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We all know how a character in a film can linger in our imagination more than the real people we know. So it is with Manon in the movie “Manon des Sources” (Manon of the Spring). We behold in her more than a beautiful young woman. As a goatherd she is Aphrodite. Most of us did not know that the goat is sacred to the goddess of love. But that is the archetype; and that, perhaps, is why goats are evil and sheep are good. The sheep obey the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd King is a time honored symbol of Christ. Aphrodite competes with him for the souls of men.

I cannot forget the lovely Manon and I cannot forget Aphrodite. It is good that I do not live near the Venusberg---or perhaps I am simply too old. Age and its precautionary voice---its proverbial wisdom---ensure my safety. But young men are not safe. Like the scapegoat they will be laden with the omissions of the people who forgot love because, like me, they were too timid to follow the goddess. Venus is a creature of the shadows, and Tannhäuser must enter a dark crevice to find her. Aphrodite rides upon a goat, and like a goat the young men will wander into the wilderness and be lost.

Below: Manon sleeps while goats graze behind her.

A painting by Charles Gleyre, "Aphrodite Pandemos", reproduces a scene that was traditional in ancient Greece and Rome.

In this relief Astarte, the Canaanite goddess of love, dances between two goats. Astarte is the Near-Eastern predecessor of Aphrodite.

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Comment by SunTiger on October 29, 2018 at 4:13pm

I love posts like this. It's quite thought-provoking.

I raised both sheep and goats together as a child and teenager. I must say it's NOT TRUE that goats refuse to follow the shepherd. The key to getting goats to follow a human is simply to be kind and loving so they actually LOVE you and then they behave just like a dog and WANT follow you everywhere. 

Most people are too disconnected from their livestock to ever realize how intelligent goats truly are (hence the misnomers circulating about them.) Goats don't eat cans either ... that's a completely dumb notion; goats are, in fact, quite picky eaters. They don't eat much grass either as they prefer tree bark and leaves.

Unlike goats, sheep truly are not intelligent. If a wolf attacks a herd of sheep the sheep all scatter, making themselves an easy target for the wolves. If a wolf attacks goats, they all form a circle and stick their butts together (babies go in the middle of the herd).

I could always tell if a predator had been in our pens because the goats in my small flock would put their butts to the gate and be facing the field (protecting their backside with the wooden and fencing door). 

I love goats and feel a deep affinity for Aphrodite but never knew goats were her thing. 

Comment by Enigma on November 3, 2018 at 8:39pm

I'm doing some star gazing and noticed the star Capella. Capella is a very bright star. It's name is derived from Latin, meaning Little Goat. It made me think of your blog post.

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