16. Pygmalion desires his statue

Once upon a time, Pygmalion, the king of Cyprus, seeing the Propoetides waste their wretched lives in miserable shame, became critical of nature’s faults planted deeply in the hearts of women, and chose to remain a celibate. During this time, from ivory as white as snow, he carved a statue of a woman having exquisite form, whose beauty no earthly woman could equal. So beautifully the statue expressed youthful virginity hidden in restrained modesty, and so elegantly did art itself conceal its own art, that the artist, fell in love with his work of art.

Fondly gazing at the marvellous statue, Pygmalion tenderly touched his work, wondering whether it was ivory, for it truly seemed to him more like flesh. It seemed to him that his hands made an impression, wherever they lovingly roamed. So real the statue seemed to him that he feared, his fervent pressing might bruise the statue. He spent long sleepless hours, whispering affectionate words in the softest manner, as if the statue were a real woman. Refusing to believe that the statue was made of ivory, he passionately kissed it and felt the ivory lips tremble, as if his kisses were returned, with equal passion.

He brought the statue presents that are valued by virgin girls. He offered her gifts like lilies and fragrant flowers tinted with several hues, unusual shells, smooth pebbles, colourful birds, and the Heliads’ amber tears distilled from remote trees. He draped the statue in costly garments, adorned her fingers with gem-studded rings, put precious necklaces around her neck, graced her ears with pendants of pearls, and decorated her bosom with golden ornaments. Then he gently laid the statue on a royal bed, covered with rich cloth of Tyrian purple dye, and with care he put soft pillows under her head, as if the statue were his beloved queen.

Naming the statue as the consort of his bed, Pygmalion fervently wished for the statue to become alive.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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