The New Aphrodite
Carl Anton Paul Ruck
The tale of Eros and Psyche is known from its Latin version as Cupid and Psyche, encapsulated in the novel titled the Metamorphoses or Golden Ass (Asinus Aureus) of the second-century CE Apuleius from a Roman colony in northern Africa. It survived antiquity perhaps in a single manuscript and excited great interest in Florence of the Medici Renaissance because of its Neoplatonic motif of the transcendent mystical escape from the Cave of delusionary appearance. Apuleius was an initiate into the Egyptian Mystery religion of Isis, and probably also the great Mystery of Greek Eleusis. The tale had been told as well by his Syrian Greek contemporary Lucian and was already sacred in fourth century BCE Magna Graecia at certain cave sanctuaries where the promiscuously sexual love goddess Aphrodite was jointly worshipped with Demeter, the goddess of fertility, and her daughter Persephone, as patrons of the union between husbands and wives. The tale employs the peculiar monogamous mating of the butterfly and its metamorphosis within the cave-like excreted exoskeleton of its golden chrysalis. It is an allegory of the incarnation of spirit in physicality that produces a new version of sexuality as love, rewarded with immortality, and a superior version of beauty endowed with mortality.
KEY WORDS: Aphrodite, Greek Myths, Dionysus, Mystery religion
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