Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Venus on a Seashell

A planet named after a Roman goddess adapted from a Greek goddess

[On June 5, 2012, Venus passed directly between the Earth and the Sun, a rare astronomical phenomenon known as the "Transit of Venus" that will occur again in 105 years. This month, 13.7 Billion Years considers "Earth's twin," from the scientific study of the planet to its mythological underpinnings, with the series Second Rock from the Sun.]

In "creating" Venus, the ancient Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite.

As the personification of love and sexuality, Venus would become one of the most widely referenced and enduring deities of Greco-Roman mythology throughout the classical Western tradition, appearing across centuries of art and literature.

This image, taken from an anonymous fresco painting in Casa di Venus in Pompei, depicts Venus on a seashell, an image that would inspire many later paintings, such as Alexandre Cabanel's famous 1983 painting Birth of Venus.

Dug out in 1960, this fresco is believed to be the Roman copy of a famous portrait of Campaspe, the mistress of Alexander the Great.

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image: A fresco from Pompei, Casa di Venus, 1st century AD. Dated before 79 CE (photo credit: Stephen Haynes Wikimedia Commons)

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