When he had prayed to Aphrodite Ourania in Thespiae
he did not mince his words, but stated his wishes plainly;
but, in the endless circles of his Villa’s constructions
a decade later he had her image installed, modest.
The locals would call her “Venus,” but he preferred
the name of the goddess from Greek lands
(the name that Antinous always used for her),
from when she first rose from the foam, unashamed.
As in Knidos, her temple could be approached
from every side, her form seen in front and back,
for no angle upon her flesh, no curve nor crevice
was less sacred than any other part of her.
But even the deathless immortals have their secrets,
their times of silence, their withholding of vision,
and without Antinous, so it seemed, Aphrodite held back
the free flow of her blessings on the Villa’s Dominus…
A fitting reminder, a principle well kept in thought
for those wishing to do right under the gods.
Aphrodite of Tibur, of Knidian descent,
cover us with your blessed hand, not in shame,
but in reserve, so that we may receive your gifts
more gratefully when you grant them in the future–
and do not stint in hearing our prayers
for your favor and for the pleasures
of love unbounded, of flesh uncovered,
and of sweetness like roses showered upon us.
As Hadrian prayed, to too may I pray today;
as crimson roses unfold, may your glory be revealed!