The Birth of Venus depicts the goddess of Venus (known to Romans as Aphrodite and Middle Easterners as Ashtoreth) arriving at the shore after her birth, when she had emerged from the sea fully-grown. Venus is considered to be the goddess of beauty, desire, sex, fertility and prosperity.
The painting marked a sharp break in the art world, where Christian themes had been the focus of art for over a thousand years. This enormous return to the paganism of ancient Greece, commissioned by Florence’s Medici family, marked the beginning of what is now known as The Renaissance.
In his later life, Botticelli was converted to Catholicism by the friar Girolamo Savonarola. Botticelli burned many of his paintings after being converted, but this painting, possessed by the Medici family was preserved. Savonarola was burned at the stake for his condemnations of Florence.
25 I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness. 26 I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains; one who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her.