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The Myth of Pygmalion: Beauty out of Ivory

Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1754–1829), The Origin of Sculpture, Oil on canvas,

The Myth of Pygmalion is a story from Greek mythology about an artist named Pygmalion who falls in love with a statue he carved out of ivory. He prays to the gods to bring his creation to life and they grant his wish. Pygmalion is able to marry his beautiful sculpture, Galatea.

The Myth of Pygmalion and Galatea

Pygmalion was a talented Greek sculptor from Cyprus whose skills were admired all over the world. He was always demanding and looking for a wife, yet he only ever saw falseness in women. He lost interest in them after being disgusted by some local prostitutes and decided it would be better to remain single.

Pygmalion decided he wanted to create a statue of the ideal woman. He couldn’t find any woman who fit his idea of perfection, so he set out to create one from his imagination. He sculpted a young, beautiful, and virgin woman from scratch.

Pygmalion was very particular in his choosing and took great care in the creation of his statue. The statue was so lifelike, so perfect. Delighted by his work he named it Galatea.

As days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, Pygmalion spent more time with Galatea than he ever had with any living woman. He talked to her, gave her gifts, and even kissed her. He loved her more than anything in the world and was content just to be near her.

Eventually, the day of Aphrodite’s festival arrived and Pygmalion went to pay respect and made offerings at her altar.

“If you gods can give all things, may I have as my wife, I pray… one like the ivory maiden.”

Pygmalion 

Aphrodite was so touched by the passion that it couldn’t go unnoticed by the goddess of love. While the offering burned on the temple, Aphrodite gave him a sign and turn the flames shot up three times.

After the day’s festivities, Pygmalion returned home and kissed Galatea as was his custom. That instant, he felt the heat and gentle lips of his cherished one. Her body was no longer rigid as a stone; she surrendered to the hold of his arms. She was alive! Pygmalion took her in his arms and kissed her passionately, thanking Aphrodite for granting him his wish.

Under the goddess of love’s blessing, Pygmalion married Galatea and from this union, Paphus was born. He founded the city of Paphos in Cyprus and build a great temple to Aphrodite there.

The moral of the story Pygmalion?

The Myth of Pygmalion serves as an example of art and love intersecting, but also speaks to the power of creativity and hope. It shows us that with a bit of faith, anything is possible. Even today, Pygmalion’s story continues to inspire many artists who wish to create something beautiful out of nothing.

The story also teaches us that no matter how impossible something may seem, with enough persistence, it can become real. It is a reminder that when we use our imaginations and put in the effort, anything can be achieved.

Finally, the myths teach us that beauty can come out of even the most unlikely places and no matter how impossible something may seem, with enough persistence, it can become real. Pygmalion’s creation changed the course of Greek mythology and can still inspire us today. So let us remember his story, and be inspired by it.

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