"The misfortunes that befall men who sleep with Goddesses") in which she tries to warn people (especially men) off from Divine Sex. And we are not talking just any old Divine Sex here, but full-blown horizontal piety with the Goddess of Love Herself, Venus.
There are a great many possible rejoinders to the cautionary tale that Veale tells, but probably the most cogent and to-the-point is: who the fuck cares what the consequences are? I mean, seriously, romantic entanglements with our fellow human beings usually end up very badly, if not downright tragically, but do we let that stop us (and if we do, are we not far worse off for it)?
In fact, if Veale's basic line of argument were to be applied to mortal love, then it would constitute nothing short of blasphemy against Eros. At least that was the conclusion reached by Socrates in Plato's dialogue Phaedrus. In the Phaedrus (see especially 242b-243e) Socrates is at first favorably impressed by the argument that Love is an insidious trap that inevitably leads to bad things like broken heartedness, self-degredation, and so forth. But then, having taken that position, Socrates is suddenly visited by his famous "sign", his personal daemon who always warns him against serious errors of judgement. Suddenly Socrates realizes that he has taken the name of Eros in vain, and must make amends.
The form of "purgation" that Socrates chooses to get right with Eros is to use words of praise as a corrective to his former words of scorn for Love. What follows is simply referred to by classical scholars as "The Great Speech", in which Socrates soars to rhetorical heights perhaps unmatched in all of western literature. For he not only praises Eros, but launches into a fantastic cosmological narrative recounting the journey of the soul throughout all the realms of existence. (If you are not familiar with any of this, a good starting place is the nice summary of the Phaedrus over at the very handy site gradesaver.com.)
Anyhow, if disparaging normal human love, in all it's messiness, disappointment, duplicity, etc, can be construed as blasphemous, then how much worse is the position taken by Veale with respect to Divine Love?
Perhaps an even more fatal flaw in Veale's reasoning is that things really don't turn out so bad for old Anchises (or for Aeneas or Venus, for that matter):
- The son that Venus bore Anchises, Aeneas, later saves his father's life during the sack of Troy.
- When Anchises finally does die, as a contented old man of natural causes, he goes to Elysium.
- Aeneas goes on to be the heroic legendary founder of the city of Rome.
- As the mother of Aeneas, Venus becomes the patron Goddess of the most important civilization in all of western history.
- Although Anchises did suffer a grievous injury from one of Jupiter's thunderbolts, this was only because he broke his promise to Venus to never boast about their special time together.