After the foolish mistake Psyche made in disobeying her husband, Cupid, and gazing upon him while he slept, all she could think of was how to win him over, how to regain the god of love's trust. As if that alone wasn't difficult enough Cupid's mother, Venus, had to interfere with their reunion. She told Psyche that she must complete tasks in order to see her beloved husband once again. The first of which was to separate small seeds into their correct pile by nightfall, and since the day was already half gone the task seemed hopeless. However, the small ants of the earth took pity on Psyche and helped her separate the seeds as instructed. Venus was filled with an uncontrolled anger when she returned to see the completed work. Psyche felt as if she were floating on air, her body and mind were completely revitalized until Venus said,
"Your work is by no means over" She hissed, and assigned the next difficult task. "Down by the river bank, you are to go and fetch me the Golden Fleece," from the ill tempered, but beautiful sheep as they grazed in the afternoon sun. Psyche would do anything to see her lovely husband again, and to her own astonishment she agreed to the order. After all, this was by means not the worst thing she had been instructed to do. Being the most beautiful daughter out of three sisters, many men had tried to take advantage of her perfect body. Outrageous command after outrageous command followed her since she had started maturing, so gathering a bit of fleece seemed like a piece of cake.
Despite her best efforts, Psyche could not avoid the overwhelming feeling of helplessness. In the back of her mind a horrible little voice whispered to her, "It is all in vain," it told her "The man will never love a wretch like you." She shook her head to clear away the thoughts, and focused on the slopping path beneath her feet. Every now and then her dress would catch on a twig or she would scratch her delicate legs on a stocky, thorn covered weed. With her eye on the prize, Psyche slinked forward, arms outstretched to gather the soft fleece. Each attempt ended in failure as the sheep would simply snort and trot away. Loosing herself to the helplessness of the situation, Psyche knelt by the river side and gazed at her reflection. "It wouldn't be hard," the voice whispered to her "To jump in and end your misery once and for all." For a brief moment Psyche was tempted to do just that; jump into the icy river and end her sorrows, but before she could a green reed spoke to her. "Wait," it urged her "You must wait until the sheep leave. Then gather their Fleece that is stuck in the bushes."
Another run of good luck, Psyche did just as told to do. Upon returning with the Golden Fleece, Venus assigned Psyche the most difficult task. "Go and fill this," she tossed a container at Psyche, "at the mouth of the river Styx. Its black water is to be returned to me within an hour's time." By now Venus caught onto the fact that Psyche was having help in her tasks. She forbade the creatures of the earth and the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea from helping Psyche in her task.
No one can command that which is free, and as it happened a great eagle, the symbol for freedom, swooped down and helped Psyche. It took the container in its beak and filled it with the needed black water. The familiar feeling of floating on air washed over her aching body, allowing Psyche the chance to climb safely down from the cliff.
Venus had come up with a backup plan should this one also fail, she had stolen three arrows from her son, one to use on him, one to use on a more suitable spouse, and the final to be plunged deep into Psyche's heart. Psyche would die of a broken heart.
She did just that, when Psyche came to her for the final task, Venus took out the sacred arrow and plunged it deep into Psyche's heart. Red blood spilled out over her pure white dress. "No one can be more loved than I!" Venus shouted, throwing Psyche's body to the earth.
Psyche's dying thoughts were of the horrible voice gloating in victory and of the sight of the lovely Cupid as he slept. She could have taken her last breath to curse the handsome god for leaving over such a foolish thing, but she could not. Though her heart was physically and emotionally broken her soul was whole and belonged to Cupid. Psyche died blessing him and begging his forgiveness.
Cupid heard the blessing, his heart was instantly healed. He begged and pleaded with Hades to release his beautiful bride, but Hades would do no such thing, a beautiful woman who is forever to stay in the underworld, would not be handed over easily or at all.
Venus had won her spot back as the most beautiful woman, Hades had taken another bride, and Cupid had no choice to return to his work. With each arrow of love shot he was reminded of his lost love, so with each arrow he added with it pain. Love was to be forever painful and blind and complicated. Love was to be pure and confusing, for the pure love he held for Psyche and for the confusion of why she had been so unjustly taken from him.
Man to Man, woman to woman, man to woman, it didn't matter, love was love. It will always be so.