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Vittoria
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Ovid, METMORHOSES BOOK X, Pygmalion

Translation by Brookes More





But while he was single, with consummate skill, he carved a statue out of snow-white ivory, and gave to it exquisite beauty, which no woman of the world has ever equaled: she was so beautiful, he fell in love with his creation. It appeared in truth a perfect virgin with the grace of life, but in the expression of such modesty all motion was restrained—and so his art concealed his art.






Pygmalion gazed, inflamed with love and admiration for the form, in semblance of a woman, he had carved. He lifts up both his hands to feel the work, and wonders if it can be ivory, because it seems to him more truly flesh. His mind, refusing to conceive of it as ivory, he kisses it and feels his kisses are returned. And speaking love, caresses it with loving hands that seem to make an impress, on the parts they touch, so real that he fears he then may bruise her by his eager pressing.





Softest tones are used each time he speaks to her. He brings to her such presents as are surely prized by sweet girls; such as smooth round pebbles, shells, and birds, and fragrant flowers of thousand tints, lilies, and painted balls, and amber tears of Heliads, which distill from far off trees. He drapes her in rich clothing and in gems: rings on her fingers, a rich necklace round her neck, pearl pendants on her graceful ears; and golden ornaments adorn her breast.





All these are beautiful—and she appears most lovable, if carefully attired,—or perfect as a statue, unadorned. He lays her on a bed luxurious, spread with coverlets of Tyrian purple dye, and naming her the consort of his couch, lays her reclining head on the most soft and downy pillows, trusting she could feel.





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  • 1
I really want to meet this Vittoria person.

I like your discussion about how she pays attention all the little details in the background, but what I find fascinating is who very self aware she is, especially when you note that she puts the timer on. Her mind's eye must be insanely good.

Vittoria is the most elusive woman I've ever known, and I suspect that much of what I think I know about her may merely be my own projection.

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