(urth) PEACE: Venus de Milo

Stephen Hoy stephenhoy at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 9 08:52:59 PDT 2009

Try this idea on for size: Gold's story about Venus as fake is artistic
invention, acting as an entertaining distraction not much different from
Weer's unrevealed story of Napoleon's pose.

The inside story of the discovery of the Venus de Milo can be found in
Disarmed by Gregory Curtis; bottom line, the statue is genuine. If money
were the object of the forgery, we can quickly calculate that Gold's premise
doesn't add up.  The French purchased the Venus de Milo fragments for 750
francs from the farmer who discovered it, with another 250 francs presented
to the primates of Melos to help them justify reneging on a sale to a
Turkish dragoman. By comparison, Canova's marble statue of Napoleon as Mars
was obtained by the Duke of Wellington for roughly 375,000 francs.

So what's the point in having Gold toss out his story? Probably commentary
on Wolfe's creative process, a touch of "the whole being greater than the
sum of its parts" added to "re-shaping existing stories."

I've seen suggestions that the Venus statue represents the armless Mrs.
Turner or Aphrodite Pandemos Sherry Gold, but I'll make a case for Lois
Arbuthnot as Venus/Aphrodite. The Venus de Milo is paired in the text with
the Napoleon figurine; the surname Arbuthnot links to Napoleon via Harriet
Arbuthnot, the diarist who was the closest female friend of the Iron Duke
who commanded the allied forces at Waterloo.

Wolfe punningly connects Arbuthnot with the statue when he has Weer disarm
her. There's even a scene where Lois--tipsy with alcohol--removes her upper
garments and topples over, mimicking the statue.

More information about the Urth mailing list