Grace Furtwengler CLS 121 04/10/12 Aphrodite/Venus According to the ancient Greeks, the beautiful goddess Aphrodite exemplified the attributes of love, procreation, beauty, and gracefulness. However, she showed her wrath to those who neglected or despised her supremacy. She acquired great power to persuade the gods and men by using her lustful ways to carry out her plans. Venus, the Roman version, characterized attributes of pure love, vegetation, and chastity in women. The divine goddess possesses many temples, cults, and services dedicated to her worship.
There lived two myths about the birth of Aphrodite. The most common story was her birth in sea foam of the castrated genitals of the sky-god, Ouranos: The genitalia themselves, freshly cut with flint, were thrown clear of the mainland into the restless, white-capped sea, where they floated a long time. A white foam from the god-flesh collected around them, and in that foam a maiden developed and grew (Trzaskoma, Smith, and Brunet 2004, 137). The second myth (which was not as popular) stated that she was the younger generation goddess born to Zeus and Dione.
Aphrodite had many mythical stories. One of these included the Judgment of Paris (figure 3). This contest existed between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Aphrodite won the golden apple from Paris when she used her lustful ways of offering Helen’s hand in marriage. The abduction of Helen was thought to be the beginning of the Trojan War. Aphrodite used her beauty for the good of her own. The imagery of Aphrodite showed her beauty with long hair, partially or fully nude, with Eros at her side (Figure 1 and 2).
Many of the symbols associated with the goddess were: Eros (one of her children), a dove, an apple, a scallop shell, or even a mirror. Sometimes the goddess was depicted wearing a belt called the “magic girdle. ” She used her magical girdle to make others fall in love. Hera sometimes borrowed the girdle to cast love spells between two gods. However, Aphrodite also used her powers to curse gods and men who she did not approve of. For example, she made Smyrna have lust for her father for not honoring her. She could produce other curses of ugliness, sexual repulsion, and unnatural desires.
Both Aphrodite and Venus displayed wrath. Venus, the Roman version of Aphrodite, portrayed a bit more modesty. There existed a few major differences. Venus was more of a nature goddess and honored vegetation. She showed more of a pure love while Aphrodite displayed a sexual love. There were many epithets of Venus’ name to describe her characteristics (unlike Aphrodite). Venus married the mortal god Vulcan (the god of fire) and bore Aeneas. Aeneas was viewed as a hero; he survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy, where he founded the Nation of Italy.
In repay, Venus was treated with special honor for being an ancestor of the Roman Empire. As for the lover’s of Aphrodite, she was married to Hephaistos. Together they had Eros. : The palace of Aphrodite, which her lame consort Hephaistos had built for her when he took her as his bride from the hands of Zeus. They [Hera and Athene] entered the courtyard and paused below the veranda of the room where the goddess slept with her lord and master (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3. 36 ff) Aphrodite had more than one affair on her husband.
She slept with Ares (and was caught by Hephaistos). She fell in love with Adonis, the Cyprian prince. Her father Zeus made her fall in love with Ankhises as a punishment for sleeping with mortal gods. Despite her affairs, many worshiped Aphrodite. Her several cults and temples in Greece, Italy, and even Asia, showed her divinity. Ways of worship included: bringing gifts (incense, flowers, etc. ), animal sacrifice, or even human sacrifice. Women would prostitute themselves in her service. Every maiden was to go through with this at least once in their lifetime.
Aphrodite was an overall very powerful goddess. Like many of the other goddesses, one would not want to make her angry. Her wrath was brought upon those who betrayed love or her own beauty in the wrong way. Bibliography Apollonius Rhodius. Argonautica. Translated by Seaton, R. C. Loeb Classical Library Volume 001. London, William Heinemann Ltd, 1912. Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography. Vol. 1. London: Walton and Maberly, 1859. Trzaskoma, Stephen, R. Scott Smith, and Stephen Brunet. Anthology of Classical Myth.
Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2004. Figure 2: Aphrodite crouching with winged Eros (Love) at her side; 250 BC http://www. theoi. com/Gallery/S10. 14. html Figure 2: Aphrodite crouching with winged Eros (Love) at her side; 250 BC http://www. theoi. com/Gallery/S10. 14. html Figure 1: Aphrodite “Venus De Capua;” Free-standing statue; 4th Century BC; Early Hellenistic; http://www. theoi. com/Gallery/S10. 19. html Figure 3: The Judgment of Paris; Attic Red Figure; 440 BC Classical Period Figure 3: The Judgment of Paris; Attic Red Figure; 440 BC Classical Period