Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty and desire. She is also associated with the sea, fertility and vegetation. Mostly depicted as a beautiful woman, Aphrodite is quite often shown accompanied by Eros – the winged god of love. Some of her prominent attributes include dove, apple, mirror and scallops shell. According to ancient Greek mythology, Aphrodite punished those who neglected her worship and despised her power, and favored and protected those who paid homage to her and recognized her powers.
Birth of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love
According to the ancient literature there are two versions of her birth. The first one being that she was the daughter born to Zeus and Dione. The second, and yet interesting, account states that she was born from the foam created in the sea which was formed when the blood drops that fell into the sea when Cronus emasculated his father, Uranus. Zephyr, the Greek god of west wind, gently blew and pushed her to the shore of the island of Cyprus. On the island she was received by Grace, the giver of beauty and charm, and dressed and taken to Mount Olympus, the abode of gods.
Marriage and Love
On Mount Olympus, Aphrodite’s beauty became a curse for her. Gods began to fear that her beauty would give rise to jealousy among them, which would end up in war among themselves and interrupt the peace. Therefore, Zeus decided to marry her off to Hephaestus – the god of fire, who was not considered to be a threat among the gods. Many accounts refer to Aphrodite as Adonis’s lover as well as surrogate mother. One such account states that she spent most of the time going hunting with Adonis, and when Adonis was killed by a wild boar, she mourned over his death for a long time. While she was looking for his body, her delicate feet were hurt by thorns and the blood which oozed out from her feet gave rise to beautiful flowers known as Anemones. Her love affair with Ares – the Greek god of war was also renowned. Yet another account describes Aphrodite’s love for Anchises, a shepherd prince, whom she allowed to flee from Troy.
Love, Hatred and Deceit
Aphrodite goddess of love represented the power of love. She blessed individuals who worshiped her. Various accounts depict her as ruthless goddess, who punished individuals who despised love as well. In one such incident, she punished Narcissus, a beautiful young man, who refused to worship Aphrodite, by making him fall in love with his own image. An account states that Hippolytos, son of Theseus, was destroyed by Aphrodite for scorning her worship. When prince Paris had to choose the most beautiful women between her, Athena and Hera, to receive the golden apple thrown by Eris, the goddess of discord. Aphrodite promised Paris the love of most beautiful woman on Earth, Helen, who was already married to Agamemnon. This eventually led to Trojan war, which led to heavy casualty.
Aphrodite, the goddess of love has been a popular subject in artworks like classical sculpture and fresco, i.e. painting onto the wet plaster on the wall. In most of these artworks she has been depicted nude. The islands of Cyprus and Cythera in Greece were the prominent places where Aphrodite was worshiped. The Roman goddess, Venus has quite often been related to the Greek goddess, Aphrodite. One of the most powerful among the various Greek deities, Aphrodite had the charm and elegance, which she used, to get whatever she wanted. For some she was ruthless, while for others she was caring. With all these great acts to her credit, she has been rightly regarded as one of the greatest Olympian divinities.