The week when certain cultural sites in Italy offer free entry occurred while I was last in Venice. Fausto (Alloggi Barbaria) kindly made arrangements for us to join a tour of Ca’ Foscari, which is the main building of the University of Venice, and was part of the cultural week.
The sculpture shown above, is in a small enclosed courtyard within the Palazzo. I found out that this represents Niobe, but I knew nothing about the subject.
My search for information has led me, once again, to the world of Greek mythology, and another example of hubris gone badly awry.
Niobe was the proud mother of six sons and six daughters. (Some sources say seven of each: bad record keeping existed even in those days!) She made the grave error of bragging about this to Leto (the goddess of motherhood), who had only 2 offspring: Apollo and Artemis (Diana). Her pride was punished when Apollo and Artemis killed all of Niobe’s children. Niobe morphed into stone, and that is how we saw her in Ca’Foscari.
So, today’s lesson, boys and girls. Do not brag in the presence of Greek gods and goddesses. Bad things happen!
There is a family connection to the name Niobe. Our father served in the Canadian Navy during the First World War, on HMCS Niobe. My brother has just confirmed that the Niobe was docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia when a munitions ship exploded there in December, 1917. Our father was among those who were involved in the search for survivors, and the clean up, subsequent to the explosion.