Venus, Mars and Cupid in the Smithy of Vulcan, 1810-1826
After Thorvaldsen's relief Inv.no. A419. Model for engraving by Antonio Banzo
Pencil on paper mounted on pasteboard. 226 x 343 mm
Inventory number: D11
In the stores of Thorvaldsens Museum we find this drawing after one of Thorvaldsen’s reliefs. Here we see Venus, Mars and Cupid (Gr. Aphrodite, Ares and Eros) in the forge of Vulcan (Gr. Hephaistos). The love goddess Aphrodite was married to the ugliest of the gods, the smith-god Hephaistos. But Aphrodite was unfaithful and had many lovers, including the war god Ares. From the sun-god Helios, who sees everything, Hephaistos heard of the affair. In his fury he forged a magic net, strong but as fine as gossamer, and almost invisible. He stretched it out in Aphrodite’s bedchamber, and pretended to go on a journey. As soon as Hephaistos had gone, Ares visited Aphrodite. But when they lay down in the bed, the net snapped around them and could not be opened again. Now Hephaistos and the other gods appeared to witness Aphrodite’s unfaithfulness. They stood long enjoying the spectacle of the humiliated couple before Hephaistos agreed to loosen the net.
Hephaistos demanded a divorce from his unfaithful wife, and Aphrodite and Ares later married. Besides the love god Eros they had the sons Phobos and Deimos (Fear and Terror), who sowed unrest among soldiers in battle, as well as the daughter Harmonia (Harmony).