Aphrodite - Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty

Ancient Greek Art From The Museum Of Louvre Displayed At Beijing's Capital Museum
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

Aphrodite Articles > Aphrodite Basics > Aphrodite Profile

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.

    Myths Involving Aphrodite

    Myths re-told by Thomas Bulfinch about Aphrodite (Venus):

    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:

    1. Hera - marriage goddess and wife of Zeus
    2. Athena - Zeus' daughter, wisdom goddess, and one of the powerful virginal goddesses mentioned above, and
    3. Aphrodite

    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.

    The 12 Olympian Gods and Goddesses