Do you know the legend about Cupid and Psyche?
The story of Cupid and Psyche is one of the most beautiful love stories ever written; we find it the novel called “Metamorphosis” composed by the Latin writer Apuleius. He was a Numidian berber and He was from Madaurus (now M’Daourouch, Algeria). He lived under the Roman Empire.
The history beging with a king and a queen who had three daughters, one of which was called Psyche. Psyche had such a rare beauty that others thought she was the incarnation of Venus, so everyone adored her, neglecting the Goddess Venus. Venus, who was jealous of Psyche, asked the help of her beloved son, Cupid. Her revenge consisted in making Psyche fall in love with the ugliest and unlucky man on earth in order to cover her with shame because of this relationship. But when Cupid saw Psyche he was attracted by her beauty and let the arrow prepared for Psyche fall on his foot, so that he would fall deeply in love. Since he could not stay away from his beloved, he asked Zephir to transport Psyche to Cupid’s palace. Every night Cupid would go to Psyche without showing himself because he wanted to hide from the wrath of his mother Venus. He told Psyche that he was her bridegroom and told her not to ask him who he was and not to even see him. One day, Psyche’s sisters persuaded her to find out her lover’s identity, so she took an oil lamp and a sword, for fear he was a horrible monster. Psyche found Cupid when he was sleeping; she held the lamp close to his face and remained enchanted by his beauty that she fell in love. She was about to kiss him when Cupid realized what had happened and ran away. Venus, when she found out about what had happened, was filled with wrath against Psyche. She submitted her to several difficult tasks, which Psyche overcame brilliantly. Not content, Venus gave her the most difficult task of all, which consisted in going into the Underworld and asking the Goddess Proserpina for a some of her beauty. Psyche went into the Underworld as requested and received an ampoule from Proserpina which should never be opened. But Psyche, curious about the content, opened it and found that inside there was not beauty, but endless sleep, which she then fell into.
Jupiter, moved by compassion, made sure that Cupid was able to awaken Psyche so that the two lovers could stay together forever. The two married each other and from their union was born a child named Pleasure.
The famous painter and sculptor Antonio Canova, considered the highest exponent of the Neoclassicism and thus known as “the new Fidia”, transmitted with his most famous work “Cupid and Psyche”, the feeling of passion that connects the two lovers from the myth.
“Cupid and Psyche” was created by Canova between 1788 and 1791, and nowadays is exposed at the Museum of the Louvre, in Paris. The work is made from white marble, smooth and finely polished. The work represents the god Cupid while contemplating with tenderness the face of his beloved. The two figures are represented in the act before the kiss, a movement charged with tension, but without the emotional turmoil that the act of kissing would cause the viewer. The characters, in their young bodies and with their perfect shape, are idealized with a criterion of absolute and spiritual beautiness. The elegant flowing of the shapes underlines the freshness of the two lovers, and in fact it represents Canova’s idea of beauty, or rather the combination of natural and idealised beauty.
What feelings does this sculpture evoke in you?
Do you know other sculptures inspired from mythology?
What are the most important artists of the tradition of your country?
Valeria, Laura, Alice, Mayar and Hugo, from 4°B Linguistico del liceo “Primo Levi”
Per visualizzare la versione in francese, clicca qui: francais