Sancta Venera. Contemporary art and archaeology in Paestum
edited by Massimo Bignardi
The Cirio factory was set up in the hamlet of Santa Venera in 1907, unearthing the first remains of a sacred place dedicated to the worship of Aphrodite, Venus for the Romans, characterised by an extraordinary continuity through the centuries. Aphrodite Urania, born from the sea, protects seafarers during their voyages and has some features that make her similar to the great oriental goddess Astarte, under whose protection the Phoenicians set sail, and to Venus Iovia of the Lucanian and Republican-Imperial age. The factory is set up on the ancient sanctuary, where the medieval hamlet also stood, and perhaps the Santa Venera church as well: the centuries-old toponym is therefore joined by Cirio, which probably has a neo-Greek origin and derives from kyrios, lord. It almost seems like another return of Venus if next to the goddess-saint we now find this kyrios, the title given by Plutarch in fact to the escort of Aphrodite-Venus. No matter how small and harmless it may seem, it manages to dominate men and gods thanks to the power of love. Omnia vincit amor, as the Romans said, love conquers all.” (Gabriel Zuchtriegel).