Aphrodite (/æfrəˈdaɪti/ ( listen) af-rə-DY-tee; Greek:
Ἀφροδίτη Aphrodítē) is the ancient Greek goddess of love,
beauty, pleasure, and procreation. 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
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.
In Hesiod's Theogony,
Aphrodite is born off the coast of Cythera from
the foam (aphros) 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 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), due to the fact that
both locations claimed to be the place of her birth.
In Greek mythology,
Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, the god of
blacksmiths and metalworking. Despite this,
Aphrodite was frequently
unfaithful to him and had many lovers; in the Odyssey, she is caught
in the act of adultery with Ares, the god of war. In the First Homeric
Hymn to Aphrodite, she seduces the mortal shepherd Anchises. Aphrodite
was also the surrogate mother and lover of the mortal shepherd Adonis,
who was killed by a wild boar. Along with
Athena and Hera, Aphrodite
was one of the three goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of
Trojan War and she plays a major role throughout the Iliad.
Aphrodite has been featured in western art as a symbol of female
beauty and has appeared in numerous works of western literature. She
is a major deity in modern Neopagan religions, including the Church of
Aphrodite, Wicca, and Hellenismos.
2.1 Near Eastern love goddess
2.2 Indo-European dawn goddess
3 Forms and epithets
4.1 Classical period
4.2 Hellenistic and Roman periods
5.2 Among the gods
5.3 Mortal lovers
5.4 Divine favoritism
5.5 Anger myths
5.6 Judgment of Paris and Trojan War
6 Consorts and children
7.2 Representations in classical art
8 Post-classical culture
8.1 Middle Ages
8.4 Modern worship
9 See also
12 External links
Aphrodite from aphrós (ἀφρός) "sea-foam",
interpreting the name as "risen from the foam", but most modern
scholars regard this as a spurious folk etymology. Early modern
scholars of classical mythology attempted to argue that Aphrodite's
name was of Greek or Indo-European origin, but these efforts have
now been mostly abandoned. Aphrodite's name is generally accepted
to be of non-Greek, probably Semitic, origin, but its exact
derivation cannot be determined.
Scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
accepting Hesiod's "foam" etymology as genuine, analyzed the second
part of Aphrodite's name as *-odítē "wanderer" or *-dítē
"bright". Michael Janda, also accepting Hesiod's etymology, has
argued in favor of the latter of these interpretations and
claims the story of a birth from the foam as an Indo-European
mytheme. Likewise, Witczak proposes an Indo-European compound
*abʰor- "very" and *dʰei- "to shine", also referring to Eos.
Other scholars have argued that these hypotheses are unlikely since
Aphrodite's attributes are entirely different from those of both Eos
Vedic deity Ushas.
A number of improbable non-Greek etymologies have also been suggested.
One Semitic etymology compares
Aphrodite to the Assyrian barīrītu,
the name of a female demon that appears in Middle Babylonian and Late
Babylonian texts. Hammarström looks to Etruscan, comparing
(e)prϑni "lord", an Etruscan honorific loaned into Greek as
πρύτανις. This would make the theonym in origin an
honorific, "the lady". Most scholars reject this etymology as
implausible, especially since
Aphrodite actually appears
in Etruscan in the borrowed form Apru (from Greek Aphrō, clipped form
Etymologicum Magnum (c. 1150) offers a highly contrived
Aphrodite from the compound habrodíaitos
(ἁβροδίαιτος), "she who lives delicately", from habrós
and díaita. The alteration from b to ph is explained as a "familiar"
characteristic of Greek "obvious from the Macedonians".
Near Eastern love goddess
Late second-millennium BC nude figurine of
Ishtar from Susa, showing
her wearing a crown and clutching her breasts
Early fifth-century BC statue of
Aphrodite from Cyprus, showing her
wearing a cylinder crown and holding a dove
The cult of
Greece was imported from, or at least
influenced by, the cult of
Astarte in Phoenicia,
which, in turn, was influenced by the cult of the Mesopotamian goddess
known as "Ishtar" to the
East Semitic peoples and as "Inanna" to the
Sumerians. Pausanias states that the first to establish a
Aphrodite were the Assyrians, after the Assyrians, the
Paphians of Cyprus, and then the Phoenicians at Ascalon. The
Phoenicians, in turn, taught her worship to the people of Cythera.
Aphrodite took on Inanna-Ishtar's associations with sexuality and
procreation. Furthermore, she was known as Ourania
(Οὐρανία), which means "heavenly", a title corresponding
to Inanna's role as the Queen of Heaven. Early artistic and
literary portrayals of
Aphrodite are extremely similar on
Inanna-Ishtar. Like Inanna-Ishtar,
Aphrodite was also a warrior
goddess; the second-century AD Greek geographer Pausanias
records that, in Sparta,
Aphrodite was worshipped as
which means "warlike". He also mentions that Aphrodite's most
ancient cult statues in
Sparta and on Cythera showed her bearing
arms. Modern scholars note that Aphrodite's
warrior-goddess aspects appear in the oldest strata of her worship
and see it as an indication of her Near Eastern origins.
Nineteenth century classical scholars had a general aversion to the
idea that ancient Greek religion was at all influenced by the cultures
of the Near East, but, even Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker, who argued
that Near Eastern influence on Greek culture was largely confined to
material culture, admitted that
Aphrodite was clearly of
Phoenician origin. The significant influence of Near Eastern
culture on early Greek religion in general, and on the cult of
Aphrodite in particular, is now widely recognized as dating to a
period of orientalization during the eighth century BC, when
Greece was on the fringes of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
Indo-European dawn goddess
Some early comparative mythologists opposed to the idea of a Near
Eastern origin argued that
Aphrodite originated as an aspect of the
Greek dawn goddess Eos and that she was therefore ultimately
derived from the Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess *Haéusōs (properly
Greek Eos, Latin Aurora, Sanskrit Ushas). Most modern scholars
have now rejected the notion of a purely Indo-European
Aphrodite, but it is possible that Aphrodite,
originally a Semitic deity, may have been influenced by the
Indo-European dawn goddess. Both
Eos were known for
their erotic beauty and aggressive sexuality and both had
relationships with mortal lovers. Both goddesses were associated
with the colors red, white, and gold. Michael Janda etymologizes
Aphrodite's name as an epithet of
Eos meaning "she who rises from the
foam [of the ocean]" and points to Hesiod's
Theogony account of
Aphrodite's birth as an archaic reflex of Indo-European myth.
Aphrodite rising out of the waters after
Cronus defeats Uranus as a
mytheme would then be directly cognate to the Rigvedic myth of Indra
defeating Vrtra, liberating Ushas. Another key similarity
Aphrodite and the Indo-European dawn goddess is her close
kinship to the Greek sky deity, since both of the main claimants
to her paternity (
Zeus and Uranus) are sky deities.
Forms and epithets
Aphrodite Ourania, draped rather than nude, with her foot resting on a
tortoise (Musée du Louvre)
Ancient Greek herm of Aphroditus, a male form of
Aphrodite, currently held in the
See also: Category:Epithets of Aphrodite
Aphrodite's most common cultic epithet was Ourania, meaning
"heavenly", but this epithet almost never occurs in literary
texts, indicating a purely cultic significance. Another common
Aphrodite was Pandemos ("For All the Folk"). In her role
Aphrodite was associated with Peithō
(Πείθω), meaning "persuasion", and could be prayed to for aid
in seduction. Plato, in his Symposium, argues that Aphrodite
Aphrodite Pandemos are, in fact, separate goddesses. He
Aphrodite Ourania is the celestial Aphrodite, born from
the sea foam after
Cronus castrated Uranus, and the older of the two
goddesses. According to the Symposium,
Aphrodite Ourania is the
inspiration of male homosexual desire, specifically the ephebic eros.
Aphrodite Pandemos, by contrast, is the younger of the two goddesses:
the common Aphrodite, born from the union of
Zeus and Dione, and the
inspiration of heterosexual desire, the "lesser" of the two
Among the Neoplatonists and, later, their Christian interpreters,
Aphrodite Ourania is associated with spiritual love, and Aphrodite
Pandemos with physical love (desire). A representation of Aphrodite
Ourania with her foot resting on a tortoise came to be seen as
emblematic of discretion in conjugal love; it was the subject of a
chryselephantine sculpture by
Phidias for Elis, known only from a
parenthetical comment by the geographer Pausanias.
One of Aphrodite's most common literary epithets is Philommeidḗs
(φιλομμειδής), which means "smile-loving", but is
sometimes mistranslated as "laughter-loving". This epithet occurs
throughout both of the Homeric epics and the First Homeric Hymn to
Hesiod references it once in his
Theogony in the
context of Aphrodite's birth, but interprets it as
"genital-loving" rather than "smile-loving". Monica Cyrino notes
that the epithet may relate to the fact that, in many artistic
depictions of Aphrodite, she is shown smiling. Other common
literary epithets are Cypris and Cythereia, which derive from her
associations with the islands of
Cyprus and Cythera respectively.
Aphrodite was sometimes called Eleemon ("the
merciful"). In Athens, she was known as
Aphrodite en kopois
Aphrodite of the Gardens"). At Cape Colias, a town along the
Attic coast, she was venerated as Genetyllis ("the mother"). The
Spartans worshipped her as Potnia ("the Mistress"), Enoplios ("the
armed"), Morpho ("the shapely"), Ambologera ("she who postpones old
age"). Across the Greek world, she was known under epithets such
as Melainis ("the Black One"), Skotia ("the Dark One"), Androphonos
("the Killer of Men"), Anosia ("the Unholy"), and Tymborychos ("the
gravedigger"), all of which indicate her darker, more violent
A male version of
Aphrodite known as
Aphroditus was worshipped in the
Amathus on Cyprus.
Aphroditus was depicted with
the figure and dress of a woman, but had a full beard,
and was shown lifting his dress to reveal an erect phallus.
This gesture was believed to be an apotropaic symbol, and was
thought to convey good fortune upon the viewer. Eventually, the
Aphroditus waned as the mainstream, fully feminine
Aphrodite became more popular, but traces of his cult
are preserved in the later legends of Hermaphroditus.
Ruins of the temple of
Aphrodite at Aphrodisias
Aphrodite's main festival, the Aphrodisia, was celebrated across
Greece, but particularly in
Athens and Corinth. In Athens, the
Aphrodisia was celebrated on the fourth day of the month of
Hekatombaion in honor of Aphrodite's role in the unification of
Attica. During this festival, the priests of
purify the temple of
Aphrodite Pandemos on the southwestern slope of
the Acropolis with the blood of a sacrificed dove. Next, the
altars would be anointed and the cult statues of Aphrodite
Peitho would be escorted in a magestic procession to a
place where they would be ritually bathed.
Aphrodite was also
Athens as part of the
Arrhephoria festival. The fourth
day of every month was sacred to Aphrodite.
Pausanias records that, in Sparta,
Aphrodite was worshipped as
Aphrodite Areia, which means "warlike". This epithet stresses
Aphrodite's connections to Ares, with whom she had extramarital
relations. Pausanias also records that, in Sparta and
on Cythera, a number of extremely ancient cult statues of Aphrodite
portrayed her bearing arms. Other cult statues showed her
bound in chains.
Aphrodite was the patron goddess of prostitutes of all
varieties, ranging from pornai (cheap street prostitutes
typically owned as slaves by wealthy pimps) to hetairai (expensive,
well-educated hired companions, who were usually self-employed and
sometimes provided sex to their customers). The city of Corinth
was renowned throughout the ancient world for its many hetairai,
who had a widespread reputation for being among the most skilled, but
also the most expensive, prostitutes in the Greek world. Corinth
also had a major temple to
Aphrodite located on the Acrocorinth
and was one of the main centers of her cult. Records of numerous
Aphrodite made by successful courtesans have survived
in poems and in pottery inscriptions. References to
association with prostitution are found in
Corinth as well as on the
islands of Cyprus, Cythera, and Sicily. Aphrodite's Mesopotamian
Ishtar was also closely associated with
Scholars in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries believed that the
Aphrodite may have involved ritual prostitution, an
assumption based on ambiguous passages in certain ancient texts,
particularly a fragment of a skolion by the Boeotian poet Pindar,
which mentions prostitutes in
Corinth in association with
Aphrodite. Modern scholars now dismiss the notion of ritual
Greece as a "historiographic myth" with no factual
Hellenistic and Roman periods
Greek relief from Aphrodisias, depicting a Roman-influenced Aphrodite
sitting on a throne holding an infant while the shepherd Anchises
stands beside her. Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA.
During the Hellenistic Period, the
the ancient Egyptian goddesses
Hathor and Isis. Aphrodite
was the patron goddess of the Lagid queens and Queen Arsinoe II
was identified as her mortal incarnation.
Aphrodite was worshipped
in Alexandria and had numerous temples in and around the city.
Arsinoe II introduced the cult of
Alexandria and many of the
women there partook in it. The Tessarakonteres, a gigantic
catamaran galley designed by
Archimedes for Ptolemy IV Philopator, had
a circular temple to
Aphrodite on it with a marble statue of the
goddess herself. In the second century BC, Ptolemy VIII Physcon
and his wives Cleopatra II and Cleopatra III dedicated a temple to
Hathor at Philae. Statuettes of
Aphrodite for personal
devotion became common in Egypt starting in the early Ptolemaic times
and extending until long after Egypt became a Roman province.
The ancient Romans identified
Aphrodite with their goddess Venus,
who was originally a goddess of agricultural fertility, vegetation,
and springtime. According to the Roman historian Livy, Aphrodite
Venus were officially identified in the third century BC when
the cult of
Venus Erycina was introduced to Rome from the Greek
Aphrodite on Mount
Eryx in Sicily. After this point,
Romans adopted Aphrodite's iconography and myths and applied them to
Aphrodite was the mother of the Trojan hero Aeneas
in Greek mythology and Roman tradition claimed
Aeneas as the
founder of Rome,
Venus became venerated as
Venus Genetrix, the
mother of the entire Roman nation.
Julius Caesar claimed to be
directly descended from Aeneas's son Iulus and became a strong
proponent of the cult of Venus. This precedent was later followed
by his nephew
Augustus and the later emperors claiming succession from
This syncretism greatly impacted Greek worship of Aphrodite.
During the Roman era, the cults of
Aphrodite in many Greek cities
began to emphasize her relationship with
Troy and Aeneas. They
also began to adopt distinctively Roman elements, portraying
Aphrodite as more maternal, more militaristic, and more concerned with
administrative bureaucracy. She was claimed as a divine guardian
by many political magistrates. Appearances of
Aphrodite in Greek
literature also vastly proliferated, usually showing
Aphrodite in a
characteristically Roman manner.
Early fourth-century BC Attic pottery vessel in the shape of Aphrodite
inside a shell from the
Phanagoria cemetery in the Taman Peninsula
Petra tou Romiou
Petra tou Romiou ("The rock of the Greek"), Aphrodite's legendary
birthplace in Paphos, Cyprus
Aphrodite is usually said to have been born near her chief center of
worship, Paphos, on the island of Cyprus, which is why she is
sometimes called "Cyprian", especially in the poetic works of Sappho.
However, other versions of her myth have her born near the island of
Cythera, hence another of her names, "Cytherea". Cythera was a
stopping place for trade and culture between
Crete and the
Peloponesus, so these stories may preserve traces of the migration
of Aphrodite's cult from the Middle East to mainland Greece.
According to the version of her birth recounted by
Hesiod in his
Cronus severed Uranus' genitals and threw them behind
him into the sea. The foam from his genitals gave rise to
Aphrodite (hence her name, which
Hesiod interprets as
"foam-arisen"), while the Giants, the
Erinyes (furies), and the
Meliae emerged from the drops of his blood.
Hesiod states that
the genitals "were carried over the sea a long time, and white foam
arose from the immortal flesh; with it a girl grew." Hesiod's account
of Aphrodite's birth following Uranus's castration is probably derived
from The Song of Kumarbi, an ancient Hittite epic poem in
which the god
Kumarbi overthrows his father Anu, the god of the sky,
and bites off his genitals, causing him to become pregnant and give
birth to Anu's children, which include
Ishtar and her brother Teshub,
the Hittite storm god.
In the Iliad,
Aphrodite is described as the daughter of
Dione. Dione's name appears to be a feminine cognate to Dios and
Dion, which are oblique forms of the name Zeus.
Zeus and Dione
shared a cult at
Dodona in northwestern Greece. In Theogony, Hesiod
describes Dione as an Oceanid.
Among the gods
First-century AD Roman fresco of Mars and
Venus from Pompeii
Aphrodite is consistently portrayed as a nubile, infinitely desirable
adult, having had no childhood. She is often depicted nude. In
Aphrodite is the apparently unmarried consort of Ares, the
god of war, and the wife of
Hephaestus is a different goddess
named Charis. Likewise, in Hesiod's Theogony,
unmarried and the wife of
Hephaestus is Aglaea, the youngest of the
In Book Eight of the Odyssey, however, the blind singer Demodocus
Aphrodite as the wife of Hephaestus and tells how she
committed adultery with
Ares during the Trojan War. The
Ares having sex in Hephaestus's
bed and warned Hephaestus, who fashioned a net of gold.
The next time
Aphrodite had sex together, the net trapped
Hephaestus brought all the gods into the bedchamber to
laugh at the captured adulterers, but Apollo, Hermes, and Poseidon
had sympathy for Ares and
Poseidon agreed to pay
Ares's release. Humiliated,
Aphrodite returned to Cyprus,
where she was attended by the Charites. This narrative probably
originated as a Greek folk tale, originally independent of the
Later stories were invented to explain Aphrodite's marriage to
Hephaestus. In the most famous story,
Zeus hastily married Aphrodite
Hephaestus in order to prevent the other gods from fighting over
her. In another version of the myth,
Hephaestus gave his mother
Hera a golden throne, but, when she sat on it, she became trapped
and he refused to let her go until she agreed to give him Aphrodite's
hand in marriage.
Hephaestus was overjoyed to be married to the
goddess of beauty, and forged her beautiful jewelry, including a
strophion known as the kestos imas, a saltire-shaped undergarment
(usually translated as "girdle"), which accentuated her
breasts and made her even more irresistible to men. Such
strophia were commonly used in depictions of the Near Eastern
Ishtar and Atargatis.
Aphrodite is almost always accompanied by Eros, the god of lust and
sexual desire. In his Theogony,
Eros as one of
the four original primeval forces born at the beginning of time,
but, after the birth of
Aphrodite from the sea foam, he is joined by
Himeros and, together, they become Aphrodite's constant
companions. In early Greek art,
Himeros are both shown
as idealized handsome youths with wings. The Greek lyric poets
regarded the power of
Himeros as dangerous, compulsive, and
impossible for anyone to resist. In modern times,
Eros is often
seen as Aphrodite's son, but this is actually a comparatively
late innovation. A scholion on Theocritus's Idylls remarks that
the sixth-century BC poetess
Sappho had described
Eros as the son of
Aphrodite and Uranus, but the first surviving reference to Eros
as Aphrodite's son comes from Apollonius of Rhodes's Argonautica,
written in the third century BC, which makes him the son of Aphrodite
and Ares. Later, the Romans, who saw
Venus as a mother goddess,
seized on this idea of
Eros as Aphrodite's son and popularized
it, making it the predominant portrayal in works on mythology
until the present day.
Aphrodite's main attendants were the three Charites, whom Hesiod
identifies as the daughters of
Zeus and Eurynome and names as Aglaea
("Splendor"), Euphrosyne ("Good Cheer"), and Thalia
Charites had been worshipped as goddesses in
Greece since the beginning of Greek history, long before
introduced to the pantheon. Aphrodite's other set of attendants
was the three
Horae (the "Hours"), whom
Hesiod identifies as the
Themis and names as Eunomia ("Good Order"), Dike
("Justice"), and Eirene ("Peace").
Aphrodite was also sometimes
accompanied by Harmonia, her own daughter by Ares, and Hebe, the
Zeus and Hera.
The fertility god
Priapus was usually considered to be Aphrodite's son
by Dionysus, but he was sometimes also described as her son by
Hermes, Adonis, or even Zeus. A scholion on Apollonius of
Rhodes's Argonautica states that, while
Aphrodite was pregnant
Hera envied her and applied an evil potion to her
belly while she was sleeping to ensure that the child would be
Aphrodite gave birth, she was horrified to see that
the child had a massive, permanently erect penis, a potbelly, and a
Aphrodite abandoned the infant to die in the
wilderness, but a herdsman found him and raised him, later
Priapus could use his massive penis to aid in the
growth of plants.
Anchises (1889 or 1890) by William Blake Richmond
Main article: Anchises
The First Homeric Hymn to
Aphrodite (Hymn 5), which was probably
composed sometime in the mid-seventh century BC, describes how
Zeus once became annoyed with
Aphrodite for causing deities to fall in
love with mortals, so he caused her to fall in love with
Anchises, a handsome mortal shepherd who lived in the foothills
Mount Ida near the city of Troy.
Aphrodite appears to
Anchises in the form of a tall, beautiful, mortal virgin while he is
alone in his home.
Anchises sees her dressed in bright clothing
and gleaming jewelry, with her breasts shining with divine
radiance. He asks her if she is
Aphrodite and promises to build
her an altar on top of the mountain if she will bless him and his
Aphrodite, however, lies and tells him that she not a goddess,
but the daughter of one of the noble families of Phrygia. She
claims to be able to understand the
Trojan language because she had a
Trojan nurse as a child and says that she found herself on the
mountainside after she was snatched up by
Hermes while dancing in a
celebration in honor of Artemis, the goddess of virginity.
Anchises that she is still a virgin and begs him
to take her to his parents.
Anchises immediately becomes overcome
with mad lust for
Aphrodite and swears that he will have sex with
Anchises takes Aphrodite, with her eyes cast downwards, to
his bed, which is covered in the furs of lions and bears. He then
strips her naked and makes love to her.
After the lovemaking is complete,
Aphrodite reveals her true divine
Anchises is terrified, but
Aphrodite consoles him and
promises that she will bear him a son. She prophecizes that their
son will be the demigod Aeneas, who will be raised by the nymphs
of the wilderness for five years before going to
Troy to become a
nobleman like his father. The story of Aeneas's conception is
also mentioned in Hesiod's
Theogony and in Book II of Homer's
Attic red-figure aryballos by Aison (c. 410 BC) showing Aphrodite
consorting with Adonis, who is seated and playing the lyre, while Eros
stands behind him
Fragment of an Attic red-figure wedding vase (c. 430-420 BC), showing
women climbing ladders up to the roofs of their houses carrying
"gardens of Adonis"
Adonis River (now known as the Abraham River) in
Lebanon was said
to run red with blood each year during the festival of Adonis.
Main article: Adonis
The myth of
Adonis is probably derived from the ancient
Sumerian legend of
Inanna and Dumuzid. The Greek name
Ἄδωνις (Adōnis, Greek pronunciation: [ádɔːnis]) is
derived from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning "lord". The
earliest known Greek reference to
Adonis comes from a fragment of a
poem by the Lesbian poetess Sappho, dating to the seventh century
BC, in which a chorus of young girls asks
Aphrodite what they can
do to mourn Adonis's death.
Aphrodite replies that they must beat
their breasts and tear their tunics. Later references flesh out
the story with more details:
Adonis was the son of Myrrha, who
was cursed by
Aphrodite with insatiable lust for her own father, King
Cinyras of Cyprus, after Myrrha's mother bragged that her
daughter was more beautiful than the goddess. Driven out after
Myrrha was changed into a myrrh tree, but still
gave birth to Adonis.
Aphrodite found the baby, and took him to the underworld to be
fostered by Persephone. She returned for him once he was
grown and discovered him to be strikingly handsome.
Persephone wanted to keep Adonis, resulting in a custody battle
between the two goddesses over which of them
Adonis rightly belonged
Zeus settled the dispute by decreeing that
Adonis would spend
one third of the year with Aphrodite, one third with Persephone, and
one third with whomever he chose.
Adonis chose Aphrodite, and
they remained constantly together. Then, one day while
out hunting, he was wounded by a wild boar, and bled to death in
Aphrodite's arms. In different versions of the story, the boar
was either sent by Ares, who was jealous that
Aphrodite was spending
so much time with Adonis, or by Artemis, who wanted revenge
Aphrodite for having killed her devoted follower
Hippolytus. The story also provides an etiology for Aphrodite's
associations with certain flowers. Reportedly, as she mourned
Adonis's death, she caused anemones to grow wherever his blood
fell, and declared a festival on the anniversary of his
death. In one version of the story,
Aphrodite injured herself on
a thorn from a rose bush and the rose, which had previously been
white, was stained red by her blood. According to Lucian's De Dea
Syria, each year during the festival of Adonis, the
Lebanon (now known as the Abraham River) ran red with blood.
The myth of
Adonis is associated with the festival of the Adonia,
which was celebrated by Greek women every year in midsummer. The
festival, which was evidently already celebrated in
Lesbos by Sappho's
time, seems to have first become popular in
Athens in the
mid-fifth century BC. At the start of the festival, the women
would plant a "garden of Adonis", a small garden planted inside a
small basket or a shallow piece of broken pottery containing a variety
of quick-growing plants, such as lettuce and fennel, or even
quick-sprouting grains such as wheat and barley. The women would
then climb ladders to the roofs of their houses, where they would
place the gardens out under the heat of the summer sun. The
plants would sprout in the sunlight, but wither quickly in the
heat. Then the women would mourn and lament loudly over the death
of Adonis, tearing their clothes and beating their breasts in a
public display of grief.
Pygmalion and Galatea (1717) by Jean Raoux, showing
the statue to life
In Hesiod's Works and Days,
Aphrodite to make Pandora, the
first woman, physically beautiful and sexually attractive, so
that she may become "an evil men will love to embrace". Aphrodite
"spills grace" over Pandora's head and equips her with "painful
desire and knee-weakening anguish", thus making her the perfect vessel
for evil to enter the world. Aphrodite's attendants, Peitho, the
Charites, and the Horae, adorn
Pandora with gold and jewelry.
According to one myth,
Aphrodite aided Hippomenes, a noble
youth who wished to marry Atalanta, a maiden who was renowned
throughout the land for her beauty, but who refused to marry
any man unless he could outrun her in a footrace. Atalanta
was an exceedingly swift runner and she beheaded all of the men who
lost to her.
Hippomenes three golden apples
from the Garden of the Hesperides and instructed him to toss
them in front of
Atalanta as he raced her.
Aphrodite's order and Atalanta, seeing the beautiful, golden
fruits, bent down to pick up each one, allowing
Hippomenes to outrun
her. In the version of the story from Ovid's Metamorphoses,
Hippomenes forgets to repay
Aphrodite for her aid, so she
causes the couple to become inflamed with lust while they are staying
at the temple of Cybele. The couple desecrate the temple by
having sex in it, leading
Cybele to turn them into lions as
The myth of Pygmalion is first mentioned by the third-century BC Greek
Philostephanus of Cyrene, but is first recounted in
detail in Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to Ovid, Pygmalion was
an exceedingly handsome sculptor from the island of Cyprus, who was so
sickened by the immorality of women that he refused to marry. He
fell madly and passionately in love with the ivory cult statue he was
Aphrodite and longed to marry it. Because Pygmalion
was extremely pious and devoted to Aphrodite, the goddess brought
the statue to life. Pygmalion married the girl the statue became
and they had a son named Paphos, after whom the capital of Cyprus
received its name.
Pseudo-Apollodorus later mentions "Metharme,
daughter of Pygmalion, king of Cyprus".
First-century AD Roman fresco from
Pompeii showing the virgin
Hippolytus spurning the advances of his stepmother Phaedra, who
Aphrodite caused to fall in love with him in order to bring about his
Aphrodite generously rewarded those who honored her, but also punished
those who disrespected her, often quite brutally. A myth
described in Apollonius of Rhodes's
Argonautica and later summarized
in the Bibliotheca of
Pseudo-Apollodorus tells how, when the women of
the island of
Lemnos refused to sacrifice to Aphrodite, the goddess
cursed them to stink horribly so that their husbands would never have
sex with them. Instead, their husbands started having sex with
their Thracian slave-girls. In anger, the women of Lemnos
murdered the entire male population of the island, as well as all the
Thracian slaves. When
Jason and his crew of
Argonauts arrived on
Lemnos, they mated with the sex-starved women under Aphrodite's
approval and repopulated the island. From then on, the women of
Lemnos never disrespected
In Euripides's tragedy Hippolytus, which was first performed at the
Dionysia in 428 BC, Theseus's son Hippolytus worships only
Artemis, the goddess of virginity, and refuses to engage in any form
of sexual contact.
Aphrodite is infuriated by his prideful
behavior and, in the prologue to the play, she declares that, by
Artemis and refusing to venerate her, Hippolytus has
directly challenged her authority.
Aphrodite therefore causes
Hippolytus's stepmother, Phaedra, to fall in love with him, knowing
Hippolytus will reject her. After being rejected, Phaedra commits
suicide and leaves a suicide note to
Theseus telling him that she
killed herself because Hippolytus attempted to rape her. Theseus
Poseidon to kill Hippolytus for his transgression.
Poseidon sends a wild bull to scare Hippolytus's horses as he is
riding by the sea in his chariot, causing the horses to bolt and
smash the chariot against the cliffs, dragging Hippolytus to a bloody
death across the rocky shoreline. The play concludes with Artemis
vowing to kill Aphrodite's own mortal beloved (presumably Adonis) in
Aphrodite by refusing to let his horses for
chariot racing mate, since doing so would hinder their speed.
During the chariot race at the funeral games of King Pelias, Aphrodite
drove his horses mad and they tore him apart.
Polyphonte was a
young woman who chose a virginal life with
Artemis instead of marriage
and children, as favoured by Aphrodite.
Aphrodite cursed her, causing
her to have children by a bear. The resulting offspring, Agrius and
Oreius, were wild cannibals who incurred the hatred of Zeus.
Ultimately, he transformed all the members of the family into birds of
Judgment of Paris and Trojan War
Ancient Greek mosaic from
Antioch dating to the second century AD,
depicting the Judgement of Paris
Judgement of Paris
Judgement of Paris and Trojan War
The myth of the
Judgement of Paris
Judgement of Paris is mentioned briefly in the
Iliad, but is described in depth in an epitome of the Cypria, a
lost poem of the Epic Cycle, which records that all the gods and
goddesses as well as various mortals were invited to the marriage of
Thetis (the eventual parents of Achilles). Only Eris,
goddess of discord, was not invited. She was annoyed at this, so
she arrived with a golden apple inscribed with the word
καλλίστῃ (kallistēi, "for the fairest"), which she threw
among the goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera, and
Athena all claimed to
be the fairest, and thus the rightful owner of the apple.
The goddesses chose to place the matter before Zeus, who, not wanting
to favor one of the goddesses, put the choice into the hands of Paris,
a Trojan prince. After bathing in the spring of
Mount Ida where
Troy was situated, the goddesses appeared before Paris for his
decision. In the extant ancient depictions of the Judgement of
Aphrodite is only occasionally represented nude, and
Hera are always fully clothed. Since the Renaissance, however,
western paintings have typically portrayed all three goddesses as
All three goddesses were ideally beautiful and Paris could not decide
between them, so they resorted to bribes.
Hera tried to bribe
Paris with power over all
Asia and Europe, and
wisdom, fame and glory in battle, but
Aphrodite promised Paris
that, if he were to choose her as the fairest, she would let him marry
the most beautiful woman on earth. This woman was Helen, who was
already married to King
Menelaus of Sparta. Paris selected
Aphrodite and awarded her the apple. The other two goddesses were
enraged and, as a direct result, sided with the
Greeks in the Trojan
Aphrodite plays an important and active role throughout the entirety
of Homer's Iliad. In Book III, she rescues Paris from Menelaus
after he foolishly challenges him to a one-on-one duel. She then
appears to Helen in the form of an old woman and attempts to persuade
her to have sex with Paris, reminding her of his physical beauty
and athletic prowess. Helen immediately recognizes
her beautiful neck, perfect breasts, and flashing eyes and chides
the goddess, addressing her as her equal.
rebukes Helen, reminding her that, if she vexes her, she will punish
her just as much as she has favored her already. Helen demurely
obeys Aphrodite's command.
In Book V,
Aphrodite charges into battle to rescue her son
the Greek hero Diomedes.
Aphrodite as a
"weakling" goddess and, thrusting his spear, nicks her wrist
through her "ambrosial robe".
Aphrodite borrows Ares's chariot to
ride back to Mount Olympus.
Zeus chides her for putting herself
in danger, reminding her that "her specialty is love, not
war." In Book XIV, during the Dios Apate episode,
her kestos himas to
Hera for the purpose of seducing
distracting him from the combat while
Poseidon aids the Greek forces
on the beach. In the Theomachia in Book XXI,
enters the battlefield to carry
Ares away after he is
Consorts and children
The so-called "
Venus in a bikini", from the house of Julia Felix,
Pompeii, Italy actually depicts her Greek counterpart
Aphrodite as she
is about to untie her sandal, with a small
Eros squatting beneath her
left arm, 1st-century AD[Notes 1]
The Erotes, viz.
Eros (originally a primordial being; only later became Aphrodite's
Himeros (originally born from the sea alongside Aphrodite; only later
became her son)
Priapus (very rarely)
Phaethon (son of Eos)
Meligounis + several more unnamed daughters
Rich-throned immortal Aphrodite,
scheming daughter of Zeus, I pray you,
with pain and sickness, Queen, crush not my heart,
but come, if ever in the past you heard my voice from afar and
and left your father's halls and came, with gold
chariot yoked; and pretty sparrows
brought you swiftly across the dark earth
fluttering wings from heaven through the air.
— Sappho, "
Ode to Aphrodite", lines 1-10, translated by M. L.
Aphrodite's most prominent avian symbol was the dove, which was
originally an important symbol of her Near Eastern precursor
Inanna-Ishtar. (In fact, the ancient Greek word for "dove"
was peristerá, derived from the Semitic phrase peraḥ Ištar,
meaning "bird of Ishtar".)
Aphrodite frequently appears with
doves in ancient Greek pottery and the temple of Aphrodite
Pandemos on the southwest slope of the
Athenian Acropolis was
decorated with relief sculptures of doves with knotted fillets in
their beaks. Votive offerings of small, white, marble doves were
also discovered in the temple of
Aphrodite at Daphni. In addition
to her associations with doves,
Aphrodite was also closely linked with
sparrows and she is described riding in a chariot pulled by
sparrows in Sappho's "
Ode to Aphrodite".
Because of her connections to the sea,
Aphrodite was associated with a
number of different types of water fowl, including swans, geese,
and ducks. Aphrodite's other symbols included the sea, conch
shells, and roses. The rose and myrtle flowers were both sacred
to Aphrodite. Her most important fruit emblem was the apple,
but she was also associated with pomegranates, possibly because
the red seeds suggested sexuality or because Greek women
sometimes used pomegranates as a method of birth control. In
Aphrodite is often also accompanied by dolphins and
Representations in classical art
Wall painting from
Venus rising from the sea on a scallop
shell, believed to be a copy of the
Aphrodite Anadyomene by Apelles of
Phryne at the Poseidonia in
Eleusis (c. 1889) by Henryk Siemiradzki,
showing the scene of the courtesan
Phryne stripping naked at Eleusis,
which allegedly inspired both Apelles's painting and the
Knidos by Praxiteles
A scene of
Aphrodite rising from the sea appears on the back of the
Ludovisi Throne (c. 460 BC), which was probably originally part
of a massive altar that was constructed as part of the Ionic temple to
Aphrodite in the Greek polis of
Locri Epizephyrii in
Magna Graecia in
southern Italy. The throne shows
Aphrodite rising from the sea,
clad in a diaphanous garment, which is drenched with seawater and
clinging to her body, revealing her upturned breasts and the outline
of her navel. Her hair hangs dripping as she reaches to two
attendants standing barefoot on the rocky shore on either side of her,
lifting her out of the water. Scenes with
Aphrodite appear in
works of classical Greek pottery, including a famous white-ground
kylix by the
Pistoxenos Painter dating the between c. 470 and 460 BC,
showing her riding on a swan or goose.
In c. 364/361 BC, the Athenian sculptor
Praxiteles carved the marble
Aphrodite of Knidos, which
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder later
praised as the greatest sculpture ever made. The statue showed a
Aphrodite modestly covering her pubic region while resting
against a water pot with her robe draped over it for
Aphrodite of Knidos
Aphrodite of Knidos was the first ever
full-sized statue to depict
Aphrodite completely naked and one of
the first sculptures that was intended to be viewed from all
sides. The statue was purchased by the people of
around 350 BC and proved to be tremendously influential on later
depictions of Aphrodite. The original sculpture has been
lost, but written descriptions of it as well several
depictions of it on coins are still extant and over
sixty copies, small-scale models, and fragments of it have been
The Greek painter Apelles of Kos, a contemporary of Praxiteles,
produced the panel painting
Aphrodite Anadyomene (
from the Sea). According to Athenaeus, Apelles was inspired to
paint the painting after watching the courtesan
Phryne take off her
clothes, untie her hair, and bathe naked in the sea at Eleusis.
The painting was displayed in the
Asclepeion on the island of
Aphrodite Anadyomene went unnoticed for centuries,
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder records that, in his own time, it was regarded as
Apelles's most famous work.
During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, statues depicting Aphrodite
proliferated; many of these statues were modeled at least to some
extent on Praxiteles's
Aphrodite of Knidos. Some statues show
Aphrodite crouching naked; others show her wringing water out of
her hair as she rises from the sea. Another common type of statue
is known as
Aphrodite Kallipygos, the name of which is Greek for
Aphrodite of the Beautiful Buttocks"; this type of sculpture
Aphrodite lifting her peplos to display her buttocks to the
viewer while looking back at them from over her shoulder. The
ancient Romans produced massive numbers of copies of Greek sculptures
of Aphrodite and more sculptures of
Aphrodite have survived from
antiquity than of any other deity.
Ludovisi Throne (possibly c. 460 BC) is believed to be a
classical Greek bas-relief, although it has also been alleged to be a
Attic white-ground red-figured kylix of
Aphrodite riding a swan (c.
46-470) found at Kameiros (Rhodes)
Red-figure vase painting of
Phaon (c. 420-400 BC)
Apuleian vase painting of
Zeus plotting with
Aphrodite to seduce Leda
Eros sits on her arm (c. 330 BC)
Aphrodite Leaning Against a Pillar (third century BC)
Aphrodite Kallipygos ("
Aphrodite of the Beautiful Buttocks")
Aphrodite Binding Her Hair (second century BC)
Aphrodite Heyl (second century BC)
Greek sculpture group of Aphrodite, Eros, and Pan (c. 100 BC)
Aphrodite of Milos
Aphrodite of Milos (c. 100 BC), Louvre
Aphrodite of Menophantos
Aphrodite of Menophantos (first century BC)
Aphrodite of Knidos
Venus (c. second century AD)
Fifteenth century manuscript illumination of Venus, sitting on a
rainbow, with her devotees offering her their hearts
Early Christians frequently adapted pagan iconography to suit
Christian purposes.[Notes 2] In the Early Middle Ages,
Christians adapted elements of Aphrodite/Venus's iconography and
applied them to
Eve and prostitutes, but also female saints and
even the Virgin Mary. Christians in the east reinterpreted the
story of Aphrodite's birth as a metaphor for baptism; in a Coptic
stele from the sixth century AD, a female orant is shown wearing
Aphrodite's conch shell as a sign that she is newly baptized.
Throughout the Middle Ages, villages and communities across Europe
still maintained folk tales and traditions about Aphrodite/Venus
and travelers reported a wide variety of stories. Numerous Roman
Venus survived in Britain, preserving memory of the pagan
past. In North Africa in the late fifth century AD, Fulgentius of
Ruspe encountered mosaics of Aphrodite and reinterpreted her as a
symbol of the sin of Lust, arguing that she was shown naked
because "the sin of lust is never cloaked" and that she was often
shown "swimming" because "all lust suffers shipwreck of its
affairs." He also argued that she was associated with doves and
conchs because these are symbols of copulation, and that she was
associated with roses because "as the rose gives pleasure, but is
swept away by the swift movement of the seasons, so lust is pleasant
for a moment, but is swept away forever."
While Fulgentius had appropriated
Aphrodite as a symbol of Lust,
Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville (c. 560–636) interpreted her as a symbol of
marital procreative sex and declared that the moral of the story
of Aphrodite's birth is that sex can only be holy in the presence of
semen, blood, and heat, which he regarded as all being necessary for
procreation. Meanwhile, Isidore denigrated Aphrodite/Venus's son
Eros/Cupid as a "demon of fornication" (daemon fornicationis).
Venus was best known to Western European scholars through
her appearances in Virgil's
Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Venus is mentioned in the Latin poem
Pervigilium Veneris ("The
Saint Venus"), written in the third or fourth century AD, and in
Giovanni Boccaccio's Genealogia Deorum Gentilium.
Aphrodite is the central figure in Sandro Botticelli's painting
Primavera, which has been described as "one of the most written about,
and most controversial paintings in the world", and "one of the
most popular paintings in Western art". The story of Aphrodite's
birth from the foam was a popular subject matter for painters during
the Italian Renaissance, who were attempting to consciously
reconstruct Apelles of Kos's lost masterpiece
based on the literary ekphrasis of it preserved by
Cicero and Pliny
the Elder. Artists also drew inspiration from Ovid's description
of the birth of
Venus in his Metamorphoses. Sandro Botticelli's
The Birth of
Venus (c. 1485) was also partially inspired by a
Poliziano of a relief on the subject. Later
Italian renditions of the same scene include Titian's
(c. 1525) and Raphael's painting in the Stufetta del cardinal
Bibbiena (1516). Titian's biographer
Giorgio Vasari identified
all of Titian's paintings of naked women as paintings of "Venus",
including an erotic painting from c. 1534, which he called the Venus
of Urbino, even though the painting does not contain any of
Aphrodite/Venus's traditional iconography and the woman in it is
clearly shown in a contemporary setting, not a classical one.
Primavera (late 1470s or early 1480s) by Sandro Botticelli
Venus Anadyomene (c. 1525) by Titian
Venus of Urbino (c. 1534) by Titian
Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time
Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time (c. 1545) by Bronzino
Adonis (1554) by Titian
Venus with a
Mirror (c. 1555) by Titian
Adonis and Cupid (c. 1595) by Annibale Carracci
The Toilet of
Venus (c. 1612-1615) by Peter Paul Rubens
The Death of
Adonis (c. 1614) by Peter Paul Rubens
Venus (c. 1647–51) by Diego Velázquez
Venus and Cupid Lamenting the Dead
Adonis (1656) by Cornelis Holsteyn
The Birth of
Venus (c. 1485) by Sandro Botticelli
The Birth of
Venus (1863) by Alexandre Cabanel
Jacques-Louis David's final work was his 1824 magnum opus, Mars Being
Disarmed by Venus, which combines elements of classical,
Renaissance, traditional French art, and contemporary artistic
styles. While he was working on the painting, David described it,
saying, "This is the last picture I want to paint, but I want to
surpass myself in it. I will put the date of my seventy-five years on
it and afterwards I will never again pick up my brush." The
painting was exhibited first in Brussels and then in Paris, where over
10,000 people came to see it. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres's
Venus Anadyomene was one of his major works. Louis
Geofroy described it as a "dream of youth realized with the power of
maturity, a happiness that few obtain, artists or others."
Théophile Gautier declared: "Nothing remains of the marvelous
painting of the Greeks, but surely if anything could give the idea of
antique painting as it was conceived following the statues of Phidias
and the poems of Homer, it is M. Ingres's painting: the Venus
Anadyomene of Apelles has been found." Other critics dismissed it
as a piece of unimaginative, sentimental kitsch, but Ingres
himself considered it to be among his greatest works and used the same
figure as the model for his later 1856 painting La Source.
Venus were favorites of the late nineteenth-century
Academic artists in France. In 1863,
Alexandre Cabanel won
widespread critical acclaim at the Paris Salon for his painting The
Birth of Venus, which the French emperor
Napoleon III immediately
purchased for his own personal art collection. Édouard Manet's
1865 painting Olympia parodied the nude Venuses of the Academic
painters, particularly Cabanel's Birth of Venus. In 1867, the
English Academic painter
Frederic Leighton displayed his Venus
Disrobing for the Bath at the Academy. The art critic J. B.
Atkinson praised it, declaring that "Mr Leighton, instead of adopting
corrupt Roman notions regarding
Venus such as Rubens embodied, has
wisely reverted to the Greek idea of Aphrodite, a goddess worshipped,
and by artists painted, as the perfection of female grace and
beauty." A year later, the English painter Dante Gabriel
Rossetti, a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, painted
Venus Verticordia (Latin for "Aphrodite, the Changer of Hearts"),
Aphrodite as a nude red-headed woman in a garden of
roses. Though he was reproached for his outré subject
matter, Rossetti refused to alter the painting and it was soon
J. Mitchell of Bradford. In 1879, William Adolphe
Bouguereau exhibited at the Paris Salon his own Birth of Venus,
which imitated the classical tradition of contrapposto and was met
with widespread critical acclaim, rivalling the popularity of
Cabanel's version from nearly two decades prior.
Adonis (1729) by François Lemoyne
Mars Being Disarmed by
Venus (1824) by Jacques-Louis David
Venus Surprised by Vulcan (1827) by Alexandre Charles
Venus Anadyomene (1848) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Venus Disrobing for the Bath (1867) by Frederic Leighton
Venus Verticordia (1868) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Birth of
Venus (c. 1879) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Illustration by Édouard Zier for Pierre Louÿs's 1896 erotic novel
Aphrodite: mœurs antiques
William Shakespeare's erotic narrative poem
Adonis (1593), a
retelling of the courtship of
Adonis from Ovid's
Metamorphoses, was the most popular of all his works
published within his own lifetime. Six editions of it were
published before Shakespeare's death (more than any of his other
works) and it enjoyed particularly strong popularity among young
adults. In 1605,
Richard Barnfield lauded it, declaring that
the poem had placed Shakespeare's name "in fames immortall
Booke". Despite this, the poem has received mixed reception from
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge defended it, but
Samuel Butler complained that it bored him and C. S. Lewis
described an attempted reading of it as "suffocating".
Aphrodite appears in Richard Garnett's short story collection The
Twilight of the Gods and Other Tales (1888), in which the gods'
temples have been destroyed by Christians. Stories revolving
around sculptures of
Aphrodite were common in the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries. Examples of such works of literature
include the novel The Tinted Venus: A Farcical Romance (1885) by
Thomas Anstey Guthrie
Thomas Anstey Guthrie and the short story The
Venus of Ille (1887) by
Prosper Mérimée, both of which are about statues of Aphrodite
that come to life. Another noteworthy example is
Aulis by the Anglo-Irish writer George Moore, which revolves
around an ancient Greek family who moves to Aulis. The French
Pierre Louÿs titled his erotic historical novel Aphrodite:
mœurs antiques (1896) after the Greek goddess. The novel enjoyed
widespread commercial success, but scandalized French audiences
due to its sensuality and its decadent portrayal of Greek
In the early twentieth century, stories of
Aphrodite were used by
feminist poets, such as
Amy Lowell and Alicia Ostriker. Many
of these poems dealt with Aphrodite's legendary birth from the foam of
the sea. Other feminist writers, including Claude Cahun, Thit
Anaïs Nin also made use of the myth of
Aphrodite in their
writings. Ever since the publication of Isabel Allende's book
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses in 1998, the name "Aphrodite" has
been used as a title for dozens of books dealing with all topics even
superficially connected to her domain. Frequently these books do
not even mention Aphrodite, or mention her only briefly, but make
use of her name as a selling point.
In 1938, Gleb Botkin, a Russian immigrant to the United States,
founded the Church of Aphrodite, a Neopagan religion centered around
the worship of a Mother Goddess, whom its practitioners identified as
Aphrodite. The Church of Aphrodite's theology was laid out
in the book In Search of Reality, published in 1969, two years before
Botkin's death. The book portrayed
Aphrodite in a drastically
different light than the one in which the
Greeks envisioned her,
instead casting her as "the sole Goddess of a somewhat Neoplatonic
Pagan monotheism". It claimed that the worship of
been brought to
Greece by the mystic teacher Orpheus, but that
Greeks had misunderstood Orpheus's teachings and had not realized
the importance of worshipping
Aphrodite is a major deity in Wicca, a contemporary
nature-based syncretic Neopagan religion. Wiccans regard
Aphrodite as one aspect of the Goddess and she is frequently
invoked by name during enchantments dealing with love and
romance. Wiccans regard
Aphrodite as the ruler of human
emotions, erotic spirituality, creativity, and art. As one of the
Aphrodite is a major deity within Hellenismos
(Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionism), a Neopagan
religion which seeks to authentically revive and recreate the religion
Greece in the modern world. Unlike Wiccans, Hellenists
are usually strictly polytheistic or pantheistic. Hellenists
Aphrodite primarily as the goddess of romantic love, but
also as a goddess of sexuality, the sea, and war. Her many
epithets include "Sea Born", "Killer of Men", "She upon the Graves",
"Fair Sailing", and "Ally in War".
Greek mythology portal
^ Museo Archeologico Nazionale (Napoli). "so-called
Venus in a
bikini." Cir.campania.beniculturali.it. Accessed 3 October 2016.
"The statuette portrays
Aphrodite on the point of untying the laces of
the sandal on her left foot, under which a small
Eros squats, touching
the sole of her shoe with his right hand. The Goddess is leaning with
her left arm (the hand is missing) against a figure of Priapus
standing, naked and bearded, positioned on a small cylindrical altar
while, next to her left thigh, there is a tree trunk over which the
garment of the Goddess is folded. Aphrodite, almost completely naked,
wears only a sort of costume, consisting of a corset held up by two
pairs of straps and two short sleeves on the upper part of her arm,
from which a long chain leads to her hips and forms a star-shaped
motif at the level of her navel. The 'bikini', for which the statuette
is famous, is obtained by the masterly use of the technique of
gilding, also employed on her groin, in the pendant necklace and in
the armilla on Aphrodite’s right wrist, as well as on Priapus’
phallus. Traces of the red paint are evident on the tree trunk, on the
short curly hair gathered back in a bun and on the lips of the
Goddess, as well as on the heads of
Priapus and the Eros.
Aphrodite’s eyes are made of glass paste, while the presence of
holes at the level of the ear-lobes suggest the existence of precious
metal ear-rings which have since been lost. An interesting insight
into the female ornaments of Roman times, the statuette, probably
imported from the area of Alexandria, reproduces with a few
modifications the statuary type of
Aphrodite untying her sandal, known
from copies in bronze and terracotta."
For extensive research and a bibliography on the subject, see: de
Franciscis 1963, p. 78, tav. XCI; Kraus 1973, nn. 270-271, pp.
194-195; Pompei 1973, n. 132; Pompeji 1973, n. 199, pp. 142 e 144;
Pompeji 1974, n. 281, pp. 148-149;
Pompeii A.D. 79 1976, p. 83 e n.
Pompeii A.D. 79 1978, I, n. 208, pp. 64-65, II, n. 208, p. 189;
Döhl, Zanker 1979, p. 202, tav. Va;
Pompeii A.D. 79 1980, p. 79 e n.
198; Pompeya 1981, n. 198, p. 107;
Pompeii lives 1984, fig. 10, p. 46;
Collezioni Museo 1989, I, 2, n. 254, pp. 146-147; PPM II, 1990, n. 7,
p. 532; Armitt 1993, p. 240; Vésuve 1995, n. 53, pp. 162-163; Vulkan
1995, n. 53, pp. 162-163; LIMC VIII, 1, 1997, p. 210, s.v. Venus, n.
182; LIMC VIII, 2, 1997, p. 144; LIMC VIII, 1, 1997, p. 1031, s.v.
Priapos, n. 15; LIMC VIII, 2, 1997, p. 680; Romana Pictura 1998, n.
153, p. 317 e tav. a p. 245; Cantarella 1999, p. 128; De Caro 1999,
pp. 100-101; De Caro 2000, p. 46 e tav. a p. 62;
Pompeii 2000, n. 1,
^ This does not in any way indicate that Christianity itself was
derived from paganism, only that early Christians made use of the
pre-existing symbols that were readily available in their
society.Taylor 1993, pp. 96–97
^ a b
Eros is usually mentioned as the son of
Aphrodite but in other
versions he is born out of Chaos
^ Hesiod, Theogony, 188
^ a b c d e f g h i Cyrino 2010, p. 14.
^ Hesiod, Theogony, 190-197.
^ a b c d e f West 2000, pp. 134–138.
^ Paul Kretschmer, “Zum pamphylischen Dialekt”, Zeitschrift für
vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiet der Indogermanischen
Sprachen 33 (1895): 267.
^ Ernst Maaß, “
Aphrodite und die hl. Pelagia”, Neue Jahrbücher
für das klassische Altertum 27 (1911): 457-468.
^ Vittore Pisani, “Akmon e Dieus”, Archivio glottologico italiano
24 (1930): 65-73.
^ a b c Janda 2005, pp. 349–360.
^ a b c d e Janda 2010, p. 65.
^ Witczak 1993, pp. 115–123.
^ a b Penglase 1997, p. 164.
^ a b Boedeker 1974, pp. 15–16.
^ Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 111.
^ M. Hammarström, “Griechisch-etruskische Wortgleichungen”,
Glotta: Zeitschrift für griechische und lateinische Sprache 11
^ a b c Frisk 1960, p. 196 f..
^ a b c d Beekes 2010, p. 179.
^ a b West 2000, p. 134.
^ Etymologicum Magnum, Ἀφροδίτη.
^ Breitenberger 2007, pp. 8–12.
^ a b Cyrino 2012, pp. 49–52.
^ a b Puhvel 1987, p. 27.
^ a b Marcovich 1996, pp. 43–59.
^ Burkert 1985, pp. 152–153.
^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, I. XIV.7
^ a b c d Breitenberger 2007, p. 8.
^ a b Breitenberger 2007, pp. 10–11.
^ a b c d e Cyrino 2012, pp. 51–52.
^ a b c d e Budin 2010, pp. 85–86, 96, 100, 102–103, 112,
^ a b Graz 1984, p. 250.
^ a b Iossif & Lorber 2007, p. 77.
^ a b c Konaris 2016, p. 169.
^ a b Burkert 1998, pp. 1–6.
^ Burkert 1998, pp. 1–41.
^ a b Dumézil 1934.
^ a b c d e Cyrino 2010, p. 24.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, pp. 24–25.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 25.
^ a b c d e Bullough & Bullough 1993, p. 29.
^ a b c d e f g Clark 2015, p. 381.
^ a b c d Kerényi 1951, p. 81.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 28.
^ a b c d e f g h Kerényi 1951, p. 80.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 28–29.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 35.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 35–38.
^ Plato, Symposium 181a-d.
^ Richard L. Hunter, Plato's Symposium, Oxford University Press: 2004,
^ Pausanias, Periegesis vi.25.1;
Aphrodite Pandemos was represented in
the same temple riding on a goat, symbol of purely carnal rut: "The
meaning of the tortoise and of the he-goat I leave to those who care
to guess," Pausanias remarks. The image was taken up again after the
Renaissance: see Andrea Alciato, Emblemata / Les emblemes (1584).
^ a b c d Cyrino 2010, p. 39.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, pp. 39–40.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 27.
^ a b Koloski-Ostrow & Lyons 2000, pp. 230–231.
^ Rosenzweig 2003, pp. 16–17.
^ Simon 1983, pp. 49–50.
^ a b Simon 1983, p. 48.
^ Simon 1983, pp. 48–49.
^ Simon 1983, pp. 47–48.
^ Simon 1983, p. 49.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 40.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 40–41.
^ a b c d Cyrino 2010, pp. 41–42.
^ a b c Marcovich 1996, p. 49.
^ Black & Green 1992, p. 109.
^ a b Burkert 1985, p. 153.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 41–43.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 43.
^ Witt 1997, p. 125.
^ Dunand 2007, p. 258.
^ Larousse Desk Reference Encyclopedia, The Book People, Haydock,
1995, p. 215.
^ a b c d e f g h Dunand 2007, p. 257.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 127–128.
^ a b c d e f Cyrino 2010, p. 128.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, pp. 128–129.
^ a b c d e Cyrino 2010, p. 130.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 130–131.
Odyssey viii. 288; Herodotus i. 105; Pausanias iii. 23. § 1;
Anacreon v. 9; Horace, Carmina i. 4. 5.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 21.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 20–21.
^ a b c Kerényi 1951, p. 69.
^ a b Graves 1960, p. 37.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 13–14.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 29.
^ a b Puhvel 1987, p. 25.
Iliad (Book V)
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 14–15.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 53–61.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 73–78.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 50, 72.
^ a b c d e f g h Cyrino 2010, p. 72.
^ a b Kerényi 1951, p. 279.
^ a b c d e Kerényi 1951, p. 72.
^ Kerényi 1951, pp. 72–73.
^ Kerényi 1951, pp. 73–74.
^ a b c Kerényi 1951, p. 74.
^ Anderson 2000, pp. 131–132.
^ a b Stuttard 2016, p. 86.
^ a b Slater 1968, pp. 199–200.
^ Bonner 1949, p. 1.
^ a b c Bonner 1949, pp. 1–6.
^ Bonner 1949, pp. 1–2.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 44.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, pp. 44–45.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 45.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 45–46.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 47.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 47–48.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 48.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, pp. 48–49.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 71–72.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 72–73.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, p. 73.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Kerényi 1951, p. 176.
^ Kerényi 1951, p. 283.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, p. 89.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 90.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 90–91.
^ a b c d e f g h Cyrino 2010, p. 91.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 92.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, pp. 92–93.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, p. 93.
Theogony lines 1008-10;
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kerényi 1951, p. 76.
^ West 1997, p. 57.
^ Kerényi 1951, p. 67.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Cyrino 2010, p. 97.
^ Burkert 1985, pp. 176–177.
^ a b c West 1997, pp. 530–531.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 95.
^ a b Kerényi 1951, p. 75.
^ Kerényi 1951, pp. 75=76.
^ a b c d e f g Cyrino 2010, p. 96.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 97–98.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 98.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 81.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 80.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 81–82.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 82–83.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ruck & Staples 2001, pp. 64–70.
^ a b c d McKinley 2001, p. 43.
^ a b c Wasson 1968, p. 128.
^ a b McKinley 2001, pp. 43–44.
^ a b Clark 2015, pp. 90–91.
^ Clement, Exhortation to the Greeks, 4
^ a b c d e Clark 2015, p. 91.
^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke, iii.14.3.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 98–103.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 98–99.
^ a b c d e f Cyrino 2010, p. 99.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 100.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 100–101.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 101.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, p. 102.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 102–103.
^ Vergil, Georgics 3.266–288, with Servius's note to line 268; Hand,
The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology, pp. 432, 663.
^ Hyginus, Fabulae 250.3, 273.11; Pausanias, Guide to
^ Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 21
^ a b Walcot 1977, p. 31.
^ a b Walcot 1977, pp. 31–32.
^ a b c d e f g Walcot 1977, p. 32.
^ a b Bull 2005, pp. 346–347.
^ a b c d Walcot 1977, pp. 32–33.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 85.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 85–86.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 35–36, 86–87.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 36, 86–87.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 87.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 87–88.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 88.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 49.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 49–50.
^ a b c d Cyrino 2010, p. 50.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 36.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Kerényi 1951, p. 71.
^ Pindar, Olympian 7.14 makes her the daughter of Aphrodite, but does
not mention any father. Herodorus, fr. 62 Fowler (Fowler 2001, p.
253), apud schol.
Pindar Olympian 7.24–5; Fowler 2013, p. 591 make
her the daughter of
Aphrodite and Poseidon.
^ Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 6. 5 "... Hermaphroditus, as
he has been called, who was born of
Aphrodite and received
a name which is a combination of those of both his parents."
^ Graves, Robert (1960). The Greek Myths. London: Penguin Books.
p. 70. ISBN 9780140171990.
^ Hesiod, Theogony, 986 - 990
^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1. 3. 1 (using the name "Hemera"
^ Pseudo-Apollodorus. Bibliotheca, Book 3. 14. 3
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 89–93.
^ Kerényi 1951, pp. 77–79.
^ Kerényi 1951, p. 79.
^ Bibliotheca 1. 9. 25
Servius on Aeneid, 1. 574, 5. 24
^ Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4. 23. 2
^ Hesychius of
Alexandria s. v. Μελιγουνίς: "Meligounis:
this is what the island
Lipara was called. Also one of the daughters
^ West 2008, p. 36.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, pp. 121–122.
^ a b Lewis & Llewellyn-Jones 2018, p. 335.
^ a b Botterweck & Ringgren 1990, p. 35.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, p. 122.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 120–123.
^ a b c d e f g h Tinkle 1996, p. 81.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 63, 96.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 64.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 63.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 63–64.
^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 123–124.
^ a b c d e f Havelock 2007, p. 86.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 76–77.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 106.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 106–107.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 124.
^ a b c d Grant 1989, p. 224.
^ Grant 1989, p. 225.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, p. 77.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, p. 76.
^ a b Grant 1989, pp. 224–225.
^ a b Palagia & Pollitt 1996, p. 98.
^ a b c Cyrino 2010, pp. 77–78.
^ a b c d e Cyrino 2010, p. 78.
^ Taylor 1993, pp. 96–97.
^ a b c Tinkle 1996, p. 80.
^ Link 1995, pp. 43–45.
^ a b Taylor 1993, p. 97.
^ a b Tinkle 1996, pp. 80–81.
^ a b c d Tinkle 1996, p. 82.
^ Tinkle 1996, pp. 106–108.
^ Tinkle 1996, pp. 107–108.
^ Tinkle 1996, p. 108.
^ Fossi 1998, p. 5.
^ Cunningham & Reich 2009, p. 282.
^ Ames-Lewis 2000, pp. 193–195.
^ a b c d e Ames-Lewis 2000, p. 193.
^ a b Tinagli 1997, p. 148.
^ Ames-Lewis 2000, p. 194.
^ a b Bordes 2005, p. 189.
^ a b Hill 2007, p. 155.
^ a b c d e Tinterow 1999, p. 358.
^ McPhee 1986, pp. 66–67.
^ Gay 1998, p. 128.
^ a b c McPhee 1986, p. 66.
^ Gay 1998, p. 129.
^ a b c Smith 1996, pp. 145–146.
^ a b Smith 1996, p. 146.
^ Lákta 2017, pp. 56–58.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 131.
^ a b c d e f Lákta 2017, p. 58.
^ a b c d Hiscock 2017, p. unpaginated.
^ Clark 2015, pp. 354–355.
^ Clark 2015, p. 355.
^ Clark 2015, p. 364.
^ a b Clark 2015, pp. 361–362.
^ Clark 2015, p. 363.
^ Clark 2015, pp. 363–364.
^ a b c Brooks & Alden 1980, pp. 836–844.
^ a b Clark 2015, p. 369.
^ Clark 2015, pp. 369–371.
^ Clark 2015, pp. 372–374.
^ a b Cyrino 2010, pp. 134–135.
^ Cyrino 2010, p. 135.
^ Clifton 2006, p. 139.
^ Pizza & Lewis 2009, pp. 327–328.
^ a b c d e Clifton 2006, p. 141.
^ Gallaher 2005, pp. 109–110.
^ a b Sabin 2010, p. 125.
^ Sabin 2010, pp. 3–4.
^ Gallagher 2005, p. 110.
^ Sabin 2010, p. 124.
^ Gallagher 2005, pp. 109–110.
^ World, Matthew Brunwasser PRI's The; Olympus, Mount. "The
worship the ancient gods".
^ a b c d Alexander 2007, p. 23.
^ Alexander 2007, p. 9.
^ Alexander 2007, pp. 22–23.
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