The allegorical centrepiece of the Golden Ass of Apuleius, in which the author blends a familiar folk tale depicting an enchanted suitor and his abandoned bride with a Hellenistic epyllion about the god of love. Psyche, daughter of a king, is beloved by Cupid, who visits her nightly, but remains invisible, forbidding her to attempt to see him: one night she takes a lamp and looks at him as he sleeps, and agitated by his beauty lets fall a drop of hot oil on his shoulder. He departs in wrath, leaving her solitary and remorseful. Like the hero of the novel in which her tale is set, Psyche has forfeited her happiness through misplaced curiosity, and has to regain it through painful wanderings. Apuleius' story has been retold by W. Browne (Britannia's Pastorals, Bk III), by S. Marmion (Cupid and Psyche), by W. Morris (The Earthly Paradise), and by Bridges (Eros and Psyche). Pater's Marius the Epicurean provides a prose version. Milton's Comus (1,003–11), contains a reference to Apuleius' story and Keats's ‘Ode to Psyche’ owes a debt to it.
Subjects: Religion — Literature.