"as if the child were drawn by the same combination of ideas as moved the ancients to picture the psyche with butterflies' wings"

   In classical myth, Psyche (soul) is a young girl who suffers many hardships at the hands of a jealous goddess before finally ascending to immortality, mirroring the transformation of the butterfly which she is often depicted as partly resembling.  This version of the myth is told in Books Four to Six of Lucius Apuleius' 2nd century novel Metamorphoses, also known as The Golden Ass.


Online edition of Apuleius' 'Metamorphoses', as translated by William Adlington, (1566)


Online collection of myth and literature regarding Psyche at Theoi.com