Galatea: The Statue Comes to Life

Galatea: A Brief Consideration of the Creator, the Maker, the Made


There are many ways to Truth, none so full, so true as through Christ.  Yet even so, there are other ways to Truth.  One such, through the pagans, the Greek and Roman Classives who drew the outlines of our civilization.  We find that before Revelation, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many another philosopher discovered Truth by testing experience to learn what was true and untrue, real and unreal, drawing lines between the two.


Galatea, French
Pygmalion, Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786, Musée National du Château et des Trianons.


Before Acts, poets through inspired stories delivered us into true experience where we might see the falsity and the lie of things, beautifully giving shape to the outlines drawn by philosophers.  We artists, we storytellers continue drawing in the outlines, shaping, coloring, layering our stories on the ancient models, seeking truth through rule and invention, as in the story of Pygmalion and Galatea, the sculptor and his statue.

You know the story of Pygmalion & Galatea as told by T.S. Gilbert, G.B Shaw, A.J. Lerner (“Pygmalion and Galatea, an Original Mythological Comedy”, “Pygmalion, A Romance in Five Acts”, “My Fair Lady”), and Ovid (Metamorphoses, Book X).  There are a hundred of these Galatea stories, each story offering some truth of who and what we are – the Creator, the maker, and the made.  For my part, I consider Ovid’s telling to be the most insightful of men’s perception of woman, of truth and falsity, virtue and vice, of lust and love and marriage.


Galatea, Adoring
Pygmalion Adoring His Statue, Jean Raoux, 1717, Louve Museum.

Ovid prefaces his pagan tale of revulsion, love, lust and longing with a song of Orpheus,

However, the obscene Propoetides [prideful girls] dared to deny
that Venus was a goddess; for this denial, by the anger of the divine
they are said to be the first to have prostituted their bodies and pride,
as their shame waned and the blood of their face hardened
and they are changed into hard stone with slight difference.1.

Ovid follows this preface with a comedy of marriage and continues with a course of events common to ancient Jerusalem, Ephesus, Cyprus, and to our current generation: the account of wicked girls and disgraceful passions, that wickedness and disgrace of the contemporary “body count” not treated in Testaments Old and New.  Sometimes we must consider the pagans to perceive what is true of Christ’s Truth, especially in these days of waning Christendom, waxing Pagandom.


Pygmalion and Galatea, Falconet, 1763, Walters Gallery, Baltimore.

Since the deformations of Vatican II and abdication of the Holy Spirit to the Zeitgeist (the Spirit of the Times), we have experienced a flourishing of the cult of Hermaphroditus, a Tiresian vogue, a return of the galli (priests of Mother Cybele), a renewed worship of the ancient demons (including Satan), the universal practice of ancient rituals, including the Moloch ritual, now performed at a scale and in numbers satisfying, stimulating to Baal: over 1,000,000 yearly in the US, 73,000,000 yearly in this word-wide pagan Reconquista (2023).  The pagan Cult of Death and its debaucheries are modern, progressive again.

We might come to understand the progressive pagan in the light of Christ, as early Christians did.  Yet early Christians knew the pagans because they themselves had been pagans, and, knowing themselves, knew and understood the evil of pagan sin.  We modern pagans are mostly ignorant of ourselves, assuming to ourselves Christian virtues we do not possess, presuming a Heaven that we are unlikely to achieve.  We have long been deceived by a supposed evolution.


Pygmalion and Galatea, Jean-Léon Gérôme, c. 1890, The Metropolitain Museum of Art.

Galatea: The Statue Comes to Life, is a full telling of Ovid’s brief tale.  It is composed in verse, in poetry, in the manner of Ovid, yes, though rather more in the manner of Athenian tragedians & comedians (there, a bit of Aristophanic wordplay).  It is an operetta in several scenes, and as in operetta, the lite and playful, the delightful and tuneful, the memorable song and the metered rhyme dance with the imagination.  In fact, if you had not read this preface, you might think the Galatea to be little more than a marzipan, so sweet and pleasing that you would neglect to consider the man who in earnest concocted the thing.  The hour is later than you think.

My Priapeia is a similar treatment of modern, Christian paganism, the portrait of an antique hero, Priapos who good-heartedly attempts to justify himself and to understand his nature in God.  Priapos and Pygmalion are each modern, christian pagans who see merely a truth of the True, much alike other characters, perhaps all the characters who surround you.


Pygmalion, Galatea, and Venus
Pygmalion & Galatea, Louis Gauffier, 1797, Manchester Art Gallery.

Galatea is the second libretto in a tetralogy of libretti, the Aestheticon, a musical consideration of the generative power of art.  Each libretto is unique in time, place, setting, and form, yet each is composed in verse.  The Galatea is composed in an iambic pentameter that sometimes resolves itself in pleasing heroic couplets.  And there are songs, arias, duets, and the rest in various fashions.

Both the Galatea and the Priapeia are not intended for delicate readers.  Each treat of pressing, essential, impolite topics, subjects, problems which left unresolved will conclude in debaucheries that will cause the present age to blush.  Christ is not an innocent.  He knows and foils the Enemy.  If we are to foil the Enemy, we too must know the Enemy, both the enemy within and the Enemy, Ruler of the World.  Yes, there is that and there is Galatea’s delightful story and pleasing romp.  If you read it, I hope you enjoy its kindness and goodly, humane humor, its little truths that help us to better know, to better see, to better understand ourselves.


Galatea, Flower
Pygmalion and Galatea, Giulio Bargellini, 1896, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome.


*   *   *


Galatea: The Statue Comes to Life


Galatea cover
Galatea, Libretto II of “The Aestheticon” by Michael Curtis

1. A.S. Kline translation.

In ancient Cyprus, home of the beautiful, terrible Aphrodite, the sculptor Pygmalion creates an ivory statue of the perfect woman, Galatea, whom he desperately, ardently, impossibly loves.  The rest is history, a history that you might read in Ovid’s Latin telling, or here in spirited, skilled, subtle, erotic English verse, Galatea: The Statue Comes to Life, a libretto.

Released, 15 May 2024

* This book concerns aesthetics, the sensual propagation of art, it is erotic, unsuitable to delicate readers.

** The Aestheticon was composed a decade ago (2014).

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