A-Z: General definitions: Psyche


The myth of Psyche presents her as a mortal king’s daughter of such beauty that she caused people to forget Venus, the goddess of love. This caused Venus to want to destroy her. Although Psyche becomes the bride of Venus’s son Eros, she loses him and then wanders through the world, being attacked by Venus, for whom she must accomplish fearful tasks. However, Psyche was helped by the gods and by nature until such time as she was reunited with Eros and forgiven by Venus, then eventually made immortal by Zeus.

Thus Psyche represents the human soul made immortal through love. In art she is frequently depicted as having the wings of a butterfly, to suggest the lightness of the soul, of which the butterfly is a symbol. In the ancient world, when a man had just died, his body was often portrayed as having a butterfly fluttering above it, as if emerging from his mouth. In Greek the word ‘psyche’ means both soul and butterfly.


From the Greek 'psyche' meaning both soul and butterfly
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