Schopenhauer and the Planets: Venus

Welcome to the next post in my miniseries based on Arthur Schopenhauer's Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit where at the end of the book, he briefly compares the different stages of the human life to the different planets in our solar system and the classical gods they were named after.

Note: this is a repost, because the original wasn't welcomed in the community I posted it in.

Before we continue our journey through #schopenhauerssolarsystem, read the teaser here and the entry for Mercury here, if you want to.

So now we have arrived at the age of 20, which Schopenhauer links to the second planet, Venus, named after Venus (the greek's Aphrodite). Let's look at the original quote:

german (original)english (own translation)
"Mit dem zwanzigsten Jahre tritt die Herrschaft der Venus ein: Liebe und Weiber haben ihn ganz im Besitz." (Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, p. 262)"With the twentieth year, the rule of Venus begins: love and women totally posses him."
As you can see, this isn't exactly a long quote! To be honest, I'm quite disappointed. It also sounds a bit condescending. Even if it were true that the 20s are all about love, why does Schopenhauer seem to view this as something which isn't really worth mentioning?
The answer can be found when we look closer at Schopenhauer's own life and the rest of his philosophy: although Schopenhauer did fancy certain women when he was younger, he never married or had children and the only woman in his later life was his maid. This is reflected in his philosophy: he preached a life of asceticism and solitude . Remember that for him, this was the worst of all possible worlds, so bringen children into is amongst the worst things you can do. He kind of was the OG antinatalist. And of course, in a world so terrible, all love is just a lie anyway.

I disagree with old Arthur here. First, I don't think that existing is nearly as terrible as Schopenhauer claims it to be, and I also don't think that it is a bad thing per se to bring new humans into this world. And I also think that humans were made for romance and companionship, at least among other things, and that a life in solitude isn't answer to anything.
But I also disagree with him that the 20s are all about love.

So, in this post, let's see what other parallels we can find between the age of 20 - 30 and the planet Venus and the goddess Aphrodite.

Planet Venus

Venus as seen by the NASA probe Mariner 10 in 1974. No copy right source

Venus is a remarkable planet in a lot of ways. It is the hottest planet in the solarsystem with an average temperature of 464°C (although Mercury is closer to the sun, it only has a surface temperature of 167°C. Venus is so much hotter because of the green house effect.) So, in keeping with what Schopenhauer said, we can say that people in their 20s are the hottest of all people (although there are of course also hot people who are older, I think we can all agree that for most people hottness peaks in their 20s).
But we can do better than that.
On the venusian surface, we have a pressure of 92 bar. (On earth, we only have 1.014 bar and on Mars 0.006 bar!) Likewise, young people are under a lot of pressure to get their lives on track, to grow up correctly, build something for themselves and find their way in life.
Another way in which Venus is different is the direction it spins about it's own axis: while all planets spin around their own axis counter-clockwise, Venus spins clockwise. Likewise, people in their 20s often "spin" a little differently than others, if you know what I mean.
There is lots more I could cover, but I think it's time to go over to the goddess Venus.

The goddess

Birth of Venus

Sandro Botticelli, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

La nascita di Venere, painted by Sandro Botticelli ca.1485, no copy right [source] ()

There are so many stories about Venus/Aphrodite, that I will only focus on two to see how they are like someone's 20s.

First, let's look at the "birth" of Venus, depicted by Botticelli in the famous picture above. It wasn't a normal birth by any means: the Titan Saturn (who the greeks called Kronos and about whom some say that was the same entity as the god of time, Chronos), cut of the testicles of his fahter, Uranus and flung them into the sea. Out of the foam where they landed (near Cyprus) the goddess Venus was born. So far, so crazy. But what is the parallel to the age of twenty?
I admit, this one is a bit far fetched: what happens in this story is that time (if we take Kronos and Chronos to be the same person) brutally separates one from one's grandfather, and by extention, from the whole familiy. This doesn't have to be through death, but can be through something like moving out and growing more and more independent. Most people start doing this when they are around 20. Leaving your familiy of origin can be brutal, as brutal as cutting of testicles and thorwing them into the sea, but the end result (an own, independet life) can be as beautifull as Venus herself.

The second legend I want to look at concerning Venus is about the Trojan War. Like most wars, the story that led to it is very long and complicated, but this is the part I want to focus on: Venus (Aphrodite), Minerva (Athena) and Juno (Hera) were arguing about who was the most beautifull and asked Paris to decide (poor Paris!). Eager to win, Venus promised the princess Helena to Paris. This in turn led to the kidnapping of Helena and thus to the ten year long Trojan War.
Your twenties are also a time of vanity and a time where you don't think a lot about the consequences of your actions. In your eagerness to pursue a goal or suit your own vanity, you make promisses, especially those you cannot keep. Because you are realitvely young and unexperienced, you can't really forsee the consequences of these promises - and sometimes these are devastating - allthough probalby not as devastating as a decade long war!

This was another long post, but we had a lot to cover! I hope you enjoyed reading it and maybe learned a little. Do you agree with what I said? What comes to mind when you think of your own twenties?

Thanks for reading and I'll see you next time!

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