Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful girl named Psyche. Psyche was so beautiful that she even caught Aphrodite’s eyes. Despite being the goddess of love, Aphrodite was known to be very jealous and felt threatened by Psyche’s beauty. She commanded her son Eros, the god of love, to put a spell on Psyche. Eros uses the Bow of Love and anyone shot by his golden arrows falls immediately and helplessly in love with the first thing they see.
Aphrodite came up with a devious plan to have Eros shoot Psyche and have frogs around her, making her fall in love with frogs and fall into a despairing relationship. But her jealous plan was overthrown by an unexpected event. When Eros first saw Psyche’s face, he became entranced and accidentally pricked himself with his own arrow. Thus, Eros became madly in love with Psyche. Aphrodite, enraged by this, cursed Psyche to never find a mate for the rest of her life. Eros became depressed from not being able to see Psyche and gave up shooting golden arrows. After he gave up his job, no animals or human fell in love and no new life was born. Aphrodite could not bear to see such a scene and begged Eros to start shooting arrows again, offering him one thing that he wanted. Eros said that he desired Psyche without hesitation and Aphrodite reluctantly allowed them to meet.
While this happened, Aphrodite’s curse made no man come to propose to Psyche. Her parents became worried and asked the advice of the oracle at Apollo’s temple. The oracle stated that as she is destined to marry a monster, she must be placed atop a mountain in bridal attire. Accepting her fate, Psyche stood on the mountain but eventually jumped off a cliff in despair. But Zephyrus the West Wind caught her and brought her safely to Eros’ place, just as Eros planned. Psyche enjoyed a comfortable life in the beautiful castle with many maids at her service. However, her husband only came in the deep dark of the night. Whether it was because he feared Aphrodite’s wrath or the difference between a god and a mortal, he asked her to never try find out who he was and that if she truly loved him, she should trust him. But Psyche eventually fell victim to her jealous sisters’ scheme and her curiosity, leading to her accidentally dropping candle wax on Eros’ face as she took a peek at his face. Eros was awakened and became enraged. He chased her away and forbade her from coming back. Psyche fell in despair and threw herself into the river, but the river carried her to the riverside where the shepherd god Pan rescued and consoled her.
At first, Psyche tried to find Eros while avoiding Aphrodite, but eventually she decides to plea directly to her. Despite her bravery, Aphrodite threw challenging tasks one after another at her like a mean mother-in-law, ultimately commanding her to retrieve some beauty from Persephone, the queen of the underworld (since travelling to the underworld signifies death, Aphrodite must have truly hated Psyche).
However, Psyche was determined to see Eros even at the cost of her life. Admiring her commitment, a tall tower before the underworld gave her a hint. It told her to place two coins on her tongue and bread in each hand when going to the underworld. The coins would be to pay Charon the ferryman while the bread would distract Cerberus the three-headed dog guardian. She succeeded in seeing Persephone, who gave her a box of beauty and told her to never open it. But wanting to look beautiful in front of her lover (Eros), Psyche opened the box. The box did not contain beauty, but instead contained a death-like sleep from the underworld, putting Psyche in a deep sleep. Although he chased her away, Eros came back to see Psyche and found her in this sleeping state. He took the corpse-like Psyche and kissed her softly on her lips, awakening her from the deep sleep.
Eros eventually sought help from the king of gods, Zeus, to persuade Aphrodite. After Zeus’ persuasion and seeing the love the two have for each other, Aphrodite accepted the relationship and Zeus gave Psyche the immortal drink ambrosia to make her into a goddess. The now immortal Psyche and Eros were married and had a daughter named Hedone (like in Hedonism), the goddess of sensual pleasures.
Eros symbolises physical and sensual love while Psyche is a Greek symbol for butterflies, the soul and emotional love. Ergo, Eros and Psyche represent the union of physical and emotional love into perfect love. Love and the soul are inseparable things. The most basic instinct of any organism is to reproduce and human beings have evolved that into the sacred concept that is love. To speak bluntly and without philosophy, from a purely biological perspective there is no greater purpose to life than to find a suitable mate and leave descendants. There is nothing more fundamental than pure love.