Psyche was born as the youngest of three daughters to the rulers of a Greek city. Since her childhood, she was an object of admiration and envy because of her extraordinary beauty. Crowds would gather in the street below to admire her as if they were celebrating the beauty of a goddess. Fearing the gods would punish them, she tried to discouraged these actions to not avail.
As she matured and became increasingly beautiful, Psyche grew miserable - no one wanted to be friends with her as they were too threatened by her beauty and no one dared to court her as the only love she could inspire in them was more of a hopeless infatuation. Her sisters were so jealous of her that, while they gave the appearance of being nice to her, they said the mean things about her behind her back and encouraged others to be mean to her as well.
Marriage with Eros
Jealous that they were worshiping a mortal girl instead of her, Aphrodite ordered her son Eros, the god of love, to make Psyche fall in love with a hideous creature. However, he fell in love with Psyche instead. The Oracle of Delphi told Pscyhe's father that a beast is feared by even the gods required to put her on on the tallest spire of rock on the kingdom. As no mortal could disobey the Oracle, Psyche jumped to her death, only to be saved by Zephyros, god of the West Wind. He took her to a sprawling white villa with rose gardens and filled with invisible servants.
One of the servants said that her husband, the invisible lord of the house, would arrive after dark. When the time came, Psyche couldn't see him as it was so dark. He said he couldn't show her his identity because then their marriage would fall apart and she'd suffer terribly, but the two befriended each other and she fell in love. During their time together, she got pregnant, a fact nobody noticed until a few months later.
One day, Psyche wanted to go home to visit her family, but her husband told her that she could never come back if she left. He revealed that she was actually under death sentence by the gods, especially Aphrodite, so she'd be exposed if she left. Psyche convinced her husband to bring her sisters to him instead, so Zephyros took them there. The sisters loved the villa there, but soon realize it may be some kind of trick. They revealed to Psyche that their father died of sadness due to her not visiting and believed that her husband was a Dragon. With her sisters' convincing, Psyche took a razor and went to her chambers with open eyes in the night, only to find that her husband was actually Eros. He woke up when a drop of hot oil from the lamp she had burned his shoulder. Trying to help, Pscyhe grabbed the left ankle of Eros, who flew away and dropped her under a cypress tree. Furious that she betrayed his trust, Eros disappeared their palace and ran to his mother.
Upon hearing a comment from Pan nearby, Psyche decided to go find Eros herself so she could reconcile with him. But first, a revengeful Psyche caused the death of her sisters by tricking them into falling off cliffs, saying that Zephyros would save them.
After walking for days, Psyche decided to rest and ask for help in the near temples, which she decided to clean after finding them dirty and forgotten. When she cleaned a temple of Demeter, the goddess appeared to her and thanked her, but revealed Psyche had to find Eros on her own. Psyche later cleaned an altar of Hera, who thanked her but said she couldn't protect her from Aphrodite. Hearing her, Psyche decides to confront the goddess of beauty herself.
As Eros was still recovering, he told her mother what really happened, much to Aphrodite's fury. Upon being brought in Aphrodite's palace by Hera, Aphrodite made Psyche complete several tasks if she wanted to be her son's wife or she would die. First, she had to sort out mountains grains into the correct bags before dinner time. Demeter sent ants to do it as a thank you for cleaning her temple. Next, Psyche had to fetch some wool of sheep for clothes to mend. Some reeds near a river got it for her as Hera's reward for cleaning her altar. Then, Psyche had to travel up a tall mountain to fill a pitcher of water from a sacred spring, one of the headwaters for the River Styx. Having overheard this, Eros convinced Zeus to send an eagle to get the water instead.
Furious that Psyche had passed them all, Aphrodite decided the final task: Psyche was to go to the Underworld and ask Persephone if she could borrow some beauty cream. Returning the tower of rock, a hidden Eros told Psyche that there is a volcanic crater leading to the Underworld. She paid Charon two Golden drachmas and gave Cerberus honey-flavored rice cakes from Sparta in order to get inside. At Hades' Palace, Persephone put light in the rosewood box Psyche had and told her not to open it.
On the way out of the Underworld, a very dirty-looking and tired Psyche decided to take some of the beauty cream for herself because unlike Aphrodite she really needed it. Instead of beauty cream, Persephone put actually Stygian sleep inside, the essence of the Underworld, intended for Aphrodite for causing problems before. The Stygian sleep filled Psyche's lungs until she passed out.
Having regained his strength, Eros flew to Psyche, but found her in a delicate state. He took her to Mount Olympus during one of Apollo's plays when Aphrodite arrived. The other gods took pity in Psyche and decided to make her the goddess of the human soul.
After she recovered, the couple formally reconciled. Soon afterwards, Psyche gave birth to Hedone, goddess of pleasure.
Cupid tells the story of Psyche to Jason Grace and Nico di Angelo while the two are at his palace. Nico goes through the story of Psyche herself when reveals he had a crush on Percy Jackson, even following Favonius.
As shown in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, Psyche understands human suffering better than any other god. She is extremely determined and pious (the latter out of fear), qualities which encourage her to start (and allow her to survive) her trials.
Despite her extraordinary beauty, Psyche isn't egotistical. In the past, she actually wished regular looks because she didn't want overwhelming attention.
Though she isn't a bad person, Psyche can very revengeful if someone harms her in any way. After her jealous sisters indirectly caused her temporary separation with Eros and the disappearance of her house, she planned their deaths.
Psyche's fatal flaw is insecurity. Despite being happily married, her doubts about her husband (who never showed his face) quickly increased after her sisters convinced her that she was married to a monster.
Psyche has tanned skin, brown eyes, and blonde hair. She is described as being extremely gorgeous, to the point many thought she was more beautiful than Aphrodite.
Before she jumped to her death, Psyche wore a black silk funeral gown, covered her face with a black bridal veil and gave a bouquet of black flowers.
When she became a goddess, Psyche gained butterfly-like wings. She wears shimmering gossamer robes.
Psyche has the standard powers of a goddess
- Flight: Psyche is able to fly through her wings.
- Superhuman Durability: Even as a mortal, Psyche showed considerable durability. Despite being heavily pregnant, she walked for many days and traveled to distant places. Her resistance increased dramatically after she became a goddess.
- Intelligence: Psyche is very smart, though no one seemed to notice that since they saw her beauty first. She tricked her sisters into their deaths and distracted Cerberus to enter at Hades' palace.
- Psyche was one of the, if not the first, heroes to go to the Underworld.
- Psyche is the second known human to become a goddess by marrying a god, the first being Ariadne.
- Percy Jackson speculates that the famous fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast is most likely based on the story of Psyche and Eros.
- Her Norse equivalent is Nanna.