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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Love Through the Ages 世紀情

Updated: Jan 14

“Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law.” - Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy.

This is some of the most iconic images created at the Venice Carnevale this year, and certainly one of my favourites - Love Thru' the Ages...featuring my friends - the famous costumers and models Arnaldo Febbrini and Daniel Balletti. Their outfits are amongst the best every year and it is not easy to find them for photographs because they are so busy and always very sought after by the best photographers. They are a real life couple and Daniel and me have been speaking for quite a while - 3 years in fact, before we finally had the chance to meet up with each other...but of course after the first meeting, we had quite a few more.

This photo was done at the entrance of a tunnel and using natural lighting alone. As usual, no flash, LED lights or reflectors.

People always think the Venice Carnevale is all about masks, but the local Italians actually prefer painted faces and there are always various sub-categories - Vampires, Historical costumers, Ballerinas etc. I like them all cos they are all very different and full of character. And as always, I like to push boundaries with my travel photos. I go to places, talk to people, get to know the locals and then photograph them. For me, I like to photograph people more than scenery, architecture or animals. And it is always people that make travel much more interesting. My photos need to be different, bold and beautiful. They are my special gifts for my friends. For me, friendships and love have no boundaries and Love Thru the Ages is a picture about beauty, desire, artistic ambitions and fidelity.

The costumes probably depict Nisus and Euryalus. Love or desire between males is a very frequent theme in Roman literature. In the estimation of a modern scholar, Amy Richlin, out of the poems preserved to this day, those addressed by men to boys are as common as those addressed to women.

In Greek and Roman mythology, Nisus (Ancient Greek: Νῖσος Nisos) and Euryalus (/jʊəˈraɪ.ələs/; Εὐρύαλος Eὐrúalos means "broad") are a pair of friends and lovers serving under Aeneas in the Aeneid, the Augustan epic by Virgil. Their foray among the enemy, narrated in Book nine, demonstrates their stealth and prowess as warriors, but ends as a tragedy: the loot Euryalus acquires (a glistening Rutulian helmet) attracts attention, and the two die together. Virgil presents their deaths as a loss of admirable loyalty and valor. They also appear in Book 5, during the funeral games of Anchises, where Virgil takes note of their amor pius, a love that exhibits the pietas that is Aeneas's own distinguishing virtue.

In describing the bonds of devotion between the two men, Virgil draws on conventions of erotic poetry that have suggested a romantic relationship to some, interpreted by scholars in light of the Greek custom of paiderastia.

Nisus and Euryalus are among the refugees who in the aftermath of the Trojan War flee under the leadership of Aeneas, the highest-ranking Trojan to survive. Nisus was the son of Hyrtacus, and was known for his hunting. The family cultivated the huntress-goddess who inhabited Mount Ida. Euryalus, who was younger, has spent his entire life in a state of war and displacement. He was trained as a fighter by his battle-hardened father, Opheltes, of whom he speaks with pride. Opheltes seems to have died at Troy.

After their wanderings around the Mediterranean, the Trojans are fated to land on the shores of Italy. Some members of their party, especially the matres ("mothers"), are settled at Sicily before the Italian war, but the mother of Euryalus refused to be parted from her son and continued on.

Although Nisus and Euryalus are inseparable as a pair in the narrative, each is given a distinct characterization. Nisus is the elder, more experienced man. He is swift and accurate (acerrimus) in the use of projectile weapons, the javelin (iaculum) and arrows.

Euryalus is still young, with the face of a boy (puer) who hasn't started shaving, just old enough to bear arms. He was more beautiful (pulchrior) than any other of Aeneas's men at arms. Euryalus maintains a loving relationship with his mother. He refuses to see her before he leaves on his mission, because he cannot bear her inevitable tears, and yet his first concern amid promises of rich rewards is that she be cared for if he fails to return.

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