Roman name: Venus
Parents: Zeus and Dione
Goddess of love and beauty
There were two versions of Aphrodite’s birth. The first version suggested that Aphrodite was created from the foam of the sea when Cronus cut off Uranus’s genitals. Homer, in his poems, suggested that Aphrodite came from the union of Zeus and Dione.
Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, the deformed god of fire. Some stories told how Zeus arranged this in revenge for refusing him. Other stories told that Hephaestus asked his mother Hera to arrange the marriage. By either account, Aphrodite had little say in the marriage arrangement.
Though married, she looked other places for affections and started an affair with Ares, Hephaestus’s stepbrother. Hephaestus learned of the affair and set a trap for the lovers. He told Aphrodite that he was going to be gone for several days. Aphrodite and Ares decided to take advantage of his absence and were in bed together. They did not know that Hephaestus had rigged the bed with a metal net that dropped on them and trapped the two lovers. Not only did Hephaestus find the two together, but the rest of the Olympian gods were also there to see the unfaithful pair. Poseidon had pity on Aphrodite and asked Hephaestus to make up with his wife.
Aphrodite had a son named Eros. He has been depicted as a little child with a bow and magical arrows. Being shot with one of his arrows caused a person to fall in love. Aphrodite was also famous for her contest with Hera and Athena for the title of “The Fairest.” All three bribed the judge of the contest, Paris of Troy. (Click here for the full Story) Athena offered Paris victory in war. Hera promised him political power, and Aphrodite offered to him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen. This was the same Helen whose abduction from Sparta started the Trojan War.
Another famous story about Aphrodite concerned her affair with Anchises. Zeus decided to give Aphrodite some of her own medicine. Aphrodite was fond of causing the gods to fall in love. This time Zeus caused Aphrodite to fall in love with a mortal named Anchises. In one version of the story, she appeared to Anchises as a beautiful mortal. Together they a son name Aeneas (Aeneas descendants became the founders of Rome) Aphrodite revealed her diety to Anchises, and he was very dismayed. In another version of the story, Aphrodite came to him in her goddess form, but he refused her. He feared the union of a mortal and immortal because it usually turned out badly for the mortal. She later disguised herself and revealed her deception to Anchise only after becoming pregnant. Zeus was said to either have killed Anchises or crippled him with a thunderbolt in punishment for revealing the secret of his affair with Aphrodite to other mortals.
Primavera (detail) Botticelli, Sandro Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Major Gods and Goddesses
Introduction | Creation Story | Olympians VS. Titans | Creation of Man | Revolt of Giants
Abduction of Persephone | The Underworld | Visitors to Underworld | Amzon Warriors
Ares vs. Athena | Daedalus and Icarus | Echo and Narcissus | Judgement of Paris
Perseus and Andromeda | Trojan War
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