Tag Archives: Alexander the Great

Another Aphrodite from Pompeii


This is another painting of Aphrodite in one of Pompeii’s private homes, the House of Venus. Some of the homes remained in excellent shape. Even gardens could be recreated from the remains of roots that were excavated.  While not the original, it’s believed to be modeled on Campaspe, Alexander the Great’s mistress, by Apelles – at the time considered the greatest painter of the time.  Tomorrow, more Aphrodite.


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Another de’ Medici Venus/Aphrodite


The next week or so Rita Bay’s blog will feature Aphrodite in different forms, mostly with clothes on, to celebrate the upcoming publication of a new story, “Her Teddy Bare.” It’s book #3 of the Aphrodite’s Island, a series of erotic romance stories that takes place on Miss A’s island.

This “Birth of Venus” was painted by Boticelli in 1486 probably for Lorenzo de’ Medici. There is a story behind it related by the Roman historian Pliny. Alexander the Great commissioned a similar painting using his mistress, Pankaspe, as the model. The painter, Apelles, was so overwhelmed by the model that Alexander gave her to him. Centuries later, the emperor Augustus hung the painting in his father Caesar’s mausoleum. Pliny relates that the painting, degraded beyond repair, had been replaced by the Emperor Nero. It was a head thing that Boticelli would outdo Apelles in the painting but also used a Medici mistress for the model.

A Homeric poem provided the inspiration for both:

Of august gold-wreathed and beautiful Aphrodite
I shall sing to whose domain belong
 the battlements of all sea-loved Cyprus where,
blown by the moist breath of Zephyros,
she was carried over the waves of the resounding sea on soft foam.
The gold-filleted Horae happily welcomed her and clothed her
with heavenly raiment.


Tomorrow, more Venus/Aphrodite.


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Alexander the Great & The First Ptolemy

imagesCA818JSOIn 332 BC, Alexander the Great, King of Macedon invaded and conquered Egypt. He founded the city of Alexandria to serve as capital and appointed Greeks to the leadership. In 331 BC he departed leaving Cleomenes in charge. He left Egypt never to return. (See Pic Courtesy of British Museum)  After Alexander’s death in Babylon in 323 BC, a crisis erupted over control of the empire. Regents ruled for Alexander’s brother (Phillip III) and newborn son (Alexander IV).

iptoles001p1Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s favorite generals governed Egypt and its possessions for Alexander’s heirs. When central control weakened, Ptolemy assumed the rule of Egypt in his own right. Though Greek by birth, he adopted the customs of the pharaohs. (Notice the very Greek profile of a coin of the first Ptolemy)

More tomorrow, Rita Bay

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The Wonders of the World: The Pharos of Alexandria

Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria

The Pharos (Lighthouse) of Alexandria, one of the Wonders of the Ancient World, was located on the island of Pharos connected by a causeway to Alexandria, Egypt. It was built between 280 and 247 BC by the Pharoah Ptolemy Soter (the general of Alexander the Great who took control of Egypt on Alexander’s death) and his son Ptolemy Philadelphos. The tower, through an arrangement of fire and reflective mirrors, guided mariners at night and served as a landmark during the day. It was the only Wonder that had a practical use.

Lighthouse on Bronze Coin

Constructed by the Greek architect Sostratus from large blocks of light-colored stone sealed with lead, the Lighthouse was described as a monumental edifice with three tiers—consisting of a lower quadrangular one, surmounted by an octagonal layer and topped by a cylindrical section.  In 1166, an Arab traveler, Abou-Haggag Al-Andaloussi visited the Lighthouse and described the tiers in detail. The lowest tier was square and 184 feet high with a cylindrical core; the middle tier was octagonal with a side length of 60 feet and a height of 90 feet and the top third tier was circular 24 feet high. The total height of the building including the foundation base was circa 384 feet, about the height of a 40-story building. In the top tier, the mirror reflected sunlight during the day while fire was used during the night that could be seen from 29 miles away. It was topped by a statue of Poseidon.

The Medieval Castle

The Lighthouse was badly damaged by numerous earthquakes, the worst being in 956 AD, 1303 and 1323.  When Pierre I de Lusignan, the king of Cyprus, attacked Alexandria, the Mamluk ruler dumped rubble (including the lighthouse) from the ancient city into the harbor entrance to prevent the invasion. In 1480, Qait Bey, the Sultan of Egypt, built a fort on the site using some of the fallen stone.   The Lighthouse was the last Wonder to be destroyed, leaving only the Pyramid of Giza mostly intact.  In 1994 French archeologists discovered the remains of the lighthouse and other monuments on the floor of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour. Some of the remains were recovered and placed on public display. 

Tomorrow, Chichen Itza   Rita Bay

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Wonders of the Ancient World: Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was built in the 6th century BC.  Dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis as a patroness of women in childbirth, it took 120 years to build. Lydian kings including Croesus contributed to the building of the temple, and later, the Persians patronized the cult. The ruins are located near Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey.

Herostratus to have his name go down in history burned it down in 356 BC, on a date that coincided with the birth of Alexander the Great. Alexander rebuilt the Temple but it was plundered by the Goths in the third century AD. According to Pliny the Elder, it was built in a marshy area to protect it against earthquakes. To prepare the ground, Pliny recorded that “layers of trodden charcoal were placed beneath, with fleeces covered with wool upon the top of them.”  Pliny recorded the length of the new temple at 425 feet and the width at 225 feet. Some 127 columns, 60 feet in height, supported the roof—almost twice the size of the Acropolis in Athens.

Ruins of Ephesus complex

St. Paul came to the city in 57 AD to convert the Ephesians to the new religion of Christianity. Paul was so successful that Demetrius—one of the souvenir business owners—feared the people would turn away from Artemis and he would lose his livelihood. He and  his fellow vendors seized two of Paul’s companions and a near riot followed during a meeting at the city theater. Eventually, however, the city was quieted, the men released and Paul left for Macedonia.

The Only Column Remaining

The temple was rebuilt again, but in 391 AD it was closed by the Roman Emperor Theodosius the Great after he made Christianity the state religion. The temple itself was destroyed by a Christian mob in 401 AD and the stone was recycled into other buildings. Architectural pieces are held in the British Museum but only one of the 127 columns that supported the roof remains.

Tomorrow, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus   Rita Bay

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