now, the short story behind this lovely goddess Venus, is that she emerged from the sea a fully grown woman, and arrived at the sea shore to be met by her 3 lovely hand maidens with robes for her to wear. end of story. beautiful.
however it goes much deeper than that. the philosopher plato thought that the goddess Venus had two aspects to her nature: one of having the ability to arouse mortals to physical love, and the other to invoke feelings of intellectual love by way of her beauty leading them to think of the divine creator. i think i would have loved being around during the renaissance era just to be able to be a part of all this fantastic theoretical banter... but according to classical mythology, Venus was the roman goddess of fertility, love and beauty, while she was named Aphrodite in greek lore. but for all intents and purposes they were each others' counterparts from different countries.
while i was in college in the US, it was part of my duty as a student to complete several hours of humanities classes, and classical mythology fell into that category. i was thrilled because it seemed very interesting to me, and my professor looked like tweedle dee or dum from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which hopefully meant it was going to be a good summer. so professor dee-dum had us reading all manner of books, one of which was "Classical Mythology", fourth edition by Mark P.O. Morford and Robert J. Lenardon, in which they state that Venus and the god of war, Mars, while lovers, bore a child by the name of Cupid. And according to that story, Cupid goes on to be the most beautiful creature who, during a promise to a "client", accidentally pricks himself with his own arrow and falls in love with a mortal girl, Psyche. and that's a whole other story, but nonetheless a very good read.
during the renaissance, there was a resurgence of classical mythology that ran alongside the christian iconography, but that were both very politically driven. so, depending on who the patron was, the figures of the characters may take on the likeness or characteristics of the emperor, or the head of state, or the wealthy banker, etc. according to art historians, Boticelli's painting of "The Birth of Venus" celebrates in a flattering light, Lorenzo de Medici, and Venus is rumored to have been Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci, a woman with whom both Lorenzo and his younger brother Guiliano were enamored. and as you can imagine, this caused a little trouble... trust those artists to stir up mischief!