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By Marcellus T. Mitsos

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Mythographers both repeat and invent interpretations of the deities from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives, drawing on many hermeneutics and often gathering their interpretations into encyclopedias. Mythographies include not only moralizing interpretations of Venus and Cupid (as of other deities and figures of classical legend), but also medical, philosophical, theological, etymological, astrological, historical, and iconographic explanations. From their participation in many discourses, scientific and philosophical as well as literary, the deities acquire an essential multivalence and come to bear contradictory meanings.

I also set aside outstanding workshops with anvils in which to do this work, giving instructions that she should apply these same hammers to these same anvils and faithfully devote herself to the production of things and not allow the hammers to stray away from their anvils in any form of deviation. (Trans. Sheridan, 155—56)54 Alan prosaically visualizes coitus as a hammer meeting an anvil. More generally, Venus represents the bringing “together in contraposition differing parts of the different sexes so as to effect the propagation of things” (trans.

This constitutes nothing if not a significant departure from Robertson’s Augustinian model. Hollander concentrates on tracing Boccaccio’s portrayal of two Venuses in his opere minori in volgare: a “celestial” Venus of marriage, and an “earthly” Venus of lasciviousness. 17 The persuasiveness of Hollander’s argument rests on our willingness to agree that Boccaccio’s gloss on the Teseida accurately and fully explains his many representations of Venus, and on our ability to read his texts ironically.

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An Inscription from Mycenae by Marcellus T. Mitsos

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