Venus Callipyge:"The Iconic Statue with the World's Most Celebrated Buttocks"

There is a statue in Greece that has captured the attention of admirers for over two thousand years. Sculpted in Rome in the late first century, the Venus Callipyge, which translates to “Venus of the beautiful buttocks”, is perhaps the most famous rear end in the classical world.

The statue depicts Venus lifting her peplos, a common type of ancient Greek dress, to reveal her backside while looking back and downwards as though admiring her own famed caboose. The pose has been restored a few times over the centuries, but the most recent restoration was in the 18th century, where the head was replaced in the same pose with improved sculpting.

The statue has been part of the collection of the King of Naples and was placed in one of the more private areas of the Museum of Naples. Despite requiring permission and a guardian to visit, it was still a significant draw for visitors. The statue’s buttocks even began to get discolored from visitors kissing them.

The partial nudity of the statue, as opposed to full nudity, seems to have particularly excited observers. Willingly and provocatively revealing the buttocks was known as anasyrma and was associated with various good luck and harvest-boosting rituals. French antiquarian César Famin wrote in 1816 of the statue, “it may, in fact, be remarked that absolute nudity is less immodest than partial or accidental nudity...Complete nudity argues a state of independence and freedom which possesses nothing alarming to modesty or seductive to the senses, but partial nudity seems as if reserved for furtive and unusual actions.”

Famin wasn’t the only person inspired to write of how erotically enthralling he found the statue. Twentieth-century French singer-songwriter Georges Brassens even wrote a song about it and how far one would go to attain such perfection.

The statue’s origin story involves an ancient Greek tale retold in the third-century collection Deipnosophistae by Athenaeus of Naucratis. The story concerns two poor sisters from Sicily who argued about who had the most impressive backside and asked a passerby to help them decide. He proclaimed the elder sister to be the victor and immediately fell in love with her to such an extent that he became ill. His brother was sent for and, in turn, fell immediately in love with the younger sister. The two brothers, whose elderly father was extraordinarily wealthy, married the sisters, who became incredibly rich, and their lives were transformed by their beautiful bottoms. They used part of their newfound wealth to build a temple to Aphrodite, goddess of love and imbued her with the same quality.

While it is uncertain whether the original statue came from the temple, it is clear that the Venus Callipyge continues to draw admirers to this day, a testament to the enduring power of beauty, even in the form of a well-sculpted derriere.

PHOTO DISCLAIMER: You are free: to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work to remix – to adapt the work Under the following conditions: attribution – You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.