Psyche and Proserpina. Illustration from “Cupid and Psyche.”


A naive young princess called Psyche , worshipped on earth for her  beauty,  has become the mortal rival of Venus, the Goddess of Love.  After her father hears a dire prediction from the Oracle of Apollo,  Pysche is  offered as sacrificial bride  to a mysterious, invisible being who may be a monster.

Psyche comes to love her husband even though he refuses to reveal his true identity,  but falling prey to her scheming sisters, foolishly betrays his trust. Only after a series of  ordeals administered by none other than Venus herself will Psyche be able to win back the God of Love and attain her heart’s desire.

The story of Cupid and Psyche,  melding myth and romance, is rich with motifs that have become familiar to us through the classic  fairy tales in which they eventually reappear:  bestial bridegroom, jealous mother-in-law, wicked sisters,  impossible tasks, helpful animals— even a deathlike sleep.

Timid Psyche, guided through her ordeals, survives to become an  immortal,  and , for the modern age,  the emblem of the mind  in all its mystery and complexity.

In the new edition I have made digital enhancements to a number of the  images. The original paintings were done in casein.