I've been to a couple European museums recently, and a question that has been nagging at me is how a society composed of devout Christians could have been so okay with the introduction of pagan gods and goddesses into Western art.
On the surface, it would seem that devoting so many resources to creating statues, busts, paintings, etc., of pagan gods is at least in tension with the Christian commands to not make for oneself a graven image, especially since the gods in question were the symbols of the very religion that played such a big part in fighting the spread of early Christianity. In some cases, it would seem that the art itself walked a very thin line between mere depiction in devotion; at Versailles there is a gazebo literally designated as a "Temple" to Eros. And this obsession with pagan art didn't even stop with the kings; much of this art was commissioned by high-ranking Catholic clergy and still exists in church-owned collections to this day!
I can see why there would be many Christians who simply didn't care. To draw a parallel with today, there are many Christians, even devout Christians, who just don't mind listening to music with explicitly satanic or anti-Christian messages. And if you believe that all the Greek myths are simply false, then of course there seems to be far less risk in obsessing over mythology. But at the same time, alongside these kinds of Christians exist stricter fundamentalist Christians. I grew up in a fundamentalist home, and even with the long tradition of Western art, if my elementary school art teachers had made us paint scenes of Zeus and Hera my mother would have been furiously calling the board of education about this attempt to "paganize" her child. (And both ends of this spectrum can exist even within a single denomination, e.g., Catholicism.)
And so, I guess what surprises me most is that never in any of my history or art classes, did I ever even hear of a movement that stood opposed to the introduction of pagan symbolism in art. I would have expected at least to hear about a movement (albeit an unpopular one) who felt that depicting pagan symbolism in art was a grave sin.
Did such a movement exist? How popular was it? Why was it ultimately unsuccessful?