Cupid and Psyche Summary

This is a short summary of the ancient Roman story of Cupid and Psyche as told in the book, "The Golden Ass."

Cupid and Psyche


Cupid is widely known as the god of love, or lust, who makes certain people crave each other, but in one story, this god himself falls for a beautiful young woman. The story of Cupid and Psyche, as it’s told in The Golden Ass, is about a young, beautiful woman named Psyche who falls in love with Cupid. However, Psyche doesn’t know who Cupid really is because he only visits her at night, and warns her never to try seeing his face. Psyche eventually disobeys these warnings, and the story goes on to illustrate the massive amount of trouble Psyche gets into as a result of her naivety.


The story of Cupid and Psyche begins with Psyche and her two older sisters, all three of whom are described as very beautiful women. However, Psyche’s beauty far surpasses that of her sisters; she is so gorgeous, in fact, that people come from all over the world to see her for themselves. This made her lonely, though, because she was viewed as a piece of art, and no one dared to actually touch or get involved with her. In addition, the goddess Venus became jealous of Psyche’s beauty because it distracted people from paying tribute to Venus. In order to exact vengeance, Venus ordered her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with a very ugly and miserable man. Cupid himself, however, fell in love with Psyche and, without allowing her to see his face or know who he really was, had her fall in love with him as well. Trouble began brewing, though, when Psyche’s sisters, in their jealousy, convinced her that her unknown husband was a monster and she should stab it while it sleeps. Psyche’s attempt to kill him did not end well when she found out he was really Cupid, and he, angry at Psyche for disregarding his warnings and assuming he was a monster, flew away from her.


Psyche, by this point, was pregnant with Cupid’s child, and began wandering the known world in search of Cupid. During her travels, she came upon the shrines of multiple goddesses, and, knowing Venus was furious with her, asked the goddesses she came upon to protect her from Venus. Each goddess, however, could not risk betraying Venus and merely expressed sympathy for Psyche. Eventually, Psyche decided her best course of action would be to seek out Venus and ask forgiveness rather than avoiding her, and Venus gave Psyche task after task to complete, each one harder than the last. Every time, Psyche would gain some sort of miraculous help from something in her environment and complete the task. This happened until the final task, in which, Psyche was to deliver a package to Venus without opening it or looking inside. Psyche, however, was overpowered by her curiosity and looked inside the box. The contents put her into a deep sleep. By this time, though, Cupid could no longer stand to be without Psyche, and he rushed to her and put the deep sleep back in its box.


Shortly after Cupid’s rescue of Psyche, it was decided by the gods that the two lovers were to be together. Psyche was made immortal by Jupiter, so Venus would not feel ashamed of her son’s match. A divine celebration took place in the heavens; Psyche and Cupid were officially married in the presence of the gods, and they had their first child, a daughter named Pleasure. In the end, nothing stood between Cupid and Psyche living together happily.

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