These women’s scandalous way of life was observed by a sculptor, Pygmalion. Sick of the vices with which the female sex has been so richly endowed, he chose for a number of years to remain unmarried, without a partner to share his bed. In the course of time he successfully carved an amazingly skilful statue in ivory, white as snow, an image of perfect feminine beauty – and fell in love with his own creation. This heavenly woman appeared to be real; you’d surely suppose her alive and ready to move…Orpheus’ Song: Pygmalion, Metamorphosis by Ovid (translated by Henry Raeburn)
The story of Galatea, first attested in Philostephanus’s De Cypro (The Story of Cyprus) but most well-known from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, is deeply tied to the history of the Cult Image. The sculptor Pygmalion crafted the statue of a woman from ivory. He was so taken with his creation that he fell in love with it: he prayed to the gods to make her real. Aphrodite heard, and granted his request. Various misadventures followed, and as is the case in mythology, variants emerged over time – but the central concept of a statue brought to life following the wish of the sculptor remained.
It came to mind with current events.