Aphrodite de Milos: Greek Goddess of Desire and Fertility, after Whom Aphrodisiac was Coined
Not many are of the knowledge that “Venus de Milo” is also known as “Aphrodite de Milos.” Ancient Romans had a reputation for making their own versions of Grecian literature, including the mythological gods and goddesses who influenced the lives and lifestyles of ancient Greeks as cult patrons.
Discovery of the Famous “Venus de Milo” and How it Found Its Way to the Louvre Museum
The statue of “Venus de Milo” was discovered in 1820, by a farmer in the Aegean island of Melos in Greece. Accounts have it that the Greek farmer discovered fractional pieces of the statue hidden in two blocks of marble he intended to use as walls.
A French naval ensign named Olivier Voutier, who was at that time whiling away his time while his ship was anchored in the island, chanced upon the farmer and his discovery. Instantly recognizing the marble blocks as pieces of antiquities, he brought it to the attention of his Naval officer, Charles François de Riffardeau, the Marquis de Rivière. The French Naval officer was said to have then paid a hefty sum to the Greek farmer in order to acquire the blocks of marble.
It is not clear who was responsible for carving out and reconstructing the pieces of the statue from the marble block, comprising several body parts such as the top half of the body, the left arm, bust and legs, all sculpted individually. The Marquis de Rivière though, later presented the reconstructed statue to the House of Bourbon, as a gift to Louis XVIII.
The following year, the statue was donated to the Louvre Museum and was given the name “Venus de Milo.” It immediately won instant and enduring fame and has since been one of many important exhibits in the Louvre’s gallery of historical artworks.
Is the Statue that of “Venus de Milo” or “Aphrodite de Milos”
In later years, the true identity of the ancient female goddess depicted by the marble statue became a subject of discussions. Since it was found in the marble ruins of Melos, many contend the image is that of Aphrodite, ancient Greece’s patron of beauty, love and fertility, better known as ” Goddess of the Sea.”
Not a few involved in its restoration into a 6 feet, 7 inches statue claimed that part of the statue bore an inscription indicating the original sculptor: “Alexandros, son of Menides, citizen of Antioch of Maeander.” However, the said inscription did not form part of the reconstructed masterpiece on display in the Louvre Museum.
The ancient Greek sculpture is widely believed to have been produced in 100 B.C, part of a period historians called the Hellenistic era. It was the age in which Greek culture influenced the development of arts, architecture, exploration, literature, mathematics, music, philosophy, science and theater across Europe, extending to Western Asia and North Africa.
The belief that the female figure is that of Aphrodite strengthened, as the features of the Louvre masterpiece bore great resemblance to another artwork, Aphrodite of Capua, on display at the Museo Archeologico in Nazionale, Naples. Besides, it has long been established that most, if not all Roman artworks and literature came around as versions of a particular a Greek original. The Roman ancient goddess of love and beauty Venus being one of the many patrons modeled after famous Grecian figures.
Who Is Aphrodite
Aphrodite, was widely venerated in ancient Greece as the goddess of love who blessed marriages with fertility through promotion of sexual desires.
She is also known as the “Goddess of the Sea” since ancient Greek mythology narrates how her divine being, emerged from out of white foam produced by the severed genitalia of the Titan Uranus. The latter was castrated by his own son, Kronos, who after cutting off the genitals, cast them into the sea. The divinity that emerged thereafter was given the name Aphrodite, which in Greek meant “foam-born,” as coined from the Greek word aphros or foam.
Food, particularly those coming from the sea were considered as gifts from Aphrodite as means of enhancing the reproductive abilities of the people. Centuries later various types of food and drinks, consumed in abundance by ancient Greeks to enhance their virility and to make their sexual partners less inhibited, were called aphrodisiacs.
Oysters, are products of the sea and had features resembling the female vulva, and had gained popularity throughout, as the most effective aphrodisiac. Not a few scientists gave confirmation about the ability of oysters to boost sexual desires in light of its abundant zinc content. Click here to learn more about other food and substances believed to produce the same aphrodisiac effects as oysters.