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Art / Aphrodite of Menophantos

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The Aphrodite of Menophantos is a Roman marble statue of the goddess Venus. It bears the signature of Menophantos, ("ἀπὸ τῆc / ἐν Τρῳάδι / Ἀφροδίτηc / Μηνόφαντοc / ἐποίε") a Greek sculptor, apparently of the 1st century BCE, of whom nothing more is known.

Aphrodite was famous for her promiscuity, so it's notable for her to be portrayed with any sense of physical modesty. Some scholars believe that she is not trying to cover herself and more like she is being depicted in motion, her expression contemplative and her hands positioned in a show of modesty being a complete coincidence. Others, like Gerhart Rodenwaldt, argue that she is trying to conceal her nakedness because men who have seen a goddess naked have been inflicted with Karmic Misfire in the past, like with what happened to Actaeon and Teiresias when they found Artemis and Athena bathing respectively.

It was found at the Camaldolese monastery of San Gregorio al Celio in Rome, and is now in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome. Not to be confused with the Venus de Milo.

It provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Modesty: Her design takes the form of the "Venus Pudica", a particular portrayal of Aphrodite popular during the Hellenistic period. It features her as self-conscious of her own nakedness and divine beauty, causing her to daintily try and cover her breasts and crotch. In the myths, Aphrodite is rather promiscuous and finds being a Head-Turning Beauty pleasurable. This also contrasts with other common takes on her, in which she neither flaunts nor cares about her looks but is merely solemn.
  • Art Imitates Art: She's modeled after the "Venus Pudica", an Adaptational Modesty take on Aphrodite. More specifically, it's a replica of the Greek Capitoline Venus in both the positioning of her hands, the presence of a towel/sheet, and the fact Aphrodite is fresh off a bath.
  • Contrapposto Pose: In an unusual display of modesty, she is slightly bending her right leg in an attempt to further cover her groin, causing her to visibly favor her left leg.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: Aphrodite is completely naked, struggling to cover herself up with her hand and a sheet. The implication being she is emerging from a bath and unwilling to be seen in such a state.
  • Karmic Misfire: Implied and defied. Part of the reason why Aphrodite is rushing to cover herself up is that a human has stumbled upon her while she was taking a bath. Mortals receive nasty divine punishments for seeing a naked goddess, even if it's by accident, so she's trying to prevent that.
  • Love Goddess: It is a portrayal of Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love. In particular, a version of her that is self-aware of her Head-Turning Beauty and therefore tries to cover herself up. This element is present because here, she's young and still a virgin, just learning the ropes of being a goddess.
  • Protagonist Title: By lack of a title indicated in the sculpture itself, it has been named after the subject it representS —the Roman Love Goddess.
  • The X of Y: Her assigned name is fashioned like this as a way to differentiate her from the many Venus/Aphrodite artworks lying around.