Eros: Injured

I spent the day visiting Smith College. They have one of my father’s paintings in their collection, so I was curious, as I was there anyway, to see if the museum had it on display. They did not. But it is a lovely museum all the same.

I was transfixed by the ancient Greek and Roman works, perhaps because of my ongoing Herodotus reading. I was just about to declare the black figure on red the most sublime pottery ever created when I came across a wine goblet of epic proportions that was red figure. Kylix c. 520 B.C.E.

It was stupendous- that’s beautiful, I thought to myself when I saw it, as a wine cup cum bowl it was illustrated on the back in celebration of Bacchus.  On the front, along with a discus thrower,  there were  letters that spelled  kalos, (apparently backwards) meaning- “beautiful.” Just so. Seriously – they knew what they were doing.

Then I came across the early imperial Roman figure, Winged Torso of Eros from the first century C.E.

No arms, no head, no penis, no wings, and yet…and yet. The brutalized Eros is as beautiful as ever.

You hurt me. I was thinking about that sentence on my way home, and it occurred to me that it lacks a tense. If I said you love me it would be clear. If I said you loved me, equally- we understand the implication. But there is no distinction with the word hurt.

With love, one can create a ray or line segment to suggest duration,  inception or completion. But with hurt, there is none. It is a line, pure and simple, no beginning and no end-  you hurt me.  It is the atmosphere, the air one breathes.

Eros:  still beautiful, but wounded. A hurt that simple informs and stains everything else. Eros absorbs the blow- he tries. He tries.


8 responses to “Eros: Injured

  1. I like the torso the way it is. There is expression there still.

  2. The broken Eros, a metaphor for the world.

  3. Like a good story, there is a lot of interest in the missing bits. somehow showing the whole form takes awy the mystery and some of its beauty

  4. Here, for comparison to your very apt and touching response, is Rilke’s:
    Archaic Torso of Apollo

    by Rainer Maria Rilke
    translated by Stephen Mitchell

    We cannot know his legendary head
    with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
    is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
    like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

    gleams in all its power. Otherwise
    the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
    a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
    to that dark center where procreation flared.

    Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
    beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
    and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

    would not, from all the borders of itself,
    burst like a star: for here there is no place
    that does not see you. You must change your life.

  5. “Otherwise the curved breast could not dazzle you so”
    That line undid me. Completely.
    Thank you

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