Humanities › History & Culture Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty Share Flipboard Email Print BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 11: (CHINA OUT) A visitor views a sculpture of Aphrodite during an exhibition of ancient Greek art from the Louvre Museum on August 11, 2007 in Beijing, China. The Precious collection of over 130 pieces is from the fifth and fourth centuries BC. China Photos / Stringer/ Getty Images News/ Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Mythology & Religion Figures & Events Ancient Languages Greece Egypt Asia Rome American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated June 13, 2018 Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty, love, and sexuality. She is sometimes known as the Cyprian because there was a cult center of Aphrodite on Cyprus [See Map Jc-d]. Aphrodite is the mother of the god of love, Eros (more familiar as Cupid). She is the wife of the ugliest of the gods, Hephaestus. Unlike the powerful virginal goddesses, Athena and Artemis, or the faithful goddess of marriage, Hera, she has love affairs with gods and mortals. Aphrodite's birth story makes her relation to the other gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus ambiguous. Family of Origin Hesiod says Aphrodite arose from the foam that gathered around the genitals of Uranus. They just happened to be floating in the sea -- after his son Cronus castrated his father. The poet known as Homer calls Aphrodite the daughter of Zeus and Dione. She is also described as the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys (both Titans). If Aphrodite is the cast-offspring of Uranus, she is of the same generation as Zeus' parents. If she is the daughter of the Titans, she is Zeus' cousin. Roman Equivalent Aphrodite was called Venus by the Romans -- as in the famous Venus de Milo statue. Attributes And Associations Mirror, of course -- she is the goddess of beauty. Also, the apple, which has lots of associations with love or beauty (as in Sleeping Beauty) and especially the golden apple. Aphrodite is associated with a magic girdle (belt), the dove, myrrh and myrtle, the dolphin, and more. In the famous Botticelli painting, Aphrodite is seen rising from a clam shell. Sources Ancient sources for Aphrodite include Apollodorus, Apuleius, Aristophanes, Cicero, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Diodorus Siculus, Euripides, Hesiod, Homer, Hyginus, Nonnius, Ovid, Pausanias, Pindar, Plato, Quintus Smyrnaeus, Sophocles, Statius, Strabo and Vergil (Virgil). Trojan War and Aeneid's Aphrodite / Venus The story of the Trojan War begins with the story of the apple of discord, which naturally was made of gold: Each of 3 goddesses: Hera - marriage goddess and wife of ZeusAthena - Zeus' daughter, wisdom goddess, and one of the powerful virginal goddesses mentioned above, andAphrodite thought she deserved the golden apple, by virtue of being kallista 'the most beautiful'. Since the goddesses couldn't decide among themselves and Zeus wasn't willing to suffer the wrath of the females in his family, the goddesses appealed to Paris, son of King Priam of Troy. They asked him to judge which of them was the most beautiful. Paris judged the goddess of beauty to be the loveliest. In return for his verdict, Aphrodite promised Paris the fairest woman. Unfortunately, this fairest mortal was Helen of Sparta, wife of Menelaus. Paris took the prize that had been awarded him by Aphrodite, despite her prior commitments, and so started the most famous war in history, that between the Greeks and Trojans. Vergil or Virgil's Aeneid tells a Trojan War sequel story about a surviving Trojan prince, Aeneas, transporting his household gods from the burning city of Troy to Italy, where he founds the race of the Romans. In the Aeneid, the Roman version of Aphrodite, Venus, is Aeneas' mother. In the Iliad, she protected her son, even at the cost of suffering a wound inflicted by Diomedes.