Switch to Dual Emblem Display

Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [C5v p42]


Veneris potentia.

The power of love.

Quid Cytheraea polum[1] fers vertice? vis mea scandit
Caelum, & Iovi dat iura. quid papavera?
Sopio corda hominum quamvis fera. roscida quorsum
Mala? illices esse has voluptates puta.

Venus, why do you carry a pole [of heaven] on your head? - My power climbs to heaven, and gives laws to Jupiter. - Why a poppy? - I lull the hearts of men to sleep, however ferocious they are. - For what purpose the dewy Apples? - Think of these as the seductive delights.

Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [H7r p125]

Heroicum comitatum Iambico senatio [=senario] .
Pausanias in Corinthiacis commemo-
rat apud Sicyonios exstare nobile Veneris simu-
lacrum ex auro & ebore sculptum Canachi cla-
rissimi statuarii manibus, quae capite gestet caeli
orbes, altera manu teneat papaverum capita; alte-
ra malum. Innuere artificem voluisse arbitror Ve
neris in omnia animantia potentiam, quando & Io
suum in varias species mutatum caelo dedu-
ctum Veneris caussa fabulantur potae. Huc spe-
ctant Lucretii[2] versus:
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [H7v p126]Alma Venus, hominum divumque voluptas, ca-
pta lepre
Illecebrisque tuis omnis natura animantum
Te sequitur cupid, qu quamque inducere pergis.
Omnibus incutiens blandum per pectora amorem
Efficis, ut cupid generatim saecla propagent.[3]
Pingatur Venus nuda, myrto coronata, cum pue-
ro Cupidine alato, caeco, pharetra & arcu instru-
cto, laeva malum aureum tenens, dextra papave-
ra: ad ornatum addi potest quadriga duobus cy
gnis & columbarum pari numero tracta, cui insi-
deat Venus: nam cygnos eam vehere Horatius,
Statius, & Ovidius loquuntur, alii huic muneri
columbas deputant: Sappho etiam passeres dat.
Porr nemo est, qui nescit papaveris vim praeci-
puam esse in sopiendo somnque [=somnoque] conciliando, usquea-
deo ut copiosiore eius usu inexpugnabilis etiam som
ni necessitas ac veternus inducatur. Venus autem
praesertim moderata, iras implacabiles sopit atque
remittit, testibus Atio & Aegineta,[4] ingenii mae
stitiam obliterat, animum sedatum reddit, atra
bile[5] percitos furiososque ad sanam mentem revocat.

Pausanias records in the Description of Corinth that at Sicyon there stood a noble statue of Venus sculpted in gold and ivory by the hands of the very famous sculptor Canachus: and [in this statue, Venus] supported the circles of heaven on her head, while in one hand she held some poppy-heads, and in the other an apple. The artist meant by this, I think, to signify the power of Love in all animals - and indeed the poets tell that Jupiter himself changed into diverse species, having been enticed down from heaven for the sake of Love. Lucretius refers to this in the lines: [p.126]
‘Bountiful Venus, delight of men and gods,
All animal nature, captivated by your charm and your allures
Follows you with desire, whithersoever you lead.
Exciting sweet love in everyone’s breast,
You make all the species in the world eager to reproduce themselves.’
Venus should be portrayed naked, crowned with myrtle, accompanied by the boy Cupid who is winged, blind, armed with quiver and bow, holding a golden apple in his left hand and poppies in his left. In addition one could add a chariot drawn by two swans and an equal number of doves, on which Venus would be seated: for Horace, Statius and Ovid say that swans carry her, and others assign this role to doves; Sappho even gives it to sparrows. Meanwhile everyone knows the particular power of the poppy to lull one and bring on sleep, to such an extent that an over-use of it even brings on an insuperable urge for sleep and a drowsiness. But Venus, when kept within bounds, lulls implacable wraths and relaxes one, as we are told by Atius and Aegineta; she takes away sadness from the mind, restores calm to the soul, and beckons those who are stirred up by rage, and who are furious, back to a state of sanity.


1. The pole represents the pole or axis of heaven. The prose explains that this is inspired by an ancient statue of Venus; in this the poppy and apples were carried in Venus’ hands, not on her head; however in the engraving it is Cupid who carries them. The pole of heaven seems to have been left to the imagination.

2. Titus Lucretius Carus, Roman poet and philosopher (d. 55 BC).

3. A curious mish-mash, related to De Rerum Natura, 1.1-2, 4, 15-16.

4. Atius Amidenus (of Amida), physician to Justinian I (6th century), compiler of the medical knowledge of late antiquity. Paulus Aegineta (Paul of Aegina), Greek physician, probably 7th century.

5. Atra bilis: black bile (can mean ‘melancholy’, but also, as in Greek, ‘rage’ or ‘fury’).

Iconclass Keywords

Relating to the image:

Relating to the text:

Hint: You can turn translations and name underlining on or off using the preferences page.


Back to top