Apuleius Metamorphoses 5.25-27

Luke Garges /
  • Created on 2018-09-28 19:58:18
  • Modified on 2018-10-15 05:42:25
  • Translated by A.S. Kline
  • Aligned by Luke Garges
Psyche vero humi prostrata et quantum visui poterat volatus mariti prospiciens extremis affligebat lamentationibus animum . Sed ubi remigio plumae raptum maritum proceritas spatii fecerat alienum , per proximi fluminis marginem praecipitem sese dedit : sed mitis fluvius in honorem dei scilicet , qui et ipsas aquas urere consuevit , metuens sibi confestim eam innoxio volumine super ripam florentem herbis exi posuit . Tunc forte Pan deus rusticus iuxta superi cilium amnis sedebat , complexus Echo montanam deam eamque voculas omnimodas edocens recinere ; proxime ripam vago pastu lasciviunt , comam fluvii tondentes , capellae . Hircuosus deus sauciam Psychen atque defectam , utcumque casus eius non inscius , clementer ad se vocatam sic permulcet verbis lenientibus : Puella scitula , sum quidem rusticanus et upilio , sed senectutis prolixae beneficio multis experimentis instructus . Verum si recte coniecto , quod profecto prudentes viri divinationem autumant , ab isto titubante et saepius vacillante vestigio deque nimio pallore corporis et assiduo suspiritu , immo ei ipsis marcentibus oculis tuis , amore nimio laboras . Ergo mihi ausculta , nec te rursus praecipitio vel ullo mortis accersitae genere perimas . Luctum desine et pone maerorem precibusque potius Cupidinem deorum maximum percole , et utpote adolescentem delicatum luxuriosumque blandis obsequiis promerere .

Sic locuto deo pastore , nulloque sermone reddito sed adorato tantum numine salutari , Psyche pergit ire . Sed cum aliquam multum viae laboranti vestigio pererrasset , inscio quodam tramite , iam die labente , accedit quandam civitatem , in qua regnum maritus unius sororis eius obtinebat . Qua re cognita Psyche nuntiari praesentiam suam sorori desiderat ; mox inducta , mutuis amplexibus alternae salutationis expletis , percontanti causas adventus sui sic incipit : Meministi consilium vestrum , scilicet quo mihi suasistis ut bestiam , quae mariti mentito nomine mecum quiescebat , prius quam ingluvie voraci me misellam hauriret , ancipiti novacula peremerem ? Sed cum primum , ut aeque placuerat , conscio lumine vultus eius aspexi , video mirum divinumque prorsus spectaculum ; ipsum illum deae Veneris filium , ipsum inquam Cupidinem leni quiete sopitum . Ac dum tanti boni spectaculo percita et nimia voluptatis copia turbata fruendi laborarem inopia , casu scilicet pessimo lucerna fervens oleum rebullivit in eius numerum . Quo dolore statim somno recussus , ubi me ferro et igni conspexit armatam , Tu quideminquitOb istud tam dirum facinus confestim toro meo divorte tibique res tuas habeto , ego vero sororem tuam —et nomen quo tu censeris aiebat— Iam mihi confestim farreatis nuptiis coniugabo , et statim Zephyri praecipit ultra terminos me domus eius efflaret .

Necdum sermonem Psyche finierat ; illa vesanae libidinis et invidiae noxiae stimulis agitata , e re concinnato mendacio fallens maritum , quasi de morti parentum aliquid comperisset , statim navem ascendi ! et ad illum scopulum protinus pergit , et quamvis alio flante vento , caeca spe tamen inhians , Accipe me dicens Cupido , dignam te coniugem et tu , Zephyre , suscipe dominam ! saltu se maximo praecipitem dedit Nec tamen ad illum locum vel saltem mortua pervenire potuit : nam per saxa cautium membris iactatis atque dissipatis et proinde ut merebatur lacerata visceribus suis alitibus bestiisque obvium ferens pabulum interiit . Nec vindictae sequentis poena tardavit nam Psyche rursus errabundo gradu pervenit ad civitatem aliam , in qua pari modo soror morabatur alia . Nec setius et ipsa fallacie germanitatis inducta , et in sororis sceleratas nuptias aemula , festinavit ad scopulum inque simile mortis exitium cecidit .
But Psyche , though she lay bowed to the earth ,
followed her husband ' s flight as far as sight could
reach , and tormented her soul with lamentation . But
when the oarage of his wings had borne him far , and
the depth of air had snatched him from her sight , she
flung herself headlong from the brink of a river that
flowed hard by . But the kindly stream feared for
himself , and , to do honour to the god who kindles even
waters with his fire , straightway caught her in his
current and laid her unhurt upon a bank deep in flower-
ing herbage . It chanced that at that moment Pan , the
god of the country-side , sat on the river ' s brow with
Echo , the mountain-goddess , in his arms , teaching her
to make melodious answer to sounds of every kind .
Close by along the bank goats wandered as they
browsed , and wantoned as they plucked the river ' s
leafage . The goat-footed god called Psyche to him
gently , for she was bruised and swooning , and he
knew moreover what had befallen her ; and thus he
assuaged her pain with these gentle words :
" Fair maiden , I am but a rude rustic shepherd , but
long old age and ripe experience have taught me much .
Nay , if I guess aright ( though men that are wise call it
no guess , but rather divination ) , thy weak and tottering
steps , thy body ' s exceeding pallor , and thy unceasing
sighs , aye , and still more thy mournful eyes , tell me
that thou faintest beneath excess of love . Wherefore
give ear to me and seek no more to slay thyself by
casting thyself headlong down , nor by any manner of
self-slaughter . Cease from thy grief and lay aside thy
sorrow , and rather address Cupid , the mightiest of gods ,
with fervent prayer and win him to thee by tender
submission , for he is an amorous and soft-hearted
youth . " So spake the shepherd god .

Psyche made no answer , but worshipped the deity that had showed her
the path of safety and went upon her way . But when
she had wandered no small way with weary feet , about
close of day she came by a path she knew not to a certain
town , where the husband of one of her sisters held
sway . When she learned this , Psyche begged that
her presence might be announced to her sister . She
was led into the palace and there when they had made
an end of greeting and embracing one another , her
sister asked her the reason of her coming . Psyche
made answer thus : " Thou rememberest the counsel
thou didst give me , when thou didst urge me to take
a two-edged razor and slay the wild beast that lay with
me under the false name of husband , before my
wretched body fell a victim to his voracious maw .
But as soon as I took the lamp for my witness for
such , alas ! was thy counsel and looked upon his face ,
I saw a wondrous , nay , a celestial sight , even the son
of Venus , even Cupid himself , lying hushed in gentle
slumber . Transported by the sight of so much joy , and distraught by my exceeding gladness , my ecstasy
was almost more than I could endure . But at that
moment , by a cruel stroke of chance , the lamp spurted
forth a drop of burning oil , which fell upon his
shoulder . The pain wakened him forthwith from
sleep , he saw me armed with fire and blade of steel and
cried , ' In atonement for the foul crime thou hast
purposed , begone from my couch and take with thee
what is thine . I will marry thy sister ' and he
mentioned thy name ' with all due ritual . ' So saying ,
he bade the West-wind blow me beyond the confines of
the house . "

Psyche had scarcely finished when her sister , goaded
by the stings of mad lust and guilty envy , tricked her
husband with a cunningly contrived lie , pretending that
she had just received the news of her parents ' death ,
and without more ado took ship and went to that same
crag . And there , though it was no wind of the west
that blew , yet , aflame with all the greed of blind hope ,
she cried , " Take me , Cupid , a wife that is worthy
thee , and thou , wind of the west , bear up thy mistress . "
So saying , she hurled herself headlong in one mighty
leap . But not even in death might she reach that happy
place . For her limbs were tossed from rock to rock
among the crags and torn asunder , and afterwards , as
she deserved , she provided food for the birds and beasts
who devoured her entrails . Such was the manner of
her end . Nor was the doom of Cupid ' s second vengeance long
delayed . For Psyche once more was led by her wander- ing feet to another city , where the other sister dwelt , as
had dwelt the first . And even as the first , she too was
ensnared by Psyche ' s guile and , seeking in wicked
rivalry to supplant her sister as the bride of Love ,
hastened to the crag , and perished by the same death .
Psyche lay there , on the ground , watching her husband’s passage till he was out of sight , tormenting herself with the saddest lamentations . But once he was lost to view , sped onwards into the distance by his beating wings , she hurled herself from the margin of the nearest river . Yet the tender stream , respecting the god who can make even water burn , fearing for its own flow , quickly clasped her in its innocuous current and placed her on the soft turf of its flowery bank . By chance , Pan , god of the wild , was seated on the shore , caressing Echo the mountain goddess , teaching her to repeat tunes in a thousand modes . By the river’s edge , wandering she-goats grazed and frolicked , cropping the flowing grasses . The goat-legged god , catching sight of the sad and weary Psyche , and not unconscious of her plight , called to her gently and calmed her with soothing words . " Sweet lady , though I’m only a rustic herdsman , I benefit from the experience of many a long year . If I surmise rightly , though wise men call it not surmise but rather divination , by your weak and wandering footsteps , your deathly pale complexion , your constant sighs and those sad eyes , you are suffering from love’s extremes . But listen to what I say , don’t try to find death again by a suicidal leap or in some other way . Cease your mourning , end this sorrow . Rather pray to Cupid , greatest of the gods , worship him and earn his favour through blandishments and deference , for he’s a pleasure-seeking , tender-hearted youth . "

Psyche gave no reply to the shepherd god , but gave him reverence as he finished speaking , and went her way . After she’d wearily walked a good deal further , not knowing where she was , she came at twilight to a city where one of her brother-in-laws was king . Realising this , Psyche asked that her arrival be communicated to her sister . She was quickly led to her , and when they were done with embraces and greetings , her sister asked the reason for her presence . Psyche explained : " You’ll recall your counsel , when you both advised me to take a sharp razor and kill the monster that played the role of husband and slept with me , before its rapacious jaws might swallow me whole . Well , I acted on that advice , with the lamp my accomplice , but when I gazed on his face I saw an utterly wonderful , a divine sight : Venus’s child , the goddess’s son , Cupid himself I say , lying there , and sleeping peacefully . Roused by that blissful vision , disturbed by excess of joy , distressed at being unable to delight in him much longer , through dreadful mischance a drop of hot oil spurted onto his shoulder . The pain roused him from sleep and , seeing that I was armed with flame and steel , he cried : ‘For your wicked crime , you are banished from my bed , take what is yours and go . I shall embrace your sister now he spoke your name formally in holy matrimony . Then he ordered Zephyr to drive me from the palace . "

Psyche had barely finished speaking before her sister spurred on by raging passion and venomous jealousy had conceived a tale to deceive her husband . Pretending she had just had news of her parents’ deaths , she took ship , and travelled to the cliff-edge . Though an adverse wind was blowing , filled with desire and in blind hope she cried : " Accept a wife worthy of you , Cupid : carry your mistress to him , Zephyr ! And she took a headlong leap . Yet even in death she could not reach her goal . Her body was broken and torn on the jagged rocks , as she deserved , and her lacerated corpse provided a ready banquet for the wild beasts and carrion birds . Nor was the second sister’s punishment slow in arriving . Psyche wandered on to the city where her other sibling lived in similar style , who likewise roused by her sister’s story , eager to supplant her wickedly in marriage , rushed to the cliff and met the selfsame end .

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