Love; the goddess of love; courtship. Copper was called Venus by the alchemists. (See Aphrodite)
“Venus smiles not in a house of tears.” Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, iv.l.
Venus is the name of the second planet from the sun, and the nearest heavenly body to the earth except the moon.
Statues of Venus. The most celebrated statues of this goddes are the Venus de Medici, the Aphrodite of Praxiteles, the Venus of Milo, The Venus Victorious of Canova, and the Venus of Gibson.
Capitoline Venus (The). In the Capitoline Museum of Rome.
Canova's Venus is the most noted of modern sculpture. (1757-1822.)
Uranian Venus of the Lusiad is the impersonation of heavenly love. She pleads to Destiny for the Lusians, and appears to them in the form of “the silver star of love.” Plato says she was the daughter of Heaven (Uranos), and Xenophon adds that “she presided over the love of wisdom and virtue, the pleasures of the soul.” Nigidius says that this “heavenly Venus” was not born from the sea-foam, but from an egg which two fishes conveyed to the seashore. This egg was hatched by two pigeons whiter than snow, and have birth to the Assyrian Venus, who instructed mankind in religion, virtue, and equity. (See Aphrodite)
Venus in astrology “signifiethe white men or browne ... joyfull, laughter, liberall, pleasers, dauncers, entertayners of women, players, perfumers, musitions, messengers of love.”
“Venus loveth ryot and dispense.” Chaucer: Canterbury Tale, 6,282.
My Venus turns out a whelp (Latin). All my swans are changed to geese; my cake is dough. In dice the best cast (three sixes) was called “Venus,” and the worst (three aces) was called “Canis.” My win-all turns out to be a lose-all.
The Island of Venus in the Lusiad is a paradisaical island raised by “Divine Love,” as a reward for the heroes of the poem. Here Venus, the ocean-goddess, gave her hand to Gama, and committed to him the empire of the sea. It was situate “near where the bowers of Paradise are placed,” not far from the mountains of Imaus, whence the Ganges and Indus derive their source. This paradise of Love is described in the ninth book.
We have several parallel Edens, as the “gardens of Alcinous,” in the Odyssey, bk. vii.; the “island of Circe,” Odyssey, x.; the “Elysium” of Virgil, Æneid, vi.; the “island and palace of Alcina” or Vice, in Orlando Furioso, vi. vii.; the “country of Logistilla” or Virtue, in the same epic, bk. x.; the description of “Paradise,” visited by Astolpho, the English duke, in bk. xxxiv.; the “island of Armida,” in Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered; the “bower of Acrasia,” in Spenser's Faërie Queene, the “palace with its forty doors,” the keys of which were entrusted to prince Agib, whose adventures form the tale of the “Third Calendar,” in The Arabian Nights' Entertainments etc. E. A. Poe calls Eden “Aiden,” which he rhymes with “laden.” (The Raven, 16.) (See Venusberg.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894