of Romance and Beauty
The Greek goddess Aphrodite, the original
"Golden Girl", perfectly attired for the occasion in a simple string of pearls
and a couple of strategically placed scallop shells, stepped out of the ocean on the
island of Cypress and set the ancient world on its ear.
Aphrodite, goddess of romantic love had finally arrived!
Never had there been such sensual beauty and impeccable taste. The other Greek goddesses
now had their work set out for them . . . a new standard had been set, and the world would
never be the same! Henceforth there would be candlelit dinners, heart-rending arias in
operas, high-heeled shoes and bright red lipstick (not to mention soap operas). Romance
was here and planning to stay.
It is not clear how the Greek goddess Aphrodite (also
known as the Roman goddess Venus) came to be "sea-born". One legend was that Aphrodite was the
daughter of the Titan Uranus, formed from his genitals that had been severed and tossed
into the sea by his son Cronus who was in the process of usurping his father's throne.
What is certain is that the her arrival
caused quite a stir! Every Greek god and goddess was dying to meet her. The Horae (Hours)
welcomed her to step ashore and adorned her with the finest gold ornaments and cloth, then
brought Aphrodite to Mount Olympus to present her to Zeus and the other gods and
To his credit Zeus instantly realized that this captivating
creature could become the source of all sorts of trouble, her radiance stirring every
man's passion and leading to constant fighting for her attention. To head off this
possibility, Zeus decided she must be married at once ("taken off the market",
so to speak) and awarded the goddess to his son, Hephaestus, god of the forge.
It goes without saying that Hephaestus must have thought himself the luckiest man alive,
especially since he was lame and "no great looker" himself. But he was reliable
and hard working.
Overjoyed with his good fortune in acquiring this stunning
bride, Hephaestus did his best to please Aphrodite, designing and creating for her the
most beautiful jewelry and furniture that had ever been seen. He even went so far as to
make Aphrodite a magical golden girdle that made her irresistible to men when she wore it.
Whatever could he have been thinking?
||Of all the imaginable pairings of Greek god and goddess,
this one had to be the worst mismatch possible. Needless to say, their marriage had its
ups and downs. Aphrodite, goddess that she was, felt she had married below her
"class" since Hephaestus was decidedly "blue collar" even though he
was a god . . . he was not at all what she, with her impeccable taste, had in mind. Aphrodite insisted upon an "open marriage" (at least for her) and
indulged in numerous love affairs with both mortals and other gods.
Except for a few occasions when
overwhelmed with jealousy or resentment, Hephaestus seemed to accept this
arrangement, happy to just have and hold her when he could. Indeed, their marriage seemed
companionable, with little passion perhaps, but little conflict as well.
It was as if everyone recognized that Aphrodite had one
gift and one gift only . . . to make love. And that one gift was so special that no one
seemed to resent it. While all the other gods and goddesses had lengthy lists of divine
duties to perform, the goddess Aphrodite was assigned only one . . . to bring love into
Athena once caught Aphrodite weaving and reprimanded her
for encroaching upon Athena's area of responsibility. Aphrodite was quick to apologize and
vowed never to do any work ever again!
Although they were surely envious of her beauty and
her exciting but easy life, other women weren't usually jealous or resentful of her
charms. Although none were what could be called really close friends, they found her to be
quite friendly and extraordinarily generous. She even went to the extent of loaning Hera
her magic girdle to help her keep Zeus' wandering eyes where they belonged. The goddess
Aphrodite was always ready to help both the deities and mortals to win the loves they
Greek goddess Aphrodite, however, is
best known for her own love affairs, which were numerous and varied and
resulted in many offspring by her various lovers. Her most notable
lovers were the gods Ares, Dionysius, Hermes, Poseidon, and the mortal,
You'd think the other Greek goddesses would have been green
with envy, but the willingness of the community to suspend their norms for the goddess
Aphrodite is clear. Her flagrant affair with Ares, the god of war, was obvious to all and
the cause of much embarrassment for her husband. Hephaestus fashioned an invisible net
made of bronze and captured them in it while they were in bed together.
Hauling the pair in front of a jury of the Olympians, he
demanded their punishment. Reluctant to get involved, the court instead chided Hephaestus
for being silly and giving Aphrodite an outfit that rendered her irresistible in the
Although the goddess Aphrodite seldom seemed very serious
in her affairs, one love caused her great suffering. She had begged Adonis, her
beloved mortal, to give up the dangerous sports he enjoyed because she could not bear to
lose him. But Adonis ignored her advice and was killed by a wild boar while hunting. When
he died, Aphrodite heard his cries and hastened to his side in her swan-drawn chariot. She
cursed the Fates that had ordained his death and, with Adonis still in her arms, turned
the blood drops that fell from his wounds onto the soil into windflowers, also known as
the short-lived anemone, as a memorial to their love.
Aphrodite's most famous son was Eros, the god of love, who
helped her with her work. A talented archer, his job was to shoot arrows dipped in
Aphrodite's love potion, hitting her unwitting victims, causing them to fall madly in love
with the next person they saw. Many of the great love stories began this way, but many
respectable homes were broken up as well.
Although she was most often loving and generous, Aphrodite could be quite malicious and vindictive as well. She insisted upon being
given the honor she felt was due her and was quick and harsh in punishing those who
weren't sufficiently appreciative of her efforts. Ares, Medea, Psyche, and Atalanta, to
name but a few, could attest that the Greek goddess Aphrodite's power was immense.
Often the punishments rendered by the goddess Aphrodite, though severe, held important
lessons embedded within them. These were lessons that sparked growth and ultimately
improved the life or extended the vision of the person she was punishing, as in the case
The influence of the Greek goddess Aphrodite can be seen as
generative, far beyond that of romance, love, or desire alone. She is
associated with the life-giving sea. Just as the waves lapping on the shore
refresh and renew the beach, Aphrodite brings us hope and the awareness of the transforming power of love
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symbols of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite
abbreviated version of her