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Aphrodite, Goddess of Love

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine


Aphrodite, Goddess of Love

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
Aphrodite, the goddess of love in Greek mythology, emphasizes passion and desire over the spiritual and intellectual forms of love. The tales linked with Aphrodite are among the most exotic of the ancient world, often dealing in inflamed passions. The Trojan War, for example, was sparked when Aphrodite promised Paris, Prince of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world if he chose her as the loveliest of goddesses. When he did, Aphrodite sent him to meet Helen, the wife of King Menelaus and filled Helen's heart with lust and love for the young Prince. What followed was a bloody battle that lasted more than a decade.

The Birth of a Goddess

Many mistake Aphrodite for the daughter of Zeus and while some myths link the Goddess of Love with the King of the Gods, other legends link her to Cronus (King of the Titans) and Uranus (the father of all gods). In the beginning, Uranus and Gaia mated to create all the heavens, the earth and the sky. Together they produced the Titans, both those of fabled legend and monsters. His eldest son, Cronus, sought to overthrow his father and rule in his place. During the battle, Cronus castrated Uranus and threw his genitals into the sea.

The legend as told by Hesiod detailed Aphrodite's rise from the sea foam in the spot where Uranus' genitals struck. Homer disagreed and named Aphrodite the daughter of Zeus and Dione. While her origins were linked with a number of other lusty goddesses in the Greek era, Aphrodite stood out as the most passionate, graceful and attractive of all the goddesses.

Her Hand in Marriage

Zeus worried that the gods would war over Aphrodite's loveliness, her inherent gifts sparking mad passion in all who met her, so he ordered her married to his son, Hephaestus. The smith god was steady, kind and patient. An unlikely candidate for Aphrodite's powers. The glamorous and irresistible goddess was unhappy with her staid marriage to the hardworking smith. She took many lovers, human and divine and gave birth to many children.

Her most famous affairs were the Trojan Anchises with whom she had a son Aeneas (the sole survivor of Troy and to whom the Roman's credited their empire) and Adonis. Adonis was a most beautiful young man and the myths say that Aphrodite, wounded by her son Eros, fell madly in love with the mortal. In other tales, such as Ovid's Metamorphoses, Aphrodite sheltered the newborn babe, taken with his beauty at birth. She asked Persephone to care for him, but as he grew, the goddess would not return him.

Zeus settled the matter by ordering Adonis to spend one third of the year with Persephone, one third with Aphrodite and the other third with whomever he chose. The beautiful young man chose to spend his free third with Aphrodite. Adonis was eventually slain by a wild boar that some attributed to Artemis, Apollo and Ares. Each of these gods had issues with Aphrodite, particularly Ares, who was in love with the goddess.

Aphrodite, An Inspiration

In later years, Julius Caesar would point to Aphrodite's Roman equivalent, Venus, as his divine ancestor through Aeneas. Her stories and likeness would be referred to in art and tales through the ages. Her festivals were called aphrodisiacs, a name that lingers into modern times for food and drink that incite passion.

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