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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

[GBM] A thorny love affair

from Grünewald

And once again, Marino describes the meeting between Venus and Adonis from an alternative viewpoint. In this version, Venus sees the sleeping boy as she goes hunting, disguised as Diana (this will have consequences later on in the poem). While she walks, the grass, the flowers, the plants blossom around her: Venus as the cosmic power of life, see Empedocles, Lucretius. Milton's Eve too will have this effect on Nature. But before the goddess reaches Adonis, her bare feet is wounded by a thorn of a rose bush. This is one of the episodes in which Marino employs a Christian mystical language -- thorns and sacred blood, see late Renaissance devotion, especially the Sindone, the Holy Shroud -- in an erotic context; that will lead in late 1623 to his condemnation by the Inquisition, with the order to rewrite the poem. The order would not be executed, anyway, and not only because of the poet's death already in 1625.


And behold a bold and daring thorn
(though as fortunate as it is bold)     O felix culpa!
by which her tender, alabaster sole
is stung; and blood springs out of it,     not "ichor"
which, dyed with such divine purple, falls
to decorate that injuring point.
But while coloring the flowers on its stem,     it (subject): the thorn
it discolors the flowers of heavenly beauty.     Venus' face

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