Venus (mythology)

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Venus
Goddess of love, beauty, desire, fertility and prosperity
Member of Dii Consentes
Aphrodite Anadyomene from Pompeii cropped.jpg
Venus on seashell, from the Casa della Venere in conchiglia, Pompeii. Before AD 79.
Symbolsrose, common myrtle
Day Friday (dies Veneris)
Festivals Veneralia
Vinalia Rustica
Vinalia Urbana
Personal information
Consort Mars and Vulcan
Children Cupid, Aeneas
Parents Caelus
Equivalents
Greek equivalent Aphrodite
Etruscan equivalent Turan

Venus ( /ˈvnəs/ , Classical Latin: /ˈwɛnʊs/ ; genitive Veneris /ˈwɛnɛrɪs/ ) [lower-alpha 1] is a Roman goddess, whose functions encompassed love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory. In Roman mythology, she was the ancestor of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.

Contents

The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus became one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality.

Etymology

The Latin name of this goddess derives from the noun venus ("sexual love" and "sexual desire"). [1] [2] It has connections to venerari ("to honour, to try to please") and venia ("grace, favour") through a possible common root in an Indo-European *wenes- or *u̯enis ("friend"). Their common Proto-Indo-European root is assumed as *wen- or *u̯en- "to strive for, wish for, desire, love"). [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Bronze figurine of Venus, Lyon (Roman Lugdunum) Roman Venus MBA Lyon L83.jpg
Bronze figurine of Venus, Lyon (Roman Lugdunum)

Origins

Venus has been described as perhaps "the most original creation of the Roman pantheon", [8] and "an ill-defined and assimilative" native goddess, combined "with a strange and exotic Aphrodite". [9] Her cults may represent the religiously legitimate charm and seduction of the divine by mortals, in contrast to the formal, contractual relations between most members of Rome's official pantheon and the state, and the unofficial, illicit manipulation of divine forces through magic. [10] [11] The ambivalence of her persuasive functions has been perceived in the relationship of the root *venes- with Latin venenum (poison), in the sense of "a charm, magic philtre". [12]

In myth, Venus-Aphrodite was born of sea-foam. Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life. Her male counterparts in the Roman pantheon, Vulcan and Mars, are active and fiery. Venus absorbs and tempers the male essence, uniting the opposites of male and female in mutual affection. She is essentially assimilative and benign, and embraces several otherwise quite disparate functions. She can give military victory, sexual success, good fortune and prosperity. In one context, she is a goddess of prostitutes; in another, she turns the hearts of men and women from sexual vice to virtue. [13]

Prospective brides offered Venus a gift "before the wedding"; the nature of the gift, and its timing, are unknown. Some Roman sources say that girls who come of age offer their toys to Venus; it is unclear where the offering is made, and others say this gift is to the Lares. [14] In dice-games, a popular pastime among Romans of all classes, the luckiest, best possible roll was known as "Venus".

Epithets

Imperial image of Venus suggesting influence from Syria or Palestine, or from the cult of Isis Roman - Venus - Walters 54966.jpg
Imperial image of Venus suggesting influence from Syria or Palestine, or from the cult of Isis

Like other major Roman deities, Venus was given a number of epithets that referred to her different cult aspects, roles, and her functional similarities to other deities. Her "original powers seem to have been extended largely by the fondness of the Romans for folk-etymology, and by the prevalence of the religious idea nomen-omen which sanctioned any identifications made in this way." [16]

Venus Acidalia, in Virgil's Aeneid (1.715–722, as mater acidalia). Servius speculates this as reference to a "Fountain of Acidalia" (fons acidalia) where the Graces (Venus' daughters) were said to bathe; but he also connects it to the Greek word for "arrow", whence "love's arrows" and love's "cares and pangs". Ovid uses acidalia only in the latter sense. It is likely a literary conceit, not a cultic epithet. [17]

Venus Caelestis (Celestial or Heavenly Venus), used from the 2nd century AD for Venus as an aspect of a syncretised supreme goddess. Venus Caelestis is the earliest known Roman recipient of a taurobolium (a form of bull sacrifice), performed at her shrine in Pozzuoli on 5 October 134. This form of the goddess, and the taurobolium, are associated with the "Syrian Goddess", understood as a late equivalent to Astarte, or the Roman Magna Mater, the latter being another supposedly Trojan "Mother of the Romans" [18]

Venus Calva ("Venus the bald one"), a legendary form of Venus, attested only by post-Classical Roman writings which offer several traditions to explain this appearance and epithet. In one, it commemorates the virtuous offer by Roman matrons of their own hair to make bowstrings during a siege of Rome. In another, king Ancus Marcius' wife and other Roman women lost their hair during an epidemic; in hope of its restoration, unafflicted women sacrificed their own hair to Venus. [19]

Venus Cloacina ("Venus the Purifier"); a fusion of Venus with the Etruscan water goddess Cloacina, who had an ancient shrine above the outfall of the Cloaca Maxima, originally a stream, later covered over to function as Rome's main sewer. The shrine contained a statue of Venus, whose rites were probably meant to purify the culvert's polluted waters and noxious airs. [20] Pliny the Elder, remarking Venus as a goddess of union and reconciliation, identifies the shrine with a legendary episode in Rome's earliest history, when the warring Romans and Sabines, carrying branches of myrtle, met there to make peace. [21]

Venus Erycina ("Erycine Venus"), a Punic idol of Astarte captured from Sicily and worshiped in Romanised form by the elite and respectable matrons at a temple on the Capitoline Hill. A later temple, outside the Porta Collina and Rome's sacred boundary, may have preserved some Erycine features of her cult. It was considered suitable for "common girls" and prostitutes". [22] [23]

Venus being seduced by Mars, fresco from Pompeii, 1st century AD Seduzione tra marte e venere, alla presenza di un amorino e ancella, da casa dell'amore punito a pompei, 9249, 02.JPG
Venus being seduced by Mars, fresco from Pompeii, 1st century AD

Venus Frutis honoured by all the Latins with a federal cult at the temple named Frutinal in Lavinium. [24] Inscriptions found at Lavinium attest the presence of federal cults, without giving precise details. [25]

Venus Felix ("Lucky Venus"), probably a traditional epithet, later adopted by the dictator Sulla. It was Venus's cult title at Hadrian's temple to Venus Felix et Roma Aeterna on the Via Sacra. This epithet is also used for a specific sculpture at the Vatican Museums.

Venus Genetrix ("Venus the Mother"), as a goddess of motherhood and domesticity, with a festival on September 26, a personal ancestress of the Julian lineage and, more broadly, the divine ancestress of the Roman people. Julius Caesar dedicated a Temple of Venus Genetrix in 46 BC. This name has attached to an iconological type of statue of Aphrodite/Venus.

Venus Heliopolitana ("Venus of Heliopolis Syriaca"), worshipped at Baalbek. A form of Ashtart who formed a third of the Heliopolitan Triad, in which she was the consort of Jupiter (Baʿal) and mother of Mercury (Adon).[ citation needed ]

Venus Kallipygos ("Venus with the beautiful buttocks"), worshiped at Syracuse.

Venus Libertina ("Venus the Freedwoman"), probably arising through the semantic similarity and cultural inks between libertina (as "a free woman") and lubentina (possibly meaning "pleasurable" or "passionate"). Further titles or variants acquired by Venus through the same process, or through orthographic variance, include Libentia, Lubentina, and Lubentini. Venus Libitina links Venus to a patron-goddess of funerals and undertakers, Libitina; a temple was dedicated to Venus Libitina in Libitina's grove on the Esquiline Hill, "hardly later than 300 BC." [26]

RSC 0022 - transparent background.png
Julius Caesar, with Venus holding Victoria on reverse, from February or March 44 BC
Crispina Augusta-aureus-RIC 0287.jpg
Crispina, wife of Commodus, with enthroned Venus Felix holding Victory on reverse

Venus Murcia ("Venus of the Myrtle"), merging Venus with the little-known deity Murcia (or Murcus, or Murtia). Murcia was associated with Rome's Mons Murcia (the Aventine's lesser height), and had a shrine in the Circus Maximus. Some sources associate her with the myrtle-tree. Christian writers described her as a goddess of sloth and laziness. [27]

Venus Obsequens ("Indulgent Venus" [28] ), Venus' first attested Roman epithet. It was used in the dedication of her first Roman temple, on August 19 in 295 BC during the Third Samnite War by Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges. It was sited somewhere near the Aventine Hill and Circus Maximus, and played a central role in the Vinalia Rustica. It was supposedly funded by fines imposed on women found guilty of adultery. [29]

Venus Physica: Venus as a universal, natural creative force that informs the physical world. She is addressed as "Alma Venus" ("Mother Venus") by Lucretius in the introductory lines of his vivid, poetic exposition of Epicurean physics and philosophy, De Rerum Natura. She seems to have been a favourite of Lucretius' patron, Memmius. [30] Pompeii's protective goddess was Venus Physica Pompeiana, who had a distinctive, local form as a goddess of the sea, and trade. When Sulla captured Pompeii from the Samnites, he resettled it with his veterans and renamed it for his own family and divine protector Venus, as Colonia Veneria Cornelia (for Sulla's claims of Venus' favour, see Venus Felix above). [31]

Venus Urania ("Heavenly Venus"), used as the title of a book by Basilius von Ramdohr, a relief by Pompeo Marchesi, and a painting by Christian Griepenkerl. (cf. Aphrodite Urania.)

Venus Verticordia ("Venus the Changer of Hearts"). See #Festivals and Veneralia.

Venus Victrix ("Venus the Victorious"), a Romanised aspect of the armed Aphrodite that Greeks had inherited from the East, where the goddess Ishtar "remained a goddess of war, and Venus could bring victory to a Sulla or a Caesar." [32] Pompey, Sulla's protégé, vied with his patron and with Caesar for public recognition as her protégé. In 55 BC he dedicated a temple to her at the top of his theater in the Campus Martius. She had a shrine on the Capitoline Hill, and festivals on August 12 and October 9. A sacrifice was annually dedicated to her on the latter date. In neo-classical art, her epithet as Victrix is often used in the sense of 'Venus Victorious over men's hearts' or in the context of the Judgement of Paris (e.g. Canova's Venus Victrix , a half-nude reclining portrait of Pauline Bonaparte).

Cult history and temples

The first known temple to Venus was vowed to Venus Obsequens ("Indulgent Venus" [28] ) by Q. Fabius Gurges in the heat of a battle against the Samnites. It was dedicated in 295 BC, at a site near the Aventine Hill, and was supposedly funded by fines imposed on Roman women for sexual misdemeanours. Its rites and character were probably influenced by or based on Greek Aphrodite's cults, which were already diffused in various forms throughout Italian Magna Graeca. Its dedication date connects Venus Obsequens to the Vinalia rustica festival. [33] [34]

Remains of the Temple of Venus Genetrix in the Forum of Caesar, Rome. The Forum of Caesar (built near the Forum Romanum in Rome in 46 BC) and the Temple of Venus Genetrix, Imperial Forums, Rome (21101482544).jpg
Remains of the Temple of Venus Genetrix in the Forum of Caesar, Rome.

In 217 BC, in the early stages of the Second Punic War with Carthage, Rome suffered a disastrous defeat at the battle of Lake Trasimene. The Sibylline oracle suggested that if the Venus of Eryx (Venus Erycina, a Roman understanding of the Punic goddess Astarte), patron goddess of Carthage's Sicilian allies, could be persuaded to change her allegiance, Carthage might be defeated. Rome laid siege to Eryx, offered its goddess a magnificent temple as reward for her defection, captured her image, and brought it to Rome. It was installed in a temple on the Capitoline Hill, as one of Rome's twelve dii consentes . Shorn of her more overtly Carthaginian characteristics, [35] this "foreign Venus" became Rome's Venus Genetrix ("Venus the Mother"), [36] [37] As far as the Romans were concerned, this was the homecoming of an ancestral goddess to her people. Roman tradition made Venus the mother and protector of the Trojan prince Aeneas, ancestor of the Roman people. Soon after, Rome's defeat of Carthage confirmed Venus's goodwill to Rome, her links to its mythical Trojan past, and her support of its political and military hegemony. [38]

The Capitoline cult to Venus seems to have been reserved to higher status Romans. A separate cult to Venus Erycina as a fertility deity, [39] was established in 181 BC, in a traditionally plebeian district just outside Rome's sacred boundary, near the Colline Gate. The temple, cult and goddess probably retained much of the original's character and rites. [39] [40] [40] Likewise, a shrine to Venus Verticordia ("Venus the changer of hearts"), established in 114 BC but with links to an ancient cult of Venus-Fortuna, was "bound to the peculiar milieu of the Aventine and the Circus Maximus" – a strongly plebeian context for Venus's cult, in contrast to her aristocratic cultivation as a Stoic and Epicurian "all-goddess". [41]

Towards the end of the Roman Republic, some leading Romans laid personal claims to Venus' favour. The general and dictator Sulla adopted Felix ("Lucky") as a surname, acknowledging his debt to heaven-sent good fortune and his particular debt to Venus Felix, for his extraordinarily fortunate political and military career. [42] His protégé Pompey competed for Venus' support, dedicating (in 55 BC) a large temple to Venus Victrix as part of his lavishly appointed new theatre, and celebrating his triumph of 54 BC with coins that showed her crowned with triumphal laurels. [43]

Pompey's erstwhile friend, ally, and later opponent Julius Caesar went still further. He claimed the favours of Venus Victrix in his military success and Venus Genetrix as a personal, divine ancestress – apparently a long-standing family tradition among the Julii. When Caesar was assassinated, his heir, Augustus, adopted both claims as evidence of his inherent fitness for office, and divine approval of his rule. [44] Augustus' new temple to Mars Ultor, divine father of Rome's legendary founder Romulus, would have underlined the point, with the image of avenging Mars "almost certainly" accompanied by that of his divine consort Venus, and possibly a statue of the deceased and deified Caesar. [45]

Vitruvius recommends that any new temple to Venus be sited according to rules laid down by the Etruscan haruspices, and built "near to the gate" of the city, where it would be less likely to contaminate "the matrons and youth with the influence of lust". He finds the Corinthian style, slender, elegant, enriched with ornamental leaves and surmounted by volutes, appropriate to Venus' character and disposition. [46] Vitruvius recommends the widest possible spacing between the temple columns, producing a light and airy space, and he offers Venus's temple in Caesar's forum as an example of how not to do it; the densely spaced, thickset columns darken the interior, hide the temple doors and crowd the walkways, so that matrons who wish to honour the goddess must enter her temple in single file, rather than arm-in arm. [47]

In 135 AD the Emperor Hadrian inaugurated a temple to Venus and Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome) on Rome's Velian Hill, underlining the Imperial unity of Rome and its provinces, and making Venus the protective genetrix of the entire Roman state, its people and fortunes. It was the largest temple in Ancient Rome. [48]

Festivals

Fresco with a seated Venus, restored as a personification of Rome in the so-called "Dea Barberini" ("Barberini goddess"); Roman artwork, dated first half of the 4th century AD, from a room near the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Laterano Dea Barberini Massimo.jpg
Fresco with a seated Venus, restored as a personification of Rome in the so-called ”Dea Barberini” (“Barberini goddess”); Roman artwork, dated first half of the 4th century AD, from a room near the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Laterano

Venus was offered official (state-sponsored) cult in certain festivals of the Roman calendar. Her sacred month was April (Latin Mensis Aprilis) which Roman etymologists understood to derive from aperire, "to open," with reference to the springtime blossoming of trees and flowers. [49]

Veneralia (April 1) was held in honour of Venus Verticordia ("Venus the Changer of Hearts"), and Fortuna Virilis (Virile or strong Good Fortune), whose cult was probably by far the older of the two. Venus Verticordia was invented in 220 BC, in response to advice from a Sibylline oracle during Rome's Punic Wars, [50] when a series of prodigies was taken to signify divine displeasure at sexual offenses among Romans of every category and class, including several men and three Vestal Virgins. [51] Her statue was dedicated by a young woman, chosen as the most pudica (sexually pure) in Rome by a committee of Roman matrons. At first, this statue was probably housed in the temple of Fortuna Virilis , perhaps as divine reinforcement against the perceived moral and religious failings of its cult. In 114 BC Venus Verticordia was given her own temple. [52] She was meant to persuade Romans of both sexes and every class, whether married or unmarried, to cherish the traditional sexual proprieties and morality known to please the gods and benefit the State. During her rites, her image was taken from her temple to the men's baths, where it was undressed and washed in warm water by her female attendants, then garlanded with myrtle. Women and men asked Venus Verticordia's help in affairs of the heart, sex, betrothal and marriage. For Ovid, Venus's acceptance of the epithet and its attendant responsibilities represented a change of heart in the goddess herself. [53]

Vinalia urbana (April 23), a wine festival shared by Venus and Jupiter, king of the gods. Venus was patron of "profane" wine, for everyday human use. Jupiter was patron of the strongest, purest, sacrificial grade wine, and controlled the weather on which the autumn grape-harvest would depend. At this festival, men and women alike drank the new vintage of ordinary, non-sacral wine in honour of Venus, whose powers had provided humankind with this gift. Upper-class women gathered at Venus's Capitoline temple, where a libation of the previous year's vintage, sacred to Jupiter, was poured into a nearby ditch. [54] Common girls (vulgares puellae) and prostitutes gathered at Venus' temple just outside the Colline gate, where they offered her myrtle, mint, and rushes concealed in rose-bunches and asked her for "beauty and popular favour", and to be made "charming and witty". [55]

Vinalia Rustica (August 19), originally a rustic Latin festival of wine, vegetable growth and fertility. This was almost certainly Venus' oldest festival and was associated with her earliest known form, Venus Obsequens. Kitchen gardens and market-gardens, and presumably vineyards were dedicated to her. [56] Roman opinions differed on whose festival it was. Varro insists that the day was sacred to Jupiter, whose control of the weather governed the ripening of the grapes; but the sacrificial victim, a female lamb (agna), may be evidence that it once belonged to Venus alone. [57] [58]

A festival of Venus Genetrix (September 26) was held under state auspices from 46 BC at her Temple in the Forum of Caesar, in fulfillment of a vow by Julius Caesar, who claimed her personal favour as his divine patron, and ancestral goddess of the Julian clan. Caesar dedicated the temple during his unprecedented and extraordinarily lavish quadruple triumph. At the same time, he was pontifex maximus and Rome's senior magistrate; the festival is thought to mark the unprecedented promotion of a personal, family cult to one of the Roman state. Caesar's heir, Augustus, made much of these personal and family associations with Venus as an Imperial deity. [59] The festival's rites are not known.

Mythology and literature

A Venus-Aphrodite velificans holding an infant, probably Aeneas, as Anchises and Luna-Selene look on (Roman-era relief from Aphrodisias) Anquises y Afrodita - Afrodisias.jpg
A Venus-Aphrodite velificans holding an infant, probably Aeneas, as Anchises and Luna-Selene look on (Roman-era relief from Aphrodisias)
Venus and Mars, with Cupid attending, in a wall painting from Pompeii Ares e Afrodite.JPG
Venus and Mars, with Cupid attending, in a wall painting from Pompeii

As with most major gods and goddesses in Roman mythology, the literary concept of Venus is mantled in whole-cloth borrowings from the literary Greek mythology of her counterpart, Aphrodite. In some Latin mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus and Mars, the god of war. At other times, or in parallel myths and theologies, Venus was understood to be the consort of Vulcan. Virgil, in compliment to his patron Augustus and the gens Julia , embellished an existing connection between Venus, whom Julius Caesar had adopted as his protectress, and Aeneas. Vergil's Aeneas is guided to Latium by Venus in her heavenly form, the morning star, shining brightly before him in the daylight sky; much later, she lifts Caesar's soul to heaven. [61] In Ovid's Fasti Venus came to Rome because she "preferred to be worshipped in the city of her own offspring". [62] In Vergil's poetic account of Octavian's victory at the sea-battle of Actium, the future emperor is allied with Venus, Neptune and Minerva. Octavian's opponents, Antony, Cleopatra and the Egyptians, assisted by bizarre and unhelpful Egyptian deities such as "barking" Anubis, lose the battle. [63]

In the interpretatio romana of the Germanic pantheon during the early centuries AD, Venus became identified with the Germanic goddess Frijjo , giving rise to the loan translation "Friday" for dies Veneris.

Iconography

Signs and symbols

A medallion painting from the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus in Pompeii, Italy, executed in the Second Style and depicting the Greco-Roman goddess Venus-Aphrodite wearing a diadem and holding a scepter; it is dated to the 1st century BC. Medallion painting of Venus Aphrodite with a golden diadem and scepter, pearl earrings and necklace, House of Marcus Fabius Rufus, Pompeii 2.jpg
A medallion painting from the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus in Pompeii, Italy, executed in the Second Style and depicting the Greco-Roman goddess Venus-Aphrodite wearing a diadem and holding a scepter; it is dated to the 1st century BC.

Images of Venus have been found in domestic murals, mosaics and household shrines (lararia). Petronius, in his Satyricon , places an image of Venus among the Lares (household gods) of the freedman Trimalchio's lararium. [64]

Venus' signs were for the most part the same as Aphrodite's. They include roses, which were offered in Venus' Porta Collina rites, [65] and above all, myrtle (Latin myrtus), which was cultivated for its white, sweetly scented flowers, aromatic, evergreen leaves and its various medical-magical properties. Venus' statues, and her worshipers, wore myrtle crowns at her festivals. [66] Before its adoption into Venus' cults, myrtle was used in the purification rites of Cloacina, the Etruscan-Roman goddess of Rome's main sewer; later, Cloacina's association with Venus' sacred plant made her Venus Cloacina. Likewise, Roman folk-etymology transformed the ancient, obscure goddess Murcia into "Venus of the Myrtles, whom we now call Murcia". [67]

Myrtle was thought a particularly potent aphrodisiac. As goddess of love and sex, Venus played an essential role at Roman prenuptial rites and wedding nights, so myrtle and roses were used in bridal bouquets. Marriage itself was not a seduction but a lawful condition, under Juno's authority; so myrtle was excluded from the bridal crown. Venus was also a patron of the ordinary, everyday wine drunk by most Roman men and women; the seductive powers of wine were well known. In the rites to Bona Dea, a goddess of female chastity, [68] Venus, myrtle and anything male were not only excluded, but unmentionable. The rites allowed women to drink the strongest, sacrificial wine, otherwise reserved for the Roman gods and Roman men; the women euphemistically referred to it as "honey". Under these special circumstances, they could get virtuously, religiously drunk on strong wine, safe from Venus' temptations. Outside of this context, ordinary wine (that is, Venus' wine) tinctured with myrtle oil was thought particularly suitable for women. [69]

Roman generals given an ovation, a lesser form of Roman triumph, wore a myrtle crown, perhaps to purify themselves and their armies of blood-guilt. [70] The ovation ceremony was assimilated to Venus Victrix ("Victorious Venus"), who was held to have granted and purified its relatively "easy" victory.[ citation needed ]

Classical art

Venus riding a quadriga of elephants, fresco from Pompeii, 1st century AD Pompeii - Officina di Verecundus - Venus 2.jpg
Venus riding a quadriga of elephants, fresco from Pompeii, 1st century AD
Statue of nude Venus of the Capitoline type, Roman, 2nd century AD, from Campo Iemini, housed in the British Museum Statue of nude Venus of the Capitoline type, Roman, 2nd century AD, from Campo Iemini, housed in the British Museum.jpg
Statue of nude Venus of the Capitoline type, Roman, 2nd century AD, from Campo Iemini, housed in the British Museum

Roman and Hellenistic art produced many variations on the goddess, often based on the Praxitlean type Aphrodite of Cnidus. Many female nudes from this period of sculpture whose subjects are unknown are in modern art history conventionally called 'Venus'es, even if they originally may have portrayed a mortal woman rather than operated as a cult statue of the goddess.

Examples include:

The Venus types 'Venus Pompeiana' and 'Venus Pescatrice' are found almost exclusively in Pompeii. [71]

Post-classical culture

Medieval art

Medieval representation of Venus, sitting on a rainbow, with her devotees who offer their hearts to her, 15th century. Othea's Epistle (Queen's Manuscript) 07.jpg
Medieval representation of Venus, sitting on a rainbow, with her devotees who offer their hearts to her, 15th century.
Venus, setting fire to the castle where the Rose is imprisoned, in the medieval French romance Roman de la Rose. In this story Venus is portrayed as the mother of Cupid Roman de la Rose f. 129v (Venus aims at the castle).jpg
Venus, setting fire to the castle where the Rose is imprisoned, in the medieval French romance Roman de la Rose. In this story Venus is portrayed as the mother of Cupid

Art in the classical tradition

Venus became a popular subject of painting and sculpture during the Renaissance period in Europe. As a "classical" figure for whom nudity was her natural state, it was socially acceptable to depict her unclothed. As the goddess of sexuality, a degree of erotic beauty in her presentation was justified, which appealed to many artists and their patrons. Over time, venus came to refer to any artistic depiction in post-classical art of a nude woman, even when there was no indication that the subject was the goddess.

The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli c. 1485-1486. Sandro Botticelli - La nascita di Venere - Google Art Project - edited.jpg
The Birth of Venus , by Sandro Botticelli c. 1485–1486.
Venus, Mars, and Vulcan, by Tintoretto Jacopo Tintoretto - Venus, Mars, and Vulcan - WGA22664.jpg
Venus, Mars, and Vulcan , by Tintoretto

In the field of prehistoric art, since the discovery in 1908 of the so-called "Venus of Willendorf" small Neolithic sculptures of rounded female forms have been conventionally referred to as Venus figurines. Although the name of the actual deity is not known, the knowing contrast between the obese and fertile cult figures and the classical conception of Venus has raised resistance to the terminology.

Medieval and modern music

In Wagner's opera Tannhäuser, which draws on the medieval German legend of the knight and poet Tannhäuser, Venus lives beneath the Venusberg mountain. Tannhäuser breaks his knightly vows by spending a year there with Venus, under her enchantment. When he emerges, he has to seek penance for his sins.

The Dutch band Shocking Blue had a number one hit on the Billboard Top Ten in 1970 with the song titled "Venus", which was also a hit when covered by Bananarama in 1986. The song "Venus" by the band Television from the 1978 album Marquee Moon references the Venus de Milo. There is also a song named "Venus" co-written, co-produced and sung by Lady Gaga, as well as a song named "Birth of Venus Illegitima" by the Swedish symphonic metal Therion, on the album Vovin, and the song "Venus as a Boy" by the Icelandic artist Björk. Another reference to Venus is from Billy Idol's album "Cyberpunk" , in track # 16 titled "Venus".

See also

Notes

Related Research Articles

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In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres". Her seven-day April festival of Cerealia included the popular Ludi Ceriales. She was also honoured in the May lustratio of the fields at the Ambarvalia festival, at harvest-time, and during Roman marriages and funeral rites.

Bona Dea Roman deity of chastity, fertility, and healing; brought from Magna Græcia during the early/middle Republic; her rites let women use strong wine and do blood-sacrifice (things otherwise forbidden to women); men were barred from her mysteries

Bona Dea was a goddess in ancient Roman religion. She was associated with chastity and fertility in Roman women, healing, and the protection of the state and people of Rome. According to Roman literary sources, she was brought from Magna Graecia at some time during the early or middle Republic, and was given her own state cult on the Aventine Hill.

Felicitas

In ancient Roman culture, felicitas is a condition of divinely inspired productivity, blessedness, or happiness. Felicitas could encompass both a woman's fertility, and a general's luck or good fortune. The divine personification of Felicitas was cultivated as a goddess. Although felicitas may be translated as "good luck," and the goddess Felicitas shares some characteristics and attributes with Fortuna, the two were distinguished in Roman religion. Fortuna was unpredictable and her effects could be negative, as the existence of an altar to Mala Fortuna acknowledges. Felicitas, however, always had a positive significance. She appears with several epithets that focus on aspects of her divine power.

Roma (mythology) female deity in ancient Roman religion

In ancient Roman religion, Roma was a female deity who personified the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state. Her image appears on the base of the column of Antoninus Pius.

Religion in ancient Rome the ancestral ethnic religion of the city of Rome

Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion of the city of Rome that the Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in so far as they became widely followed in Rome and Italy. The Romans thought of themselves as highly religious, and attributed their success as a world power to their collective piety (pietas) in maintaining good relations with the gods. The Romans are known for the great number of deities they honored, a capacity that earned the mockery of early Christian polemicists.

Veneralia

The Veneralia was an ancient Roman festival celebrated April 1 in honor of Venus Verticordia and Fortuna Virilis.

Temple of Venus Genetrix

The Temple of Venus Genetrix is a ruined temple in the Forum of Caesar, Rome, dedicated to the Roman goddess Venus Genetrix, the founding goddess of the Julian gens. It was dedicated to the goddess on September 26, 46 BCE by Julius Caesar.

Forum of Caesar square

The Forum of Caesar, also known as Forum Iulium or Forum Julium, Forum Caesaris, is a forum built by Julius Caesar near the Forum Romanum in Rome in 46 BC.

<i>Esquiline Venus</i>

The Esquiline Venus, depicting the goddess Venus, is a smaller-than-life-size Roman nude marble sculpture of a female in a sandal and diadem headdress. It is widely viewed as a 1st-century AD Roman copy of a Greek original from the 1st century BC. It is also a possible depiction of the Ptolemaic ruler Cleopatra VII.

Venus Genetrix (sculpture) sculptural type

The sculptural type of Venus Genetrix shows the Roman goddess Venus in her aspect of Genetrix (mother), as she was honoured by the Julio-Claudian dynasty of Rome, who followed the precedent of Julius Caesar in claiming her as their ancestor. Through this historical chance, a Roman designation is applied to an iconological type of Aphrodite that originated among the Greeks.

Cupid Ancient Roman god of desire, affection and erotic love

In classical mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus and the war god Mars. He is also known in Latin as Amor ("Love"). His Greek counterpart is Eros. Although Eros is generally portrayed as a slender winged youth in Classical Greek art, during the Hellenistic period, he was increasingly portrayed as a chubby boy. During this time, his iconography acquired the bow and arrow that represent his source of power: a person, or even a deity, who is shot by Cupid's arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire. In myths, Cupid is a minor character who serves mostly to set the plot in motion. He is a main character only in the tale of Cupid and Psyche, when wounded by his own weapons, he experiences the ordeal of love. Although other extended stories are not told about him, his tradition is rich in poetic themes and visual scenarios, such as "Love conquers all" and the retaliatory punishment or torture of Cupid.

Vinalia

The Vinalia were Roman festivals of the wine harvest, wine vintage and gardens, held in honour of Jupiter and Venus. The Vinalia prima, also known as the Vinalia urbana was held on 23 April to bless and sample last year's wine and ask for good weather until the next harvest. The Vinalia rustica was on 19 August, before the harvest and grape-pressing.

Flamen Divi Julii

In Roman Imperial cult, the flamen Divi Julii or flamen Divi Iulii, was the priest of the divinised Julius Caesar, and the fourth of the so-called flamines maiores to be created. The new flaminate was established in by the Roman senate in 42 BC, as part of Caesar's consecration as a divus two years after his assassination. Caesar had, in his lifetime, been the recipient of unofficial, divine cult from his supporters, and had designated Mark Antony to serve as his priest. Caesar's cult continued after his death, and in 40 BC, the senate confirmed Antony as the first flamen Divi Iulii.

Aventine Triad joint cult of Roman deities

The Aventine Triad is a modern term for the joint cult of the Roman deities Ceres, Liber and Libera. The cult was established ca. 493 BC within a sacred district (templum) on or near the Aventine Hill, traditionally associated with the Roman plebs. Later accounts describe the temple building and rites as "Greek" in style. Some modern historians describe the Aventine Triad as a plebeian parallel and self-conscious antithesis to the Archaic Triad of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus and the later Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Minerva and Juno. The Aventine Triad, temple and associated ludi served as a focus of plebeian identity, sometimes in opposition to Rome's original ruling elite, the patricians.

Roman mythology traditional stories pertaining to ancient Romes legendary origins and religious system

Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans. "Roman mythology" may also refer to the modern study of these representations, and to the subject matter as represented in the literature and art of other cultures in any period.

<i>Fortuna Huiusce Diei</i>

Fortuna Huiusce Diei was an aspect of the goddess Fortuna, known primarily for her temple in the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina at Rome. Cicero lists her among the deities who should be cultivated in his ideal state, because "she empowers each day". She thus embodies an important aspect of time as it figures in Roman religion: every day of the year had a distinct and potent nature, which the public priests were responsible for knowing and aligning the community with by means of the religious calendar.

References

  1. Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, 1879, "Venus", (B, Transf., at perseus.org.
  2. Walde & Hofmann, Lateinisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, 3rd ed. 1938, vol. 2, p. 752-753.
  3. J. Pokorny, Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, p. 1146-1146.
  4. "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000" . Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  5. Etymonline link (Harper).
  6. See also William W.Skeat Etymological Dictionary of the English Language New York, 2011 (first ed. 1882) s. v. venerable, venereal, venial.
  7. Mallory, J. P., and Adams, D. Q. (Editors), Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, Taylor & Francis, 1997, p. 158. ISBN   1-884964-98-2
  8. Schilling, R., p. 146.
  9. Eden, p. 458ff. Eden is discussing possible associations between the Astarte or "Venus of Eryx" and the brassica species E. sativa , which the Romans considered an aphrodisiac.
  10. R. Schilling La religion romaine de Venus depuis les origines jusqu'au temps d' Auguste Paris, 1954, pp. 13–64
  11. R. Schilling "La relation Venus venia", Latomus, 21, 1962, pp. 3–7
  12. Linked through an adjectival form *venes-no-: William W. Skeat ibid. s.v. "venom"
  13. Staples, Ariadne, From Good Goddess to vestal virgins: sex and category in Roman religion, Routledge, 1998, pp. 12, 15–16, 24 – 26, 149 – 150: Varro's theology identifies Venus with water as an aspect of the female principle. To generate life, the watery matrix of the womb requires the virile warmth of fire. To sustain life, water and fire must be balanced; excess of either one, or their mutual antagonism, are unproductive or destructive.
  14. Hersch, Karen K., The Roman Wedding: Ritual and Meaning in Antiquity, Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 66 – 67.
  15. Description from Walters Art Museum
  16. See Eden, p. 457. For further exposition of nomen-omen (or nomen est omen) see Del Bello, Davide, Forgotten paths: etymology and the allegorical mindset, The Catholic University of America Press, 2007, p.52 ff.
  17. O'Hara, J ames J., "The Significance of Vergil's Acidalia Mater, and Venus Erycina in Catullus and Ovid", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 93, 1990, pp. 335–342
  18. Turcan, p. 141 – 143.
  19. R. Schilling La religion romaine de Venus depuis les origines jusqu'au temps d'August Paris, 1954, pp. 83–89: "L'origine probable du cult de Venus". Ashby (1929) finds the existence of a temple to Venus Calva "very doubtful"; see Samuel Ball Platner (completed and revised by Thomas Ashby), A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, London, Oxford University Press, 1929, p551.
  20. Eden, p. 457, citing Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 15, 119 – 121.
  21. Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 15, 119, cited in Wagenvoort, p. 180.
  22. Beard et al., Vol 1., pp. 80, 83: see also Livy Ab Urbe Condita 23.31.
  23. Thomas A. J. McGinn, Prostitution, Sexuality, and the Law in Ancient Rome, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.25.
  24. Paulus-Festus s. v. p. 80 L: Frutinal templum Veneris Fruti. Strabo V 3, 5: "At the midway between Ostia and Antium lies Lavinium that has a sanctuary of Aphrodite common to all Latin nations, but which is under the care of the Ardeans, who have entrusted the task to intendents".
  25. CIL X 797: "Sp. Turrianus Proculus Gellianus... pater patratus...Lavinium sacrorum principiorum p(opuli) R(omani) Quirt(ium) nominisque Latini qui apud Laurentis coluntur". Cited in B. Liou-Gilles "Naissance de la ligue latine. Mythe et culte de fondation" in Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire74 1996 1 p.85.
  26. See Eden, p. 457. Varro rationalises the connections as "lubendo libido, libidinosus ac Venus Libentina et Libitina" (Lingua Latina, 6, 47).
  27. Augustine, De civitate Dei, IV. 16; Arnobius, Adversus Nationes, IV. 9. 16; Murcus in Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, 1, 33, 5 – cf murcidus = "slothful".
  28. 1 2 "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome", v. 1, p. 167
  29. Staples, Ariadne, From Good Goddess to vestal virgins: sex and category in Roman religion, Routledge, 1998, p. 89.
  30. Elisabeth Asmis, "Lucretius' Venus and Stoic Zeus", Hermes, 110, (1982), p. 458 ff.
  31. A. Lill, "Myths of Pompeii: reality and legacy", Baltic Journal of Art History, 2011, p. 141, online (accessed 19 August 2013)
  32. Thus Walter Burkert, in Homo Necans (1972) 1983:80, noting C. Koch on "Venus Victrix" in Realencyclopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, 8 A860-64.
  33. Eden, P.T., "Venus and the Cabbage" Hermes, 91, (1963) p. 456.
  34. Schilling, R. La Religion romaine de Venus, BEFAR, Paris, 1954, p.87, suggests that Venus began as an abstraction of personal qualities, later assuming Aphrodite's attributes.
  35. Her Sicillian form probably combined elements of Aphrodite and a more warlike Carthaginian-Phoenician Astarte
  36. Beard et al, Vol 1., pp. 80, 83: see also Livy Ab Urbe Condita 23.31.
  37. Orlin, Eric (2007), in Rüpke, J, ed. A Companion to Roman Religion, Blackwell publishing, p. 62.
  38. Venus' links with Troy can be traced to the epic, mythic history of the Trojan War, and the Judgement of Paris, in which the Trojan prince Paris chose Aphrodite over Hera and Athena, setting off a train of events that led to war between the Greeks and Trojans, and eventually to Troy's destruction. In Rome's foundation myth, Venus was the divine mother of the Trojan prince Aeneas, and thus a divine ancestor of the Roman people as a whole. Mary Beard, The Roman Triumph, The Belknap Press, 2007, p. 23. The Punic Wars saw many similar introductions of foreign cult, including the Phrygian cult to Magna Mater, who also had mythical links to Troy. See also Beard et al., Vol. 1, p. 80.
  39. 1 2 Lipka, Michael, Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach, Brill, 2009, pp. 72–73: Lipka gives a foundation date of 181 BC for Venus' Colline temple.
  40. 1 2 Orlin, Eric M., "Foreign Cults in Republican Rome: Rethinking the Pomerial Rule", Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Vol. 47 (2002), pp. 4, 8, 14.
  41. Mario Torelli, Typology and Structure of Roman Historical Reliefs, University of Michigan Press, 1992, pp. 8 – 9: the aristocratic ideology of an increasingly Hellenised Venus is "summarized by the famous invocation to Venus Physica in Lucretius' poem."
  42. Plutarch's original Greek translates this adopted surname, Felix, as Epaphroditus (Aphrodite's beloved); see Plutarch, Sulla 19.9.
  43. Beard, 2007, pp. 22 – 23.
  44. Orlin, in Rüpke (ed), pp. 67 – 69: "At the battle of Pharsalus, Caesar also vowed a temple, in best republican fashion, to Venus Victrix, almost as if he were summoning Pompey’s protectress to his side in the manner of an evocatio . Three years after Pompey's defeat at the battle of Actium, Caesar dedicated his new Roman Forum, complete with a temple to his ancestor Venus Genetrix, "apparently in fulfillment of the vow". The goddess helped provide a divine aura for her descendant, preparing the way for Caesar's own cult as a divus and the formal institution of the Roman Imperial cult.
  45. Beard et al., Vol 1, pp. 199 – 200.
  46. Immediately after these remarks, Vitruvius prescribes the best positioning for temples to Venus' two divine consorts, Vulcan and Mars. Vulcan's should be outside the city, to reduce the dangers of fire, which is his element; Mars' too should be outside the city, so that "no armed frays may disturb the peace of the citizens, and that this divinity may, moreover, be ready to preserve them from their enemies and the perils of war." Book 1, 7,1.
  47. The widely spaced, open style preferred by Vitruvius is eustylos. The densely pillared style he criticises is pycnostylos. Book 3, 1, 5.
  48. See James Grout, Encyclopedia Romana, "Temple of Venus and Rome," online. See also Beard et al., Vol. 1, pp. 257 – 8, 260.
  49. The origin is unknown, but it might derive from Apru, an Etruscan form of Greek Aphrodite's name.
  50. Either the Sibylline Books (Valerius Maximus, 8. 15. 12) or the Cumaean Sibyl (Ovid, Fasti, 4. 155 – 62).
  51. See Staples, Ariadne, From Good Goddess to vestal virgins: sex and category in Roman religion, Routledge, 1998, pp. 105 – 9.
  52. Carter, Jesse Benedict, "The Cognomina of the Goddess 'Fortuna,'" Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 31, 1900, p. 66.
  53. Langlands, p. 59, citing Ovid, Fasti , 4. 155 – 62. Romans considered personal ethics or mentality to be functions of the heart.
  54. Olivier de Cazanove, "Jupiter, Liber et le vin latin", Revue de l'histoire des religions, 1988, Vol. 205, Issue 205-3, pp. 245–265 persee
  55. Staples, p. 122, citing Ovid, Fasti, 4,863 – 872.
  56. Vegetable-growers may have been involved in the dedications as a corporate guild: see Eden, P.T., "Venus and the Cabbage" Hermes, 91, (1963) p. 451.
  57. For associations of kind between Roman deities and their sacrificial victims, see Victima.
  58. Lipka, Michael, Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach, Brill, 2009, p. 42; citing Varro, Lingua Latina, 6. 16; Varro's explicit denial that the festival belongs to Venus implies his awareness of opposite scholarly and commonplace opinion. Lipka offers this apparent contradiction as an example of two Roman cults that offer "complementary functional foci".
  59. Sulla may have set some form of precedent, but there is no evidence that he built her a Temple. Caesar's associations with Venus as both a personal and state goddess may also have been propagated in the Roman provinces. See James Rives, "Venus Genetrix outside Rome", Phoenix, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Winter, 1994), pp. 294–306.
  60. Sometimes interpreted as Eros-Cupid, as a symbol of the sexual union between the goddess and Anchises, but perhaps alluding also to the scene in the Aeneid when Dido holds Cupid disguised as Ascanius in her lap as she falls in love with Aeneas.
  61. Venus as a guide and protector of Aeneas and his descendants is frequent motif in the Aeneid. See discussion throughout M. F. Williams, The Sidus Iulium, the divinity of men, and the Golden Age in Virgil‟ s Aeneid, Leeds International Classical Studies, 2003 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2014-03-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  62. Orlin, Eric M., "Foreign Cults in Republican Rome: Rethinking the Pomerial Rule", Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Vol. 47 (2002) University of Michigan Press, p. 4, note 14, citing Ovid, Fasti, 4.876.
  63. Vergil, Aeneid, 8.696–700.
  64. Kaufmann-Heinimann, in Rüpke (ed), 197–8.
  65. Eden, P.T., Venus and the Cabbage, Hermes, 91, (1963), p. 456, citing Ovid, Fasti 4, 869–870 cf. I35-I38; Ovid describes the rites observed in the early Imperial era, when the temple environs were part of the Gardens of Sallust.
  66. Versnel, H. S., Inconsistencies in Greek and Roman Religion, Vol. 2, Transition and reversal in myth and ritual, Brill, 1994, p. 262
  67. Eden, pp. 457 – 8, citing Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 15, 119 – 121. Murcia had a shrine at the Circus Maximus.
  68. "Bona Dea" means "The Good Goddess". She was also a "Women's goddess".
  69. Versnel, H. S., Inconsistencies in Greek and Roman Religion, Vol. 2, Transition and reversal in myth and ritual, Brill, 1994, p. 262; see also Versnel, H.S., "The Festival for Bona Dea and the Thesmophoria", Greece & Rome, Second Series, 39, 1, (Apr., 1992), p. 44, citing Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae, 20. For the total exclusion of myrtle (and therefore Venus) at Bona Dea's rites, see Bona Dea article.
  70. Brouwer, Henrik H. J. (1997). Bona Dea : the sources and a description of the cult. E.J. Brill. p. 337. ISBN   978-9004086067 . Retrieved 1 June 2019., citing Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 23, 152 – 158, and Book 15, 125.
  71. Brain (2017), p. 51

Bibliography