Post by Senbecc on Apr 2, 2007 3:58:34 GMT -5
According to Hesiod (Theogony, line 190), when Kronos (Cronos) had cut off his father’s members, he tossed them into the sea. The immortal flesh eventually spread into a circle of white foam... from this foam, Aphrodite was created. Her name literally means foam-born. She was attended by Eros (the primal god of Love) and Himeros when she was first born but when she stepped ashore on the island of Kypros (Cyprus) she was a “modest and lovely Goddess”, since known as the Lady of Kypros. Her gentle domain was intended to be “the sweetness of love” and “the whispering of girls” but her adventures, and the adventures of her children, caused as much misery and bloodshed as any of the immortals (except for Ares (the god of War) and Athene (Athena), they thrived on the sanguine).
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Aphrodite in The Trojan War
Her love of Alexandros (a.k.a. Paris) helped move the Trojan War into it’s bloodiest and saddest phase. The Trojans and the Achaians, (Greeks), agreed that Menelaos (Helen’s Achaian husband) and Alexandros (Helen’s Trojan lover) would fight for Helen, and her possessions, in single combat. The assembled armies swore oaths that they would abide by the results of the duel and all declared an end to their nine year quarrel. The duel began . . . (Iliad, book 3, line 380) Alexandros was dealt a deadly blow and should have died on the battlefield, but Aphrodite covered him in mist and removed him to his perfumed bedchamber, unharmed. Aphrodite then went to Helen (Iliad, book 3, line 426) and threatened to encompass her with “hard hate” if she did not go to Alexandros and comfort him.
The Trojan War was, of course, not Aphrodite’s fault but her love for Alexandros, and her meddling caused considerable misery and death among both armies. Later (Iliad, book 5, line 311), Aphrodite, once again, entered the fray to save the life of her son Aineias (Aeneas). As she was shielding her staggering son from the thunderous assault of Diomedes, she was wounded in the hand. Athene, another meddler in the Trojan War, had given Diomedes the power to see the immortals on the battlefield. She advised him (Iliad, book 5, line 129) to avoid all the gods except Aphrodite, “her at least you may stab”. Diomedes lunged at Aphrodite and his pitiless bronze spear tore through the robe that the Graces had carefully woven and cut the flesh of her immortal palm. The blood of the gods, ichor, poured darkly on her perfect skin (Iliad, book 5, line 340) as she fled the battlefield and went to Mount Olympos (Olympus) to seek comfort from Dione. Zeus advised her, No, my child, not for you are the works of warfare. Rather concern yourself only with the lovely secrets of marriage... (Iliad, book 5, line 428).
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Aphrodite and Ares (Love and War)
In The Odyssey of Homer (book 8, line 266), the singer, Demodokos, tells the tale of how Aphrodite and Ares secretly laid together in the bed of her husband, Lord Hephaistos (Hephaestus), the smith of the gods. Helios (the Sun) secretly observed the lovers and told Hephaestus. The smith went to his work and devised clever fastenings that would ensnare and hold the lovers in an unbreakable trap. The careless lovers fell into the trap and Hephaestus stood before the other Olympians and demanded his gifts of courtship be returned. Only after Poseidon (Lord of the Sea) offered to pay the adulterer’s damages if Ares defaulted would Hephaestus loose the bonds. After being freed, Aphrodite went to her sacred precinct on the island of Kypros where she was bathed by the Graces and Ares went Thraceward. Seeing the two lovers in the indignity of the snare, Apollon asked Hermes how he would feel in such a situation. Hermes answered that he would suffer thrice the number of bonds if only he could share the bed of Aphrodite the Golden (Odyssey, book 8, line 342).
She is often confused with the Roman goddess, Venus.
Roman name Venus. See The Olympians for more information and another picture; also this picture.
Aphrodite was the goddess of love. The Romans called her Venus (hence the famous armless statue known as the Venus de Milo). Aphrodite lived on Mount Olympus with the other supreme deities and was married to the homely craftsman-god, Hephaestus. She was said to have been born from the foam of the sea (hence Botticelli's much-reproduced painting of the goddess floating on a seashell).
Aphrodite involved herself on several noteworthy occasions with the affairs of mortal heroes. When Jason asked permission of the king of Colchis to remove the Golden Fleece from the grove in which it hung, the king was clearly unwilling. So the goddess Hera, who sponsored Jason's quest, asked Aphrodite to intervene. The love goddess made the king's daughter Medea fall in love with Jason, and Medea proved instrumental in Jason's success.
Aphrodite can also be said to have caused the Trojan War. This came about in the following fashion. When the hero Peleus was married to the sea-nymph Thetis, all the gods were invited to the ceremony -- all but one that is. The slighted goddess happened to a specialist in sowing discord, so she maliciously deposited a golden apple on the banquet table. The fruit was inscribed with the legend, "For the fairest". Immediately all the goddesses began to argue about whose beauty entitled her to be the rightful possesor of this prize.
Finally it was decided to put the dispute to arbitration. Reasonably enough, the designated judge was to be the most handsome mortal in the world. This turned out to be a noble Trojan youth named Paris, who was serving as a shepherd at the time. So the three finalists -- Aphrodite, Hera and Athena -- sought him out in the meadow where he was tending his flocks.
Not content to leave the outcome to the judge's discernment, the three goddesses proceeded to offer bribes. Hera, Queen of Olympus, took Paris aside and told him she would help him rule the world. Athena, goddess of war, said she would make him victorious in battle. Aphrodite sized Paris up and decided he would be more impressed with the guaranteed love of the most beautiful woman in the world. This was Helen, who happened to be married to the king of Sparta.
Paris promptly awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite, who in turn enabled him to elope with Helen, who thenceforth became notorious as Helen of Troy. Helen's husband and his brother raised a Greek army to retrieve his wife, and this was the inception of the Trojan War.
Another occasion in which the goddess of love came to the aid of a mortal hero also happened to involve golden apples. When the mighty heroine Atalanta agreed to wed whatever suitor managed to best her in a foot race, Aphrodite favored one of the contestants with a peck of golden fruit. By strewing these enchanted apples on the race course, the young lad caused Atalanta to become distracted and she lost the race.
Venus de Milo and Mars. (Aphrodite's Roman name was Venus.) (zoom)
APHRODITE was the great Olympian goddess of beauty, love, pleasure and and procreation.
She was depicted as a beautiful woman usually accompanied by the winged godling Eros (Love). Her attributes included a dove, apple, scallop shell and mirror. In classical sculpture and fresco she was often depicted nude.
Some of the most famous myths of Aphrodite include:
Her birth from the sea foam;
Her adulterous affair with the god Ares;
Her love for Adonis, a handsome youth tragically killed by a boar;
Her love for Ankhises, a shepherd-prince;
The judgement of Paris in which the goddess was awarded the prize of the golden apple in return for promising Paris Helene;
The Trojan War in which she supported her favourites Paris and Aeneas and was wounded in the fighting;
The race of Hippomenes for Atalanta, which was won with the help of the goddess and her golden apples;
Roman Name: Afrodith
The death of Hippolytos, who was destroyed by the goddess for scorning her worship;
The statue of Pygmalion which was brought to life by Aphrodite in answer to his prayers;
The persecution of Psykhe, the maiden loved by the goddess' son Eros.