...he worked so long and with such inspiration on
that it became more beautiful than any maiden
that had ever lived or been carved in stone.
Pygmalion and Galatea
Galatea by Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904))
a young sculptor from Cyprus. He was a misogynist and scorned
the company of women, preferring to dedicate himself to his art.
He saw women as flawed creatures and vowed never to waste any
moment of his life with them.
devoted his time, ironically enough, to a statue of a woman.
Perhaps he sought to correct in marble the flaws he saw in women
of flesh and blood. Whatever the case, he worked so long and
with such inspiration on this statue, that it became more
beautiful than any maiden that had ever lived or been carved in
stone. As he finished the statue's features, they became
exquisitely lovely, and he found himself applying the strokes of
hammer and chisel with increasing affection. When his chisel
finally stopped ringing, there stood before him a woman of such
perfection that Pygmalion, who had professed his disdain of all
females, fell deeply in love.
seemed not to be of stone, but of flesh temporarily still, as
though at any moment it might turn its head and smile at him.
But stone it was, and it could not return his kisses or respond
to his loving caress. In bitter frustration he embraced the cold
marble maid; what irony that he who had scorned women should
fall in love with a woman who could never love him in return! He
pretended, as a child would, that she was real. He would dress
her in fine cloths, and bring her flowers and gifts. He would
take her into his bed at night and fall asleep with the
sculpture clasped to his body.
Such a passion
could not go unnoticed by the goddess of love, Aphrodite. She
took pity on the young man and, when he went to her temple to
sacrifice a bull, Aphrodite gave him a sign. As the offering
burned on the temple, the flames shot up one, two, three times.
Pygmalion went home, wondering what to make of the manifestation
he had seen. When he entered his studio, however, and saw
Galatea, all other thoughts were banished from his mind. He ran
to his statue and embraced it. Did she seem warm to his touch,
or was it just residual heat form the sunset that had warmed the
stone? He kissed her. Did the statue's lips seem soft? He stood
back and regarded her. Did there appear the glow of life from
within the marble form? Was he imagining it? No.
He watched in
amazement as Galatea began to move. She stretched her arms above
her head as though she were waking from a deep sleep. She turned
toward him and smiled, and stepped off her pedestal into his
Aphrodite herself attended their wedding.
1. Why did Polydectes
demanded the head of a Gorgon?
2. What would happen if
you looked into the Gorgons' eyes?
3. How did Perseus know
where to find the Gorgons?
4. Did Perseus kill all
the three the Gorgons?
5. How did Andromeda
become Perseus' wife?
Gorgon's head by great American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne)