The Tale of Cupid and Psyche. Love Stories
Virgil’s Aeneas and Dido is a love story that has been in existence for decades. It is about Dido, the queen of Carthage who falls in love with Aeneas, a Trojan soldier. In the story, it is evident that Dido has fallen for Aeneas since she finally confides in her sister concerning her love for Aeneas. Dido is a widow; although she had sworn never to fall in love again, this promise is short term. After confiding in her sister about her attraction towards Aeneas, Anna advises her to proceed since it will be beneficial not only to her but to the city as well.
Virgil’s Aeneas and Dido has a number of strengths. For instance, the rate at which the relationship between Dido and Aeneas blossoms. The relationship between the two develops quite fast that Jupiter and Mercury are caught unawares. It is only after realizing the extent that the relationship has reached that Jupiter acts promptly to end it. In a move to end the relationship, Jupiter sends Mercury to converse with Aeneas and remind him of his destiny. According to Jupiter, Aeneas“…ought to be founding a city in Italy… (Virgil 12)” Similarly, after the death of her husband, Dido had sworn never to fall in love again. However, this does not happen since she falls for Aeneas the moment she spots him. Although Dido has fallen for Aeneas, she is afraid of breaking the promise she had made to her late husband. Dido confides in Anne who advises her to fall in love with Aeneas. The passion for Aeneas becomes unbearable since she finally breaks the promise she had made about being loyal.
The relationship between Aeneas and Dido was strong that it caught the attention of the gods. For instance, Venus and Juno are aware of this relationship. This becomes evident when Juno says, “…let’s do some matchmaking… (Virgil 36)” It is clear that Venus and Juno wanted the relationship between Aeneas and Dido to proceed to marriage. In a move to achieve this, Venus and Juno come up with a plan that results to Dido and Aeneas making love. In the plan, Aeneas and Dido go hunting; Juno makes the rain to fall so that the two can take cover in a cave. It is through this plan that Aeneas and Dido become intimate, which increases the strength of the relationship.
Apart from the strength, Virgil’s story also has a number of weaknesses. For instance, Dido is fond of making promises and then breaking them. For example, although she had promised to remain loyal to her dead husband, she breaks this promise the moment Aeneas walks in (Virgil 12). This implies that she is likely to end the relationship between Aeneas and herself. Additionally, by falling for Aeneas, Dido lags behind in performing her duties as the queen; thus, the work of city building starts to collapse. Another weakness of Virgil’s story is that there are some disagreements between the gods. For instance, although Juno and Venus are in support of the relationship, this is not the case for Jupiter and Mercury. When Jupiter notices the relationship, he sends Mercury who asks Aeneas to leave the city. Although the romantic relationship between Aeneas and Dido was strong, it ends tragically with the death of Dido dueto the sudden departure of Aeneas.
Apuleius’ Cupid and Psyche is a story about a romantic relationship that blossoms between Psyche and Cupid, the son of Venus, who is the goddess of love.According to the story, Psyche is quite beautiful to the extent that Venus, the goddess of love, developed hatred for her (Apuleius 39). Therefore, Venus asks her son, cupid, to go and stab Psyche with an arrow. This is evident when Venus asks Cupid to, “…punish that contumacious beauty… (Apuleius 16)” However, cupid is stunned by Psyche’s beauty so much that he stabs himself instead. Cupid immediately falls in love with Psyche and gradually a relationship blossoms between the two.
UnlikeAeneas and Dido, the story of Cupid and Psyche tends to have more strength. The story brings out the extent that one can go to in the name of seeking love.This comes out when Psyche is not ready to lose Cupid. Psyche is aware that Venus does not want her to marry Cupid, but she goes ahead to inquire about Cupid’s whereabouts from Venus. When Venus sees Psych, she refers to her as, “…the most undutiful and faithless of servants… (Apuleius 5)”Although Cupid and Psyche are from two different worlds, they are able to finally marry each other and live happily.Psyche’s love for Cupid is also seen when she accomplishes all the difficult tasks she was given by Venus. First, psyche is made to sort a huge pile of seeds before being asked to retrieve the Golden Fleece. After successfully accomplishing the first two tests, Venus then asks Psyche to fill a flask with water from river Styx. In the final test, Psyche is to go to the underworld and return with Persephone (Apuleius 79). Although these tasks are tedious, the love Psyche has for Cupid prompts her into accomplishing all the tasks.
One weaknessapparent in this story is that it contains unrealistic aspects. For instance, it is quite unrealistic for Cupid, a god, to marry Psyche who was a human being. It is therefore a weakness since it makes the story seem fictitious. Additionally, another aspect that makes the story weak is the fact that there are several incidences of disobedience. For instance, although Psyche is warned against identifying her suitor, she disobeys this statement and goes ahead to identify Cupid. Similarly, when Venus asks Psyche to fetch the Persephone, she opens it out of curiosity and instantly falls into deep sleep.
Dante’s Paola and Francesca is a story about Francesca, the daughter to the lord of Ravenna, and Gianciotto, the son to the lord of Rimini. Ravenna and Rimini have continuously been engaging in war. In a move to end the conflicts, the two lords agreed to marry off their children (Singleton). Since Gianciotto is disabled and ugly, he does not attend the wedding ceremony. Paolois the youngest brother to Gianciotto. He is picked to represent Gianciotto since he is handsome and good-looking and it is obvious that Francesca will fall in love with him. The plan proceeds well since Francesca doesn’t know the truth until the following morning when she wakes up beside Gianciotto (Singleton). However, since Francesca has fallen in love with Paolo, a secret relationship blossoms between the two (Singleton).
Although Dante’s story has a tragic end with the death of both Paola and Francesca, it is also one of the best-drafted love stories since there are a number of lessons worth learning from it. One strength is that through marriage, harmony is established between Ravenna and Rimini. This comes out when Francesca and Gianciotto get married. However, compared to stories by Virgil and Apuleius, Dante’s Paolo and Francesca has more weaknesses than strengths. The story is marred with deception. For example, during the wedding ceremony, Paolo impersonates Gianciotto since he is more handsome(Singleton). Impersonating Gianciotto increased the opportunity of Francesca accepting the marriage. This implies that Francesca was deceived about the real Gianciotto and so was her father who was the lord of Ravenna. This deception is the reason why the marriage between Gianciotto and Francesca is unstable.
Apart from impersonation, another aspect is dishonesty. Since Francesca has fallen in love with Paolo, their relationship still goes on even after the wedding(Singleton). After several years, the secret finally comes to light when Gianciotto walks in on them while behind closed doors. This discovery angers Gianciotto that he decides to kill Paolo. However, when he swings his rapier, Francesca rushes between them and takes the blow. The rapier ends up cutting through Francesca’s bosom before finally slitting through Paolo, therefore, killing both of them instantly (Singleton). It is due to these deceptions that the tragic deaths of the two couples occurs.
Although the three stories are romantic, Apuleius’ Cupid and Psyche is the most romantic love story. Unlike the other stories that end tragically with the death of main characters, it is only Apuleius’ Cupid and Psyche that ends positively when the two couples get married. Similarly, it is also the best love story since more aspects of love are depicted. For example, the tests that Psyche accomplishes when she goes in pursuit of Cupid.
Apuleius, Joel. The Tale of Cupid and Psyche. Indianna: Hackett Publishing, 2009. Print.
Singleton, Charles. “Romance Stories: Paolo& Francesca as told by Dante.” Wisdom Portal. 1977. Web. 31 October 2014. < http://www.wisdomportal.com/Romance/Paolo-Francesca.html>
Virgil & Maclennan, Keith. Virgil: Aeneid Iv. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013. Print.