The doves – and not, commonly, as the doves are believed – represent the highest and eternal level of love, fidelity, constant thought that extends even beyond death, natural and eternal monogamy, not because imposed by moral codes, but because it is perceived as a unique, natural couple relationship.
The dove is the eternity of feeling; the white dove, which represents the marriage bond, both for its own sexual behavior, in reality, and for its being linked to the figure of Venus and of love, tends to represent more the sharpness of feeling – what we would define as falling in love – that the stability of a lasting love.
Over time, the symbolic meanings of the pairs of these birds have been superimposed – with clear attribution of great and lasting sentimental values to white doves – but their symbolic value, although contiguous, is originally very different.
In his Bestiario – a short collection contained in the vast body of the master’s writings – Leonardo da Vinci clearly focuses on the different symbolic emanation that runs between the doves and the doves.
Spiritual Meaning of Doves
The doves represent the eternal fidelity that comes from a high and eternal feeling, fidelity that the master renders with the term of chastity. “Chastity.
The dove never does it to his companion, and if one more, the other observes perpetual chastity, and never lays on a green branch and never drinks clear water “writes Leonardo.
The doves instead represent ingratitude, incest. Ingratitude. The pigeons are similar to ingratitude, because when they are of an age that no longer need to be fed, they begin to fight with their father, and it does not end up as long as he hunts his father and takes away his wife making her his own. ”
The aggressive attitudes, up to inflict the death of the companion or of the partner, beyond the ancient and authoritative testimony, have been observed also by who writes this brief note.
A beautiful pair of white pigeons, purchased as long as they made the garden lively with the cheerful, beautiful free flights that always ended with the return to the small dovecote house, built, with twigs and feathers, a cozy nest, in which he laid and tended an egg that unfolded and from which a female came out.
When the dove got bigger, she and her father mortally blinded her mother and formed a new couple.
Agnolo Bronzino, Allegory of the Triumph of Venus, circa 1540-1545, oil on panel, 146×116 cm, London, National Gallery. The table was donated by Cosimo I de ‘Medici to King Francis I of France, as Duchy of Tuscany weaved strategic alliances to avoid being annexed to the empire of Charles V.
For this he tried to ingratiate himself with France by sending precious gifts like this while, to form an alliance with Spain, Cosimo I married the daughter of the viceroy of Naples, Eleonora di Toledo; to ingratiate himself with the papacy he finally gave Pius V Pietro Carnesecchi, a close friend of his heresy who ended up burned at the stake.
In the nineteenth century the Venus pubis was hidden by the pictorial appearance of a yellow cloth, while Cupid’s buttocks were hidden by the over-painting of a branch of myrtle, removed during the twentieth century during a restoration. Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz offer for the first time the literary sources and the appropriate meaning of the painting.
Pair of Doves – Symbolism
The ancients therefore called the doves “birds of Venus”, because they attend assiduously the nest and stimulate the love of the companion with tender touches of beak (kisses), but they were also chaste, because they mate with a single partner.
In Roman iconography, the soul of man was a dove that descended from Aphrodite to animate the body, and it was always a dove representing the soul returning to the divine after death.
From this image, Christians would have derived the belief that the souls of saints were transformed at the time of the departure in white doves that, coming out of their mouths, took flight towards the sky.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition the amorous-passionate element, which until then had coexisted with the religious dimension, is still traceable but becomes more and more a symbol of divine love.
An example is found in the verses of the Song of Songs: “how beautiful you are, my friend, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are doves, behind your veil “and in another place:” his eyes like doves on streams of water “.
In the catacombs of the early Christians the dove represented the peace and serenity of the soul, and the same niches in which the dead were placed were called columbaria and were decorated with images of these birds.
Biblical sources probably also indicate the identification of the dove with forgiveness: Genesis tells us that Noah, from his ark, let go of a dove, and that it returned with an olive branch in its mouth, indicating that the Flood Universal had come to an end and that men, forgiven by God, were again admitted to Earth. In general, the dove is still today associated with innocence, tenderness and purity.
Dove meaning in Cultures
In the common culture and tradition, the Dove represents purity, rectitude and peace (both material and spiritual).
In the Phoenician language the word dove also means priest and was already venerated by the Assyrian people because, in their belief, it was said that the soul of Queen Semiramis had gone to heaven taking the form of this bird.
The Persians, on the other hand, considered the ominous white doves because they believed that the Sun hated these birds. In Greek mythology the dove was the bird consecrated to the goddess Venus who, it is said, carried it in one hand and attached it to her gig. From the tales of Homer, it is clear that the great god Jupiter was fed by two doves.
Tiberius Cazio Asconio Silio Italico, a Roman poet presumably born around 25 AD, says that once two doves, having rested in the city of Thebes, split into flight: one (which according to Filostrato was gold) headed for the city of Dodona in Greece, where he conferred an oak tree to pronounce oracles, the other went to Libya and, after having settled among the horns of a ram, he gave oracles to the peoples of Marmarica.
Pair of Doves – Meaning
The white dove since ancient times has been associated with an intense symbolism common to different eras and cultures.
The fact that the doves form stable and faithful couples that last a lifetime has made these animals the ideal symbol of conjugal fidelity and marriage.
But the antiquity of the relationship between man and dove meant that the latter was associated from the beginning to a rich and diversified symbolism, becoming part of a number of rites of passage and religious rituals.
The proverbial fertility of the doves made them associate first of all to the Mother Goddess, the Great Mother or Queen of Heaven.
In ancient times, the peoples of the Mediterranean and the Near East represented the Goddess of Fertility, mother and nurse, always accompanied by these birds.
The doves were venerated by the Goddess of Fertility of the Semites, Astarte, and symbolized the Babylonian Semiramide. The Goddess of Fertility of the Cypriots – later associated with Aphrodite or Venus, Goddess of Love and Beauty – rises from the sea after having been born from an egg hatched from a dove.
The Greeks (for which, among other things, the dove was a sacred animal to Hecate and Apollo) represented Aphrodite herself as a dove, and the Romans sacrificed these birds to Venus Columba, Goddess of Love and Fertility. For the poet Ovid, the chariot of Venus is pulled by doves.
The dove was therefore the representative animal of Aphrodite, and as such it was the bird of passion, and at the same time it was a symbol of chastity and carnal love, as well as of female sexual anatomy (even in Indian culture the dove represents the sexual desire).
The origin of this additional symbolic meaning is due to the fact that doves were often sacrificed in temples (also because they were less expensive than other domestic animals …) to obtain purification and expiation of sins and in the Holy Scriptures is often present next to the lamb, another sacrificial animal.