The Last Word
Why did Aphrodite go to Emory? To get a head,
About 170 years ago, a rare, well-preserved
marble statue of the goddess Aphrodite lost her head. Rumor has it that
this goddess of love and beauty finally was caught by her husband, Hephaestus,
in another of her endless love trysts. Being unhappy with his unfaithful
wife, he exclaimed, “So you want to act like an air-head? Fine! Now
you will look like one!” At which point he knocked her block off.
Undeterred, Aphrodite reportedly decided that being simply necked was fine
and continued in her amorous pursuits.
It was not known what had become of Aphrodite’s head until this summer when the rest of Aphrodite came to Sotheby’s auction in New York, appearing modest and contrite and seeking a sponsor for a try at rehabilitation. Jasper Gaunt, curator of Greek and Roman Art at Emory’s Carlos Museum, clearly sympathetic to the goddess’s plight, placed the highest bid. Aphrodite was so pleased for the opportunity to come to Emory that she was speechless. And although she desperately wanted to embrace the man who had put such faith in her, she showed rock-solid restraint.
Clearly, as a signal from the gods, a private party (who wished to remain anonymous but who is rumored to be associated with her guilt-ridden husband) came forward and offered to return Aphrodite’s head so that it might be reunited with her body, the better to pursue her newfound love of learning.
Specialists at the Carlos Museum are ready to undertake the work of reuniting Aphrodite with her head. Also standing at the ready is Michael Johns, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and renowned head and neck surgeon. “While reattachment of a head and neck has never been tried before,” he says, “as one of the few people on campus actually licensed to cut throats, I would love to lend a hand.”
The most beautiful Capitoline Aphrodite in the United States and one of the loveliest of this type in the world is looking forward to having her head screwed on right for the first time in possibly 170 years. The Emory community expects that she will love it here.
For more info, visit: www.carlos.emory.edu.