Eros was there on the mountaintop, invisible of course. He watched Psyche make her slow progress to the top. She was truly beautiful. Mesmerized, the young god pricked himself on one of his arrows and fell deeply in love on the spot. He would be her husband, he thought. Eros called to Zephyr, the west wind, and ordered him to carry the lovely Psyche, gently, so gently, down to the valley below.
Psyche felt the soft breeze envelope and left her up. She drifted down into a beautiful green valley. What a strange, strange turn of events. It was so pleasant there that her fear abated. She found a soft spot in the shade and fell asleep.
When Psyche awoke she looked round and saw a pleasant grove of tall and stately trees. She entered the grove and discovered a fine stone wall around a glorious garden with a fountain sending forth clear crystal water. Beyond the fountain was a magnificent palace, built with great skill and artistry. She saw no one as she approached and went inside.
The palace was filled with gems and treasures piled high in room after magnificent room. Everything filled Psyche with pleasure and amazement. Such wondrous wealth- and more wondrous still, there was no lock or chain or bar upon a single door or window. This must be the palace of a god, Psyche thought.
While she was thinking and wondering, a voice addressed her. Psyche saw no one; she was quite alone. But the voice said, "Sovereign lady, all that you see is yours. We whose voices you hear are your servants and will meet your every need and desire. In the chamber beyond a warm bath has been drawn and you will find a comfortable bed. Relax and refresh yourself and when you are ready to eat simply clap your hands and food will appear.”
Psyche bathed and napped and when she awoke hungry and clapped her hands, the invisible servants served her a delightful meal. Invisible musicians played while she ate and drank delectable wines. Thus the evening passed until it was time for sleep. But Psyche had yet to see her destined husband.
He came in the hours of darkness and got into her bed with soft murmurs and tender kisses. Psyche could hear him, smell him, feel him, but she could not see him. In the morning she woke up alone. The following night was the same and although it was unusual and strange her husband was kind and loving. Psyche found her own passion for him and grew accustomed to the arrangement. In the beginning she did ask him to stay so that she could behold him, but he always said no, that it was impossible and she should not insist unless she wanted to lose all they shared together.
"Why should you wish to behold me?" he said. "Do you have any doubt of my love?
Psyche was happy was for a time. The palace was beautiful and her every need was met. But she knew that her poor parents believed that she was dead and that her sisters were also grieving. And although she was now wed, she was sometimes lonely during the long days. When Psyche discovered that she was pregnant, her desire to comfort her family and share her joy filled her heart. She desperately longed to have contact with her family. When her husband came to her that night, she told him their happy news. She also asked him to send the west wind for her sisters, to bring them to her at the palace so they could rest easy that she was well, enjoy her good fortune, and comfort her parents.
Eros said no. “Of course you love your family my dearest Psyche,” he said, “but no good will come from such a visit. Trust me. Your sisters will bring harm to you and disrupt our happiness. You are happy, are you not?” Psyche wanted to please her husband but after all, she didn’t ask much, did she? She showered him with kisses and renewed her entreaties until at last, Eros gave his unwilling consent to the visit. Psyche would see her sisters.
(Painting of Cupid and Psyche by Francois Edouard Picot, 1817).