March 20, 2023


Make Some Fun

91/ On at the present time, a beautiful poem of affection and springtime: ‘The Vigil of Venus’

6 min read

April is ‘mensis Veneris’ (month of Venus) in Latin and the pageant of Venus on the primary days of April was widespread within the Roman Empire. ‘Pervigilium Veneris (Vigil of Venus)’ is a hymn of 93 verses celebrating Venus, Goddess of Love and Spring in these days.

F. L. Lucas translated the poem for a luxurious version of the well-known Golden Cockerel Press in 1939, superbly illustrated by John BUCKLAND-WRIGHT (1897-1954) (1). 
Its outstanding chorus “Cras amet qui numquam amavit, quique amavit cras amet” was interpreted
by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Sofa in 1912:  Now be taught ye to like who cherished by no means—now ye who’ve cherished, love anew! (2).
Determine 1 Composition with some engravings from the Golden Cockerel Press version (1).
Historical past

  The poem is of unsure date (2nd, 4th or 5th century AD) and a number of other authors have been urged with out sufficient proof, however it’s accepted that the setting appears to be Sicily. Extra necessary is the reference to the awakening of the pure world by Venus Genetrix  as a ‘post-Lucretian’goddess (3).
It is documented that Desiderius Erasmus and his Venetian writer Aldo Manuzio  have seen in 1508 a manuscript which contained the poem. The poem is first revealed in three or 4 copies in 1578 by Pierre Pithou, who found a manuscript within the Bibliotheca Thuanea in Paris, nonetheless owned by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Within the subsequent centuries, many  bigger editions appeared, just like the certainly one of 1712 in Fig.2 (4).

‘ut pictura poesis’

An early 18th century engraving by Comte de CAYLUS (1692-1765) after a drawing by Edme BOUCHARDON (1698- 1762) is thought, with verse n° 31 “Ite Nimphoe, ponit arma, fertatus est amor.” (“Go, O Nymphs, he put down (his) weapons, Love is on vacation”) of the poem. It’s not recorded if this engraving was used as an illustration in a publication (Fig.3) (5). It’s sudden that this composition has seemingly not obtained imitators.

Determine 3 An engraving with a verse of ‘Periviglium Veneris’ (5)

Dozens of books containing the poem have been revealed, however surprisingly none with illustrations until the top of the 19th century.

The desk under lists chronologically eight editions of ‘Perviglium Veneris’ with particulars in regards to the editor or translator, the writer, the illustrator and kind and variety of illustrations, so far as identified (6).

Desk of illustrated publications



12 months
Catullus, Pervigilium Veneris
S.G. Owen
Lawrence and Bullen, London
John Reinhard WEGUELIN
frontispiece and 6 plates
Pervigilium Veneris, a poeta latino incognito
E. du B. Peck
& Elizabeth
Hickman DuBois
Elm Tree Press, Woodstock (Vermont)
Dela P. Mussey
shade drawings
The Vigil of Venus
Thomas Parnell
The Excessive Home Press, Shaftesbury
Pervigilium Veneris. The Vigil of Venus
F.L. Lucas
Golden Cockerel Press, London
18 copper engravings
Het Nachtfeest van Venus
Nico van Suchtelen
Wereldbibliotheek – Vereeniging, Amsterdam
wooden engravings
The Vigil of Venus
Lewis Gielgud
Frederick Muller Ltd, London
George BUDAY
22 wooden engravings
Pervigilium Veneris et De rosis nascentibus
Alessandro Cutolo
Officina Bodoni, Verona
5 lithographics
Pervigilium Veneris
Caterina Vassallini
Ed. Dominicae di Franco Riva, Verona


John Reinhard WEGUELIN (1849-1927) was a famend English painter and illustrator impressed by mythology. His engraving in Owen’s version, the final certainly one of seven, illustrates verse 31: Est in armis totus idem quando nudus est Amor’ (And when Love comes naked and bare, Love wears all his armour too.) (Fig.4) (7).  
In regards to the illustrator Dela P. Mussey little is thought (Fig.5) (8).  
The small vignettes in Parnell’s version are borrowed from the proficient wooden engraver Luke CLENNEL (1781-1840) after drawings by Thomas STOTHARD (1755-1834) of the previous century (Fig.6).

 (see above Fig.1) thought of the engravings for this poem amongst his greatest.

Pam Georg RUETER (1906-1998) designed the title illustration for the Dutch version (Fig.7) . 
 Fig. 7 Pam Georg RUETER
The Hungarian-born artist György (George) BUDAY (1907-1990) is internationally referred to as a guide illustrator (Fig 8).
Fig. 8 George BUDAY
The Italian artists Mario VELLANI MARCHI (1895 – 1979) and 
Enrico DELLA TORRE (1931 – ) are each painters in addition to book-illustrators (Figs. 9 & 10)

        Fig. 9 Mario VELLANI MARCHI

   Fig. 10 Enrico DELLA TORRE

Sister Arts: Music

The Oxford Information to Classical Mythology within the Arts, 1300-Nineties counts in part ‘Worship of Venus’ of entry APHRODITE (pp.155-156)  eight  music  or  dance compositions carried out in 1558, 1602, 1714, 1758, 1802, 1925, 1933, 1936. None, nonetheless, refer explicitly  to ‘Pervigilium Veneris’.

‘The Vigil of Venus’of the English composer George Lloyd (1913-1998) is a choral piece of 78 minutes in 9 components, written 1979-1980. The complete model is on YouTube, however curiously, illustrated with photos of Botticelli’s work (9).

There are additionally a number of audio-videos of the Latin textual content recited or chanted.



(1) Pervigilium Veneris: The Vigil of Venus, translated by F.L.Lucas, 100 copies, double-page pictorial title in Latin and English (with 4 engravings) and 12 head-pieces & 2 tail-pieces by John Buckland Wright, all copper engravings with aquatint, textual content in Latin and English on dealing with pages, authentic citron morocco, by Sangorski & Sutcliffe. Golden Cockerel Press, 1939 London.

Frank Laurence Lucas edited the poem once more in 1948 as a part of his translations ‘Aphrodite – The Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite and The Pervigilium Veneris’ College Press, Cambridge. ‘The Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite’ was in the identical 12 months revealed by the Golden Cockerel Press  with pretty illustrations by Mark SEVERIN (1906-1987): see submit of September 21, 2013 ‘The one-night stand of a Goddesswith consequences’


(2) The complete textual content in Latin with verses numbered and English translation after its strophe might be present in Project Gutenberg.

An fascinating dialogue and a hyperlink to the complete poem in Latin and its English translation is discovered within the article ‘Thomas Parnell’s translation ofThe Vigil of Venus is a sensuous celebration of the arrival of spring’ by Carol Rumens in The Guardian Mon 21 Mar 2011.

(3) The poem ‘De Rerum Natura’ opens with an invocation to Venus, whom Lucretius addresses as an allegorical illustration of the reproductive energy in an Epicurian spirit.  See submit of October 24, 2011 ‘Ofthe Nature of Things’ illustrated


(4) Cecil Clementi ‘Bibliographical and different research on the Pervigilium Veneris compiled from analysis within the library of the British Museum’ Blackwell, Oxford 1913.

(5) The engraving is recorded within the British Museum underneath quantity 1938,0502.22.78. It’s lettered on plate with title ‘Pervigilium Veneris’ however irrespective of a publication. 
(6) A member of [email protected] kindly responded to my enquiry and wrote: “…their shortage or potential nonexistence can maybe be defined by the date of the earliest one you cite. I believe that its new reputation at the moment could also be as a result of 1884 publication of Walter Pater’s novel Marius the Epicurean, the place it’s memorably quoted.”. (Pater makes Flavian, a hedonistic pal of Marius, the creator of the Pervigilium Veneris).

It’s certainly additionally outstanding that the record counts principally English publications.

(7) The seven plates of WEGUELIN  in Owen’s publication with associated verses might be considered in The American Classicist
(8) In ‘United States Congressional Serial Set, Quantity 3096, U.S. Authorities Printing Workplace, 1893, p.935 Public Faculties of the District of Columbia Yr 1891-’92’ is written: “Miss Dela P. Mussey was apponted instructor of drawing…(…) … of the Japanese Excessive College”
(9) Opinions might be learn on the George Lloyd Composer web site. The full version and Part VI of 5.08 min are on YouTube.



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