Aphrodite's Debut in the Nude

October 18, 2011
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One of the most exciting aspects of a Turkey and Greece cruise is reliving the ancient history that is scattered across the islands and peninsulas. In ancient times and today, people were familiar with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. But it was not until Praxiteles, a sculptor from the 4th century B.C., made his famous work that the world came to know her in the buff.

Praxiteles was the first sculptor to depict Aphrodite in the nude, and the meaning of his bold statement has been dissected by male and female audiences alike ever since. The statue was located at Knidos in Turkey, and many sculptors, historians and scholars traveled there to see Praxiteles' grand piece of work. The ancient statue, destroyed by a fire in A.D. 475, is no longer in Knidos, but its legacy remains.

According to the J. Paul Getty Museum, which houses one of the many copies of Praxiteles' famous work, the model for the sculpture was said to be the sculptor's mistress, Phryne, a notorious courtesan.

In Greek Anthology, Aphrodite remarked on it herself, saying, "Where did Praxiteles see me naked?" Subsequent scholars have hypothesized and argued about the placement of her hand, the bend in her knee and other aspects of the artwork, including certain mythological and historical references, according to the University of Chicago.

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