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Aphrodite

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Alien Aphrodite by Craig Moe via Flickr

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of beauty, love and fertility, worshipped throughout ancient Greece. Legend has it that she was born from the sea foam that arose at Paphos, Cyprus after Cronus had castrated Uranus and thrown the testicles (some say all the genitals) into the water.

My Classical Mythology Blog writes:

It seems surprising that the goddess of love would be sprung from such violence and mutilation, but when we explore the kind of “love” that this goddess delivers the connection makes more sense.¹

Homer says she is the wife of Hephaestus but also had romantic affairs with Ares, the god of War. From that union she became the mother of Eros. She also had sex with a human, Anchises, out of which the Trojan hero, Aeneas was born.

Aprhrodite might also have been the guardian of prostitutes; Pindar notes that her temples often housed corps of prostitutes. And Ovid in myth connects her to the first prostitutes in Cyprus.

Tile mosaic depicting Leada and the Swan from ...

Tile mosaic depicting Leada and the Swan from the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, Palea Paphos; now in the Cyprus Museum, Nicosia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Primarily worshipped by women, men also took part in her cult, probably because of her role as guardian of the sea.

Although the beautiful Helen of Troy is usually blamed for the Trojan War, it was Aphrodite who bribed Paris for the prize of the Golden Apple by offering the reward of Helen, the Queen of Sparta, in the first place. So Paris abducted Helen on the – apparently – legitimate grounds of Aphrodite’s “divine” bribe.

Aphrodite is also given a curious dual nature by Plato and figures in several other myths, outlined in the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphrodite

The Roman parallel to Aphrodite is Venus.

¹ Read the rest of this excellent post here: http://mytholoblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/aphrodite

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