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Chapter 38

Cupid and Psyche
Apuleius

"Cupid and Psyche," which is part of a longer Latin work called Metamorphoses, represents a unique combination of myth and fairy tale. It includes elements more common to myth: deities are major characters, gods exhibit characteristics familiar from earlier mythic traditions—in particular, they are vindictive when they feel humans are overstepping boundaries. However, the work also contains elements that are hallmarks of the fairy tale as described by Propp (Chapter 35), including traditional donor figures, identifiable "moves" within the plot development, well-defined tasks to be accomplished by the hero, and a happy ending.

Many of the characters are deities, but they often behave in unflattering, human ways, marking the story as belonging to a society that still knew the tradition but had given up belief in it. As you read, look for instances of irony and humor that would have appealed to this Roman audience and give reasons why, based on what you have learned about Apuleius' society. Consider the story as a member of that "dark" tradition that is harder to analyze by means of Jungian analysis. What insights does this perspective give you?



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