The Greek name "psyche" means both the real butterfly and the abstract soul. Both meanings are linked with the Greek figure of Psyche, the young woman, sometimes represented with butterfly wings, who was loved by Eros/Cupid. In Homer's works psyche is the shadow that leaves the body after death, in Platoon it's the cause of life itself. In the classical culture the liberation of the soul from the body and its progressive approach to God are represented by the metamorphosis of the butterfly that has three steps: caterpillar, chrysalis, perfect insect. Moreover the metamorphosis goes towards the sky because the caterpillar becomes a flying insect. It is a metaphor for life that is breath, air, movement. So the butterfly can represent the breath of life that goes to the sky. In Christian culture the butterfly that represents the soul, the life after death, is often situated next to Jesus as a child. As a funerary symbol this insect can be a moth, the butterfly of the dark that is attracted to light. Some scholars think that the moth with the head of a dead person represents the soul of a man who died violently.

Click here to introduction at funerary symbols.

Traduzione a cura della classe 5 H del Liceo Scientifico “Augusto Righi” di Bologna, nell'ambito del progetto di scambio culturale con il Liceo "Europaschule" di Bornheim, Germania, maggio-ottobre 2014.

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