Cupid is a poetic fiction
Year mention: 1617
Figurative vs. literal reading
Sacred vs. profane imagery

Condemnation of the use of images of cupid, because the ordinary people are not familiar with its poetic meaning and therefore seeing it could have negative consequences

Molanus, Johannes
Frostispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Frontispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Augsburg, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek — Th H 1475. Digital Reproduction: München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2015.

Molanus condemns images of Cupid because the ordinary people do not understand his poetic meaning and therefore he only has negative effects on them.

“Shall I continue in the same way on the image of Cupid which the poets have imagined? It was outlined in graceful verse, not by Aeneas Sylvius, author of the story of the two lovers, but by Pius II, rejecting a work of his youth. Pietro Capretto has devoted with knowledge and piety a book almost entirely to the expectation of the image of Cupid, although he thinks that it should rather be rejected because the uneducated do not know nor suspect the poetic fictions which are relative to him and that at a similar spectacle they would be inflamed for evil.”

“Possem eodem modo exspatiari in Cupidinis imaginem a poetis consictam: quam elegantissimis aliquot versibus explicavit non Aeneas de duobus amantibus scribens, sed Pius secundus iuvenilem librum reiiciens. Petrus vero Haeduus integrum fere librum in explicanda Cupidinis imagine et docte et pie consumsit. Quamquam censet abiiciendam potius esse, quod rudes huius poetici sigmenti rationem neque sciant, neque suspicentut, sed magis tali aspect ad malum inflammentur. Verum ad alia nobis est transeundum.”

Quoted Authorities

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, Opera omnia 1551, letter 395.

Date mention

Historical Location

Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), book 2, ch. 59, 205

Molanus 1996, 299-300, see: 300 n. 1.

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