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Video transcript

[Music] we're in the capital I'm Museum in Rome and we're looking at a copy of an extremely famous Greek sculpture this one is known as the Capitoline Venus but we know the original as the Aphrodite of colitis and it dates from the 4th century BCE it was sculpted by practice Italy's who is one of the most famous sculptors from ancient Greece and practice Italy sculpture is known to be the very first example of a full-scale fully nude woman more than fifty copies of practically sculpture survived so it was clearly a very popular sculpture among the ancient Romans and there are copies in marble the original was marble but there are also copies in bronze the ancient Roman writer pliny tells us the story of its origin practice Italy has made two versions of this sculpture and offered them for sale to the city of costs one of them was nude and one of them was fully clothed and costs thinking that it was more proper to take the clothed one did so and the island of nato's instead bought the nude which became far more popular the people of tonightís built a special sanctuary for her that was in the round now through history this sculpture has also come to be known as the modest Venus because it shows the woman although nude loosely covering herself this seems like a bit of false modesty getting out of her bath and seeming to cover herself well this is the goddess Venus who's the goddess of love beauty but also sexuality and there are stories that date back to antiquity of men falling in love with her and mistaking her for flesh and blood what's interesting to me is that here in the Capitoline Museum she's in a round room very much like the sanctuary can I doz there's nothing else in this room to distract us from viewing her she is presented to us as epitome of beauty but female nudity was really new in ancient Greek art and that's one reason for her fame ancient Greek art was about for many centuries the male nude when we think of the Western tradition in are we think of the female nude primarily but for the ancient Greeks as you said starting with the archaic period full-scale nudes of young men were common these were called choroid and you would have a Kouros a single male nude nude from head to toe standing straight and quite forthright not covering himself in any way and these were considered extremely dignified and in some ways they are not especially sexual what's so interesting is that this figure is much more sexualized in the act of covering herself there were earlier female figures in ancient Greek art but they were nude there was the female variant of the Kouros called a pore and those were often draped and very beautiful ornate clothing so this was a real novelty when practice Italy's did this it's interesting to remember that the sculpture was probably painted initially and would have been perhaps even more lifelike and it reminds us also of the special quality of sculpture that it exists in the round as we do it takes up space as we do it does not require illusion as painting does just one technical though since this sculpture was originally made in marble it was designed to have a third leg that is a third stabilizing form to create a tripod to help support the extraordinary weight of the stone and in this case that extra bit is carved to look like a Vaz or a pitcher that's been covered with a cloth it seems to have just slipped off er so this idea of both revealing and covering is central to the sculpture plenty who writes about practice Italy's sculpture of Venus writes about how he surpassed even himself when he carved this figure in marble you