are more likely to see what you like to see. Here is one
example, an excerpt from Women’s work: The
first 20,000 years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber (W.W. Norton
& Co., New York, 1994):
analysis of the musculature of the famous Venus de Milo - the
ancient Greek statue of Aphrodite found on the island of Melos in
1820 and now in the Louvre - shows that she couldn’t hold her
drapery even before the statue lost its arms. Why? She was holding
both arms out (fig. 10.1). One, the left, she held high and a
little back, counterbalancing its weight by curving her body. The
other she held out in front of herself at about chest level; her
gaze rests about where the hand would be. In those positions lies
a story. Modern art critics are not often aware of it, but this
was a pose painfully familiar to women in ancient Greek society.
They spent many hours holding a distaff loaded with fiber high in
the left while working the thread and spindle with the more
"dexterous" right, out in front where it could be
watched. This Aphrodite (or Venus, as the Romans called her) was
have other statues of Aphrodite with the arms similarly placed,
although the distaff and spindle, which would have been sculpted
from more perishable materials, are not preserved. We also possess
several vase paintings of women spinning that show a similar
positioning of the implements (cf. figs. 1.3 and 9.4).
should the goddess of love and procreation be a spinner?
indeed? Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture.
According to the writings on her, Aphrodite loved and was loved by
many gods and mortals; nothing could deter Aphrodite from her
extramarital activities. Among her mortal lovers, the most famous
was Adonis. Perhaps the most celebrated of Aphrodite's affairs was
her relationship with Ares, the god of war. Aphrodite had a festival
of her own, the Aphrodisia: sexual intercourse with her priestesses
was considered just one of the methods of worship.
let’s assume that I am writing the book Sexuality of Gods, The
first 15 billion years. Then, of course, I’m very much into
Aphrodite’s body and mind. Here is what I see from the close
analysis of the musculature of the famous Venus de Milo.
Obviously, statue’s missing arms did not hold the drapery: the
lower body curving is typical of the body movement aiming the
drapery to slide all the way down. She was holding both arms out:
one, the left, she held high and a little back, on the shoulder of
her current lover (e.g. Adonis), and with the other (the more dexterous
right) she was holding Adonis’
"spindle". Her gaze rests about where the dexterous hand would be, naturally. In those positions
lies the story.