The Bringer of Peace

If Mars has been seen as the representation of war and violence across cultures, than Venus is certainly the goddess of love. The Babylonians named it Ishtar, the Greeks called it Aphrodite, Persian mythology relates it to Anahita, and of course, the Romans named it Venus. All of these figures are goddesses of love or of reproduction, which seems pretty closely tied with love. It sits brightly in the sky, brighter than all but the moon, so it makes sense that it would be viewed as an object of wonder and beauty, much like love goddesses themselves. In almost ironic contrast, the physical reality of Venus is seen closer resembling Hell. An unfortunate connection, but people tend to overlook the reality in favor of the poetic. Holst manages to set the perfect tone for Venus, again either tapping into the collective feeling of Venus, or setting the standard for the emotion itself.

I find it fascinating that Venus, though so close in similarities to Earth, is completely different from what we had ever expected. The physical processes that have shaped Venus into the form it now possesses are simple and streamlined. This is exemplified by the way the atmosphere completely rotates in four days’ time and in the relative static nature of the surface. One amazing attribute of Venus is its apparent magnitude. Shrouded by thick clouds of sulfur dioxide the reflective brightness can reach -4.9, making it the second brightest object in the sky, behind the Moon, and of course not including the sun. I could not find the specific scenario this fact relates to, but in my further research, the brightness of Venus is enough to cast shadows. I do not know for certain, but my guess would be that Venus would need to be as close to the Earth as the Moon is for that to happen, and that the statement is purely relating how bright -4.9 magnitude can be. However, if it were possible, I would love to read by Venus light.

As of right now, I have been listening to Venus on repeat for almost three hours. Holst created a work of sheer beauty when he composed it. Just like with Mars, it feels as if Holst has captured the essence of what our culture thinks of when we think of Venus. The other way to look at it would be that Holst has generated what we think of as the sound of Venus, but it is so ingrained in our society that we do not even know where our ideas come from. It reminds me of how Aaron Copeland’s compositions just sound like America, though I have no words to describe how, it just does. As I listen, I can see moments from every great cinematic love story, probably because cues and themes were most likely lifted, edited or reimagined and used in films. The tender, subtle moments remind me of romance films like I have stated, but the bigger sections that swell and capture my attention also remind me, much like Mars, of science fiction films, specifically Star Wars or perhaps more generally the nostalgic music of John Williams. The feeling that heart strings are being pulled mimics any character in a film that is experiencing love, hope of peace.

The hellish image of Venus that we now understand, incredibly dense atmospheric pressure, insanely hot temperatures, and acid rain might be in conflict with the seemingly natural connection to love and peace that humans have made, but there are still connections to be made. Being the brightest object in the sky besides the sun and moon, it could clearly be seen as a large diamond or jewel, and the character of Aphrodite/Venus was not always peaceful and loving. In several myths she expressed a nasty, hellish attitude, so the relationship is still appropriate.