“Uranos Drops” by Luis Royo.

APHRODITE (gr. Aphrodítē)

in Greek mythology the goddess of love and beauty (compare with Epithet Kallípygos “Of Beautiful Buttocks” [1]). She was considered a daughter of ➚ Zeus and ➚ Dione [2]; according to another version she was born from the drops of blood (semen) of castrated ➚ Uranus, which fell into the sea near Cyprus [3,4]. This myth allowed to derive her name from Greek aphrós “sea foam” (compare with agnomen “Emerged from Sea Foam” and rationalized statement that “semen is foam” [5], although the true etymology of this theonym is questionable (“Very Bright”?); it is even believed that its origin lies in the East. As the goddess of love Aphrodite extended her power over the gods (excluding ➚ Hestia, ➚ Athena and ➚ Artemis [6]), humans and animals [7] in the mountains (sky), on earth and in the sea; as Euploía “Benevolent on the (Sea) Journey” she was the patron of sailors. She married ➚ Hephaestus, but deceived him not only with gods (➚ Ares, ➚ Hermes, ➚ Dionysus, ➚ Poseidon) but also with humans (➚ Anchises, ➚ Butes-3). She gave birth to ➚ Eros and Anteros, ➚ Harmonia, ➚ Phobos and Deimos, ➚ Hermaphroditus, ➚ Priapus, ➚ Eryx, ➚ Aeneas et al. Her erotic triumphs were ensured by the wondrous girdle, on which “all the charms and delights had been wrought” [8]. The Goddess used to help lovers (see PYGMALION (I)) and due to that she was considered a patron of marriages and births [9], which motivated her identification with ➚ Hera [10].  She was eager to engage in war in support of her lovers (compare with her epithet Areía i.e. “Warlike” [11]: she protected ➚ Paris on the battlefield [12] and when rushing aid to Aeneas she exposed herself to humiliation and wound (see DIOMEDES-2). People who despised love risked drawing her hatred (see ANAXARETE; HYPPOLYTUS-2). In the famous argument of goddesses over the title of the most beautiful (see ERIS) she beat Hera and Athena by bribing Paris with the promise of marrying ➚ Helen [13] and during the ➚ Trojan war consequently supported the Trojans. She was depicted as an eternally young, beautiful woman accompanied by ➚ nymphs and ➚ Charites. The beauty of Aphrodite was symbolized with flowers (roses, lilies, violets, anemones) and her sexuality – ground animals (hare, goat, ram) and birds (sparrows, swans, pigeons). The fertility aspect of Aphrodite was emphasized with epithets en Kḗpois “in Gardens” [14] and Pandēmos “of All the People” [15,16]. Romans identified her with ➚ Venus.


[1] A t h e n., XII, 554 d; [2] H o m., Il., V, 370; [3] H e s., Theog., 189 ff.; [4] Hom. h. V, 1 ff.; [5] A r i s t o t., De gener. anim., II, 2; [6] Hom. h., IV, 7 ff.; [7] Hom. h., V, 69 ff.; [8] H o m., Il., XIV, 214 ff.; [9] P a u s., I, 1, 5; [10] P a u s., III, 13, 9; [11] P a u s., II, 5, 1; III, 15, 10; III, 23, 1; [12] H o m., Il., III, 380 ff.; [13] L u c., Disp. deor., XX, 13, f.; [14] P a u s., I, 19, 2; I, 27, 3; [15] A t h e n., XIII, 569 d; [16] P a u s., I, 22, 3; VI, 25, 1.

E. L a n g l o t z, Aphrodite in der Gärten, Heidelberg 1954; R. L u l l i e s, Die kauernde Aphrodite, München 1954; M. S t u b b s, Who was Aphrodite, “Orpheus” 1954; E. S i m o n, Die Geburt der Aphrodite, Berlin 1959; K.T. W i t c z a k, Greek Aphrodite and her Indo-European Origin With an Excursus on Myc. Pe-re-wa2 and Pamph. Preiia, “Les Etudes Classiques” 60, 1992 (see also pr. zb.: Miscellanea linguistica Graeco-Latina, Namur 1993).


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