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Aphrodite : Goddess of Love and Beauty


Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty

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I. Aphrodite—Birth

a. Aphros—foam; the story from HESIOD is that Aphrodite’s birth occurred from the foam that was upon the sea as a result of Ouranos’ castration. She then floated to the island of Cythera or Cyprus. (hence epithets: Cytherea and Cypris)

b. An alternate myth is that she is the child of Zeus and Dione—this serves our purpose of Olympians 2.0 a bit better. However, nothing but name is known about Dione.

c. The ancients were aware of this double birth tradition and thus, used it to serve their ideas of the duality of love’s nature—that of Aphrodite Urania (Celestial—sacred love) and Aphrodite Pandemos (of the people—profane love)

Aphrodite governs desire and sexuality. She is also known as Cytherea, Cypris, and Venus (Roman). She is often pictured with a sceptre or a mirror.

Aprhodites’ appearance

Due to the duality of the ancient rendering of Aphrodite, she is presented both in art and literature in differing ways. Also, remembering that mythology is oral in nature, clearly, different stories would arise. However, the conception of the love/fertility goddess was fairly universal in the ancient world. The idealized feminine form of sensual beauty was begun by a Greek sculptor named Praxiteles. The Venus de Milo is a copy of one of his works.

II—Aphrodites’ family
Maritus—Hephaestus, the only lame/ugly god

An episode from their marriage—Helius warned Hephaestus of his wife’s adulterous affair with Ares (Mars). Hephaestus trapped the lovers in his own bed and called upon the other gods to witness and ridicule the adulterers.

B. Liberi—
Most famous would be Eros and Aeneas.
Eros has dual birth stories—one is that he is an early cosmic deity, arising soon after creation. However, the second, and more popular story, is that he is the love child of A and A. He is depicted in art in many ways—usually a mischievous young man with bow and arrows; by which he might induce both love and hatred. His golden tipped arrows cause love; his lead tipped ones cause hate. Hence, the story of Apollo and Daphne from Ovid.

Her second famous child is Aeneas, son of Anchises, the Dardanian. She sleeps with him in consequence of her boasting that she has never succumbed to the lusts which other gods have. As a result, she continues to glorify Anchises and work on behalf of both him, his people, and his progeny (Aeneas).

Her lesser well-known children
Priapus (son of Hermes, Dionysus, Pan, Adonis, or Zeus)—a fertility god depicted with a giant and erect phallus.
Hermaphroditus (son of Hermes)—aka Atlantiades or Atlantius (from Atlas, his paternal great-grandpa)—was taken by Salmacis, the river nymph, who immovably clung to him. Hence, he was both male and female. Horrified by this, Hermaphrodites prayed that all who bathed in the Salmacis river become as he—hence, the modern term “hermaphrodite”.

 

Aphrodite pitures, greek goddess

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(1) DIVINE OFFSPRING
ANTEROS The god of reciprocal (or some say, unrequited) love was a son of Ares and Aphrodite.
BEROE The goddess of the city of Beroe (in Lebanon, Asia Minor) was a daughter of Adonis and Aphrodite. She wed the god Poseidon.
DEIMOS The god of fear was a son of Ares and Aphrodite.
EROS The winged boy god of love was a son of Aphrodite and her constant companion. (Some say the father was Ares, others that she was born pregnant with the child).
EROTES, THE The winged godlings of love were sons of Aphrodite.
HARMONIA The goddess of harmony (marital and civic) was a daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, born of their adulterous union. She was married to the mortal Kadmos, founding King of Thebes.
HERMAPHRODITOS The Hermaphroditic godling was a son of Hermes and Aphrodite. His form was merged with that of the Naiad Salmakis to form a creature that was half male and half female.
HIMEROS The god of desire, twin brother of Eros, was a son of Aphrodite. The goddess may have been born pregnant with the pair, giving birth to them as she grew from the sea-foam.
IAKKHOS A god of the Eleusinian Mysteries, often called the Eleusinian Dionysos or Hermes was, according to the Orphic Hymns, a son of Dionysos and Aphrodite.
PEITHO The goddess of persuasion and seduction was sometimes said to be a daughter of Aphrodite. (She was usually, however, described as an Okeanis daughter of Okeanos and Tethys).
PHOBOS The god of panic was a son of Ares and Aphrodite.
POTHOS The god of sexual longing was a son of Aphrodite. He was one of the Erotes.
PRIAPOS The god of garden fertility was a son of Aphrodite by Dionysos, Zeus or Adonis.
RHODOS (aka RHODE) The goddess of the island of Rhodes and wife of Helios was a daughter of Aphrodite and Poseidon.

(2) MORTAL OFFSPRING
AENEAS A Prince of Dardania (near Troy, in Asia Minor) who was born of Aphrodite and Ankhises. He led his people on the side of the Trojans in the Trojan War and later founded the Kingdom of the Latins (Rome).
ASTYNOOS A Prince of Syria (in Asia). He was a son of Aphrodite and Phaethon.
ERYX A King of Sikelia (Sicily, in Southern Italia) who was born of Aphrodite and the Argonaut Boutes.
HEROPHILOS (aka HEROPHILE) One of the sibyls (prophetesses) who was said to be a daughter of Poseidon and Aphrodite.
LYROS A Prince of Dardania (near Troy, in Anatolia) who was born to Aphrodite and Ankhises.

– Episodes
A. The Judgment of Paris/Trojan War
Bribed Paris with promise of Helen.
Was awarded the golden apple.
Saved Paris many times during the ensuing war.
Wounded by Diomedes (while aiding her son, Aeneas) and knocked down by Athena (while aiding Ares)
Did lend Hera her “cestus” (girdle) during the war.
In one lesser known tale, she even allows Achilles and Helen to meet.

 

Aphrodite and Eros, Aphrodite photos, Aphrodite Pictures

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Episodes, cont.
B. Adonis
Orsedice, Laogore, and Braesia, filiae of King Cinyras of Cyprus, caused Aphrodite’s displeasure.
Aph. caused them to lust after strangers.
The 4th daughter, Myrrha, due to her mother’s boast of her beauty being superior to Aph’s, made her lust for her own father. Thus, Adonis born.
Immediately, Aph loved the baby and gave him to Persephone for care. Persephone immediately became enamored of the boy, too.
The two goddesses quarreled, with the resulting judgment, made by the muse Calliope, being that the boy, now a fine young man, spend part of each year with both.
Aphrodite killed Orpheus to spite Calliope for her judgment.
Adonis is lost altogether when killed by a wild boar. Adonis’ blood results in the blood-red anemone.

Cupid and Psyche (as told by the late Roman author Apuleius, in Metamorphoses, a.k.a, The Golden Ass)
-Psyche was the fairest of three daughters. So fair, she incurred the jealousy of Aph.
-Aph orders Cupid to cause Psyche to fall in love with the most vile of creatures—TAMEN, Cupid himself falls for the dame.
-the story is too long to tell here, however, consult Morford and Lenardon, chapter 9, to get all the details. Ultimately, Psyche and Cupid are able to overcome many obstacles and difficulties and “all ends happily ever after”. The result of the union of the two was “Voluptas”—the god Pleasure and Psyche is granted immortality.
-a list of the tasks assigned to Psyche by Aphrodite:
a. Sort a vast quantity of grains in one night (aided by the ants).
b. Bring back the golden wool of some dangerous sheep (aided by a reed, which murmured instructions on how best to get the wool without danger)
c. Retrieve water from a high mountain stream (became Cocytus); faced a dragon to do so. (aided by Jupiter’s eagle)
d. Descend to the underworld and retrieve Persephone’s beauty. (aided in this by a speaking tower and by Cupid, himself, who awakened the girl when her curiosity got the best of her and she looked in upon the box which contained Persephone’s beauty)

REVENGE—Aphrodite was a wench when she was offended

A. Hippolytus, son of Theseus, didn’t worship her.
Step-mom Phaedra (sister of Ariadne) fell in love with him. Caused both their deaths.
Tyndareus, King of Argos, didn’t honor Aph. enough
—caused all 3 of his daughters (Helen, Clytemnestra, and Timandra) to betray their husbands.
Pasiphae
—when Minos didn’t sacrifice the Cretan bull, she developed lust for the bull.
Lemnian women
—same reason. Caused them to stink, resulting in husbands taking foreign wives. Lemnian women kill all men on the island. She relents, finally, to honor her hubby, Hephaestus, and allows Jason and the Argonauts to re-populate the island.
Clio (muse)—fell in love with the mortal Pierus
Eos—fell in love with mortal after mortal (payback for laying with Ares)
Helius—fell in love with Leucothoe (for telling Hephaestus about her and Ares). This indirectly caused Leucothoe’s death.
Glaucus—refused to allow his herd of mares to breed—she caused them to eat their masters alive.

HELP—Aphrodite could be beneficial when she chose
Hippomenes (sometimes Melanion)—aided him in quest for Atalanta by giving him the golden apples. (turned them both into lions, though, when they forgot to thank her)
Pygmalion—heard his pious prayer and turned his creation into a woman (sometimes called Galatea). N.B. Propoetides—the first prostitutes
Adopted the daughters of Pandareus and arranged good marriages for them.
Creusa—rescued her from slavery to the Greeks.
Butes—the Argonaut—aided him in escaping the Sirens’ island.
Ino—pitied her and begged Poseidon’s aid on her behalf.

Epithets

Aphrodite Urania–Aphrodite the heavenly Aphrodite the Golden Aphrodite Kypris–The Aphrodite of Cyprus, the Cytherian Venus Aphrodite Paphos–The Aphrodite of Paphos Aphrodite, Mother of the Mountain Aphrodite, Daughter of Zeus (only appears in epics, contrast with Hesiod in which Aphrodite is born from sea-foam) Aphrodite Philommeides–Laughter-loving Aphrodite Aphrodite Pandemos–Aphrodite, lover of the whole people [partly in the specific sense of Aphrodite being a goddess of prostitution, but also in the sense of an all-embracing love of people as a whole] Aphrodite Polos–Aphrodite, the high-crowned Venus Genetrix–Venus the progenitor [a Roman cult made popular by the Aeneas tradition and Julius Caesar]

Symbols, etc.

Aphrodite was associated with, and often depicted with, the sea, dolphins, doves, swans, pomegranates, apples, myrtle, rose trees, lime trees, clams, scallop shells, and pearls.

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