There’s Something a Myth: Psyche and Cupid

image via SodaHead

Recently in my college English class, the instructor gave us an assignment: write an explanation of who Psyche is in mythology and turn it in for extra credit.  Since mythology and extra credit are like the chocolate and peanut butter of the academic world, I availed myself of the opportunity.

After surveying my handiwork, I realized the content would be a pretty good fit for this blog.  My current fiction projects draw inspiration from mythology in general–Chinese and Norse mythology in particular.  Exploring the timeless tales of heroes and gods seems like a good use of Writer Time™.

After all, what would these ancient stories be without the realms of perilous wonder in which they take place?

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale from an ancient myth…

The Tale of Psyche and Cupid

In mythology, Psyche is a mortal girl of such tremendous beauty that the goddess, Venus, grows jealous of her. Venus turns to her son, Cupid, for aid.

“I need you to use your arrows so I can totally make Psyche fall in love with a vile creature or a monster or something,” she commands.

Cupid sighs.  “Aw, Mom…do I really have to?”

“You do unless you want to go to bed without any supper.”

When night falls, Cupid sneaks into Psyche’s room like an invisible ninja of love. She awakens and startles him, causing him to poke himself with one of his own arrows.

“Ouch, that really smarts.” Cupid looks at Psyche. “Wow, what a babe! I love her and stuff.”

Cupid returns to Venus to report his failure.

“I am enraged,” Venus shouts, spittle flying from her lips. “I curse Psyche so that she will never meet a suitable husband, such is my rage.”

“Oh, yeah?”  Cupid stamps his foot. “Then I’m not going to shoot my arrows anymore.”

A few years later, Venus turns to Cupid again.

“No one is falling in love, and the world is failing to meet its annual quota of new mortals,” Venus complains. “Please shoot people with arrows again.”

“I will if Psyche and I can go to the prom,” Cupid says.


And so, everyone resumes falling in love and rolling new mortals off the production line.

After the west wind, Zephyrus, carries Psyche to the prom a grand palace, she marries Cupid, who does not reveal his true nature to her.  She returns to her elder sisters.  They are jealous of the love she has found, so beautiful and pure, and decide to craft a vile deception.

“Did you know your husband is really an awful serpent that is going to eat you and your unborn child?” they ask her. “You should stab him with a knife.”

“An awful serpent, you say?”  Psyche grimaces.  “Of course I will stab him.”

That night, Psyche waits until her husband is asleep. She accidentally pokes herself with one of his arrows.

“Ouch, that really smarts.” She realizes Cupid’s true nature at last. “What a hunk! I love him and stuff.”

Cupid, resentful of her attempt to stab him, flies away and leaves her in misery. Psyche tricks her sisters into jumping off a mountain–which does not go well for them–but even that fails to cheer her up.

Her search for Cupid leads her to a temple of Venus, who sets before her an array of impossible tasks. Psyche thwarts Venus’ plans with the help of an ant, a river-god, and an eagle.

So an ant, a river-god, and an eagle walk into a bar…

Venus becomes furious. “Go to the Underworld and bring back a box of some of Proserpina’s beauty,” she demands of Psyche.  “I require it for a new nightly regimen.”

Psyche sighs.  “Can’t you just put cucumber slices on your eyes?”

“Dammit, Psyche…I’m a goddess, not a salad!”

As Psyche prepares to enter the Underworld by flinging herself to her doom, a talking tower gives her some useful advice that enables her to retrieve the box and escape. She opens the box, thinking to use some of that sweet Underworldly beauty for herself, but instead unleashes an infernal sleep that overcomes her.

Cupid appears at Psyche’s side in an explosion of little hearts and ribbons. “I forgive you for trying to stab me with a knife.”

After awakening her, he flies to Mount Olympus to seek an audience with the god, Jupiter.

“Help me, Obi-Wan Jupiter…you’re my only hope,” Cupid begs.

Jupiter convenes a council of the gods.

“Cupid and Psyche are to be married, for real this time,” Jupiter says. “Bring Psyche here.”

image via Wikipedia

And SHAZAM!…Psyche is there.

“Drink this.” Jupiter hands her a cup. “It has a full-bodied flavor, kinda fruity and not too mellow.  Oh, and it will make you immortal.”

After Psyche becomes a goddess, she and Venus reconcile their differences.

“I grudgingly forgive you,” Psyche says.

“I grudgingly forgive you, too.”

But Venus probably has her fingers crossed behind her back…

The End?

I have no idea what this story has to do with that deceptive sequence of events where someone offers to shake your hand, and when you reach out to accept, they quickly take their hand away to smooth back their hair and exclaim, “Psyche!”

But maybe that was simply the product of the time and place where I grew up.

*     *     *

So is this not a tale worthy of a movie starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton?  Do you have a favorite myth or fairy tale you’d like to share?  And what did you have for breakfast this morning?

49 thoughts on “There’s Something a Myth: Psyche and Cupid

  1. Emmie Mears

    As I assume I’m catching this on the wrong side of breakfast, I’ll answer anyway because all I did today was eat and send query letters (hopefully query letters that made some modicum of sense and won’t become some godawful agent email forward LOLZOMG, look at this n00b!).

    I had:
    2 blueberry muffins
    1 bowl of avgolemeno (Greek chicken soup, the recipe for which randomly came from a literary agent)
    Some chips and queso…and then some chips with queso melted on them (this time not the dip kind of queso, the shredded kind of…dammit, it’s 2 a.m. You get the point.)
    Orange juice
    Cranberry juice

    I wish I had:
    A magic nose decongester with more reliability than OTC medications
    A honeydew melon
    The ability to sleep without the ramifications of laying a congested head on a pillow

  2. sheilapierson

    Since knowing you, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to spend five minutes exploring your mind. It seems you’ve just given us all that little gift – and wow, what an imagination! And Barry White? LOL This is a certain classic. I predict it will get picked up and go into production soon. As I’ve said before Oz, you’re a genius…

  3. Lyra Selene

    I also draw a lot from mythology (mostly celtic) in my writing, so it’s always refreshing to me to hear a myth retold in a new (and slightly irreverent, hmm?) way! Thanks for a laugh, I got a kick out of how immature you made all the characters seem (which in retrospect, Greek Gods definitely are).

  4. Catherine Johnson

    That was really fun. I have a book on Greek Mythology but I haven’t read it as much as I ought to. I look forward to more mythical tales 🙂

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks, Catherine…I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, I’m definitely planning on doing the myth thing as a semi-regular feature. It’s fun to do and there’s a wealth of material out there.

  5. Kim Griffin

    First, I could see Johnny Depp in anything! Just sayin’..
    Second, I love this story! You should totally teach mythology, ‘n stuff..

    I’m cracking up – Gonna read it again..
    ..and, umm.. Berry waffles & coffee 🙂

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      I think you’ll find that a Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaboration is my solution to pretty much any cinematic project 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Teaching mythology and stuff sounds like it might be fun.

      Sounds like you had a delicious breakfast 🙂

  6. Barbara Forte Abate

    Plain cottage cheese because I was so caught-up in “As the Gods Turn” I didn’t realize that it’s really lunch and now I feel cheated — and hungry.

    I’ve always had a thing for Greek Mythology, but even then, those old-school versions are fully lacking in the charm and wit of your re-telling. Plus, I loved re-reading your tale because it was so wildly entertaining, and NOT because I was still feeling a little clue-less after the first run, as is prone to happen with the ancient version. (The ancient version, which by the way, does not come with cool soundtracks to enhance the mood of the misbehaving miscreants.)

    This was pretty much fabulous and you’ve earned an A+++. I also think you should be called up front to read it out-loud for the class. Everyone will want to shake your hand–for real. No Psyche intended 😀

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks very much for the compliments, Barbara. I was so engrossed in working on the post yesterday that I almost forgot to eat something before heading out to class, but I remembered and ended up having a hot dog or something. I’m glad the soundtrack turned out to be a good choice. I didn’t get to add it or the pictures or anything when I turned it in for extra credit. Preparing a multimedia extravaganza was probably outside the parameters of the assignment 🙂

  7. Karen McFarland

    “Cupid sneaks into Psyche’s room like an invisible ninja of love.”
    “And so, everyone resumed falling in love and rolling new mortals off the production line.

    “What did you have this morning for breakfast?” Obviously, not what you had for breakfast Mike!

    Loved Gilligan’s Island and Barry White. That sure set the mood for mythology Mike! As far as I’m concerned, you deserve an “A” for this paper along with chocolate and peanut butter! 🙂

    And if you’re interested, do check out Debra Kristi’s “Immortal Mondays.” You will love it! At the moment, she has Thor traveling the world. He was just at Christine MacKenzie’s blog/northern England and her post was hilarious! A must see.

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      I actually had a hot dog for breakfast while working on the post, but that had nothing to do with how it turned out. That probably would’ve happened anyway 🙂

      “Immortal Mondays” sound pretty cool…I’ll definitely have to check that out.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Tami Clayton

    A simply awesome retelling of this myth. It reminds me of my Ancient Civilizations class I took my first year in college. Students referred to the class as “Silly Civ” because the professor held the class in an auditorium with a big stage on which he would re-enact Greek and Roman myths (with the aid of a few grad students). They were always hilarious renderings that really drove home the points of the stories. I loved it. And I love yours as well. Well done!

  9. Kirsten

    “Dammit, Psyche…I’m a goddess, not a salad!”
    Awesome. 🙂 I always look forward to your posts. Perhaps another extra credit assignment will come your way soon?
    As for breakfast, usually opt out in favor of a cup of coffee and some morning words. Sounds boring, I know, but it keeps my imagination fired up all day!

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thank you very much 🙂 I wish I could post more often, but I end up spending so much time on each one that it’s hard to squeeze more of them into my current schedule. But they’re fun to do and are a nice break from my regular writing.

      A cup of coffee and some morning words sounds like a great way to spend breakfast. 🙂

      1. Kirsten

        You do a great job with these, and I find your posts both funny and inspiring. But, believe me, I know how much time goes into creating a decent post!
        I’ll just have to savor the posts you do make all the more. 🙂

  10. rabiagale


    I had a banana and peanut butter milkshake for breakfast this morning. Thanks for the evening’s entertainment!

  11. livrancourt

    “So an ant, a river-god, and an eagle walk into a bar…”
    But what’s the punchline?
    Honey yogurt. Plain unsweetened honey yogurt, without any banana chips cuz we were out. Getting old sucks.

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      You know, I flirted with the idea of actually trying to make a proper joke out of that, except I couldn’t really think of anything. Maybe next time 😉

      Yeah, I need a take a hard look at some of the stuff I eat and make some better choices. I’ve made some strides in this area, but sadly if I get my hands on a bag of jelly beans, I’m all over them like a zombie on brains and they’re all gone before I know it. *sigh*

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks so much for the amazing compliment, Lara. I’m actually not sure how much extra credit I got. I’m pretty sure I went beyond the parameters of the assignment, and it didn’t even have the pictures or the Barry White soundtrack or anything. I spiffed things up a little for the blog 🙂

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      I’m glad you approve of the music selection. I’d actually never heard of Barry White or that song before, but I stumbled across it while searching for some kind of 70s love song or something, and it seemed a good fit 🙂

  12. Ellen Gregory

    Loved this… I am soo not worthy. Can’t wait for the next one. Since everyone is picking favourite lines, I’m going give a shout-out to:
    “I will if Psyche and I can go to the prom,” Cupid says.

    As for breakfast — I’m in awe at the array of interesting breakfasts out there! Whatever happened to a plain old bowl of cereal? I had oatmeal with stewed apple. And — the most important part — my usual skim milk flat white coffee (which in American speak is something like a latte, but nice and strong.)

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story. It took a lot of work to put together, but it was fun 🙂

      I think plain old bowls of cereal are great. I eat this kinda healthy stuff composed of clusters of almonds, flax seeds, and…uh…healthy cereal-type stuff. It’s super crunchy and sounds like I’m pouring myself a bowl of boulders, but it’s pretty good, even if one would be wise to let it soak for a few minutes so it gets slightly less crunchy before eating it.

  13. corajramos

    Now I’m wondering what other classes you are taking and what the results of those assignments will be!!! You’re sending us off to the weekend with a bang and stuff. “An awful serpent you say? Of course I will stab him.” Bar-rump-bump!
    Thanks for the laughs, giggles and Barry White.

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Out of my course load this semester, it seems that only the English class offers the hope of future blog material. College Algebra and Federal Government don’t have quite the same potential, but they’re both pretty interesting so far and I’m enjoying them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Sara Walpert Foster

    I am soooo glad I read this just now. I needed something to make me laugh. I have many favorite lines but can see Cupid stamping his foot and refusing to shoot arrows after his Mom was such a bitch (maybe because this happens in my life; btw, I’m Venus in this scenario). I know it’s hard to get too many posts in with your schedule, but keep getting them in when you can. I’m happy to wait for them if I have to. 🙂

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      If I’m able to write something that manages to give someone a laugh when they need it, then that’s about the best compliment I can get. Thanks, Sara 🙂

      And I fully intending to get posts in when I can. They’re fun and very worth doing if there are people out there who enjoy them 🙂

  15. Katherine Checkley

    I like your blog. Now following 🙂 I always liked Pyramus and Thisbe. So tragic! Good lesson in jumping to conclusions. I had a peach-flavored Chobani yogurt for breakfast. I love this question!

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Thanks for the compliment, and for dropping by. I’m following your blog back 🙂 I’ve not read Pyramus and Thisbe–I’ve always been more of a Norse mythology person–but I’ll have to check it out.

  16. lizjasper

    I’m mesmerized by the chocolate peanut butter things. I think Cupid shot an arrow and that’s what I saw and now that’s all I can think about. This is your fault, Mike!

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Yeah, I should’ve been more cognizant of the hypnotic power of the chocolate peanut butter things. They must have used their chocolatey and peanut buttery goodness to bend me to their will, forcing me to put them out there so they might ensnare others in their fiendish scheme of global dominance.


Leave a Reply to Julie Frayn Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s