“Primavera” – Sandro Botticelli‏

by richibi

Sandro Botticelli - "Primavera"

Primavera (1478)

Sandro Botticelli


on the right, Zephyrus, god of the west
wind, and messenger of spring, having
prised Chloris from his brother, Boreas,
the icy north wind, ravishes her, the
naked nymph, who is being transformed
into Flora, goddess of flowers, note
Chloris‘ hand dissolving into Flora‘s

but listen to Ovid tell it

“‘I, called Flora now, was Chloris: the first letter in Greek
Of my name, became corrupted in the Latin language.
I was Chloris, a nymph of those happy fields,
Where, as you’ve heard, fortunate men once lived.
It would be difficult to speak of my form, with modesty,
But it brought my mother a god as a son-in-law.
It was spring, I wandered: Zephyrus saw me: I left.
He followed me: I fled: he was the stronger,
And Boreas had given his brother authority for rape
By daring to steal a prize from Erechteus‘ house.
Yet he made amends for his violence, by granting me
The name of bride, and I’ve nothing to complain in bed.
I enjoy perpetual spring: the season’s always bright,
The trees have leaves: the ground is always green.
I’ve a fruitful garden in the fields that were my dower,
Fanned by the breeze, and watered by a flowing spring.
My husband stocked it with flowers, richly,
And said: “Goddess, be mistress of the flowers.”
I often wished to tally the colours set there,
But I couldn’t, there were too many to count.””

Fasti, Book V, May 2 – Ovid


I love “It would be difficult to speak of my
form, with modesty”

go, girl, indeed goddess

on the left of the painting the three Graces,
Aglaea, Euphrosyne, and Thalia dance

on the far left, Mars, whence, incidentally,
our name for the month of March, is god
not only of war, but of also agriculture

Venus, who needs no introduction,
presides at the centre, accompanied
by her prankish son, Cupid, fluttering

“Love looks not with the eyes, but
with the mind”, Shakespeare says,
“And therefore is winged Cupid
painted blind” *

as he is in the painting above

no painting has yet replaced Botticelli‘s
Primavera as a universal symbol of

may yours be equally timeless,


* A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Act 1, scene 1, lines 234 – 235

– William Shakespeare