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Aphrodite (Ἀφροδίτη) is the Greek Goddess of love, lust, desire, sex, sexuality, pleasure, happiness, joy, passion, fertility, procreation, prostitution and beauty. She is identified with the planet Venus, which is named after the Roman goddess Venus, with whom Aphrodite was extensively syncretized. Aphrodite's major symbols include myrtles, roses, doves, sparrows, and swans.

The cult of Aphrodite was largely derived from that of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, a cognate of the East Semitic goddess Ishtar, whose cult was based on the Sumerian cult of Inanna. Aphrodite's main cult centers were Cythera, Cyprus, Corinth, and Athens. Her main festival was the Aphrodisia, which was celebrated annually in midsummer. In Laconia, Aphrodite was worshipped as a warrior goddess. She was also the patron goddess of prostitutes, an association which led early scholars to propose the concept of "sacred prostitution", an idea which is now generally seen as erroneous. [1]

In Mythology

Birth

In Hesiod's Theogony, Aphrodite is born off the coast of Cythera from the foam (aphrós) produced by Uranus's genitals, which his son Cronus has severed and thrown into the sea. In Homer's Iliad, however, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Plato, in his Symposium 180e, asserts that these two origins actually belong to separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania (a transcendent, "Heavenly" Aphrodite) and Aphrodite Pandemos (Aphrodite common to "all the people"). Aphrodite had many other epithets, each emphasizing a different aspect of the same goddess, or used by a different local cult. Thus she was also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus), because both locations claimed to be the place of her birth There she met the three Horai (season goddesses), who clothed her in a beautiful white dress, a delicate golden crown, golden earrings, and a golden necklace, and subsequently escorted her to Mount Olympus.

Due to her incredible beauty, Aphrodite caused a lot of problems on Olympus when she first arrived. While Zeus, Poseidon, Ares, Apollo, and Hermes all instantly wanted her for themselves, Hephaestus didn't participate in the commotion, and instead sat in the shadows, quiet and dejected, knowing that his ugliness stripped him of any chance of competing for the gorgeous Aphrodite. Hera, feeling that her godly family was about to unravel, was determined to prevent that, and hastily ordered the other Olympians to silence themselves. As the goddess of marriage, she felt an obligation to pick the perfect husband for the new goddess and proclaimed that such a perfect match was her son Hephaestus, much to Ares' and Aphrodite's dismay. Hephaestus himself was so surprised that he fell off of his throne. Athena was quick to agree with Hera as well, pointing out that if Aphrodite were to marry anyone else, all of the other male gods would never stop fighting about it, while it would be nearly impossible for them to be jealous of Hephaestus. Hence, Zeus married both of them right then and there, with Hephaestus promising to be a loving husband.

She would later have her husband forge her a magical golden girdle, which made her completely irresistible to anyone she fancied. Hera would borrow it from her on at least one occasion, to make amends with Zeus after a particularly unpleasant argument or if she ever wanted something from him. [2]

Appearance

Aphrodite is described as being extremely beautiful, gorgeous, physically perfect and stunning in appearance. Aphrodite always adorned herself with many jewelries. She often wore an elegant and revealing clothes and often accompanied by her nymphs, retinues, servant or her childrens. Many times in art, she is shown completely or partially naked.

Family

Immortal Offspring

With Ares

With Dionysus

With Hermes

  • Hermaphroditus

All of the gods fell in love with Aphrodite at first sight. Because of his guilt and to avoid trouble, Zeus gave her hand in marriage to his son, Hephaestus. Because she wanted to continue her life with the gods, Aphrodite agreed to the marriage. However, all she saw when she looked at Hephaestus was a sweaty, dull fellow who worked entirely too many hours. Aphrodite was a creature who loved passion, glamour, and physical beauty. She would have much rather married someone like Hephaestus’ brother, Ares, the god of war. When she looked at him, she saw physical beauty and excitement, quite the contrary to his boring and ugly brother. 

Worship

In ancient Greece, Aphrodite was worshiped with incense altars and dove sacrifices.[3]

Gallery

Image gallery of Aphrodite

See also

External links

Citations

  1. (Hamilton 1998, p. 33)
  2. (Hamilton 1998, p. 33)
  3. (Burkert 1985, p. 153)

References