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Psyche [Syʹke]


A beautiful maiden beloved by Cupid, who visited her every night, but left her at sunrise. Cupid bade her never seek to know who he was, but one night curiosity overcame her prudence, and she went to look at him. A drop of hot oil fell on his shoulder, awoke him, and he fled. Psyche next became the slave of Venus, who treated her most cruelly; but ultimately she was married to Cupid, and became immortal, Mrs. Henry Tighe has embodied in six cantos this exquisite allegory from Apuléios.

This subject was represented by Raphael in a suite of thirty-two pictures, and numerous artists have taken the loves of Cupid and Psyche for their subject; as, for example, Canova, Gerard, Chaudet, etc. The cameo of the Duke of Marlborough is said to have been the work of Tryphon of Athens.

⁂ Raphael’s illustrations of the adventures of Psyche were engraved for a superb edition in 4to (De la Fable de Psyche), published by Henri Didot.

Fair Psyche, kneeling at the ethereal throne,

Warmed the fond bosom of unconquered love.”

Darwin: Economy of Vegetation, iv.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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