Tag Archives: Venus

Aphrodite & Ares at Pompeii

F10_2Aphrodite& Ares PompeiiAphrodite, the Goddess of Love and  her lover, Ares, the God of War are pictured in this fresco in Pompeii, Italy. Aphrodite had many lovers and Ares was one of the long-term paramours. Aphrodite/ Venus was a frequent subject of the artists of the ancient world.

To produce a fresco, paint is applied to wet plaster that has been spread on a wall. While some examples of fresco survive the media itself is susceptible to deterioration over time, destruction by human hands,  and to external damage from weathering, floods, or earthquake.

Frescoes survive in Pompeii probably more often than any other site of the ancient world. In 79 AD  Pompeii, a small but wealthy town on the Mediterranean south of Naples, was buried under volcanic ash and rocks when Vesuvius erupted. Prior to the eruption the volcano was covered by trees, vineyards, villas, and pastureland and the populace was unaware that they were living on a time bomb. The eruption was totally unexpected and resulted in the death of many of the citizens and the preservation of much of Pompeii in a hardened ash and volcanic rock. Consequently, many frescoes – like the one here –  were preserved in all their magnificent colors.  Tomorrow, More Aphrodite.


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Primavera: Aphrodite/Venus

AphroditeimagesCA42KGLFVenus/Aphrodite, goddess of love is the central figure draped in red and dressed in blue with Cupid above her. Like the flower-gatherer, she returns the viewer’s gaze. The orange trees behind her (a Medici symbol) form a broken arch above her to draw the eye. She stands in front of a myrtle bush which is sacred to her. Venus/Aphrodite clothed herself in myrtle bush after she emerged from the sea where she was born.

In 1499 the painting was in the collection of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’Medici. One of the models proposed for Venus was Semirande, the wife of Lorenzo. Another possible model was Simonetta Vespucci, a supposed mistress of Guiliano de’ Medici. Since 1919, the painting has hung in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. During World War Two, the picture was moved to Montegufoni Castle about ten miles south-west of Florence to protect it from wartime bombing.

Next week, Treasures of the Uffizi.

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The Olympians: The Second Generation


The Olympians shared many of the characteristics of the humans they ruled (anthropomorphic).  They consumed ambrosia for their food and nectar as their drink.  The food and drink of the gods conferred immortality without aging upon whoever consumes it but was generally reserved for the gods.  It was delivered toOlympusby doves.  They also fathered or bore children which leads us to the Generation #2 of the Olympians.  The Olympians Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis were children of the first generation of Olympians and joined their parent(s) onOlympus.  Some claim that Hestia gave up her place among the gods to Dionysius.

Aphrodite (Roman-Venus) was the goddess of love, beauty, and desire. Her parentage varied by accounts. Her symbols include the dove, scallop, bird, apple, bee, swan, myrtle and rose. Her sacred animal is the dove.  She was married to Hephaestus, but was unfathful. She was depicted as a beautiful woman usually accompanied by her son Eros.

Ares (Mars) was the son of Zeus and Hera.  He was the god of war, violence, bloodshed, manly courage, and civil order. His symbols included the boar, alligator, serpent, dog, vulture, spear and shield. He was despised by all the other gods, except Aphrodite. He was depicted as either a mature, bearded warrior dressed in battle arms, or a nude beardless youth with helm and spear. His attributes are golden armor and a bronze-tipped spear.

Artemis (Diana) was the goddess of the hunt, childbirth, archery and all animals. Her symbols include the moon, deer, hound, she-bear, snake, cypress tree and bow and arrow. She was the twin sister of Apollo.


Apollo (Apollo) was the God of light, knowledge, music, poetry, prophecy and archery. His Symbols include the sun, lyre, bow and arrow, raven, dolphin, wolf, swan and mouse. He was the Twin brother of Artemis.

Hephaestus (Vulcan) was a master blacksmith and the craftsman of the gods. He was the god of fire, metalworking, stonemasonry, sculpture and volcanism. He was the Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone. His symbols included the fire, anvil, ax, donkey, hammer, tongs and quail. After he was born, his parents threw him offMountOlympusbecause of his damaged leg.  He was usually depicted as a bearded man holding hammer and tongs—the tools of a smith—and riding a donkey.


Athena (Minerva) was the messenger of the gods and was the god of commerce and thieves. Her symbols included the caduceus (staff entwined with two snakes), winged sandals and cap, stork and tortoise.




Dionysus (Bacchus) was the god of wine, parties and festivals, madness, drunkenness and pleasure. He was depicted in art as either an older bearded god or a pretty effeminate, long-haired youth. His attributes include the thyrsus (a pinecone-tipped staff), drinking cup, grape vine, and a crown of ivy. Animals sacred to him include dolphins, serpents, tigers, panthers, and donkeys. A later addition to the Olympians, in some accounts he replaced Hestia.

Hermes (Mercury) was the son of Zeus and the nymph Maia. He was the father of Pan by Dryope. He was the god of travel, messengers, trade, thievery, cunning wiles, language, writing, diplomacy, athletics, and animal husbandry. He was the messenger of the gods and led the souls of the dead into Hades’ realm. He was depicted either as a handsome and athletic beardless youth, or as an older bearded man. His attributes included the herald’s wand or caduceus, winged sandals, and a traveler’s cap. His sacred animals were the tortoise, the ram, and the hawk.

Tomorrow, The Pantheon  RitaBay

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