Venus Barbata

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Venus Barbata ('Bearded Venus') was an epithet of the goddess Venus among the Romans.[1] Macrobius[2] also mentions a statue of Venus in Cyprus, representing the goddess with a beard, in female attire, but resembling in her whole figure that of a man (see also Aphroditos).[3] The idea of Venus thus being a mixture of the male and female nature seems to belong to a very late period of antiquity.[4] In certain forms Venus was depicted as physically androgynous:

On her native Cyprus, Aphrodite was worshipped as the Venus Barbata, the Bearded Venus... . Elsewhere as Venus Calva or Bald Venus, Aphrodite was shown with a man's bald head, just like the priests of Isis. Aristophanes calls her Aphroditos, a Cypriot male name. Aphrodite appeared in battle armour in Sparta... [and] Venus Armata or Armed Venus became a Renaissance convention.[5]

The idea of Venus having a double-sexed nature has the same double meaning, in the mythological sense, that there is not only a Luna, but also a Lunus. The name Venus in itself, is masculine in its termination, and it was perceived that the goddess becomes the god and the god the goddess sometimes.[6]

Often her male followers are emasculated: in her incarnation as Aphrodite Urania, she destroys a king who mates with her upon a mountain top, 'as a queen-bee destroys the drone: by tearing out his sexual organs' and as Cybele, 'the Phrygian Aphrodite of Mount Ida' she is worshipped as a 'queen-bee' – her priests mutilating themselves via acts of 'ecstatic self-castration'.[7]

See also


  1. Servius. ad Aen, ii. 632.
  2. Saturnalia. iii. 8
  3. Comp. Suidas, s. v. Ἀφροδίτη; Hesych. s. v. Ἀφρόδιτος
  4. Voss, Mythol. Briefe, ii. p. 282, &c.
  5. Paglia 1992, 87
  6. Hargrave 1884, p. 234
  7. Graves 1992, 71


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). [ "Barbata" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

  • Royal Society of London (1683). Philosophical Transactions. 13. Printed at the Theater in Oxford. pp. 389–390.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jennings, Hargrave (1884). Phallicism: Celestial and Terrestrial, Heathen and Christian. London: Redway. p. 234.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Pulham, Patricia (2008). Art and the Transitional Object in Vernon Lee's Supernatural Tales. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-7546-5096-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>