Aphrodite: mœurs antiques (Aphrodite: Ancient Morals) was the highly popular 1896 novel that brought Pierre Louÿs to wide public attention. It tells the story of Chrysis, a courtesan, and the sculptor Démétrios, and is the classic theme of spurned love which turns into obsession and punishment, with the underlying message of the limits of mortality. Louÿs originally intended his novel to be published in a limited edition for his friends, but a glowing review by François Coppée in the Mercure de France, helped to no small extent by the libertine scenes scattered throughout the book, turned Aphrodite into a bestseller, inspiring artists, sculptors and composers to produce works based on the novel.

Pierre Letellier’s interpretation of Louÿs’ text for Les Éditions de l’Ibis are very early 1970s, verging on the sensationally lurid, but they do have a certain period charm, and remind those who were young in 1972 of the state of titillating artwork at the time.