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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

F. B. Tarbell, A History of Ancient Greek Art

The Hellenistic Period of Greek Sculpture. 323-146 B.C.

The Aphrodite of Melos

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PLATO

ARISTOTLE

THE GREEK OLD TESTAMENT (SEPTUAGINT)

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PLOTINUS

DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE

MAXIMUS CONFESSOR

SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN

CAVAFY

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Page 2

Still greater uncertainty prevails as to the proper restoration of the statue, and no one of the many suggestions that have been made is free from difficulties. It seems probable, as has recently been set forth with great force and clearness by Professor Furtwangler,[1] that the figure is an adaptation from an Aphrodite of the fourth century, who rests her left foot upon a helmet and, holding a shield on her left thigh, looks at her own reflection.

On this view the difficulty of explaining the attitude of the Aphrodite of Melos arises from the fact that the motive was created for an entirely different purpose and is not altogether appropriate to the present one, whatever precisely that may be.

It has seemed necessary, in the case of a statue of so much importance, to touch upon these learned perplexities; but let them not greatly trouble the reader or turn him aside from enjoying the superb qualities of the work. One of the Aphrodites of Scopas or Praxiteles, if we had it in the original, would perhaps reveal to us a still diviner beauty. As it is, this is the worthiest existing embodiment of the goddess of Love.

The ideal is chaste and noble, echoing the sentiment of the fourth century at its best; and the execution is worthy of a work which is in some sense a Greek original.


[1] "Masterpieces of Greek Sculpture," pages 384 ff.

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