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Week 3 Story: Zephyr's Account

I was delighted when Cupid told me he was in love.

We had been friends for....an eternity. Longer even (Time is such a human concept). Even though I am much older than Cupid will ever be, we've gotten along famously ever since his birth.
Yes, I was there when Cupid was born. Heck, I was there when his mother was born! When Venus rose from the seafoam, I was there to gently blow her to shore.
Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus
So when Cupid told me he was in love, I was thrilled.
But how could I have known that it would go so wrong for such a time?
_________________________

Let me just say that I love Venus. Really, she's great! Sure she can be a bit jealous sometimes and she does have the occasional vindictive streak, but, I mean, generally, she's a pretty cool goddess! I mean, who doesn't love Love? But when Venus went on her one-woman rampage against Psyche, even I thought that she took it a little too far.

Originally, I had no idea why Venus had it out for Psyche. All I knew was that it was my job to be a good wingman (no pun intended) for Cupid. It's not like he asked me for much, either. Just to transport people to and from his house every once in a while. 

At first, it was just Psyche. Just a quick gust of wind to lift her up from the mountain to Cupid's godly domain. Everything was fine for a time. Cupid and Psyche were getting along famously and I was content to watch the young romance unfold. 

Then Cupid made a mistake.

Against his better judgment, he permitted Psyche to see her sisters again. Even then I had a bad feeling about them. But I did as I was asked and spirited them up from the mountainside. Driven mad by their jealousy of the riches and status that Psyche had obtained while she was with Cupid, they conspired to end the relationship. With venom and cunning, they set out to poison Psyche's mind and undermine her relationship.

And my man, Cupid, got burned. (Literally. That's the problem with oil lamps. Why can't those silly mortals just see in the dark?) And with his injury and his pain, their relationship was found out.

I'd never seen Venus so furious before! And instead of punishing those wicked sisters for their part in this disaster, she went on a crusade against poor Psyche! I had half a mind to take revenge on the sisters myself when Psyche, clever as she was, tricked them into running to the mountainside.

And what hubris those sisters showed! To think that, after everything they'd done to my friend Cupid and to poor Psyche, that I'd be willing to catch them with open arms and spirit them to safety as I had before. Oh, how I laughed at the expressions of shock and indignation on their faces as they plummeted from the mountainside! Revenge for a personal wrong is sweet, but revenge for the pain of a friend is sweeter still.

Unfortunately, it didn't end there for Psyche. I only later found out that Venus felt slighted that Psyche was being worshipped by other mortals for her loveliness instead of her. Lovely as Psyche was, I honestly didn't what Venus had to be so jealous about. It was a silly human error and one that could have easily been fixed with a little selective smiting. It wasn't poor Psyche's fault that others worshipped her beauty. She only had eyes for Cupid! 

So after the tasks that Venus had set for her, and the trials and tribulations that she underwent to win back Cupid, I was there at their wedding to whisper to the groom's mother. It was my voice in Venus's ear that finally calmed her rage and persuaded her to set aside her hatred for Psyche and to revel and dance in the joy of her son's wedding.

It seems too often that any interaction between us gods and mortals ends in disaster for the mortal in question. I'm glad that this time proved to be an exception.

Story Information
Author: Apuleius
Translator: Tony Kline
Cupid and Psyche from the larger work The Golden Ass

Author's Note:
The story of Cupid and Psyche is one of a select few in Greek and Roman mythology that could be said to have a happy ending. As such, it ranks high among my favorites in this genre. For this retelling of the story, I chose to write from the perspective of a somewhat briefly mentioned, yet also important, character from the original story: Zephyr or the West Wind. In the original, Zephyr is simply responsible for ferrying people to and from Cupid's palace to the mountainside at Cupid or Psyche's request. When Psyche tricks her sisters into leaping from the mountainside, assuming that Zephyr would be there to catch them and whisk them away to Cupid, Zephyr lets them fall to their deaths. What I covered in this writing is really only half of the story of Cupid and Psyche, the half that Zephyr was relevant for. The other half concerns the tasks that Venus gives to Psyche to "test" her. If you're interested, I would highly recommend reading the full story at the link above!

Photo Credits:

Comments

  1. Hi Rhys!

    This is a creative retelling! I had never really considered the role of Zephyr before, but I am so glad you decided to expand upon it. Zephyr seems to be almost a mediator between the extremes of Venus and Psyche, and the middle ground is usually the closest to the truth (the least biased)! I like your writing style as well; the rhetorical questions and comments in parenthesis were humorous.

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  2. Hey Rhys,

    This was a very fun read, and I really liked your idea to tell the story from the perspective of a removed bystander. I also liked the fact that you were able to use this bystander to ensure that the story had a happy ending. As Zephyr mentions, too many instances of humans cavorting with gods end in heartbreak and misery, so it was nice to see a good ending for once!

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  3. Rhys,

    What a fun story! It gave me Percy Jackson vibes, the casual, relatable tone and everything. I didn't know about this story, so I'm glad I got to see your version of it. You're right, so many of the Greek myths end in tragedy, and this one has a sweet ending. I also like that you took Zephyr's perspective, it was unexpected and gave voice to a character that I assume didn't get very much screen time in Ovid's version. I'm also a romantic, and so it's nice to see a Greek love story that actually ends with, well, love! Thanks for the great read!

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