Many name-words have been derived from the Greek Psyche, meaning «breath», hence life or the soul itself. The essence of psyche is one’s rational and spiritual being. Its derivatives range from psychiatrist to psychedelic to psychoanalysis to psychology.
Psyche, the youngest of three daughters of a certain king, was so beautiful that people stopped worshiping Venus and turned their adoration to this young girl. Venus was so enraged that she ordered her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest creature he could find. But when Cupid saw her, he fell in love with her himself. He then transported Psyche to a fairy palace, visiting her nightly but departing at sunrise. Cupid warned her that she must refrain from trying to find out who he was.
When Psyche became lonely, she asked that her sisters be permitted to visit her. He consented. When her jealous sisters learned that Psyche had never seen her visitor, they terrified her into believing that he would turn into a serpent and creep into her womb and devour her and her baby. Psyche’s curiosity got the best of her, and so when she next went to bed, she took a lantern and a dagger with her. After Cupid had fallen asleep, Psyche lit the lamp, holding the dagger at the ready. But she beheld the beautiful features of the god of love, and was so startled that she let a drop of oil fall on his shoulder, thus awakening him. When Cupid realized that Psyche must know who he was, he rose and flew away.
Psyche wandered far and wide searching for her lover. She then became a slave of Venus, who imposed on her heartless tasks and treated her cruelly. But Cupid, despite his sudden exit, so desperately missed her that he made a clean breast of everything to Jupiter, who approved of Cupid’s union with Psyche. When Psyche approached the passage leading back to the upper world, she was given a jar and told not to open it. But curiosity again got the best of her, so she ignored the warning and opened the jar. Immediately she was overpowered by a deadly sleep from its contents.
Cupid found her and brought her back to life and carried her up to Olympus. The marriage of Psyche and Cupid was celebrated by all the gods, even by Venus. Psyche bore a daughter, Voluptas, which means «pleasure», and the three of them lived together happily ever after.