VENUS was the Roman goddess of love. Her paramour was Mars, the god of war. The association of the two symbolized for Blake the close connection between sex and war. The warriors invoke her name (J 68:18). The two with Apollo defended Troy and were “the detestable gods of Priam” (Mil 14:15).
When Blake was a boy, his father bought him various casts, among which was “the Venus of Medicis” (Malkin xix), the best known example of the “Venus pudica,” who modestly covers her breasts and pudenda. Cambel (J 81) assumes this pose, also Eve in Blake’s illuminated Genesis iii, which he headed: “Of the Sexual Nature and the Fall into Generation and Death.” In the Rosenwald “Last Judgment” (see Illustrations, “LJ” No. 32), a woman in that posture is dragged down by a spirit holding a key.
The Venus and all the other statues of classical gods are “representations of spiritual existences, of Gods immortal to the mortal perishing organ of sight” (DesC IV, K 576), copied from “those wonderful originals called in the Sacred Scriptures the Cherubim” (DesC II, K 565). “These gods are visions of the eternal attributes, or divine names, which, when erected into gods, become destructive to humanity” (DesC III, K 571).
Thor and Friga are for Blake the Scandinavian equivalents of Mars and Venus. See FRIGA.