Mythology Monday: Aphrodite, Mother-In-Law From Hell

I’ve heard of people not getting along with their in-laws, but never quite to this extreme.

So, we start off with this girl named Psyche. Now, Psyche is a ludicrously gorgeous princess, which causes her a couple of major problems. The first is that she’s so beautiful that she’s having trouble finding a husband, since every dude would rather just admire her from afar.

So, to solve this first problem, her dad goes to the oracle at Delphi to try and get some advice on what to do about this. The oracle proceeds to give him a prophecy that Psyche will end up married to this horrible, horrible monster that even the gods are afraid of. So, that’s not really ideal for her.

The second problem is that people are starting to worship Psyche rather than Aphrodite, and Aphrodite is less than pleased with this fact. So Aphrodite goes to her son Eros, and tells him to go down and make sure that Psyche falls in love with something really, really awful.

So he goes, and ends up accidentally stabbing himself with one of his own arrows and falls in love with Psyche instead.

Then comes the day for Psyche to get married, so she’s dragged off to the top of a mountain and left there for her monster betrothed to pick her up. She’s then carried by Zephyr, the west wind, so this absolutely gorgeous castle. Seriously, this castle makes Windsor Castle look like a pile of shit.

Intrigued, Psyche decides to head in, and is greeted by a bunch of voices telling her to come on in, we’ve got some food for you. Instead of running away screaming (which is what I probably would have done) she goes in and has a feast in the castle. I should probably note that she can’t actually see anyone in the castle, but everything seems to be pretty nice. This includes her husband, who she can talk to, but isn’t allowed to actually look at.

Things are going pretty well for Psyche for a while, at least up until her sisters decide to visit her. They take a look at her new place, and ask her who she’s married. Psyche, who isn’t sure herself since, you know, she’s never actually seen him, just tells them that he’s a hunter. Considering the opulence of the castle they’re currently in, they don’t buy it, think that he’s gotta be some ridiculously wealthy prince, and are insanely jealous.

So, just as they’re about to leave, tell her, “Hey, remember that prophecy the oracle gave earlier, plus the fact that your husband won’t let you look at him? Hope he’s not some kind of horrible snake man! Byyyyyyyyyyyyye!”

This puts some doubts in Psyche’s mind, so, later that night, she heads down to her husband’s room with a lantern and a dagger while he’s sleeping. And as you’ve probably guessed, her husband turns out to be Eros. Then a drop of oil from the lantern lands on Eros and he wakes up. To see Psyche standing over him. With a weapon. And then he leaves, enraged at the betrayal of his trust.

Psyche, immediately realizing that she’s fucked up pretty badly, goes to the temple of Aphrodite for guidance. This was probably the worst thing she could’ve done, because if Aphrodite was angry at her before, she’s now incandescent with rage after Psyche broke her boy’s heart. So Aphrodite decides to set Psyche a little task.

That task is to sort out a bunch of really, really tiny seeds from each other. Before the end of the day. Which, Psyche realizes right off the bat is impossible. Thankfully for her, because apparently she’s a princess of the Disney variety, a bunch of ants take pity on her and decide to sort out the seeds for her.

Aphrodite calls foul on this, since she didn’t sort them herself, and sets her to another task. This time, she’s to gather water in a bottle from the river Styx. A river in Hades with extremely high cliffs and no real path to it. This time, though, an eagle sees how unfair this is and takes the bottle to the river and fills it up.

Aphrodite, again, accuses Psyche of cheating and gives her another task. She hands the girl a box, and tells her to go down into Hades and get some of Persephone’s beauty. So Psyche pays Charon, the ferryman of the dead, to let her pass through, and winds up in front of Persephone’s throne. She explains the situation and Persephone, happy to help, puts some of her beauty in the box and Psyche goes on her way.

Aphrodite, pissed off that this didn’t work, then just flat out tells Psyche that she’ll never see Eros again, and will remain her servant for basically the rest of her life.

By now the rest of the gods have noticed what’s going on, and are starting to get a bit sick of Aphrodite’s shit. So they send Hermes to Eros to tell him what his mom’s up to. Eros, who by this point has forgiven Psyche, decides to go chew out his mom. Once there, he finds her in Aphrodite’s garden, about half dead from exhaustion.

He takes her up to Olympus, and gives her some ambrosia, basically making her a minor goddess, and she remains there with him. Which Aphrodite is OK with, since because she’s not on earth anymore for dudes to fawn over, people have started worshipping her again instead.

So things ended pretty well for everyone involved. Aphrodite’s still kind of an asshole, though.

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