Wednesday, January 28, 2015
With Valentine's Day a few weeks away, I began investigating EROS. I didn't realize how under-informed I was. I have to admit I didn't even know the entire myth of Eros and Psyche. Nor did I understand the modern day psychological definition(s). So I hope I can shed some light for others equally confused. Although, I didn't research the history of Valentines Day... that will have to remain a mystery.
Psyche in ancient Greek basically translates as the soul. So the story of psyche is about the journey and metamorphosis of the soul. Psyche herself is strapped with the 'curse' of being so beautiful that men believe her to be a goddess and consequently no man will marry her. Aphrodite is so jealous of this situation that she tries to arrange Psyches' marriage to a monster and asks her son Eros to execute this plan by shooting his arrow of love in all the wrong places. But, when he sees the tragic and beautiful psyche awaiting her fate he falls in love with her and whisks her off to his castle.
She is asleep during this voyage and wakes to find herself on the grounds of his palace, assuming it is the house of the monster she is meant to marry. She resigns herself to her fate.
When Eros comes to her at night in the dark he is tender and loving and sweet and they share many happy nights together. They are thoroughly happy even though Psyche has not yet laid eyes on him and will not as this is his one rule. Until her jealous sisters show up and convince her that she must sneak in on him and see what kind of monster he really is. She drips oil from her lamp on his arm and wakes him and for one second she lays eyes on her beloved in all his god of love glory and he leaves. Never to return because she broke the rule and hence lost his trust. After carrying out some very impossible tasks including going down to Hades she wins him back and they marry by the hand of Zeus himself.
It's a beautiful story and full of meaning and possible interpretation that I will let you ponder for yourselves...
In the modern world the word Eros is defined thus:
the sum of life preserving instincts that are manifested as impulses to gratify basic needs, as sublimated impulses, and as impulses to protect and preserve the body and mind.
Eros (concept) : love mostly of the sexual passion. The term "erotic" but also in a wider sense almost an equivalent to "life force".
Plato, Freud, and Jung all spent a bit of time discussing Eros. They sort of explain Eros as man's desire for wholeness and truth etc.
You have to admit Eros does indeed inspire. I don't really know the connection between Cupid and Valentine's Day but I prefer the art depicting Eros over that of the chubby baby with an arrow. On the other hand some Valentines Day cards are pretty cute!