Saturday, February 14, 2009

templum Veneris


Last weekend I read, just for fun, The Knight's Tale from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The description of the temple of Venus there struck me, and I thought it would make a fitting post for Valentine's Day.
...in the temple of Venus you might have seen, created upon the wall, in imagery piteous to behold, the broken sleeps and cold sighs, the sacred tears and lamentations, the fiery pangs of desire that love's servants endure in this life... Pleasure and Hope, Desire and Foolhardiness, Beauty and Youth, Mirth, Riches, Love-charms and Violence, Deceits, Flattery, Extravagance, Anxiety and Jealousy... were painted by order upon the wall, and more than I can make mention of.

In truth all the mount of Citheron, where Venus has her principal dwelling, was drawn upon the wall, with all the garden and the lustiness of it. Idleness, the porter, was not forgotten, nor Narcissus the fair of long ago, nor the folly of King Solomon, nor yet the great strength of Hercules; the enchantments of Medea and Circe, nor the hardy fierce heart of Turnus, nor the rich Croesus, captive and in servitude. Thus may you see that neither wisdom nor riches, beauty nor cunning, strength nor hardihood can hold rivalry with Venus, for she can guide all the world as she wish. Lo, all these folk were so caught in her snare until for woe they cried often "Alas!" One or two examples shall suffice here, though I could explain a thousand more.

The naked statue of Venus, glorious to look upon, was floating in a great sea, and from the navel down all was covered with green waves, bright as any glass. She had a lyre in her right and, and on her head a rose-garland, fresh and fragrant, and seemly to see. Above her head fluttered her doves, and before her stood her son Cupid, blindfolded, as he is often shown, with two wings upon his shoulders. He carried a bow and bright, keen arrows.

While we're on the subject of Valentine's Day, why not visit these sites and read a bit about about Lupercalia, and why it has nothing to do with Valentine's Day
Related Posts

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. But it seems that the author at Rogue Classicism has been quite thoroughly refuted. That first link you give (to about.com) also in many ways disproves his conjecture that the Lupercalia have nothing to do with Valentine's day.

jm said...

as i read it (i.e. quickly) i thought both links were saying similar things; valentines day has become associated with lupercalia, but they're not actually the same thing. perhaps i need to read it again.