Roman Culture/Roman Myths/Venus

Venus, Ancient Roman bronze figurine, 1st–2nd centuries AD.Venus, Ancient Roman bronze figurine.Venus, Ancient Roman bronze figurine.
Carving Roman Venus with the eagle, Sardonyx, the first century AD

Venus is a Roman goddess who corresponds to the goddess Aphrodite in Greek mythology. According to Roman mythology, Venus sprang up from the sea when the testicles of Uranus had been cut off and thrown into the ocean. She is known as the goddess of love and beauty as well as fields and gardens. Throughout the years, Venus has come to represent seduction and lust as she came to be a sex symbol. Some of her lovers include Mars (the god of war) and Vulcan (the god of fire), similar to the lovers of Aphrodite. Venus came to be associated with many lovers who were both mortals and gods, over time she became a representation of what it means to be feminine. She became an important goddess with the influences of prominent political figures in Rome such as Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus who named her the ancestor of their family (Lindehans). As indicated in Virgil’s epic the Aeneid, Venus is the mother of Aeneas (Vergil). Caesar and Augusts claimed that they were descendants of Iulus, the son of Aeneas, therefore making themselves descendants of Venus (Venus). In Roman religion, Venus is considered the divine mother of Romans (pbs.org) because she was the mother of Aeneas, who was believed to be the main vessel in the foundation of Rome. It is believed that in early Roman times she was not worshiped since the earliest Roman calendars lack a date for any festival devoted to her and she did not have a priest who specialized in the ceremonies of worship for her (Venus). Her association with Jupiter came to be when the foundation of one of her first temples in Rome was on the 19th of August, the same date which is the day for Vinalia Rustica, a festival for Jupiter (Lindemans). With this festival being the same day her temple was founded, the relationship of a father and daughter was established between her and Jupiter, which was modeled after the relationship between Zeus and Aphrodite in the Greek world (Venus). In the Latin cities, Venus had two temples; one in Ardea and another in Lavinium (Lindemans). One of the greatest temples built for her was in 135AD by the Emperor Hadrian. Similar to other art forms in Rome, the statues of Venus were modeled after Greek structures, hence she resembles the Greek depiction of the goddess Aphrodite. Aside from being an important goddess for the Romans, in modern times Venus is also the name of one of the planets in the solar system. Interestingly, this planet was named after the Roman goddess Venus herself, for being the brightest object in the sky apart from the moon at night (Venus Wikipedia) and also because it was the brightest planet known to the ancient astronomers (Venus Space).

Venus standing on a quadriga of elephants. Roman frecso from the Officina di Verecundus (IX 7, 5) in Pompeii.

References:

  1. Lindemans, Micha F. Venus. 26 May 1999. (http://www.pantheon.org/articles/v/venus.html)
  2. Roman Gods. http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/gods.html
  3. ThinkQuest. http://library.thinkquest.org/CR0210200/ancient_rome/gods.htm/
  4. Venus. (http://www.goddess.ws/venus.html).
  5. Venus Space.com (http://www.space.com/44-venus-second-planet-from-the-sun-brightest-planet-in-solar-system.html)
  6. Venus Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus
  7. Vergil. Translated by Ruden, Sarah. The Aeneid.Yale University 2008