Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli (c.1485) (x)
The theme comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a very important oeuvre of the Latin literature. Venus is portrayed naked on a shell on the seashore; on her left the winds blow gently caressing her hair, on her right a handmaid (Ora) waits for the goddess to go closer to dress her shy body. The meadow is sprinkled with violets, symbol of love.
We can find clear references to the “Stanzas”, a famous poetic work by Agnolo Poliziano, a contemporary of Botticelli and the greatest Neoplatonic poet of the Medici court. Neoplatonism was a current of thought that tried to connect the Greek and Roman cultural heritage with Christianity.
The Neoplatonic philosophical meaning is then clear: the work would mean the birth of love and the spiritual beauty as a driving force of life. (x)