17. Venus grants Pygmalion’s prayer

Once upon a time, King Pygmalion of Cyprus, had sculpted an ivory statue of a woman, so beautiful that he fell in love with the statue. He laid the statue on his royal bed and ardently desired for the statue to come alive.

It was the festival day of Venus, and all of Cyprus was celebrating. They were sacrificing snow-white heifers with gold-tipped horns, along with costly frankincense that sent spiralling scented smoke, upwards to heaven. Pygmalion, devoutedly stood in front of the altar, and earnestly prayed to Venus for obtaining a maid like ivory, as his wife. He did not dare to say a maid like his ivory statue, but the kind-hearted golden Venus heard the prayer, and perfectly understood what Pygmalion desired. As a sign of her accepting the plea of Pygmalion, she made the flame at her altar leap high and bright, three times in the air. Witnessing the fortunate sign, Pygmalion returned to his palace.

Resting on his royal bed, Pygmalion kissed the statue, whose lips became warm, as if they were gathering the warmth from his own lips. He lightly felt the statue’s breast and the firm ivory became soft, yielding to the warmth of his hand, as Mount Hymettus’ honey-wax yields to the sun’s warmth. The amazed Pygmalion, with a rejoicing but fearful heart, fondly touched the entire statue, which became soft, warm and fleshy upon his touch. Overjoyed, Pygmalion poured abundant thanks to the kind-hearted Venus, for answering his prayer. Then, with inflamed love, he passionately joined his eager lips to the statue’s fleshy lips. Slowly, the statue-maid lifted her eyes, saw her ardent lover engrossed in kissing her, and her ivory-white cheeks blushed red as a blossoming rose.

Pygmalion married the statue-maid and Venus graced the happy marriage. Thereafter, when nine times the moon had changed its shape, from crescent to a circular one, the statue-bride gave birth to a daughter named Paphos, as beautiful as her mother and as loving as her father.

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

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