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SOM#006, John Flanagan, Aphrodite - Swift Runners, 1932
From the collection of John Birks

Numbers Issued: 1,494 bronze, 125 silver

From the Artist:

"This medal gets its inspiration from classical antiquity - the mythology and manners of the Greeks and Romans - expressing two separate ideas in its two faces. The obverse bears the head in smiling profile of 'Aphrodite the Resplendent', the Greek goddess of Love and Beauty. Venus, the Roman counterpart of Aphrodite, has many identical attributes that have been forgotten in the prevalent association with sensual love. Venus was the goddess of family life, of fruitfulness also in gardens and groves, in plants and flowers. The myrtle, the rose and the apple were sacred to her, and as the goddess of Spring the month of April was the month of Venus. Her mythical origin from the sea-foam exalted her as the goddess of the Sea, and her blessing and aid was sought by mariners and fishermen.

The face portrayed on the medals bears a refinement of expression, revealing the finer and more spiritual attributes of the goddess of Love."

The reverse, shows the Swift Runners grasping the torch from the failing hands of the runner exhausted in the race, is derived from the Lampadedromia, the Greek and Roman torch foot-race, in which the light is passed from one runner to the next waiting relay, competing with other lines of racing torch bearers. The torch seen is the familiar fax made up of a bundle of staves bound together, filled with flax, or tow impregnated with inflammable compounds.

The race was first mentioned by Herodotus, and Plato uses the metaphor of handing on the torch of life from one generation to another which Lucretius, the Latin Poet, also employed in his well-known phrase ET QUASI CURSORES VITAI LAMPADAM
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