached Aphrodite’s palace, her curiosity overcame her. She opened the box and a foul black cloud rushed out and put her to sleep.

By this time, the other gods were feeling sorry for Psyche. They sent Hermes to tell Eros how his wife was suffering. Eros found Psyche lying in a swoon and brought her to her to a conscious state.

Jupiter convinced Aphrodite to let Eros and Psyche stay married and offered Psyche ambrosia to make her immortal. Now that Psyche was a goddess, Aphrodite forgot her jealousy and welcomed her son’s wife.


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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 6:15:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/psyches-trials-come-to-an-end/article31765592.ece

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