Mythology[ edit ] Leda with the Swan, a restored Roman copy, perhaps after an original by Timotheus Museo del Prado Leda was admired by Zeus , who raped her in the guise of a swan. As a swan, Zeus fell into her arms for protection from a pursuing eagle. Their consummation, on the same night as Leda lay with her husband Tyndareus, resulted in two eggs from which hatched Helen later known as the beautiful " Helen of Troy " , Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux also known as the Dioscuri. Which children are the progeny of Tyndareus the mortal king, and which are of Zeus and thus half-immortal, is not consistent among accounts, nor is which child hatched from which egg. Castor and Pollux are sometimes both mortal, sometimes both divine.
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Eroticism[ edit ] Leda and the Swan, Roman marble possibly reflecting a lost work by Timotheos ; restored Prado The subject undoubtedly owed its sixteenth-century popularity to the paradox that it was considered more acceptable to depict a woman in the act of copulation with a swan than with a man. The earliest depictions show the pair love-making with some explicitness—more so than in any depictions of a human pair made by artists of high quality in the same period.
The theme remained a dangerous one in the Renaissance, as the fates of the three best known paintings on the subject demonstrate. The earliest depictions were all in the more private medium of the old master print , and mostly from Venice. This shows Leda and the Swan making love with gusto, despite being on top of a triumphal car, being pulled along and surrounded by a considerable crowd.
Benvenuto Cellini made a medallion, now in Vienna, early in his career, and Antonio Abondio one on the obverse of a medal celebrating a Roman courtesan. Leda and the Swan by Correggio Leonardo da Vinci began making studies in for a painting, apparently never executed, of Leda seated on the ground with her children. In he painted a different composition of the subject , with a nude standing Leda cuddling the Swan, with the two sets of infant twins also nude , and their huge broken egg-shells.
However it is known from many copies, of which the earliest are probably the Spiridon Leda, perhaps by a studio assistant and now in the Uffizi ,  and the one at Wilton House in England illustrated. This composition is known from many copies, including an ambitious engraving by Cornelis Bos , c. In addition, a sculptural group, similar to the Prado Roman group illustrated, was believed until at least the 19th century to be by Michelangelo.
His son Louis , though a great lover of painting, had periodic crises of conscience about his way of life, in one of which he attacked the figure of Leda with a knife. The damage has been repaired, though full restoration to the original condition was not possible. Both the Leonardo and Michelangelo paintings also disappeared when in the collection of the French Royal Family, and are believed to have been destroyed by more moralistic widows or successors of their owners. The film retains the classical motif, portraying, for most of its duration, a young woman embracing a swan.
Zeus, as the swan, only appears metaphorically. It also alludes to the Trojan war , which will be provoked by the abduction of Helen , who will be begotten by Zeus on Leda along with Castor and Pollux , in some versions of the myth.
For Yeats, the only salvation is the shapeliness and stillness of art. Hilda Doolittle also wrote a poem called "Leda" in , suggested to be from the perspective of Leda. The description of the sexual action going on makes it seem almost beautiful, as if Leda had given her consent. The play features the voices of three women. The first is a married woman who keeps her baby. The second is a secretary who suffers a miscarriage.
The play is about the disconnection of women in society and challenges societal expectations of childbirth. In the latter novel, the myth is brought to life in the form of a performance in which a frightened young girl is forced to act as Leda in accompaniment with a large mechanical swan. The character Frank Wheeler, married to April Wheeler, after having had sex with an office secretary ponders what to say as he is leaving: "Did the swan apologize to Leda?
Did an eagle apologize? Did a lion apologize? Hell no! A corporation uses genetic engineering to create a series of female clones Leda and a series of male clones Castor who are also brothers and sisters clones as they derive from one mother who is a chimera with male and female genomes. Modern censorship[ edit ] In April an art gallery in London, England, was instructed by the police to remove a modern exhibit of Leda and the Swan.
Leda and the Swan, charcoal, gouache on paper. Ulpiano Checa Leda and the Swan. Sage Journals.
Leda and the Swan