Venus, Vulcan, Mars, and Joe

Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, but carried on a long-standing affair with Ares.  Neither god was happy, of course, with the idea of the goddess being with the other. What are we to make of it?  On the one hand, there is great sympathy for the husband, and Homer, in Odyssey Book 8, has him triumph over the adulterous couple.  And yet, as Dryden wrote memorably, “None but the brave deserve the fair.”

It is an archetypal arrangement for the ages, to my mind.  The question is not what makes the best sense for Venus, but rather, what can she see in the guy who isn’t me?  As Joe Jackson asked, is she really going out with him?

About Uncomely and Broken

I am a classicist in Sewanee, Tennessee.
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3 Responses to Venus, Vulcan, Mars, and Joe

  1. Charlie Nelson says:

    In the way back of my mind, I seem to remember having a conversation with you regarding the singer Jonathan Richman. I, of course, only knew him as being of “There’s Something About Mary” fame, that movie’s soundtrack being the first soundtrack I ever owned on CD (I think our family had Little Mermaid on tape). At 12 years old, I knew this song back and forth.

  2. I seem to recall that conversation myself. Jonathan is really awesome. I’ve got it in mind to write a post about Catullus’ passer and his song “Since She Started to Ride.” (I suppose I could also write a post about Poseidon and “Under the Sea” …)

    • Hi again Charlie– I guess the Aphrodite-related lyric I’m really circling around is the stanza from Yeats’ “Prayer for My Daughter.” I’ve been thinking about it for decades now and haven’t gotten any closer, and my hope as maybe I could sneak up on it via Joe Jackson.

      Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
      And later had much trouble from a fool,
      While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
      Being fatherless could have her way
      Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.
      It’s certain that fine women eat
      A crazy salad with their meat
      Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

      What the hell is a “crazy salad”?!

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