Love Immortal is a large format (22 x 30 in) book illustrating the myth of Cupid & Psyche as told in Apuleius' Golden Asse in 2nd cent. BC. Through various techniques such as photocollage, transfer, acrylic, ink, pencil and embroidery, I have created images trying to retell this love story that crosses the boundaries of mortal life.
Following is an extract of this project:
The Virgin Psyche vs. Venus
"[...] the singular passing beauty and maidenly majesty of the youngest daughter, did so far surmount and excel them two, as no earthly creature could by any means sufficiently express or set out the same. [...] For why, every person honoured and worshipped this maiden instead of Venus; and in the morning at her first coming abroad, offered unto her oblations, provided banquets, called her by the name of Venus which was not Venus indeed, and in her honour presented flowers and garlands in most reverent fashion."
The Flower Bed (Transparent page overlay recalling a lace mourning veil)
"Thus poor Psyche being left alone weeping and trembling on the top of the rock, was blown by the gentle air and of shrilling Zephyrus, and carried from the hill with a meek wind, which retained her garments up, and by little and little brought her down into a deep valley, where she was laid in a bed of most sweet and fragrant flowers."
"Thus fair Psyche being sweetly couched amongst the soft and tender herbs, as in a bed of sote and fragrant flowers, and having qualified the troubles and thoughts of her restless mind, was now well reposed. And when she had refreshed herself sufficiently with sleep, she rose with a more quiet and pacified mind, and fortuned to espy a pleasant wood environed with great and mighty trees."
Past The River
"She espied likewise a running river as clear as crystal: in the midst of the wood, well-nigh at the fall of the river, was a princely edifice, wrought and builded, not by the art or hand of man, but by the mighty power of God"
The Invisible Servants
"Then Psyche moved with delectation approached nigh, and taking a bold heart entered into the house [...]. And when with great pleasure she viewed all these things, she heard a voice without any body that said: 'Why do you marvel, madame, at so great riches? behold all that you see is at your commandment [...] and we whose voices you hear be your servants, and ready to minister unto you according to your desire.' "
"All these pleasures finished, when night approached Psyche went to bed: and when she was laid, that the sweet sleep came upon her, she greatly feared her virginity, because she was alone: then came her unknown husband and lay with her: and after that he had made a perfect consummation of the marriage, he rose in the morning before day, and departed."
Our Love Is Our Secret
"The night following, Psyche's husband spake unto her (for she might feel his eyes, his hands, and his ears), and said: 'O my sweet spouse and dear wife, fortune doth menace unto thee imminent peril and danger, whereof I wish thee greatly to beware: For know thou that thy sisters, thinking thou art dead, be greatly troubled, and are come to the mountain by thy steps. Whose lamentations if thou fortune to hear, beware that thou do in no wise either make answer or look up towards them: for if thou do, thou shalt purchase to me a great sorrow, and to thyself utter destruction.' "
The Sisters' Envy
"[...] they returned again to the mountains and by the aid of the wind Zephyrus were carried down into the valley, and after they had strained their eyelids to enforce themselves to weep, they called unto Psyche in this sort: 'Thou, ignorant, of so great evil, thinkest thyself sure and happy, and sittest at home nothing regarding thy peril, whereas we go about thy affairs, and are careful lest any harm should happen unto thee: for we are credibly that there is a great serpent full of deadly poison, with a ravenous and gaping throat, that lieth with thee every night. Remember the oracle of Apollo, who pronounced that thou shouldest be married to a dire and fierce serpent; and many of the inhabitants hereby, and such as hunt about in the country, affirm that they saw him yester-night returning from pasture and swimming over the river, whereby they do undoubtedly say that he will not pamper thee long with delicate meats, but when the time of delivery shall approach, he will devour both thee and thy child.' "
" 'O my most dear sisters, I heartily thank you for your great kindness towards me, and I am now verily persuaded' that they which you hear of, have informed you of nothing but truth: for I never saw the shape of my husband, neither know I from whence he came, only I hear his voice in the night; insomuch that I have an uncertain husband, and one that loveth not the light of the day, which causeth me to suspect that he is a beast, as you affirm.' "
"But when she took the lamp, and came to the bedside, she saw the most meek and sweetest beast of all beasts, even fair Cupid couched fairly, at whose sight the very lamp increased his light for joy, and the razor turned his edge. [...] At the bed's feet lay his bow, quiver, and arrows, that be the weapons of so great a God; which when Psyche [...] took one of the arrows out of the quiver, and pricked herself withal, wherewith she was so grievously wounded that the blood followed, and thereby of her own accord she added love upon love"
"But alas while she was in this great joy, whether it were for envy, or for desire to touch this amiable body likewise, there fell out a drop of burning oil from the lamp upon the right shoulder of the God. O rash and bold lamp, the vile ministry of love, how darest thou be so bold as to burn the God of all fire when he invented thee, to the intent that all lovers might with more joy pass the nights in pleasure?"
" 'O simple Psyche, consider with thyself, how I, little regarding the commandment of my mother, who willed me that thou shouldst be married to a man of base and miserable condition, did come myself from heaven to love thee, and wounded my own body with my proper weapons to have thee to my spouse. And did I seem a beast unto thee, that thou shouldst go about to cut off my head with a razor, who loved thee so well? [...] But those cursed aiders and counsellors of thine, shall be worthily rewarded for their pains. As for thee, thou shalt be sufficiently punished by my absence." When he had spoken these words, he took his flight into the air.
Psyche Pleads Venus
"When Venus espied her she began to laugh [...] : 'O Goddess, Goddess, you are now come at length to visit your mother, or else to see your husband that is in danger of death by your means, be you assured I will handle you like a daughter; where be my maidens Sorrow and Sadness?' To whom, when they came, she delivered Psyche to be cruelly tormented; then they fulfilled the commandment of their mistress, and after they had piteously scourged her with whips and rods, they presented her again before Venus."
The First Obstacle
"When Venus had spoken these words she leaped upon the face of poor Psyche, and, tearing her apparel, took her violently by the hair, and dashed her head upon the ground. Then she took a great quantity of wheat, barley meal, poppy seed, peas, lentils and beans, and mingled them all together on a heap, saying: 'Thou evil-favoured girl, thou seemest unable to get the grace of thy lover by no other means but only by diligent and painful service, wherefore I will prove what thou canst do; see that thou separate all these grains one from another, disposing them orderly in their quality, and let it be done before night.'"
The Second Obstacle
"When night was passed, Venus called Psyche and said: 'Seest thou yonder forest that extendeth out in length with the river? There be great sheep shining like gold, and kept by no manner of person: I command thee that thou go thither and bring me home some of the wool of their fleeces.' Psyche arose willingly, not to do her commandment, but to throw herself headlong into the water to end her sorrow."
The Third Obstacle
"Then Venus spake unto Psyche again, saying: 'Seest thou the top of yonder great hill, from whence there runneth down water of black and deadly colour, which nourisheth the floods of Styx and Cocytus? I charge thee to go thither and bring me a vessel of that water.' Wherewithal she gave her a bottle of crystal, menacing and threatening her rigorously."
"[...] Venus, who would not be appeased, but menacing more and more, said: 'What! thou seemest unto me a very Witch and Enchantress, that bringest these things to pass; howbeit thou shalt do one thing more. Take this box and go to Hell to Proserpina, and desire her to send me a little of her beauty, as much as will serve me the space of one day, and say that such as I had is consumed away since my son fell sick; but return again quickly, for I must dress myself therewithal, and go to the theatre of the Gods.' "
The Trap of Divine Beauty
"When Psyche was returned from Hell to the light of the world, she was ravished with great desire, saying: 'Am not I a fool that knowing that I carry here the divine beauty, will not take a little thereof to garnish my face, to please my lover withal?' And by and by she opened the box, where she could perceive no beauty nor anything else, save only an infernal and deadly sleep, which immediately invaded all her members as soon as the box was uncovered, in such sort that she fell down on the ground, and lay there as a sleeping corpse."
But Cupid being now healed of his wound and malady, not able to endure the absence of Psyche, got him secretly out at a window of the chamber where he was enclosed, and, receiving his wings, took his flight towards his loving wife; whom when he had found he wiped away the sleep from her face, and put it again into the box, and awaked her with the tip of one of his arrows, saying: "O wretched caitiff, behold thou werest well-nigh perished again with thy overmuch curiosity; well, go thou, and do thy message to my mother, and in the mean season I will provide for all things accordingly." Wherewithal he took his flight into the air, and Psyche brought her present to Venus.
Immortal Love Wed
Cupid being more and more in love with Psyche, and fearing the displeasure of his mother, did pierce into the heavens, and arrived before Jupiter to declare his cause. Then Jupiter after that he had eftsoons embraced him, [...] he commanded Mercury to call all the Gods to council, [...] and began to speak in this sort: 'O ye Gods, registered in the books of the Muses, you all know this young man Cupid, whom I have nourished with mine own hands, whose raging flames of his first youth I thought best to bridle and restrain. It sufficeth in that he is defamed in every place for his adulterous living, wherefore all occasion ought to be taken away by mean of marriage: he hath chosen a maiden that fancieth him well, and hath bereaved her of her virginity, let him have her still and possess her according to his own pleasure.' Then he returned to Venus, and said: 'And you, my daughter, take you no care, neither fear the dishonour of your progeny and estate, neither have regard in that it is a mortal marriage, for it seemeth unto me just, lawful, and legitimate by the law civil.' "