|The birth of Venus, 1496
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
In one of several contradictory legends, Uranus (Roman Saturn, Father Sky), hated his children and imprisoned the youngest ones deep in the earth, in Tartarus, where they cause pain to Gaea, Mother Earth, his wife and according to some also his mother. As Gaea resented this she begged her sons to deal with Uranus. So the youngest son, Cronos took a sickle and mercilessly castrated Uranus, throwing his testicles into the sea. Aphrodite, the goddess of love was born from the foam of the discarded organs.
Venus (Aphrodite), the goddess of love and beauty, was the daughter of Jupiter and Dione. Others say that Venus sprang from the foam of the sea. The zephyr wafted her along the waves to the Isle of Cyprus, where she was received and attired by the Seasons, and then led to the assembly of the gods. All were charmed with her beauty, and each one demanded her for his wife. Jupiter gave her to Vulcan, in gratitude for the service he had rendered in forging thunderbolts. So the most beautiful of the goddesses became the wife of the most ill-favored of the gods. Venus possessed an embroidered girdle called the Cestus, which had the power of inspiring love. Her favorite birds were swans and doves, and the plants sacred to her were the rose and the myrtle.
From The Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch
|The castration of Uranus, ca. 1560
Giorgio Vasari and Cristofano Gherardi
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy
George Dunea, MD, Editor-in-Chief