Pygmalion Re-visited

On the island of Cyprus lived a renowned sculptor.  He had been gifted with the ability to carve stone in any form he could imagine.  Kings, princes, and generals would send emissaries asking for his services.  He made many likenesses of famous people, but also animals, trees, and gods to adorn the temples and public squares.  So wedded to his art was he that the sculptor never married.  This is not to say that he never became lonely, he just never had time for a companion.

In the city in which he lived there also lived a woman who caught his eye more than once.  He would see her in the streets when he left his workshop to visit the marketplace.  Eventually he ceased to see her and made a few inquiries.  He discovered that she had left the city to care for an ailing relative in another city.

The sculptor was so brokenhearted at this that he decided to make a sculpture of her.  Being a gifted artist he easily created a sculpture of her from memory.  The stone he used was snow white alabaster.  In the process he took certain liberties to draw out the intrinsic beauty he had seen in her.  Aside from these it was essentially an exact replica of her and life sized.

When he had finished he became enraptured by the likeness of his love that he created.  He set up the sculpture in a prominent place in his workshop so that he could look at it every day.  There were many other beautiful women left in the city, but he figured that he had the likeness of the most beautiful of them all in his workshop.  In time he began to fall in love with the sculpture he had made.  Sometimes he would talk to her, knowing of course that she could not answer him, but delighting in the beauty he has made, so realistic and lifelike was it.  He gave her the name Pygmalion.

 A year later the woman’s relative died and she moved back to the city.  The sculptor didn’t recognize her the first time he saw her in the street.  He had become so accustomed to looking at her likeness that he no longer recognized her.  When he did realize that she had returned he began to compare her with his sculpture of her.  In his mind his image of her was much superior to the real thing.  He began to avoid going out into the streets because seeing her was such a disappointment.  She clearly did not measure up to his excellent Pygmalion.

As a consequence he spent more with Pygmalion.  It grieved him that his sculpture was not alive.  He often begged the gods that she would become real, for he was so lonely in his workshop all alone.  Many times he poured out his tears to them and offered sacrifices in hopes that they would grant his prayers.  However, the gods were as silent as his dear Pygmalion.  He could not understand why they should not give life to this beauty that he had created, for she was very beautiful.

In the end he cursed the gods for their silence.  If they did not care about Pygmalion, and why should they not, then he would love her as she deserved.  He invested his fortune in wonderful clothes for her.  He indulged on buying rich food and drink for her.  The sculptor knew she could never eat it, but why should she be denied something that any worthy human being should have and she was more so.  In fact, anything which an honored person should have he did not deny her.  His every whim was hers.  When her snow white skin became tarnished he was careful to clean her.  At night he moved her into his room for fear that someone would steal his beauty.  As you can imagine taking care of her took a lot of his time and kept him from much of his sculpting.  He was forced to give up many projects which were offered to him.  His money began to drain, not to mention the cost of buying things for Pygmalion.

Fifteen years later the gifted sculptor died penniless.  He did not die alone however.  His loyal Pygmalion was there to watch him die.  When moving her into the workshop in the morning he stumbled over a stone.  The statue started to fall and he dove to save it.  She repaid him by falling on his neck and breaking it.  The gods saw from heaven and had no pity.


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