chapter  XII
18 Pages

The Tale of Cupid and Psyche

ByMark Edwards

The romance of Cupid and Psyche, while embedded in a fine novel by Apuleius, has been thought too great for its context. This chapter highlights a number of sources that have hitherto been neglected, but shows that philosophy in this period did not disdain the folktale, and that allegorists are often most successful when they are not the sole contrivers of their myths. The part assigned to Venus in the fable of Cupid and Psyche is the silhouette of that which Fortune plays throughout the novel, until Isis, who describes herself as Lucius' "better fortune", intervenes. The chapter concludes, since the strongest and most numerous affinities are supplied by Valentinus, that Apuleius moved in circles close to Gnostic thought. Seeing that some features of his tale are prone to allegory, the chapter describes the whole to be nothing more than an elegant draping for the common furniture of Platonism.