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Aphrodite at a Glance
name | Aphrodite
role | goddess of love and beauty
symbols | sceptre, myrtle, dove
Aphrodite in Greek Mythology
Aphrodite : Page 1
As the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite holds great power over both mortals and immortals. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that she is featured in numerous myths, poems, and plays; likewise, there are many representations of Aphrodite in Greek sculpture and vase painting. While several legends of Aphrodite emphasize themes of love and desire, some of most compelling myths deal with the consequences that the goddess herself suffers as a result of being the victim of love. The story of Aphrodite and her interlude with the human Adonis makes for an interesting study of the double edged sword that passion can be. In this myth, the vulnerability of the goddess is poignant. This vulnerability points to the fact that in Greek mythology even the gods could suffer, and were certainly not immune to the pains and passions that we, as humans, experience.
Birth of Aphrodite
There are a couple of versions of the birth of Aphrodite, which, although they differ, are not necessarily contradictory. According to Homer
, Book V, 370), the goddess is simply the daughter of Zeus
and Dione (a name that is merely the feminine form of Zeus in Greek). However, the poet Hesiod (Theogony
, 188-198) provides a much more elaborate explanation for her birth: he claims that the name Aphrodite is derived from aphros
or foam, and thus the goddess was born of this substance. The tale states that the Titan
Kronos castrated his father Ouranos, and then cast the severed genitals into the sea. From the foam that gathered around the member, Aphrodite emerged, fully formed. Hesiod's description, however gruesome it may seem, does have the advantage of attaching a certain meaning to the birth of the goddess, which I leave to the reader to ascertain. At any rate, this version also lends a poetic quality to Aphrodite's creation, in that as Anadyomene
("she who emerges"), she was depicted by countless artists
Page 2 : Legends of Aphrodite
Aphrodite in Art History
| For pictures and information about Aphrodite in art, visit the Mythography gallery!
And here, Queen Aphrodite, pour heavenly nectar into gold cups and fill them gracefully with sudden joy.
Who's Who in Classical Mythology
This book is a great source for information about Greek and Roman mythology! Organized alphabetically, this who's who features information about over 1200 of the most intriguing characters from Classical myth and legend.
The stories of Classical myth come to life in Bulfinch's book. This edition also features legends from other cultures.
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