So today I can’t think of a theme that relates back to my life no matter how loosely. Perhaps it’s because I woke up earlier than usual in an attempt to develop a schedule but am instead just more tired and easily irritated. Thus I am simply picking a topic that I like; The Birth of Aphrodite (or Venus if you prefer). Damn I hear my memory exclaim, I was going to stay clear of the Classics I was going to diversify. Well let’s see if I can do both. Ooooh challenge (let me know if you can hear the delirium of tiredness sneaking into my writing).
The Birth of Venus by Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli (c. 1485) is arguably the most famous depiction o Venus/Aphrodite’s birth (though I can’t quite stop imagining her wind surfing on a clam shell in Hercules: Legendary Journeys). You’ve got a lot of classic imagery in this one; the sea of which she was born, the flowers which I’ll assume are roses (one of her many attributes), and the shell, although, if memory serves, the conch shell is more typically attributed this our goddess of love (among other things).
This time we have The Birth of Venus (1863) almost 200 years later from Pre-Raphaelite painter Alexandre Cabanel. Again we have that ocean and now she’s surrounded by a group of little cupids (There was only one!!... Wasn’t there??). And they’re blowing on that famous conch shell.
Oh the similarities. William-Adolphe Bouguereau painted this The Birth of Venus in 1879. Ocean: check, conch shell: check, sexy Botticelli pose on shell: check, swarm of cupids buzzing around her head: check. This painting has it all and isn’t it pretty too.
And here’s one from Symbolist painter Odilon Redon (1912). That pose is really popular.
Now here's me branching out;
Surimono (type of Japanese woodblock print) of Benten the Japanese goddess of love and music by Totoya Hokkei (1828).
This picture depicts three Indian goddesses, Lakshmi, Parvati and Sarasvati. Parvati in particular is connected to femininity, beauty and sexuality. Unfortunately the artist is unknown, to me and to Wikipedia.
Freja by John Bauer, otherwise known as Freya (and other variations) she is the Norse goddess of beauty and war. And what’s this? Is she sitting in front of the ocean… I think she is. (There was actually one of Freya doing the Botticelli pose but I decided against it).
Aztec goddess of love, Xochiquetzal. Picture from http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/index.php?one=azt&two=god&id=316&typ=reg.
Now all these goddesses have a scary amount in common apart from simply being their respective cultures lurve goddess. Water and the ocean is a running theme amongst love goddesses, quite a few of them have a dark aspect or double as war goddesses. Most are goddesses of all types of love, familial, friendly as well as sexual. A lot are involved in music and the arts, prostitution which is sometimes included in the arts or considered sacred. And something I found interesting tying our first goddess, Aphrodite/Venus to our last, Xochiquetzal is that these two share the attribute of the dove.
Oh and the Moon too is frequently involved, but having written an essay on that very thing, that could be said of every goddess (imho).