In 1914, the suffragette Mary Richardson walked into the National Gallery, pulled a meat cleaver from her sleeve and slashed furiously at the back of a beautiful, naked, goddess, Venus-Aphrodite, as depicted in Velázquez’ celebrated work ‘The Rokeby Venus’. Why? Professor Bettany Hughes embarks on a voyage of discovery, travelling across the Mediterranean and Near East to reveal the truth about Venus and her ancestors, proving that this mythological figure is more than just an excuse for sensual nudity and chocolate box romance. Venus Uncovered is the remarkable story of one of antiquity’s most potent forces. Hers is the story of human desire, and how that desire transforms who we are and how we behave. Bettany explores Venus’ eastern origins in Jordan, uncovers seldom seen prehistoric depictions of the goddess in Cyprus, and learns how the might of Rome was tied directly to Venus, whom the Romans often represented armed. Through ancient art, evocative myth, archaeological revelation and philosophical explorations Bettany reveals how this immortal goddess endures in the 21st century, and what her story reveals about what matters to us as humans. As she uncovers Venus, Bettany shows us why we still need to care about this primordial companion to human experience – and how we trivialise her power at our peril.
Reviews from the press
‘Hughes delivers a captivating hour’ The Times
‘Historian Bettany Hughes goes on an entertaining journey to explore the potent power of Venus and her surprising relevance today’ The Telegraph Digital Choice
‘Bettany Hughes, who sees Aphrodite/Venus as embodying the dangerous duality of desire, is fascinating on the goddess’ Middle Eastern origins, and in showing how she acquired political potency when Julius Caesar and Cleopatra used the myth…’ The Sunday Times
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