Aphrodite of Knidos (c50). Marble. 200. Copy. The Aphrodite of Knidos was an Ancient Greek sculpture of the goddess Aphrodite created by Praxiteles of Athens around the 4th century BC. It is one of the first life-sized representations of the nude female form in Greek history, displaying an alternative idea to male heroic nudity. Praxiteles' Aphrodite is shown nude, reaching for a bath towel while covering her pubis, which, in turn leaves her breasts exposed. Up until this point, Greek sculpture had been dominated by male nude figures. The original Greek sculpture is no longer in existence; however, many Roman copies survive of this influential work of art. Variants of the Venus Pudica are the Venus de' Medici and the Capitoline Venus. The Aphrodite of Knidos was commissioned as the cult statue for the Temple of Aphrodite at Knidos. It depicted the goddess Aphrodite as she prepared for the ritual bath that restored her purity, discarding her drapery with one hand, while modestly shielding herself with the other. The placement of her hands obscures her pubic area, while simultaneously drawing attention to her exposed upper body. The statue is famed for its beauty, and is designed to be appreciated from every angle. Because the various copies show different body shapes, poses and accessories, the original can only be described in general terms; the body bending in a contrapposto position, an artistic innovation of Greek art which realistically portrays normal human stance, with the head probably turned to the left. Lucian said that she wore a slight smile that just revealed her teeth, although most later copies do not preserve this. The female nude appeared nearly three centuries after the earliest nude male counterparts in Greek sculpture, the kouros; the female kore figures were clothed. The Aphrodite of Knidos established a canon for the proportions of the female nude, and inspired many copies to follow its lead, the best of which is considered to be the Colonna Knidia, which is in the Vatican's Pio-Clementine Museum. A Roman copy, it is not thought to match the polished beauty of the original, which was destroyed in a disastrous fire at Constantinople in CE 475. According to an account by Pliny the Elder, Praxiteles sculpted both a nude statue and a draped statue of Aphrodite. The city of Kos purchased the draped statue, because they felt the nude version was indecent and reflected poorly on their city, while the city of Knidos purchased the nude statue. Pliny claims that the statue brought fame to Knidos. Coins issued in Knidos depicting the statue seem to confirm this claim. Praxiteles was alleged to have used the courtesan Phryne as a model for the statue, which added to the gossip surrounding its origin. The statue became so widely known and copied that in a humorous anecdote the goddess Aphrodite herself came to Knidos to see it. A lyric epigram of Antipater of Sidon places a hypothetical question on the lips of the goddess herself: Paris, Adonis, and Anchises saw me naked, Those are all I know of, but how did Praxiteles contrive it? A similar epigram is attributed to Plato: When Cypris saw Cypris at Cnidus, Alas! said she; where did Praxiteles see me naked? Plato, Epigram XVII The statue became a tourist attraction in spite of being a cult image, and a patron of the Knidians. Nicomedes I of Bithynia offered to pay off the enormous debts of the city of Knidos in exchange for the statue, but the Knidians rejected his offer. The statue would have been polychromed, and was so lifelike that it even aroused men sexually, as witnessed by the tradition that a young man broke into the temple at night and attempted to copulate with the statue, leaving a stain on it. This story is recorded in the dialogue Erotes, traditionally attributed to Lucian of Samosata. The same dialogue also offers the fullest literary description of the temenos of Aphrodite at Knidos: The floor of the court had not been doomed to sterility by a stone pavement, but on the contrary, it burst with fertility, as behooves Aphrodite: fruit trees with verdant foliage rose to prodigious heights, their limbs weaving a lofty vault. The myrtle, beloved by the goddess, reached up its berry-laden branches no less than the other trees which so gracefully stretched out. They never know foliage grown old, their boughs always being thick with leaves. To tell the truth, you can notice among them some infertile trees, but they have beauty as their fruit. Such were the cypress and the planes which towered to the heavens, as well as the tree of Daphnis, who once fled Aphrodite but now has come here to seek refuge.