|from Rubens, reworked|
Venus, momentarily forgetting about Adonis while holding her son on her knee, starts to question him on the reason why he is so bold as to upset even the hearts of the gods. Love first answers (3.31) that he does so "out of ignorance," since he is a little baby; Venus replies that he is as old as Time, and was born before the stars. Love (3.33) then adds, "Where is my sin, if I show everybody the beautiful things?" (le cose belle, see Dante, Inferno 34.137). Now, therefore, Venus is curious about his inability to arouse Minerva. His answer has something Freudian to it.
He said, "Alas! She arms her face with
such a frightening, stern countenance
that, when I draw my bow to hit her,
I fear her look, masculine and fierce.
Moreover, of her great helmet she keeps plus the Aegis (stanza 38)*
shaking the threatening and horrid crest,
and fills me with such a deep terror
that my shocked hand drops the weapons."
* "Hairy with snakes, on her breast there hangs
a skull, oh! dismal and furious, from
whose eyes such a great fear comes that Dante, Inferno 1.53
I freeze completely when I see it!"