Greek and Roman Myths in Art


 

 



Venus

 

 


see also:

The Odyssey of Homer


illustrations by John Flaxman

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Greek and Roman Myths in Art

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see also EXPLORATION (in Russian):

Homer  "Iliad "and "Odyssey"

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Apuleius "The Golden Asse"

illustrations by Jean de Bosschere and Martin Van Maele

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Longus

"The Pastorals, or the Loves of Daphnis and Chloe"

illustrations by Marc Chagall

***
 

 


Greek and Roman Myths in Art
 

 

 


Venus
 



see also:
Venus - The Evening Star

 


Venus

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)


ancient Italian goddess associated with cultivated fields and gardens and later identified by the Romans with the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.

Venus had no worship in Rome in early times, as the scholar Marcus Terentius Varro (116–27 bc) shows, attesting that he could find no mention of her name in old records. This is corroborated by the absence of any festival for her in the oldest Roman calendar and by her lack of a flamen (special priest). Her cult among the Latins, however, seems to be immemorial, for she had apparently at least two ancient temples, one at Lavinium, the other at Ardea, at which festivals of the Latin cities were held. Hence, it was no long step to bring her to Rome, apparently from Ardea itself. But how she came to be identified with so important a deity as Aphrodite remains a puzzle.

That Venus’ identification with Aphrodite took place fairly early is certain. A contributory reason for it is perhaps the date (August 19) of the foundation of one of her Roman temples. August 19 is the Vinalia Rustica, a festival of Jupiter; hence, he and Venus came to be associated, and this facilitated their equation, as father and daughter, with the Greek deities Zeus and Aphrodite. She was, therefore, also a daughter of Dione, was the wife of Vulcan, and was the mother of Cupid. In myth and legend she was famous for her romantic intrigues and affairs with both gods and mortals, and she became associated with many aspects, both positive and negative, of femininity. As Venus Verticordia, she was charged with the protection of chastity in women and girls. But the most important cause of the identification was the reception into Rome of the famous cult of Venus Erycina—i.e., of Aphrodite of Eryx (Erice) in Sicily—this cult itself resulting from the identification of an Oriental mother-goddess with the Greek deity. This reception took place during and shortly after the Second Punic War. A temple was dedicated to Venus Erycina on the Capitol in 215 bc and a second outside the Colline gate in 181 bc. The latter developed in a way reminiscent of the temple at Eryx with its harlots, becoming the place of worship of Roman courtesans, hence the title of dies meretricum (“prostitutes’ day”) attached to April 23, the day of its foundation.

The importance of the worship of Venus-Aphrodite was increased by the political ambitions of the gens Iulia, the clan of Julius Caesar and, by adoption, of Augustus. They claimed descent from Iulus, the son of Aeneas; Aeneas was the alleged founder of the temple of Eryx and, in some legends, of the city of Rome also. From the time of Homer onward, he was made the son of Aphrodite, so that his descent gave the Iulii divine origin. Others than the Iulii sought to connect themselves with a deity grown so popular and important, notably Gnaeus Pompeius, the triumvir. He dedicated a temple to Venus as Victrix (“Bringer of Victory”) in 55 bc. Julius Caesar’s own temple (46 bc), however, was dedicated to Venus Genetrix, and as Genetrix (“Begetting Mother”) she was best known until the death of Nero in ad 68. But despite the extinction of the Julio-Claudian line, she remained popular, even with the emperors; Hadrian completed a temple of Venus at Rome in ad 135.

As a native Italian deity, Venus had no myths of her own. She therefore took over those of Aphrodite and, through her, became identified with various foreign goddesses. The most noteworthy result of this development is perhaps the acquisition by the planet Venus of that name. The planet was at first the star of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and thence of Aphrodite. Because of her association with love and with feminine beauty, the goddess Venus has been a favourite subject in art since ancient times; notable representations include the statue known as the “Venus de Milo” (c. 150 bc) and the painting “The Birth of Venus” (c. 1485) by Sandro Botticelli.

 


Part II

 

 

 

Jacques-
Lois
David
1748-1825
France

Mars Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces.
1824
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

 

Domenichino
1581-1641
Italy

The Repose of Venus.
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

 

Frans
Floris
1516-1570
Netherlands

Venus, Cupid and Vulkan.

 

Piero
di
Cosimo
1462-1521
Italy

Venus, Mars, and Cupid.
1490

 

Luca
Giordano
1632-1705
Italy

Venus, Cupid and Mars.

 

Antony
van
Dyck
1599-1641
England

Venus asking Vulcan for Arms for Aeneas.
1627-1632

 

Luca
Giordano
1632-1705
Italy

Mars and Venus, Captured by Vulcan. 1670

 


Giorgione
1477-1510
Italy
Sleeping Venus.
1510

 

Maerten
van
Heemskerck
 1498-1574
Netherlands

Mars and Venus, Captured by Vulcan.

 

Hendrick
Goltzius
1558-1617
Netherlands

Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus would Freeze.

 

Jean-Auguste
Ingres
1780-1867
France

Venus.

 

Abraham
van
 Janssens
1575-1632
Netherlands

Jupiter Rebuked by Venus.

 

Abraham
van
 Janssens
1575-1632
Netherlands

Ceres, Bacchus and Venus.

 

Palma
Giovane
1548-1628
Italy
Mars and Venus.

 

Palma
Giovane
1548-1628
Italy

Mars and Venus.

 

Piero
di
Cosimo
1462-1521
Italy

Venus, Mars, and Cupid.
1490

 

Nicolas
Poussin
1594-1665
France
Mars and Venus.

 

Guido
Reni
1575-1642
Italy
Reclining Venus with Cupid.

 

Peter
Paul
Rubens
1577-1640
Belgium

Venus at a Mirror.

 

Peter
Paul
Rubens
1577-1640
Belgium

Venus in Fur-Coat.

 

Peter
Paul
Rubens
1577-1640
Belgium
Venus Frigida.

 

Peter
Paul
Rubens
1577-1640
Belgium
Ceres, Venus and Bacchus.

 

Peter
Paul
Rubens
1577-1640
Belgium

Venus and Adonis.

 

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