What is the symbolism behind Psyche's tasks?

  • The taskmaster in the story of Cupid and Psyche was Cupid's mother, the love goddess Venus or Aphrodite. Venus had never liked Psyche, so the opportunity of putting her to a series of tests gave Venus a chance to demand the seemingly impossible. In order for Psyche to win back her husband, Cupid, Venus set 4 seemingly impossible tasks before Psyche:

    1. sorting out a huge pile of seeds
    2. retrieving the Golden Fleece,
    3. filling a flask from the water that fills the River Styx, and
    4. returning from the Underworld with a box of the beauty ointment of Proserpina (aka Persephone).

    Source: What Were the 4 Tasks Psyche Had to Complete?

    There are more details behind it and how she has done it.

    There is also this video from TED-Ed telling a smaller part of the story. (Which does not include the 4th task, I don't know why but it doesn't.)

    Why did Venus ask her to do these specific tests and what has Psyche learned from them? I want to know the meaning behind these tests.

    I'm going to have to think on this deeply--I suspect there is some meaning, but then again, it's from a comic novel (The Metamorphosis of Apuleius, aka "The Golden Ass") In the meantime, you can find the full text online here. The Tale of Cupid & Psyche starts at Chapter IV, Section 28. It's quite funny and bawdy, and sheds some light on the freewheeling Roman culture of the time. PS- Welcome to Mythology!

  • Bread

    Bread Correct answer

    4 years ago

    The beautiful mind (soul) only finds pleasure (happiness) in unconditional love (heart).

    The heart (unconditional love) likewise only finds happiness (pleasure) in the soul (beautiful mind).

    Diligence is required to join the two together as one. The mind does most of the work, while the heart mainly just waits patiently.

    Love being divine, quite naturally and effortlessly transcends worldly diversions, while the soul has to put forth real effort into reaching that state of purity, peace, and happiness (pleasure).

    1. Seeds - Birth and childhood. Logically sorting things out mentally. Ant is the teacher or parent.
    2. Golden fleece - Youth. Reckless adventure, meeting challenges. The reed is intuition or subconscious. This is about the age when many people first become aware of their subconscious mind.
    3. Pure spring water - Spiritual development, usually occurs in mature adulthood.
    4. Intoxication - The soul encounters death, and falls asleep, as if drunk on some sweet elixer. No more pain or feeling of any kind. A lifetime of striving now ceased.

    But unconditional love dwelling in the heart serves to help the mind / soul to transcend and gain victory over death. They enter paradise together. Happily ever after.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM