I spent about fifteen minutes today looking at the Capitoline Venus and a couple of hours in the movie of “Captain America.” I don’t know what this says about me.
I had quite a passion for pagan gods when I was a sprout, and also for superheroes. There was some intersection of course, especially to the eight-year-old mind, since Marvel Comics annexed Thor for its A-list and DC, my preferred imprint (word is that DC wrote scripts first, while Marvel started with storyboarded images) had Wonder Woman, the Amazon.
The Capitoline Venus is considered a knock-off of the Cnidean Aphrodite of Praxiteles. (Plato — yes, that Plato — is credited with the epigram about Aphrodite exclaiming “O Zeus! When did Praxiteles see me naked?”) She is a little more afflicted with pudeur, though not very credibly; you can still see all the goods. While I was there in the National Gallery a scholarly duo of middle-aged, sere-looking men were circumnavigating the statue, discussing various aspects of its line and proportion. When I left the vicinity they were taking sightings up her rear end, so far as I could tell.
Venus was originally sculpted in the second century, and rediscovered in the 1670s in pretty good condition for an old gal, buried in some ruins underneath a garden. Pope Benedict the Fourteenth passed her on to the Capitoline Museum while clearing unwanted pagan deities out of the Vatican. Pill.
Captain America, according to the film’s scaffolding, plummeted into some ill-defined Arctic region a few days before V-E Day, in the cockpit of an aircraft commandeered from an adversary bent on out-Nazi’ing the Nazis, only to be resurrected seventy years later, in time for all the other Marvel heroes to get movies of their own, don’t you know.
Just seems like some sort of parallel construction.
All I can say is, I retain my juvenile longing to channel some sort of superhuman energy, and I suspect Aphrodite is out of my league, but I can disinter my eight-year-old self in the key of Captain America and Wonder Woman. Bang. Pow.