The Venus symbol (♀) is a depiction of a circle with a small cross below it. It originates in Late Antiquity as an astrological symbol for the planet Venus (associated with the goddess Venus), and hence as alchemical symbol for copper. In modern times, it is still used as the astronomical symbol for Venus, although its use is discouraged by the International Astronomical Union. In zoology and botany, it is used to represent the female sex (alongside the astrological symbol for Mars representing the male sex), following a convention introduced by Linnaeus in the 1750s. Following the biological convention, the symbol in the 20th century[year needed] also came to be used in sociological contexts to represent women or femininity.
The written symbols for Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn have been traced to forms found in late Greek papyri. According to A. S. D. Maunder, antecedents of the planetary symbols were used in art to represent the gods associated with the classical planets; Bianchini's planisphere, produced in the 2nd century, shows Greek personifications of planetary gods charged with early versions of the planetary symbols: Mercury has a caduceus; Venus has, attached to her necklace, a cord connected to another necklace; Mars, a spear; Jupiter, a staff; Saturn, a scythe; the Sun, a circlet with rays radiating from it; and the Moon, a headdress with a crescent attached. A diagram in Johannes Kamateros' 12th century Compendium of Astrology shows the symbol without the cross-mark. According to Maunder, the addition of crosses appears to be "an attempt to give a savour of Christianity to the symbols of the old pagan gods."
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- The IAU Style Manual (PDF). 1989. p. 27.
- Stearn, William T. (May 1962). "The Origin of the Male and Female Symbols of Biology". Taxon. 11 (4): 109–113. doi:10.2307/1217734. "In his Systema Naturae (Leyden, 1735) he [Linnaeus] used them with their traditional associations for metals. Their first biological use is in the Linnaean dissertation Plantae hybridae xxx sistit J. J. Haartman (1751) where in discussing hybrid plants Linnaeus denoted the supposed female parent species by the sign ♀, the male parent by the sign ♂, the hybrid by ☿ 'matrem signo ♀, patrem ♂ & plantam hybridam ☿ designavero'. In subsequent publications he retained the signs ♀ and ♂ for male and female individuals but discarded ☿ for hybrids; the last are now indicated by the multiplication sign ×. Linnaeus's first general use of the signs of ♀ and ♂ was in his Species Plantarum (1753) written between 1746 and 1752 and surveying concisely the whole plant kingdom as then known." (p. 110)
- Jones, Alexander (1999). Astronomical papyri from Oxyrhynchus. pp. 62–63. ISBN 0-87169-233-3.
- "Bianchini's planisphere". Florence, Italy: Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza (Institute and Museum of the History of Science). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- Maunder, A. S. D. (1934). "The origin of the symbols of the planets". The Observatory. 57: 238–247. Bibcode:1934Obs....57..238M.
- In the official code chart glossed " = Venus = alchemical symbol for copper → 1F469 👩 woman → 1F6BA 🚺 womens symbol".
- Falun was the site of a copper mine from at least the 13th century. A coat of arms including a copper sign is recorded for 1642; the current design dates to the early 20th century, and was given official recognition in 1932. It was slightly simplified upon the formation of the modern municipality in 1971 (registered with the Swedish Patent and Registration Office. in 1988).
- Claimed to have been designed by Robin Morgan in the 1960s. "Morgan designed the universal logo of the women’s movement, the woman’s symbol centered with a raised fist" (robinmorgan.net)