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Jan 21, 2013

The Sleeping Hermaphrodite at Palazzo Massimo

Sleeping Hermaphrodite  (1st century BC) -  Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (Museo Nazionale Romano) Rome.

Hermaphrodite is the androgynous child Venus (anything but monogamous) conceived with Hermes.
From behind we perceive the curve of a female back and the suggestion of a woman’s breast.
Turning around and facing the statue we discover the figure is endowed with male genitals.
According to Ovid he was incredibly handsome and he was transformed into an androgynous being by union with the water nymph Salmacis.
Salmacis tried to seduce him but the naive youth rejected the nymph's advances.  
So when he was bathing undressed she jumped into the pool, wrapping herself around him.
He struggled of course, recalcitrant, but by invoking the gods she obtained they would be together forever. So with the aid of divine intervention their bodies blended and formed a creature of both sexes.

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