Otto van Veen (1556-1629), Allegory of the Temptations of Youth
In the nick of time the goddess of wisdom, Athena, rescues a young man from Venus’ sweet love potion.
Athena helps him rise while stopping the flow of the potion with her other hand. The small Cupid holds the young man’s head and has not yet discovered Athena’s rescue mission. Father Time encroaches besides Venus as if reminding her that the flames of love are fleeting. Poverty is in the process of stripping the young man of his clothes, while Bacchus, the god of wine, eagerly offers up his grapes. Ceres, the goddess of crops, tries to inform Bacchus’ retinue that you cannot live on love and wine alone.
Follow the narrow path of virtue or give in to temptation?
Otto van Veen’s painting is an allegory of the choices we must all make on the journey of life: Should we follow the narrow path of virtue or give in to temptation and a life of debauchery that will eventually catch up with us?