"In the Lemnian caves of fire The mate of her who nursed Desire Moulded the glowing steel to form Arrows for Cupid thrilling warm; While Venus every barb imbues With droppings of her honeyed dews; And Love (alas the victim heart) Tinges with gall the burning dart."
[Footnote 37: In Moore's translation.]
A slightly different explanation is given by the Latin poet Claudian:—
"In Cyprus' isle two rippling fountains fall And one with honey flows, and one with gall; In these, if we may take the tale from fame, The son of Venus dips his darts of flame."
However the story may run, there is but one ending. The victim of the love-god's arrow confesses that "loving is a painful thrill," but "not to love, more painful still."
So bold was the little archer that the mightiest could not withstand his arts. The war-god Mars, bringing his spear one day to Vulcan's forge, smiled contemptuously at the light shafts of Cupid. "Try it," said little Love, handing him one. Whereupon the foolish fellow cried out in an agony of pain, and begged Cupid to take the arrow back. Apollo, the archer of the sun, was equally imprudent, and was richly punished for his sneers. An arrow from the fatal quiver made him mad with unrequited love for the nymph Daphne. A being who could give so much pain and pleasure was at once to be loved and feared. Hence all paid homage—
"To Love, for heaven and earth adore him And gods and mortals bow before him."
In our picture, Cupid looks just as the poets have described him, a beautiful baby boy with wings and "goodly curls." Only the milk and honey of Cyprus could have made the little body so plump. A deep crease marks the line of his wrist, a soft fold of flesh the neck. The full quiver lies on the table beside him, and he is sharpening one of the darts. A little companion helps him hold the whetstone steady while he presses the arrow tip upon its surface. Some lines of Horace come to mind describing—
"Cupid sharpening all his fiery darts Upon a whetstone stained with blood of hearts."
[Footnote 38: Vasari says that Cupid is trying the arrow on a stone.]
Cupid's companion is as like him as a twin, save that he has no wings. He may be a human playfellow of the little god, or one of the brood of loves with which the poets have peopled Cyprus. While the original myth told of only one Cupid, imagination has multiplied his kind. We read of the "playful rout of Cupids" attendant upon the love-god, who rules as sovereign among them.
The two children of the picture are intent upon their task. The very seriousness of their manner argues some mischief in view. Evidently they are preparing for a great conquest. The arrow must not fail of its work, but must be sharp enough to carry the sweet poison straight to the victim's heart.
Both of the chubby fellows have rather large heads with clustering ringlets. The wingless boy has the high, full forehead which marks an active mind. Cupid seems to have the more energetic temperament of the two, while his comrade is a bit of a dreamer.
Our picture is a charming illustration of Correggio's love of children. As it was not the fashion of his time to paint children's portraits, he had to make his own opportunities for the favorite subject. How ingenious he was we have had occasion to see in our study. When given a sacred subject to paint he filled all the available spaces with child angels sporting in the clouds. With the ceiling of a room to decorate, he covered the whole surface with a band of little boys at play.
Our reproduction is a detail of a larger picture illustrating the myth of Danae. The two little figures are in the lower right corner of the canvas.
A SUPPOSED PORTRAIT OF CORREGGIO
Almost every celebrated painter has at some time in his life sat for his portrait. Many have painted their own likenesses, not so much from motives of vanity, but as a matter of artistic interest. Others have posed as models to their fellow painters.
Correggio was an exception in this regard. The old biographer Vasari made many efforts to procure a portrait, and concluded that "he never took it himself, nor ever had it taken by others, seeing that he lived much in retirement."
Our painter, as we have seen, was not a student of the face. Form and expression did not greatly interest him. He busied himself chiefly with problems of light and shade. This is perhaps the reason why he never thought it worth while to paint his portrait. He was not a traveller, and probably never visited any of the great art centres of his time. So he made no friends among the contemporary painters who would have been likely to make his portrait. In any case his busy life left little time for any work for himself, and if he thought at all of a portrait, he doubtless postponed it to some more convenient season. Waiting for such a time, his career was brought suddenly to an end. He died of fever in Correggio at the age of forty.
In the passing centuries one picture after another has been put forward as a pretended portrait of Correggio. The painter's admirers were always eager to believe that a real likeness had at last been discovered. Though we cannot rely upon the genuineness of any of these, some are very interesting.
Such an one is our frontispiece, from a painting in the Parma Gallery, pointed out as Correggio's portrait. Whoever the original may have been, the expression is certainly animated and intelligent. There is much humor and kindliness in the face. The unknown artist should have the credit for the gift of revealing the individual character of his sitter.
Lacking an authentic portrait of the man Correggio, we have to content ourselves with the short account of his character given by Vasari. "He was a person," writes the biographer, "who held himself in but slight esteem, nor could he ever persuade himself that he knew anything satisfactorily respecting his art; perceiving its difficulties, he could not give himself credit for approaching the perfection to which he would so fain have seen it carried; he was a man who contented himself with very little, and always lived in the manner of a good Christian."
PRONOUNCING VOCABULARY OF PROPER NAMES AND FOREIGN WORDS
The Diacritical Marks given are those found in the latest edition of Webster's International Dictionary.
EXPLANATION OF DIACRITICAL MARKS.
A Dash () above the vowel denotes the long sound, as in fāte, ēve, tīme, nōte, ūse. A Dash and a Dot ([.]) above the vowel denote the same sound, less prolonged. A Curve ([)]) above the vowel denotes the short sound, as in ădd, ĕnd, ĭll, ŏdd, ŭp.
A Dot ([.]) above the vowel a denotes the obscure sound of a in pȧst, ȧbāte, Amĕricȧ.
A Double Dot (") above the vowel a denotes the broad sound of a in faether, aelms.
A Double Dot ([:]) below the vowel a denotes the sound of a in ball.
A Wave (~) above the vowel e denotes the sound of e in hẽr.
A Circumflex Accent (^) above the vowel o denotes the sound of o in born.
A dot (.) below the vowel u denotes the sound of u in the French language.
N indicates that the preceding vowel has the French nasal tone.
G and K denote the guttural sound of ch in the German language.
th denotes the sound of th in the, this.
c sounds like s.
ȼ sounds like k.
[s.=] sounds like z.
ḡ is hard as in ḡet.
ġ is soft as in ġem.
Altius caeteris Dei patefecit arcana (ael't[=.e]-[)oo]s kī't[=.a]-r[=.e]s dā'ē pae-tā-fā'-kĭt aer-kae'nae).
Bayliss, Wyke (wĭk bā'lĭs).
Diana (dī-ăn'ȧ or dī-ā'nȧ).
Ecce Homo (ĕk'kĕ or ĕk's[=.e] hō'mō).
Giorno, Il (ēl jor'nō).
Giovanni Evangelista (jō-vaen'nē ā-vaen-jā-lēs'tae).
Guido Reni (gwē'dō rā'nē).
Heilige Nacht (hī'l[=.e]G-ŭ naeKt).
Ignem gladio ne fodias ([=.e]g'nĕm glae'-d[=.e]-ō nā fō'd[=.e]-aes).
Jerome (jē-rōm' or jĕr'ŏm).
Mater Dolorosa (mā'tẽr dŏl-[=.o]-rō'sȧ or mae'tār dō-lō-rō'sae).
Milan (mĭl'ȧn or mĭ-lăn').
Moore (mōr or m[=oo]r).
Noli me tangere (nō'l[=.e] mā taen'g[=.a]-r[=.a] or nō'lī mē tăn'jĕ-r[=.e]).
Notte, La (lae nōt't[=.a]).
Pontius Pilate (pŏn'shĭ-ŭs pĭ'lāt).
Rex Regum (rāks rā'g[=oo]m).
Ricci, Corrado (kōr-rae'dō rēt'chē).
Sala del Pergolato (sae'lae dĕl pair-gō-lae'tō).
Scipione Montino (shē-pē-ō'n[=.a] mōn-tē'nō).
Te Deum (tā dā'[=oo]m or tē dē'ŭm).
Vasari (vae sae'rē).
Vere, Aubrey de (aa'brĭ dē vēr).
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