The Comparing Betweem Venus Of Milos And Venus Of Sandro Botticelli
This essay will examine the parallel ideas behind the Venus de Milos and trhe birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. Venus de Milos is an ancient Greek statue, carved in marble 150 BCE and the Louvre Museum in Paris houses it. It is a depiction of the goddess Aphrodite. Though its features seem classical, it is a late Hellenistic work, created at a time when Greek culture as a whole was in decline. The painting the Birth of Venus is the work of the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli and it dates around 1482 ACE. The idea and ideal of Venus inspire the artists to create masterpieces. One can talk about idolatry-the worship of an image, the love with the classical ideal, as the power that inspire both Botticelli and the sculptor of Venus de Milos. the idea of venus maybe an allegory: venus may be the personification of human beauty and superiority over the nature. But who was Venus, or better, who was Aphrodite, as the goddess of love is called with her Greek name? Aphrodite, in Greek mythology, is the goddess of love and beauty and the counterpart of the Roman goddess Venus. In a Homeric legend, mentioned in the Iliad, she is said to be the daughter of Zeus and Dione, one of Zeus’s consorts. In the Theogony of Hesiod, she is described as having sprung from the foam of the sea, and etymologically her name may mean “foam-risen.” According to Homer, Aphrodite is the wife of Hephaestus, the lame and ugly god of fire. Her lovers include Ares, god of war, who in later mythology was represented as her husband. She was the rival of Persephone, queen of the underworld, for the love of the beautiful Greek youth Adonis. Perhaps the most famous legend about Aphrodite concerns the cause of the Trojan War. Eris, the personification of discord-the only goddess not invited to the wedding of King Peleus and the sea nymph Thetis-resentfully tossed into the banquet hall a golden apple on which were inscribed the words “for the fairest.” When Zeus refused to judge between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, the three goddesses who claimed the apple, they asked Paris, prince of Troy, to make the award. Each goddess offered Paris a bribe: Hera, that he would be a powerful ruler; Athena, that he would achieve great military fame; and Aphrodite, that he should have the fairest woman in the world. Paris declared Aphrodite the fairest and chose as his prize Helen of Troy, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Paris’s abduction of Helen led to the Trojan War. Probably of Near Eastern origin, Aphrodite was identified in early Greek religious belief with the Phoenician goddess Astarte and was known under a variety of cult titles, including Aphrodite Urania, queen of the heavens, and Aphrodite Pandemos, goddess of the whole people. Venus de Milo, which means Aphrodite of Milos, it was found on the Greek island of Milos in 1820. Although it is of a grandiose style that recalls the Classical Period, the Venus de Milo is from the late Hellenistic Age ( ). Beside it stood a herma (stone pillar) on which the arm of the goddess rested. On the base of the herma was inscribed the signature of an artist, Alexandros, or Agesandros, from Antioch on the Meander. By this signature the work can be dated from 150 BC to 100 BC. A hand holding an apple was also found on Milos, and this may have been a part of the figure. If so, Aphrodite was represented as the goddess of the “apple island” (Greek milo, “apple”). The original on which the artist based his work was probably an Aphrodite of the 4th century BC, which showed the goddess holding the shield of Ares with both hands. In the Milos statue, however, Aphrodite may have held her garment in her (now lost) right hand. The statue stands in a typical Greek “S” figure style, as many other statues from the classical world. The viewer can easily see the charm of Venus, both in the face and at the pose. Venus depicts the ideals of ancient Greece, which were anthropocentric, that means, humans are the center of the world. By the later, the Greeks may want to say that among all nature, the most beautiful thing is human nature, something that Sophocles also stated in one of his tragedies. Venus was the goddess of beauty, and perhaps for artist who sculpted the Venus de Milos, the goddess was the apotheosis of the beauty of nature. One must keep in mind that the ancient Greeks did not have omnipotent and omniscient gods. Their gods functioned as the humans did: they had sex, cheated and so on. The only deference between a human and a god was the fact that the god could not die. The statue of Venus de Milos may symbolize among other things the human willingness for eternal beauty and youth. The statue is half naked, but it should not be a surprise to the viewer. The Greeks did not consider nudity as a sin. In fact there was no word in their dictionary that could be parallel to our modern conceptions of sin. Human beauty, since it was the highest of all things, should be seen by many. The later belief can be derived from the fact that, many Greek statues, among them Venus de Milos, were nude. Venus de Milos may also symbolize the beauty of life. Death was not a big deal for the Greeks. That is why they did not like to mention deaths name. But life was a big deal, and Venus de Milos may be the personification of the beauty of life, which one can enjoy while she/he is young and beautiful. Sandro Botticelli in the 15th century was inspired by the same ideal, the beauty of human nature. His painting shows Venus coming out from the sea on a shell. The painting was painted in an era at which people start to cut themselves apart the doctrines of the church. During that time, which is referred as the renaissance, people looked back to the classical world for ideas to imitate so that their generation could be great as the Greco-Roman generation was. Venus is naked as well and she shines in light, as if she was the neoplatonic light of beauty shining to the cave of this ugly world. One can see, however, the goddess attempt in the painting to hide (maybe partially) her nudity. The later is due perhaps to the fact that Boticelli’s generation was not totally apart from the teachings of the church. Nevertheless, the fact is that the 15th century generations looked back to the past to find inspiration. The classical myths of Venus inspired the Italian painter, as well as the themes of beauty. The Venus of Botticelli stands in “S” figure style, or contraposto, as it is nowadays known. The same pattern of depiction was used in the Venus de Milos. Venus in the painting of the Italian artist is coming out from the sea. It is a story from the Greek mythology that was used by Botticelli. One may say that the depiction of Venus as a goddess coming out from the sea has an additional meaning. For the Greeks Venus was the goddess of love and beauty. Maybe Botticelli wanted allegorically to say that Venus in his painting is the symbol of the new (reborn one could better say) ideals that were rising. The new ideals were the ancient Greco-Roman ideal, that took away the strength of the church, which had been the highest institution through the Middle Ages. Botticelli worshiped Venus, an allegorical goddess, which was to bring change to the world. Venus is the new way of thinking, a way of thinking based of beauty and freedom of the individual, who can be nude if he/she wants. The sculptor of Venus de Milos worshiped his Venus as well: for Alexandros of Antioch, Venus stood for the superiority of human beauty and nature over the creation, which as idea that the generation of Botticelli stared to follow. The worship of Venus may be interpreted as the victory, the rising from the sea victory, of human logic over superstitious teaching and reasoning. The worshipers of Venus are worshipers of humanity, which centers the world, not around a spirit but on the human activity.
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