Venus (mythology)

Venus (mythology)

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Venus (ˈwɛnʊs) is a Roman
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 principally associated with love
Love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

, beauty
Beauty
Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture...

, sex,sexual seduction and fertility
Sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction is the creation of a new organism by combining the genetic material of two organisms. There are two main processes during sexual reproduction; they are: meiosis, involving the halving of the number of chromosomes; and fertilization, involving the fusion of two gametes and the...

, who played a key role in many Roman religious
Religion in ancient Rome
Religion in ancient Rome encompassed the religious beliefs and cult practices regarded by the Romans as indigenous and central to their identity as a people, as well as the various and many cults imported from other peoples brought under Roman rule. Romans thus offered cult to innumerable deities...

 festivals and myths. From the third century BC, the increasing Hellenization
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

 of Roman upper classes identified her as the equivalent of the Greek goddess
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

.

Name


The noun form venus means "love" and "sexual desire" in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, and has connections to venerari (to honour, to try to please) and venia (grace, favour) through a possible common root in an Indo-European *wenes-, comparable to Sanskrit vanas- "lust, desire".

Venus' name might embody the function of honours and gifts to the divine when seeking their favours: such acts can be interpreted as the enticement, seduction or charm of gods by mortals.
The ambivalence of this function is suggested in the etymological relationship of the root *venes- with Latin venenum (poison, venom), in the sense of "a charm, magic philtre
Potion
A potion is a consumable medicine or poison.In mythology and literature, a potion is usually made by a magician, sorcerer, dragon, fairy or witch and has magical properties. It might be used to heal, bewitch or poison people...

".

Comparative mythology


Due to her early association with Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

 in the interpretatio graeca
Interpretatio graeca
Interpretatio graeca is a Latin term for the common tendency of ancient Greek writers to equate foreign divinities to members of their own pantheon. Herodotus, for example, refers to the ancient Egyptian gods Amon, Osiris and Ptah as "Zeus", "Dionysus" and "Hephaestus", respectively.-Roman...

, it is hard to establish what characteristics the natively Italic Venus may have had.
Ushas
Ushas
Ushas , Sanskrit for "dawn", is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well.Sanskrit is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is . It is from PIE , cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora....

 is linked to Venus by a Vedic Sanskrit
Vedic Sanskrit
Vedic Sanskrit is an old Indo-Aryan language. It is an archaic form of Sanskrit, an early descendant of Proto-Indo-Iranian. It is closely related to Avestan, the oldest preserved Iranian language...

 epithet ascribed to her, vanas- "(female) loveliness; longing, desire", which is cognate with Latin Venus (Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European religion
Proto-Indo-European religion is the hypothesized religion of the Proto-Indo-European peoples based on the existence of similarities among the deities, religious practices and mythologies of the Indo-European peoples. Reconstruction of the hypotheses below is based on linguistic evidence using the...

 root *wen- "to desire").

In the interpretatio romana of the Germanic pantheon during the early centuries AD, Venus became identified with the Germanic goddess Frijjo
Frijjō
*Frijjō is the reconstructed name or epithet of a hypothesized Common Germanic love goddess giving rise to both Frigg and Freyja....

, giving rise to the loan translation "Friday
Friday
Friday is the day between Thursday and Saturday. In countries adopting Monday-first conventions as recommended by the international standard ISO 8601, it is the fifth day of the week. It is the sixth day in countries that adopt a Sunday-first convention as in Abrahamic tradition...

" for dies Veneris. The historical cognate of the dawn goddess in Germanic tradition, however, would be Ostara.

Roman mythology


Venus was commonly associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Etruscan deity
Etruscan mythology
The Etruscans were a diachronically continuous population, with a distinct language and culture during the period of earliest European writing, in the Mediterranean Iron Age in the second half of the first millennium BC...

 Turan, borrowing aspects from each. As with most other gods and goddesses in Roman mythology
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

, the literary concept of Venus is mantled in whole-cloth borrowings from the literary Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 of her equivalent counterpart, Aphrodite. The early, Etruscan or Latin goddess of vegetation and gardens became deliberately associated with the Greek Goddess Aphrodite. In some Latin mythology Cupid
Cupid
In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, affection and erotic love. He is the son of the goddess Venus and the god Mars. His Greek counterpart is Eros...

 was the son of Venus and Mars
Mars (mythology)
Mars was the Roman god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter, and he was the most prominent of the military gods worshipped by the Roman legions...

, the god of war. In other times, Venus was understood to be the consort of Vulcan
Vulcan (mythology)
Vulcan , aka Mulciber, is the god of beneficial and hindering fire, including the fire of volcanoes in ancient Roman religion and Roman Neopaganism. Vulcan is usually depicted with a thunderbolt. He is known as Sethlans in Etruscan mythology...

. Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

, in compliment to his patron Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 and the gens Julia
Julius
The gens Julia was one of the most ancient patrician families at Ancient Rome. Members of the gens attained the highest dignities of the state in the earliest times of the Republic. The first of the family to obtain the consulship was Gaius Julius Iulus in 489 BC...

, made Venus, whom Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 had adopted as his protectress, the ancestor of the Roman people
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 by way of its legendary founder Aeneas
Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

 and his son Iulus.

Cult


Her cult began in Ardea
Ardea (RM)
Ardea is an ancient town and comune in the province of Rome, 35 km south of Rome and about 4 km from today's Mediterranean coast....

 and Lavinium
Lavinium
Lavinium was a port city of Latium, to the south of Rome, at a median distance between the Tiber river at Ostia and Anzio. The coastline then, as now, was a long strip of beach. Lavinium was on a hill at the southernmost edge of the Silva Laurentina, a dense laurel forest, and the northernmost...

, Latium
Latium
Lazio is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy, situated in the central peninsular section of the country. With about 5.7 million residents and a GDP of more than 170 billion euros, Lazio is the third most populated and the second richest region of Italy...

. On August 15, 293 BC, her oldest known temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

 was dedicated, and August 18 became a festival called the Vinalia Rustica. After Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

's defeat at the Battle of Lake Trasimene
Battle of Lake Trasimene
The Battle of Lake Trasimene was a Roman defeat in the Second Punic War between the Carthaginians under Hannibal and the Romans under the consul Gaius Flaminius...

 in the opening episodes of the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

, the Sibylline oracle recommended the importation of the Sicillian Venus of Eryx; a temple to her was dedicated on the Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill
The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...

 in 217 BC: a second temple to her was dedicated in 181 BC.

Venus seems to have played a part in household or private religion of some Romans. Julius Caesar claimed her as an ancestor (Venus Genetrix); possibly a long-standing family tradition, certainly one adopted as such by his heir Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

. Venus statuettes have been found in quite ordinary household shrines (lararia). In fiction, Petronius
Petronius
Gaius Petronius Arbiter was a Roman courtier during the reign of Nero. He is generally believed to be the author of the Satyricon, a satirical novel believed to have been written during the Neronian age.-Life:...

 places one among the Lares
Lares
Lares , archaically Lases, were guardian deities in ancient Roman religion. Their origin is uncertain; they may have been guardians of the hearth, fields, boundaries or fruitfulness, hero-ancestors, or an amalgam of these....

 of the freedman
Freedman
A freedman is a former slave who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, slaves became freedmen either by manumission or emancipation ....

 Trimalchio
Trimalchio
Trimalchio is a character in the Roman novel The Satyricon by Petronius. He plays a part only in the section titled Cena Trimalchionis . Trimalchio is a freedman who through hard work and perseverance has attained power and wealth...

's household shrine.

Epithets


Like other major Roman deities, Venus was ascribed a number of epithet
Epithet
An epithet or byname is a descriptive term accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It is also a descriptive title...

s that referred to her different cult aspects and roles.

Venus Acidalia was, according to Servius, named after the well Acidalius near Orchomenus, in which Venus used to bathe with the Graces
Charites
In Greek mythology, a Charis is one of several Charites , goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility. They ordinarily numbered three, from youngest to oldest: Aglaea , Euphrosyne , and Thalia . In Roman mythology they were known as the Gratiae, the "Graces"...

. Others connect the name with the Greek acides , meaning cares or troubles.

Venus Calva ("Venus the bald one"), an image of the Goddess attested by post Classical Roman writings which offer several different Roman traditions to explain this appearance and epithet. One holds that it commemorates the virtuous offer by Roman matrons of their own hair to make bowstrings during a siege of Rome: another, that during the reign of king Ancus Marcius
Ancus Marcius
Ancus Marcius was the legendary fourth of the Kings of Rome.He was the son of Marcius and Pompilia...

, the queen and others lost their hair during an epidemic. In hope of its restoration, women unaffected by the affliction willingly sacrificed their own hair to Venus. Ashby (1929) finds the existence of a temple to her "very doubtful".

Venus Cloacina ("Venus the Purifier"), was a fusion of Venus with the Etruscan water goddess Cloacina
Cloacina
In Roman mythology, Cloacina was the goddess who presided over the Cloaca Maxima , the main trunk of the system of sewers in Rome. She was originally derived from Etruscan mythology...

, likely resulting from a statue of Venus being prominent near the Cloaca Maxima
Cloaca Maxima
The Cloaca Maxima is one of the world's earliest sewage systems. Constructed in Ancient Rome in order to drain local marshes and remove the waste of one of the world's most populous cities, it carried an effluent to the River Tiber, which ran beside the city....

, Rome's sewer system. The statue was erected on the spot where according to Rome's founding tradition
Romulus and Remus
Romulus and Remus are Rome's twin founders in its traditional foundation myth, although the former is sometimes said to be the sole founder...

, peace was made between the Romans and Sabine
Sabine
The Sabines were an Italic tribe that lived in the central Appennines of ancient Italy, also inhabiting Latium north of the Anio before the founding of Rome...

s.

Venus Erycina ("Venus from Eryx
Eryx (Sicily)
Eryx , was an ancient city and a mountain in the west of Sicily, about 10 km from Drepana , and 3 km from the sea-coast...

"), also called Venus Ericina, originated on Erice
Erice
Erice is a historic town and comune in the province of Trapani in Sicily, Italy.Erice is located on top of Mount Erice, at around 750m above sea level, overlooking the city of Trapani, the low western coast towards Marsala, the dramatic Punta del Saraceno and Capo san Vito to the north-east, and...

, in western Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

. Temples were erected to her on the Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill
The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...

 and outside the Porta Collina
Porta Collina
The Colline Gate was a landmark in ancient Rome, supposed to have been built by Servius Tullius, semi-legendary king of Rome 578–535 BC. The gate stood at the north end of the Servian Wall, and past it were two important streets, the Via Salaria and Via Nomentana. Within this area the Alta Semita...

. She embodied "impure" love, and was the patron goddess of prostitutes.

Venus Felix ("Lucky Venus") was an epithet used for a temple on the Esquiline Hill
Esquiline Hill
The Esquiline Hill is one of the celebrated Seven Hills of Rome. Its southern-most cusp is the Oppius .-Etymology:The origin of the name Esquilino is still under much debate. One view is that the Hill was named after the abundance of holm-oaks, exculi, that resided there...

 and for a temple constructed by Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 dedicated to "Venus Felix et Roma Aeterna
Temple of Venus and Roma
The Temple of Venus and of Rome — in Latin, Templum Veneris et Romae — is thought to have been the largest temple in Ancient Rome. Located on the Velian Hill, between the eastern edge of the Forum Romanum and the Colosseum, it was dedicated to the goddesses Venus Felix and Roma Aeterna...

" ("Favorable Venus and Eternal Rome") on the north side of the Via Sacra
Via Sacra
The Via Sacra was the main street of ancient Rome, leading from the top of the Capitoline Hill, through some of the most important religious sites of the Forum , to the Colosseum....

. This epithet is also used for a specific sculpture at the Vatican Museums
Venus Felix (sculpture)
The Venus Felix is a sculpture of Venus and her son Cupid. It was dedicated by Sallustia and Helpidus to Venus Felix. Its head resembles Faustina the Younger. It is now held at the Museo Pio-Clementino of the Vatican Museums, Rome, and is displayed in the Octagon of the Hermes Hall....

.

Venus Genetrix
Venus Genetrix (sculpture)
The sculptural type of Venus Genetrix shows Venus in her aspect of Genetrix , as she was honoured by the Julio-Claudian dynasty of Rome, who followed the precedent of Julius Caesar in claiming her as their ancestor...

("Mother Venus") was Venus in her role as the ancestress of the Roman people, a goddess of motherhood and domesticity. A festival was held in her honor on September 26. As Venus was regarded as the mother of the Julian
Julio-Claudian Dynasty
The Julio-Claudian dynasty normally refers to the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula , Claudius, and Nero, or the family to which they belonged; they ruled the Roman Empire from its formation, in the second half of the 1st century BC, until AD 68, when the last of the line,...

 gens
Gens
In ancient Rome, a gens , plural gentes, referred to a family, consisting of all those individuals who shared the same nomen and claimed descent from a common ancestor. A branch of a gens was called a stirps . The gens was an important social structure at Rome and throughout Italy during the...

 in particular, Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 dedicated a Temple of Venus Genetrix
Temple of Venus Genetrix
The Temple of Venus Genetrix is a ruined temple in the Forum of Caesar, Rome, dedicated to the Roman goddess Venus Genetrix, the goddess of motherhood and domesticity...

 in Rome in 46 BC. This name has attached to an iconological type of statue of Aphrodite/Venus
Venus Genetrix (sculpture)
The sculptural type of Venus Genetrix shows Venus in her aspect of Genetrix , as she was honoured by the Julio-Claudian dynasty of Rome, who followed the precedent of Julius Caesar in claiming her as their ancestor...

.

Venus Kallipygos
Venus Kallipygos
The Venus Kallipygos or Aphrodite Kallipygos , also known as the Callipygian Venus, all literally meaning "Venus of the beautiful buttocks", is an Ancient Roman marble statue, thought to be a copy of an older Greek original...

("Venus with the pretty bottom"), a form worshipped at Syracuse.

Venus Libertina ("Venus the Freedwoman
Freedman
A freedman is a former slave who has been released from slavery, usually by legal means. Historically, slaves became freedmen either by manumission or emancipation ....

") was an epithet of Venus that probably arose from an error, with Romans mistaking lubentina (possibly meaning "pleasurable" or "passionate") for libertina. Possibly related is Venus Libitina, also called Venus Libentina, Venus Libentia, Venus Lubentina, Venus Lubentini and Venus Lubentia, an epithet that probably arose from confusion between Libitina
Libitina
In Roman mythology, Libitina was the goddess of death, corpses and funerals. Her name was also a synonym for death [see Horace Odes 3.30].Her face was seldom portrayed; hardly any sacrifices were offered to her, as they were to Orcus, her male equivalent. Today, her very name has sunk into such...

, a funeral goddess, and the aforementioned lubentina, leading to an amalgamation of Libitina and Venus. A temple was dedicated to Venus Libitina on the Esquiline Hill
Esquiline Hill
The Esquiline Hill is one of the celebrated Seven Hills of Rome. Its southern-most cusp is the Oppius .-Etymology:The origin of the name Esquilino is still under much debate. One view is that the Hill was named after the abundance of holm-oaks, exculi, that resided there...

.

Venus Murcia ("Venus of the Myrtle") was an epithet that merged the goddess with the little-known deity Murcia
Murcia (mythology)
Murcia was a little known goddess in ancient Rome. Her name occurs as a surname of Venus.According to Livy she had a temple at the foot of the Aventine Hill near to the Palatine Hill...

 or Murtia. Murcia was associated with the myrtle-tree, but in other sources was called a goddess of sloth and laziness.

Venus Obsequens ("Graceful Venus" or "Indulgent Venus") was an epithet to which a temple was dedicated in the late 3rd century BC during the Third Samnite War by Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges
Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges (consul 292 BC)
Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges was the son of Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus and a Consul in 292 and 276 BC.In 295 BC he was curule aedile, and fined certain matrons of noble birth for their disorderly life. With the proceeds of the fines built a temple to Venus near the Circus Maximus.He was...

. It was built with money fined from women who had been found guilty of adultery
Adultery
Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...

. It was the oldest temple of Venus in Rome, and was probably situated at the foot of the Aventine Hill
Aventine Hill
The Aventine Hill is one of the seven hills on which ancient Rome was built. It belongs to Ripa, the twelfth rione, or ward, of Rome.-Location and boundaries:The Aventine hill is the southernmost of Rome's seven hills...

 near the Circus Maximus
Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome, Italy. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire...

. Its dedication day, August 19, was celebrated in the Vinalia Rustica.

Venus Urania ("Heavenly Venus") was an epithet used as the title of a book by Basilius von Ramdohr
Basilius von Ramdohr
Friedrich Wilhelm Basilius von Ramdohr was a German conservative lawyer, art critic and journalist based in Dresden. From 1806 he was a Prussian diplomat to Rome and Naples.-Life:...

, a relief by Pompeo Marchesi
Pompeo Marchesi
Pompeo Marchesi was a Lombard sculptor of the neoclassical school.He first studied at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, and then in 1804 he won a scholarship to study in Rome under Canova, from whom he received much encouragement...

, and a painting by Christian Griepenkerl
Christian Griepenkerl
Christian Griepenkerl was a German painter and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.Griepenkerl was born to one of Oldenburg's leading families...

. (cf. Aphrodite Urania
Aphrodite Urania
Urania was an epithet of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, signifying "heavenly" or "spiritual", to distinguish her from her more earthly aspect of "Aphrodite Pandemos", "Aphrodite for all the people". The two were used to differentiate the more "celestial" love of body and soul from purely physical...

.)

On April 1, the Veneralia
Veneralia
The Veneralia was the Ancient Roman festival of Venus Verticordia , the goddess of love and beauty. The worship of the goddess Fortuna Virilis was also part of this festival....

 was celebrated in honor of Venus Verticordia ("Venus the Changer of Hearts"), the protector against vice. A temple to Venus Verticordia was built in Rome in 114 BC, and dedicated April 1, at the instruction of the Sibylline Books
Sibylline Books
The Sibylline Books or Libri Sibyllini were a collection of oracular utterances, set out in Greek hexameters, purchased from a sibyl by the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, and consulted at momentous crises through the history of the Republic and the Empire...

 to atone for the inchastity of three Vestal Virgin
Vestal Virgin
In ancient Roman religion, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins , were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The College of the Vestals and its well-being was regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome, as embodied by their cultivation of the sacred fire that could not be...

s.

Venus Victrix ("Venus the Victorious") was an aspect of the armed Aphrodite that Greeks had inherited from the East, where the goddess Ishtar
Ishtar
Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte.-Characteristics:...

 "remained a goddess of war, and Venus could bring victory to a Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix , known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as that of dictator...

 or a Caesar." Pompey, Sulla's protege, vied with his patron and with Caesar for public recognition as her protege. In 55 BC he dedicated a temple to her at the top of his theater in the Campus Martius
Campus Martius
The Campus Martius , was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome...

. She had a shrine on the Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill
The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...

, and festivals on August 12 and October 9. A sacrifice was annually dedicated to her on the latter date. In neo-classical art, her epithet as Victrix is often used in the sense of 'Venus Victorious over men's hearts' or in the context of the Judgement of Paris
Judgement of Paris
thumb |right |460px |[[The Judgment of Paris |The Judgment of Paris]], [[Peter Paul Rubens]], ca 1636...

 (e.g. Canova's Venus Victrix
Venus Victrix (Canova)
"Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix" is a semi-nude life-size reclining neo-Classical portrait sculpture by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova...

, a half-nude reclining portrait of Pauline Bonaparte
Pauline Bonaparte
Pauline Bonaparte was the first sovereign Duchess of Guastalla, an imperial French Princess and the Princess consort of Sulmona and Rossano. She was the sixth child of Letizia Ramolino and Carlo Buonaparte, Corsica's representative to the court of King Louis XVI of France. Her elder brother,...

).

there significant epithets for Venus included Venus Amica ("Venus the Friend"), Venus Armata ("Armed Venus"), Venus Caelestis ("Celestial Venus"), and Venus Aurea ("Golden Venus").

Classical art




Roman and Hellenistic art produced many variations on the goddess, often based on the Praxitlean
Praxiteles
Praxiteles of Athens, the son of Cephisodotus the Elder, was the most renowned of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century BC. He was the first to sculpt the nude female form in a life-size statue...

 type Aphrodite of Cnidus. Many female nudes from this period of sculpture whose subjects are unknown are in modern art history conventionally called 'Venus'es, even if they originally may have portrayed a mortal woman rather than operated as a cult statue of the goddess.

Examples include:
  • Venere di Morgantina (425–400 BC)
  • Venus de Milo
    Venus de Milo
    Aphrodite of Milos , better known as the Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Created at some time between 130 and 100 BC, it is believed to depict Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It is a marble sculpture, slightly...

     (130 BC)
  • Venus de' Medici
    Venus de' Medici
    The Venus de' Medici or Medici Venus is a lifesize Hellenistic marble sculpture depicting the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite. It is a 1st century BC marble copy, perhaps made in Athens, of a bronze original Greek sculpture, following the type of the Aphrodite of Cnidos, which would have been made...

  • Capitoline Venus
    Capitoline Venus
    The Capitoline Venus is a type of statue of Venus, specifically one of several Venus Pudica types , of which several examples exist. The type ultimately derives from the Aphrodite of Cnidus...

  • Esquiline Venus
    Esquiline Venus
    The Esquiline Venus is a smaller-than-life-size Roman nude marble sculpture of a female in a sandal and headdress.-History:It was found in 1874 in Piazza Dante on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, probably part of the site of the Horti Lamiani, one of the imperial gardens, rich archaeological sources of...

  • Venus Felix
  • Venus of Arles
  • Venus Anadyomene
    Venus Anadyomene
    Venus Anadyomene was one of the iconic representations of Aphrodite, made famous in a much-admired painting by Apelles, now lost, but described in Pliny's Natural History, with the anecdote that the great Apelles employed Campaspe, a mistress of Alexander the Great, for his model...

     (also here)
  • Venus, Pan and Eros
  • Venus Genetrix
    Venus Genetrix (sculpture)
    The sculptural type of Venus Genetrix shows Venus in her aspect of Genetrix , as she was honoured by the Julio-Claudian dynasty of Rome, who followed the precedent of Julius Caesar in claiming her as their ancestor...

  • Venus of Capua
  • Venus Kallipygos
    Venus Kallipygos
    The Venus Kallipygos or Aphrodite Kallipygos , also known as the Callipygian Venus, all literally meaning "Venus of the beautiful buttocks", is an Ancient Roman marble statue, thought to be a copy of an older Greek original...

  • Venus Pudica

In non-classical art


Venus became a popular subject of painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 and sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 period in Europe. As a "classical" figure for whom nudity
Nudity
Nudity is the state of wearing no clothing. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic. The amount of clothing worn depends on functional considerations and social considerations...

 was her natural state, it was socially acceptable to depict her unclothed. As the goddess of sexuality
Human sexuality
Human sexuality is the awareness of gender differences, and the capacity to have erotic experiences and responses. Human sexuality can also be described as the way someone is sexually attracted to another person whether it is to opposite sexes , to the same sex , to either sexes , or not being...

, a degree of erotic beauty in her presentation was justified, which appealed to many artists and their patrons. Over time, venus came to refer to any artistic depiction in post-classical art of a nude woman, even when there was no indication that the subject was the goddess.
  • The Birth of Venus (Botticelli)
    The Birth of Venus (Botticelli)
    The Birth of Venus is a painting by Sandro Botticelli. It depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as a fully grown woman, arriving at the sea-shore...

     (c. 1485)
  • Sleeping Venus
    Sleeping Venus (Giorgione)
    The Sleeping Venus, also known as the Dresden Venus, is a painting by the Italian Renaissance master Giorgione, with, it is now generally accepted, the landscape and sky, by Titian, completed after Giorgione's death in 1510, as Vasari first noted...

     (c. 1501)
  • Venus of Urbino
    Venus of Urbino
    The Venus of Urbino is a 1538 oil painting by the Italian master Titian. It depicts a nude young woman, identified with the goddess Venus, reclining on a couch or bed in the sumptuous surroundings of a Renaissance palace. It hangs in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. The figure's pose is based...

     (1538)
  • Titian's Venus with a Mirror (c. 1555)
  • Rokeby Venus
  • Olympia (1863)
  • The Birth of Venus (Bouguereau)
    The Birth of Venus (Bouguereau)
    The Birth of Venus is one of the most famous paintings by 19th century painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau. It depicts not the actual birth of Venus from the sea, but the transportation of Venus in a shell from the sea to Paphos in Cyprus. For Bouguereau, it was truly a tour de force...

     (1879)
  • The Birth of Venus (Cabanel)
    The Birth of Venus (Cabanel)
    The Birth of Venus is a painting by the French artist Alexandre Cabanel . It was painted in 1863, and is now in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris...

     (1863)
  • Venus of Cherchell, Gsell museum in Algeria
    Algeria
    Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

  • Venus Victrix
    Venus Victrix (Canova)
    "Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix" is a semi-nude life-size reclining neo-Classical portrait sculpture by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova...

    , and Venus Italica by Antonio Canova
    Antonio Canova
    Antonio Canova was an Italian sculptor from the Republic of Venice who became famous for his marble sculptures that delicately rendered nude flesh...



In the field of prehistoric art
Prehistoric art
In the history of art, prehistoric art is all art produced in preliterate, prehistorical cultures beginning somewhere in very late geological history, and generally continuing until that culture either develops writing or other methods of record-keeping, or it makes significant contact with another...

, since the discovery in 1908 of the so-called "Venus of Willendorf
Venus of Willendorf
The Venus of Willendorf, also known as the Woman of Willendorf, is an high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been made between 24,000 and 22,000 BCE. It was discovered in 1908 by archaeologist Josef Szombathy at a paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria near the...

" small Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 sculptures of rounded female forms have been conventionally referred to as Venus figurines
Venus figurines
Venus figurines is an umbrella term for a number of prehistoric statuettes of women portrayed with similar physical attributes from the Upper Palaeolithic, mostly found in Europe, but with finds as far east as Irkutsk Oblast, Siberia, extending their distribution to much of Eurasia, from the...

. Although the name of the actual deity is not known, the knowing contrast between the obese and fertile cult figures and the classical conception of Venus has raised resistance to the terminology.

Tannhäuser


The medieval German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 legend Tannhäuser
Tannhäuser
Tannhäuser was a German Minnesänger and poet. Historically, his biography is obscure beyond the poetry, which dates between 1245 and 1265...

 preserved the Venus myth long after her worship was extirpated by Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

.

The German story tells of Tannhäuser, a knight and poet who found Venusberg
Venusberg (mythology)
Venusberg or Hörselberg is the name of a mythical mountain in Germany situated between Gotha and Eisenach and celebrated in German poetry. Caverns in the mountain housed the court of Venus, goddess of love which was supposed to be perfectly hidden from mortal men: to enter the Venusberg was to...

, a mountain with caverns containing the subterranean home of Venus, and spent a year there worshipping the goddess. After leaving Venusberg, Tannhäuser is filled with remorse, and travels to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 to ask Pope Urban IV
Pope Urban IV
Pope Urban IV , born Jacques Pantaléon, was Pope, from 1261 to 1264. He was not a cardinal, and there have been several Popes since him who have not been Cardinals, including Urban V and Urban VI.-Biography:...

 if it is possible to be absolved of his sins.

Urban replies that forgiveness is as impossible as it would be for his papal staff to blossom. Three days after Tannhäuser's departure, Urban's staff blooms with flowers; messengers are sent to retrieve the knight, but he has already returned to Venusberg, never to be seen again.

See also

  • Love goddess
  • Venus (disambiguation)
    Venus (disambiguation)
    Venus is the second-closest planet to the Sun.Venus may also refer to:* Venus , the Roman goddess of love, in Greek mythology known as Aphrodite* Venus symbol -People:* Venus, an alias for Angelica Costello, a pornographic actress...

  • Venus
    Venus
    Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

     (planet)
  • Venus symbol
    Venus symbol
    The Venus symbol is a depiction of a circle with a small cross below it. The symbol is historically associated with the Roman goddess Venus or the Greek goddess Aphrodite...

  • Hottentot Venus

Sources


  • Champeaux, J. (1987). Fortuna. Recherches sur le culte de la Fortuna à Rome et dans le monde romain des origines à la mort de César. II. Les Transformations de Fortuna sous le République. Rome: Ecole Française de Rome. (pp. 378–395)
  • Hammond, N.G.L. and Scullard, H.H. (eds.) (1970). The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (p. 113)
  • Lloyd-Morgan, G. (1986). "Roman Venus: public worship and private rites." In M. Henig and A. King (eds.), Pagan Gods and Shrines of the Roman Empire (pp. 179–188). Oxford: Oxford Committee for Archaeology Monograph 8.
  • Nash, E. (1962). Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome Volume 1. London: A. Zwemmer Ltd. (pp. 272–263, 424)
  • Richardson, L. (1992). A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. (pp. 92, 165–167, 408–409, 411) ISBN 0-8018-4300-6
  • Room, A. (1983). Room's Classical Dictionary. London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. (pp. 319–322)
  • Rüpke, Jörg (Editor), A Companion to Roman Religion, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4051-2943-5
  • Schilling, R. (1982) (2nd ed.). La Religion Romaine de Vénus depuis les origines jusqu'au temps d'Auguste. Paris: Editions E. de Boccard.
  • Scullard, H.H. (1981). Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic. London: Thames and Hudson. (pp. 97, 107)
  • Simon, E. (1990). Die Götter der Römer. Munich: Hirmer Verlag. (pp. 213–228).
  • Weinstock, S. (1971). Divus Julius. Oxford; Clarendon Press. (pp. 80–90)
  • Gerd Scherm, Brigitte Tast Astarte und Venus. Eine foto-lyrische Annäherung (1996), ISBN 3-88842-603-0


Ancient source references

  • Ovid, Metamorphoses IV.171–189
  • Cicero, De natura deorum II.20.53
  • Lactantius, Divinae instiutiones I.17.10
  • Justine, Epitome Historiarum philippicarum Pompei Trogi XVIII.5.4, XXI.3.2

External links