Vertumnus was a Roman garden god, probably of Etruscan origin, with no Greek equivalent. He could change his form at will. Pomona was a wood nymph, a goddess of fruitful abundance, she too without a Greek counterpart. Together they had a festival on August 13th, the Vertumnalia.

In book XIV of his Metamorphoses, Ovid tells the story how Vertumnus gained entry to Pomona’s orchard by disguising himself as an old woman. Then he seduced her by telling her the story of Anaxarete, who refused the advances of a shepherd named Iphis, remained unmoved even when he hanged himself on her doorpost and was turned into a stone statue for her cruelty.

The story of Vertumnus and Pomona thus gave an artist the opportunity to paint an old and a young woman together, if he wanted. Not all did. Those that did were remarkably often from the Netherlands, as in this case Caesar van Everdingen, who made another painting on the same subject later.

Christopher Marlowe after Ovid

IN summers heate and mid-time of the day
To rest my limbes upon a bed I lay,
One window shut, the other open stood,
Which gave such light as twinkles in a wood,
Like twilight glimpse at setting of the Sunne,
Or night being past, and yet not day begunne.
Such light to shamefast maidens must be showne,
Where they may sport, and seeme to be unknowne.
Then came Corinna in a long loose gowne,
Her white neck hid with tresses hanging downe,
Resembling fayre Semiramis going to bed,
Or Layis of a thousand lovers sped.
I snatcht her gowne: being thin, the harme was small,
Yet strived she to be covered therewithall.
And striving thus as one that would be cast,
Betrayde her selfe, and yeelded at the last.
Starke naked as she stood before mine eye,
Not one wen in her body could I spie.

What armes and shoulders did I touch and see,
How apt her breasts were to be prest by me.
How smooth a belly under her wast saw I,
How large a legge, and what a lustie thigh?
To leave the rest, all liked me passing well,
I clinged her naked body, downe she fell,
Judge you the rest, being tirde she bad me kisse;
Jove send me more such after-noones as this.


Christopher Marlowe, Elegies, Book One, 5

This is the only painting by Alexandre Charles Guillemot of which I could find a high-quality reproduction: Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan, 1827. Not a very convincing rendering of the story found in the fourth book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, here in the translation of Garth and Dryden:

The Sun, the source of light, by beauty’s pow’r
Once am’rous grew; then hear the Sun’s amour.
Venus, and Mars, with his far-piercing eyes
This God first spy’d; this God first all things spies.
Stung at the sight, and swift on mischief bent,
To haughty Juno’s shapeless son he went:
The Goddess, and her God gallant betray’d,
And told the cuckold, where their pranks were play’d.
Poor Vulcan soon desir’d to hear no more,
He drop’d his hammer, and he shook all o’er:
Then courage takes, and full of vengeful ire
He heaves the bellows, and blows fierce the fire:
From liquid brass, tho’ sure, yet subtile snares
He forms, and next a wond’rous net prepares,
Drawn with such curious art, so nicely sly,
Unseen the mashes cheat the searching eye.
Not half so thin their webs the spiders weave,
Which the most wary, buzzing prey deceive.
These chains, obedient to the touch, he spread
In secret foldings o’er the conscious bed:
The conscious bed again was quickly prest
By the fond pair, in lawless raptures blest.
Mars wonder’d at his Cytherea’s charms,
More fast than ever lock’d within her arms.
While Vulcan th’ iv’ry doors unbarr’d with care,
Then call’d the Gods to view the sportive pair:
The Gods throng’d in, and saw in open day,
Where Mars, and beauty’s queen, all naked, lay.
O! shameful sight, if shameful that we name,
Which Gods with envy view’d, and could not blame;
But, for the pleasure, wish’d to bear the shame.
Each Deity, with laughter tir’d, departs,
Yet all still laugh’d at Vulcan in their hearts.

Boreas is the personification of the North wind, Oreithyia the daughter of the mythical King Erechtheus of Athens. He first tried to woo her, when that didn’t work, he abducted her. She bore him two daughters and two winged sons who joined the Argonauts.

Apart from this painting by Rubens (around 1615–20) and one by Evelyn de Morgan nearly four hundred years later, this myth has not made too much impact on newer art.

Fulgentius metaforalis

Interesting forum post about a c. 1420 illuminated manuscript (Apostolica Vaticana, Cod. Pal. Lat. 1066) of the Fulgentius metaforalis, here seen in the context of Tarot, with many illustrations and links.

Fulgentius metaforalis is a c. 1331 work by John Ridewall (Joannes Ridevallus) that interprets antique mythology (mainly based on Ovid) in a Christian way. The name is derived from Fabius Planciades Fulgentius, who had written similar works around 500 AD.

The illumination above shows Apollo and the muses.