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Aphrodite
Aphrodite Hermitage Museum
Statue of Aphrodite in the State Hermitage Museum.
General information
Part ofGreek mythology
GenderFemale
AbodeMount Olympus
Major cult centresPaphos
SymbolsEros, dove, apple, myrtle-wreath, lettuce, rose, hare, pomegranate, daffodil, goose, sparrow, scallop shell, girdle, mirror, anemone, swan
DayFriday
FestivalsAphrodisia
Family
ParentsOuranos; Zeus and Diane
SiblingsArtemis, Apollo, Athena, Hebe, Persephone, Dionysus, Hermes, Heracles, Moirae, Aegipan, Perseus, various others
ConsortHephaestus, Ares, Poseidon, Hermes, Dionysus, Adonis, and Anchises
ChildrenEros, Phobos, Deimos, Pothos, Harmonia, Eryx, Rhode, Hermaphrodite, Priapus, Aeneas
Linguistic information
Name in other languagesAncient Greek: Ἀφροδίτη
Transliterationaphrodite
IPA pronunciation/æfrəˈdaɪti/
Meaning of name"foam-arisen"
Equivalents in other languagesVenus (Roman mythology), Hathor (Egyptian mythology), Freya (Germanic mythology), Astarte (Phoenician-Syrian mythology), Mylitta (Assyrian mythology), Mitra (Persian mythology), Alilat (Arabian mythology), Anaitis (Armenian mythology), Argimpasa (Scythian mythology)
Muse, tell me the things done by golden Aphrodite, the one from Cyprus, who arouses sweet desire for gods and who subdues the races of mortal humans, and birds as well, who fly in the sky, as well as all beasts—all those that grow on both dry land and the sea.
Homeric Hymn 6 to Aphrodite[1]

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite (Ancient Greek: Ἀφροδίτη, Aphrodite) was the goddess of love, beauty, procreation, pleasure and fertility. She was frequently equated with the Roman Venus and the Egyptian Hathor, both goddesses of love; she was also sometimes considered the Greek equivalent of the Germanic goddess Freya.

There are differing stories surrounding her origin: according to Hesiod, she was born of the sea foam (aphros) generated when Ouranos' mutilated genitals were thrown into the sea. [2] With the sole exception of the Homeric hymn to Aphrodite, there is no mention of this myth in any of Homer's work: in his tradition Aphrodite was born of Zeus and Dione. [3] Hyginus adapted aspects of Syrian stories about the birth of Astarte and stated that Aphrodite was born of an egg rolled into the sea. [4] Later Roman traditions state that she was a daughter of Ouranos and Hemera. [5]

Aphrodite's beauty was a subject of concern among the gods, as many feared it would leave the rivalry over her would lead to war among the gods. Consequently, Zeus married her off to the ugly and deformed smith god Hephaestus, who would not be perceived as a threat among the other deities. Aphrodite, being unhappy with her marriage, subsequently had many erotic escapades with both gods and mortals—most notably Ares, god of war. She was also the surrogate mother and lover of Adonis, the mother of Eros and the immediate cause of the Trojan War.

Her symbols were myrtles, doves, apples, lettuce, shells, sparrows and mirrors. She also possessed a magical girdle fashioned by Hephaestus that made anyone who looked at it filled with amorous intent for the wearer; the girdle was subsequently borrowed by Hera to seduce Zeus. The arrow and the hare are also sometimes mentioned as her attributes.

EtymologyEdit

Traditionally, Aphrodite has been expressed as a compound ἀφρο-δίτη; Hesiod derives Aphrodite from the word aphros, "sea foam", and interprets the name as "foam-arisen" but the meaning and origin of the second part remains unclear. Herodotus recorded that Aphrodite's oldest non-Greek temple lay in Ascalon where she was termed as Ourania; most scholars accept this refers to the Semitic goddess Astarte. This most likely places Aphrodite's origins among the Phoenicians. The fact that one of her cult centers was located on the Cypriot coastline colonized by the Phoenicians points to the transmission of her cult from Phoenicia to Cyprus and then finally to mainland Greece. So far, linguistic attempts to derive the name from the Semitic Aštoret have proved inconclusive.

In mythologyEdit

BirthEdit

Various conflicting accounts exist for the birth of Aphrodite. Generally, Aphrodite was said to born near Paphos in Cyprus, [6] which is why in the works of Sappho she is termed "Cyprian". Other versions of the myth have her born near Cythera, leading to her ephithet Cytherea, lady of Cythera".[2]

The most common version of the birth of her birth describes her birth from sea-foam generated from the castrated genitals of the primordial god Ouranos. The blood or semen that issued forth from the genitals as they drifted over the waters set in motion the birth of Aphrodite. According to Hesiod, the girl formed floated ashore on a scallop shell in a representation popularized by a much-admired (now lost) painting of Apelles.

ReferencesEdit

  1. H. G. Evelyn-White, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1914.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hesiod, Theogony. Translated by H. G. Evelyn-White.
  3. Homer, Iliad. Translated by A. T. Murray.
  4. Hyginus, Fabulae. Translated by M. Grant.
  5. Cicero, De Natura Deum. Translated by H. Rackham.
  6. H. G. Evelyn-White, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1914.

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