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Attachments

To the Apollo Belvedere


i.        Goethe

          Of course I was pleased
               to find the figure
                    has great intrinsic
                    merit, aside from
               its celebrity,
          to recommend it.

ii.       Preferring to it The Hermaphrodite
                         which is in an adjoining niche,
          Her Highness called the statue “the only
                         happy couple she ever saw.”

iii.      No less an arbiter than Canova
             has indicated the seven points
                from which the radiant god
                   may be readily studied
                      to best advantage

                   (for a trifling sum
                a copy of this precious
           diagram can be purchased
           from any of the attendants
           in the Belvedere courtyard).

iv.      The evident high breeding of the god
                 has always been apparent;
           as Hippolyte Taine himself remarked,
                 Apollo must have had servants.

v.       Classical Simplicity demands a Static Port.
                      Indeed Count d’Orsay,
          who believed it impossible to approve statues in action
          for longer than he himself could stand in the same attitude,
                      was once heard to say
          he felt able to admire the Apollo for hours . . . even days!

          To which with some spirit Lady Blessington offered
                      Her famous réplique:
          “The god with his arm outstretched and a heavy blanket on it
          wearies me after five minutes! Of course my fatigue might be
                      relieved, dear Alfred,
          were it you in that very costume who had taken that very pose.”

vi.     The Novelist and the Naturalist

          “Once he was holding something, George. Just look!
                      his fingers are still
          curled round an invisible spear—perhaps
                      to kill a dragon . . .”

          “Far from trying to kill the serpent, Marian,
                      it is more likely
          the god was merely stimulating it with a dart
                      so as to rouse it
          from its hibernation. Dragons are boreal . . .”

vii.    Suggesting the god had been removed
                      from Greece by Nero,
          Herr Winckelmann was never quite happy
                      with the piece, and his
          unqualified enthusiasm was limited
               to the legs and knees.

viii.   Monsieur Beyle studied it
                    like something from China,
          but it aroused, he said,
                    neither pain nor pleasure.


—Richard Howard



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