Places Discussed

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Home city

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Home city. Place where Psyche, the daughter of a Greek king, was born, possibly on the island of Crete. The city has many altars and temples dedicated to Venus that are neglected as the pilgrims from many countries who throng the streets throw flowers at Psyche’s feet. Outside the city is a cliff top which is reached by climbing a steep hill. It overlooks a deep valley. This arrangement is typical of many ancient Greek cities. Psyche’s bier was laid at the highest point.

Cupid’s mansion

Cupid’s mansion. Place where Psyche lives as Cupid’s wife. Situated in a valley carpeted with flowers and soft grass, it is surrounded by pleasant meadows, a grove of trees, and a clear-water spring. The mansion’s roof is made of costly woods supported by golden and ivory pillars. Inside, the splendid hall is paved with marble on which there are pictures made from small blocks of colored stones. Golden lamps hang from the roof and stand in niches all around it. Golden statues stand on pedestals, and many other precious things lie around. A bath of silver is provided for Psyche’s comfort. Food is served on a golden table. It is populated by invisible servants.

Temple of Ceres

Temple of Ceres. One of the places that Psyche visits in search of help to find Cupid, the temple is located on the hills above Crete’s plain of Cisamos. It resembles many Greek shrines, with pillars supporting the roof and steps leading up to the temple door. Inside, Psyche finds corn ears lying in heaps and others plaited into garlands; sickles and other tools are strewn about in confusion where worshipers have left them.

Venus’s house

Venus’s house. Place on Mount Olympus where Psyche is given impossible tasks to perform by Venus. In one room, the servants heap all kinds of seeds for Psyche to sort out. Holes, cracks, and crannies in the walls and floor allow ants to enter the room and sort the seeds into neat heaps for her. Cupid is locked up in another room of the golden-gated house. Outside the house, a river runs along the edge of the woods, in which Venus’s fierce, golden-fleeced sheep are allowed to wander. Scraps of fleece adorn the bushes against which the sheep have rubbed. Beside the river grow the sacred reeds from which the god Pan makes his pipes.

From Venus’s house can be seen a mountaintop waterfall that is the source of the River Styx which flows through the underworld. It is called the Cocytus while it is above ground. The mountain face is a precipice of black rock. The waterfall dashes into a narrow gorge at the foot amid clouds of spray, and its water runs steeply over rocks and stones into a black cavern. In the sides of the gorge the heads of dragons peer from holes, watching with unblinking eyes.

Tartarus

Tartarus. Moss-covered tower that Psyche visits on her way to the underworld, in the mountains near the Laconian shore. Here Psyche is told that the route to the entrance is southward along the Taenarian promontory and near the cape bearing Poseidon’s temple. The entrance to the underworld is through a cave. At the end of the path is the River Styx and the ferry crossing manned by Charon, who ferries across the souls of the dead for a penny. The gate of the underworld is guarded by the three-headed dog Cerberus.

Bibliography

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 235

Franz, Marie-Louise von. The Golden Ass of Apuleius. Boston: Shambhala, 1992. Psychological interpretation of the Cupid and Psyche myth. An excellent resource for the study and analysis of this myth.

Haight, Elizabeth Hazelton. Apuleius and His Influence. New York: Longmans, Green, 1927. Although much research has followed in subsequent years, this remains a significant source for comparative studies. Traces the tradition of Cupid and Psyche from classical to modern literature. Cites various interpretations of the myth in different historical periods.

Labouvie-Vief, Gisela. Psyche and Eros. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Illustrates theories of the mind and gender using this myth as foundation. Interprets myth as a psychological development to overcome dualistic thinking in terms of gender. Comprehensive examination of the psychological components of mythmaking.

Neumann, Erich. Amor and Psyche. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Provides detailed commentary that includes classical sources, art illustrations, and occurrences in other literature. Argues that Psyche represents the development of the feminine psyche.

Schlam, Carl C. The Metamorphoses of Apuleius. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992. Detailed commentary on sources of the myth of Cupid and Psyche and an extensive bibliography. Includes theories of a number of other critics to explain the myth’s origin.

Tatum, James. Apuleius and “The Golden Ass.” Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1979. Identifies and compares a number of sources and interpretations of the Cupid and Psyche myth. Characterizes and analyzes individual parts of the story.

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