Psyche & Eros

written by Dana Koellner

based on original written concept by Casey Wood


Script Suggestion: Two players performing the dialogue to the right can be on stage, centre to the action but invisible to the players. The action on stage freezes until the right-side dialogue finishes. Alternatively, the dialogue on the right can be spoken as voice over.


Scene 1


A single light illuminates two performers. There is an old gramophone with a spinning record on a small table beside Performer 2. Performer 2 goes to the table and puts the needle down on the record just as Performer 1 says ‘co-creation’.

PERFORMER 1 We were sitting in the garden having another conversation about co-creation.

Suddenly all lights & Music Up on stage: A large cacophony of people moving to and fro in DELPHI on the terraces of Mount Parnassus at the Temple of Apollo, the site of the ancient Oracle at Delphi. Preparation for the Pythian Games are underway. A light comes on from above stage left, illuminating a large rock which hovers over the scene. There APHRODITE stands overlooking the festivities. Her son EROS is with her, though clearly disinterested.


The patrons of Delphi and those seeking the Oracle move busily across the stage. There is joy to their preparations, a festival is taking place, music and dancing in the streets.


FROM ABOVE, Aphrodite grows more and more agitated as she watches the scene below. Psyche continues to move throughout…


PSYCHE enters with her TWO SISTERS, their MOTHER and FATHER. They make their way through the gathering. The people of Delphi flock to Psyche. They pause in their paths at the sight of Psyche, clear the way for her, offer her gifts, wreaths, and beg for her blessing. Her sisters, jealous and enraged, fall back. Mother and Father watch in despair. Psyche notices her sisters’ withdrawal and moves to comfort them.


APHRODITE (growls) What happens here?... Who is this? What is this creature? No! Dare they worship her as they would my own divine self?



 Just look, see, there… how they follow her… long for her touch, her gaze… Even the attendants at Aphrodite’s Temple leave their ceremonies to be near her! Men intimidated by her beauty try for her hand then tremble, kneel and avert their eyes, not one will aspire to be her husband.



This girl, whoever she is, enjoys appropriating honours that are mine and beauty which is not hers by right!



Pressure stalks me as she grows. Ahhh... time makes its marks! For her older sisters, not nearly as beautiful, I have found suitable husbands, princes of wealth and fame, homes rich as palaces. I’ve married them up, positioned them well, assured their futures and yet still they are jealous. When will peace come to our house?



You’ve done very well husband, now you question?


APHRODITE (fuming to herself) No soul in my temple… They follow her around…


FATHER Any solution like sand from my fingertips…


MOTHER Perhaps Psyche requires someone other than a Prince?


WHO? A lover from the fields? A man of simple means? Diminished wealth for the most beautiful woman in all of Greece who rivals the Goddesses? NO!



(Simultaneously with Aphrodite & Mother)

MOTHER Hush! You will offend a goddess!!

PERFORMER 1 I trust that you will find a way dear.

MOTHER AND APHRODITE I trust that you will find a way dear!


EROS A way to what, mother?


APHRODITE Find a way to get rid of that creature!


EROS Who, mother?


APHRODITE (points Psyche out below) That one! Look how they fawn on her…she’s a mortal. EROS come look at HER!!!


Eros moves to the edge of the rock and peers down at Psyche – he is struck…fumbles back from the edge – almost frightened.


PERFORMER 1 Once we discussed how I was so in love, sick by it. I thought he was perfect. You told me that it wasn’t really him, it was all the things I wanted to be.

MOTHER Psyche must marry for love.



FATHER Kronos moves in spite! The hour of her marriage must not exceed her youth, when beauty is no longer her greatest compliment.


PERFORMER 1 We often looked at each other.

MOTHER Her heart is her strength, her will and place. Let us counsel the Gods, let Apollo be your guide!


FATHER Yes! Tomorrow is the 7th day of the month, we are fortuitous, The Pythia’s mind is open and should find the answer we seek with true blessing. The Great Oracle will know how to get our daughter a husband (in unison with Aphrodite).


Father and Mother re-join Psyche & sisters, all move through the crowds off stage. Lights dim to darkness below on the scene until only Aphrodite and Eros are illuminated on the rock above.


APHRODITE (to herself) Yes… If she marries… Marries some horrible thing… Let her beauty dissolve from her through pain…Why she deserves a husband does she not?


Eros nods his head yes. Aphrodite turns to her son.


APHRODITE My beautiful son, my love, my joy… I entreat you! Ensure me, your most beautiful mother, gets her revenge on this foul creature! Punish her I say. Do this for me and all your frightful exploits that have gone before shall be forgiven, even those you have caused in my name! Make this dreadful girl fall desperately in love with the most wretched of untamed creatures! Yes! Marry her off to some horrid beast and trap her forever in those abominable bonds of love.


She kisses Eros and exits.


EROS (reverently) Psyche.


Eros spreads his wings and flies from the rock to the city streets below, now in darkness.




PERFORMER 1 She was supposed to kiss him deeply.


ACT I Scene 2


Exterior town of Phocis on Mt. Parnassus. The seventh day of the month when Apollo’s Oracle at Delphi is available to see followers. Father and Mother dressed for travel, worn and worried. Pythia silent, is being smudged by a servant, flowers placed in her hair, dressed in a white flowing gown and anointed with oils. Prayers are heard in the surrounding halls. The Oracle’s tripod is set and steadied for her. She drinks from a ceremonial vessel and chews some laurel leaves. Soft music is heard.




Father and mother enter and prostrate themselves before the Oracle.


ATTENDANT PRIESTESS Your request of Apollo’s Oracle of Delphi?


FATHER I have 3 daughters of great beauty, the eldest two I have easily married to Kings, the youngest has no suitors, she is admired by all but never loved. Though she follows the rites of Aphrodite’s temple in devotion she is not a priestess and must be married soon. Is there a curse to be lifted? Have we offended a Goddess? Must we make an offering to one of the Gods? What should we do to find a husband for our daughter, Psyche?


PYTHIA (in trance) You O King will never see your last daughter married and thereby you will pay for your arrogance. To prevent her untimely death, you must chain her onto that dark craggy rock which all dread. Only in the loss of sight shall she be taken up by those whom all fear in the terror of the night.


Father erupts in grief and tears.


FATHER Oh my little child….


FADE LIGHTS:  Play recorded version of Pythia’s verse.





ACT I Scene 3


Psyche in black mourning clothes. The family escort her living corpse not to her marriage but her funeral. All save Psyche weep and wail. A lute plays a death march.


PSYCHE Why do you weep? It pains me more than you know to see such tears. I know not why Aphrodite has first blessed and then cursed me. But, fearful as I am, I must accept this fate provided by all those gifts bestowed on me from loving and jealous eyes.


Mother cries out.


FATHER The warnings of heaven must be obeyed.


Father fastens the chains around Psyche's wrists. The girl’s unhappy parents and sisters make their way homeward.


PSYCHE I tremble now…


The sound of the lute fades as darkness falls around Psyche.


The crunch of leaves is heard and then turn clearly into 4-legged footsteps.


The dance chorus slowly forms cloud-like dark unidentifiable shapes then become large and small animals (dragon, bear, wolf, rat, snake) moving around her and toward her, smelling her, circling her.


Psyche stifles her own cries of terror.


In the distance and darkness the sobbing and wailing of Father and Mother are heard.




MOTHER (V.O.) It is done now…we can only surrender to this fate.


PSYCHE Oh senses, do you abandon me? Their voices… I did hear them… Madness overtakes me…


On top of the rock we see the silhouette of a creature emerging slowly from behind. Psyche, sensing she is not alone, flattens herself against the rock. The silhouette studies her from above. The night creatures come closer and begin to growl. Psyche curls in terror. The silhouette stands and unfurls its great wings creating a deafening sound and a great wind is felt across the stage, scattering the night creatures away. The winged silhouette figure draws out a bow, aiming at its target in the darkness.


PSYCHE Are you my serpent husband? Whatever you are, take me, I embrace my fate! EMBRACE ME! I EMBRACE YOU!


PERFORMER 2 goes to the table and takes the needle off the record.

The creature lowers its bow.

PERFORMER 1 I loved that moment.





Dana Koellner