Adamo Scultori (Italian, Mantuan, ca. 1530by 1587)
Engraving; first state; sheet 5 4/5 x 4 7/16 in. (14.6 x 11.3 cm)
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949 (49.97.479)
The union between Venus, goddess of love, and Mars, god of war, was often understood as emblematic of love's power to calm the aggressive spirit. In the De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things, 1.2940) of 55 B.C., Lucretius called on Venus to seduce Mars once more and thus bring peace to the Romans. Scultori's image suggests that she has done so. While his parents are occupied, Cupid carries off the heavy shield and sword of Mars, ensuring love's victory over war.