The Dream of Oenghus
The Celtic myth, "The Dream of Oenghus," relates the tale of Oenghus the Celtic god of love and his long search for true love. Oenghus is the son of Boann and Daghdhae. Boann the white cow goddess, and Daghdhae the father of all gods, the "good god."
In a dream Oenghus sees "the loveliest figure in Ireland
" His memory of this vision makes him ill with loneliness and he begins to waste away. With the help of his mother, and another of his fathers' sons, Bodhbh, he begins his search for the girl he dreamt of. When, after years, he successfully completes his search the lovers' travels to Bruigh Mac, his home.
Chronologically and geographically distant, Apuleius second century record of the original Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche also relates a story of amorous pursuit. In Apuleius account Psyche is the most beautiful of all mortals. "The fame of her surpassing beauty spread over the earth
and men would even say that Venus herself could not equal this mortal." Out of jealousy, Venus commands Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with "the vilest and most despicable creature in the whole world." However, dispatched on his errand Cupid is astonished by her beauty and "as if he had shot one of his arrows into his own heart" falls completely in love with her.
Cupid dumbfounded by the love he suddenly feels carries Psyche off. Although Psyche is never able to gaze on Cupid she is confident of the love her unseen paramour expresses in the dark each night. Eventually, prompted by her unbelieving and somewhat envious sisters she lights a lamp and discovers that her lover is Cupid. Unfortunately, Cupid hurt by both the oil sputtering from the lamp and her faithlessness fees. Psyche deeply grieved by her lack of faith and subsequent loss of love pledges to search for Cupid forever. "I can spend the rest of my life searching for him. If he has no more love left for me, at least I can show him how much I love him." Eventually after many trials and tribulations, largely at the inspiration of the still jealous Venus, she is reunited with Cupid and comes to live the live of the immortals.
These myths share a common fundamental theme. In both instances, the myths document a love between a mortal and a god. Moreover, both of the courtship's involve long periods of separation, difficult and desperate journeys in pursuit of the beloved, and deep ongoing uncertainty as to the ultimate outcome of the fat of the lovers. Clearly, it is not unreasonable to contend that they cover some common ground and address a conventional human dilemma.
At the same time one can identify significant differences in the myths. "The Dream Of Oenghus" a god, Oenghus, pursues a mortal. In "Cupid And Psyche" a mortal Psyche, must illustrate her love for the immortal, Cupid. Oenghus, receives the willing assistance of other immortals in his search for his beloved. Cupid is also occasionally assisted by other immortals. However, Cupid and Psyche also endure the wrath of Venus and her endless demands on Psyche. In their relationship they must labor
against malevolent gods.
In the "Dream Of Oenghus" Caer, the mortal object of Oenghus' passion, is remarkably free of the influence of the gods. Oenghus must seek her, he must identify her, and he cannot simply buy her. In the tale of "Cupid and Psyche" it is psyche who must demonstrate her love and endure humiliation and hard labor to win back her ideal and supernatural lover, Cupid.
Thus, these myths share a common theme, courtship and the pursuit of love: Specifically, the pursuit of divine or ideal love. However, their representations of this vary significantly. Nevertheless, these variations serve to reveal a great deal about the assumptions underlying these myths. Assumptions that relate to the nature of the gods, human nature, and the experience of love. The remainder of this discussion will focus on these slight but specific variations in an...
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