Goddesses of Love in the Ancient World: From Ishtar to Aphrodite

Goddesses of Love in the Ancient World: From Ishtar to Aphrodite

Dr. Diana McDonald, Boston College
February 11, 2018

The fabled Temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the grandest ancient building — a magnificent Greek temple, with a famous cult statue. The temple is now mostly destroyed. Why was it so important and why does it still resonate today?  Female divinities had an outsized role in the development of early societies and their art, going back all the way to the Neolithic period.  Where did the goddesses we know best, such as the beautiful Aphrodite (later known as Venus) originally come from? These divinities of sex and love, such as Aphrodite, Inana and Ishtar, were the earliest ones worshipped by ancient societies, and often had fascinating connections with animals such as the lion. In this lecture, we’ll look at these connections and see some of the most stunning art from the ancient Mediterranean world.

Dr. Diana McDonald is an art historian and lecturer, retired from Boston College. She earned her B.A. in Fine Arts from Harvard University and Ph.D. from Columbia University, where she concentrated in ancient Near Eastern and Pre-Columbian art. She worked at The Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Indonesian National Museum in Jakarta, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and other preeminent organizations. She wrote the first chapter of the Catalogue for “Gods of Love,” an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2011) and advised on that exhibition. She also wrote nine essays in the book The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad: The Lost Legacy of Ancient Mesopotamia in 2005, and is the lecturer and author of The Great Courses “30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World” DVD and book (2013).

Supported by Urban Enhancement Trust Fund, Haverland Carter Lifestyle Group and Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union