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Mulieris famam, non formam,
vulgatam esse oportere.

A woman’s reputation, not her beauty, should be known to the world.


Alma Venus, quaenam haec facies? quid denotat illa
Testudo, molli quam pede Diva premis?
Me sic effinxit Phidias,[1] sexumque referri
Femineum nostra iussit ab effigie:
Quodque manere domi, & tacitas decet esse puellas,
Supposuit pedibus talia signa meis.

Kindly Venus, what form is this, what does that tortoise mean, on which, o goddess, your soft feet rest? Phidias fashioned me like this. He intended the female sex to be represented by this image of me. Girls should stay at home and keep silence, and so he put such symbols under my feet.


1.  Phidias’ statue of Aphrodite with one foot on a tortoise, set up at Elis, is mentioned by Pausanias, Periegesis 6.25.1. The tortoise is a symbol of ideal female domesticity, as it keeps silent and never leaves its house see Plutarch Coniugalia praecepta 32 (Mor. 142).

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