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    Gods and Goddesses ; Aphrodite

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    Gods and Goddesses ; Aphrodite

    Post  Soaring Bird on Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:33 am

    Aphrodite


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    For other uses, see Aphrodite (disambiguation).





    Detail of the The Birth of Venus (also known as Aphrodite) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1879.

    Aphrodite (Greek φροδίτη) is the Greek goddess of love and beauty and sexuality. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus
    Origins



    Her Roman analogue is Venus. Her Mesopotamian counterpart was Ishtar. Her Egyptian counterpart is Hathor, and her Syro-Palestinian counterpart was `Ashtart (in standard Greek spelling Astarte); her Etruscan equivalent was Turan. She has parallels to Indo-European dawn goddesses such as Ushas or Aurora.

    The name φροδίτη the name is connected by popular etymology with φρός "foam", interpreting it as "risen from the foam". It has reflexes in Messapic and Etruscan (whence April), which were probably loaned from Greek. Attempts to derive the name from Semitic Aštoret, via undocumented Hittite transmission, remain doubtful. A suggestion by Hammarström[1], rejected by Hjalmar Frisk, connects the name with πρύτανις, a loan into Greek from a cognate of Etruscan (e)pruni, "lord" or similar.

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    Worship


















    The epithet Aphrodite Acidalia was occasionally added to her name, after the spring she used to bathe in, located in Boeotia (Virgil I, 720). She was also called Kypris or Cytherea after her alleged birth-places in Cyprus and Cythera, respectively. The island of Cythera was a center of her cult. She was associated with Hesperia and frequently accompanied by the Oreads, nymphs of the mountains.

    Aphrodite had a festival of her own, the Aphrodisiac (also referred to as Aphrodisia), which was celebrated all over Greece but particularly in Athens and Corinth. In Corinth, intercourse with her priestesses was considered a method of worshipping Aphrodite.

    Aphrodite was associated with, and often depicted with dolphins, doves, swans, pomegranates, apples, myrtle, rose and lime trees.

    Venus was often referred to with epithet Venus Erycina ("of the heather") after Mount Eryx, Sicily, one of the centers of her cult.

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    Birth







    The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, 1485.

    "Foam-arisen" Aphrodite was born of the sea foam near Paphos, Cyprus after Cronus cut off Uranus' genitals and threw them into the sea. Hesiod's Theogony described that the genitals "were carried over the sea a long time, and white foam arose from the immortal flesh; with it a girl grew" to become Aphrodite. Thus Aphrodite is of an older generation than Zeus. Iliad (Book V) expresses another version of her origin, by which she was considered a daughter of Dione, who was the original oracular goddess ("Dione" being simply "the goddess, the feminine form of Δíος, "Dios", the genitive of Zeus) at Dodona. In Homer, Aphrodite, venturing into battle to protect her son, Aeneas, is wounded by Diomedes and returns to her mother, to sink down at her knee and be comforted. "Dione" seems to be an equivalent of Rhea, the Earth Mother, whom Homer has relocated to Olympus, and refers back to a hypothesized original Indo-European pantheon, with the chief male god (Di-) represented by the sky and thunder, and the chief female god (feminine form of Di-) represented as the earth or fertile soil. Aphrodite herself was sometimes referred to as "Dione". Once the worship of Zeus had usurped the oak-grove oracle at Dodona, some poets made him out to be the father of Aphrodite.

    Aphrodite's chief center of worship remained at Paphos, on the south-western coast of Cyprus, where the goddess of desire had long been worshipped as Ishtar and Ashtaroth. It is said that she first tentatively came ashore at Cytherea, a stopping place for trade and culture between Crete and the Peloponesus. Thus perhaps we have hints of the track of Aphrodite's original cult from the Levant to mainland Greece.

    In Plato's Symposium the speech of Pausanias distinguishes two manifestations of Aphrodite, represented by the two stories: Aphrodite Ourania ("heavenly" Aphrodite), and Aphrodite Pandemos ("Common" Aphrodite). These two manifestations represented her role in homosexuality and heterosexuality, respectively.

    Alternatively, Aphrodite was a daughter of Thalassa (for she was born of the Sea) and Zeus.

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    Adulthood



    Aphrodite, in many of the myths involving her, is characterized as vain, ill-tempered and easily offended. Though she is one of the few gods of the Greek Pantheon to be actually married, she is frequently unfaithful to her husband. Hephaestus, of course, is one of the most even-tempered of the Hellenic deities; Aphrodite seems to prefer Ares, the volatile god of war. In Homer's Iliad she surges into battle to save her son, but abandons him (in fact, drops him as she flies through the air) when she herself is hurt (Ares does much the same thing). And she is the original cause of the Trojan War itself: not only did she start the whole affair by offering Helen of Troy to Paris, but the abduction was accomplished when Paris, seeing Helen for the first time, was inflamed with desire to have her—which is Aphrodite's realm. Her domain may involve love, but it does not involve romance; rather, it tends more towards lust, the human irrational longing.

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    Marriage with Hephaestus



    Due to her immense beauty, Zeus was frightened that she would be the cause of violence between the other gods. He married her off to Hephaestus, the dour, humorless god of smithing. There is another version of this story. Because Hera, his mother, threw him off Olympus, he got his revenge by trapping her in a magic throne, then demanding Aphrodite's hand in return for Hera's release. Hephaestus was overjoyed at being married to the goddess of beauty and forged her beautiful jewelry, including the cestus, a girdle that made her even more irresistible to men. Her unhappiness with her marriage caused Aphrodite to seek out companionship from others, most frequently Ares, but also Adonis, Anchises and more. Hephaestus once cleverly caught Ares and Aphrodite in bed with finely wrought chains, and brought all the other Olympian gods together to mock the pair (however, the "goddesses stayed at home, all of them for shame.") Hephaestus would not free them until Poseidon promised Hephaestus that Ares would pay reparations, but both escaped as soon as the chains were lifted and their promise was not kept.

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    Aphrodite and Psyche



    Aphrodite was jealous of the beauty of a mortal woman named Psyche. She asked Eros to use his golden arrows to cause Psyche to fall in love with the ugliest man on earth. Eros agreed but then fell in love with Psyche on his own, or by accidentally pricking himself with a golden arrow. Meanwhile, Psyche's parents were anxious that their daughter remained unmarried. They consulted an oracle who told them she was destined for no mortal lover, but a monster who lived on top of a particular mountain. Psyche was resigned to her fate and climbed to the top of the mountain. There, Zephyrus, the west wind, gently floated her downwards. She entered a cave on the appointed mountain, surprised to find it full of jewellery and finery. Eros visited her every night in the cave and they made love; he demanded only that she never light any lamps because he did not want her to know who he was (having wings made him distinctive). Her two sisters, jealous of Psyche, convinced her to do so one night and she lit a lamp, recognizing him instantly. A drop of hot lamp oil fell on Eros' chest and he awoke, then fled.

    When Psyche told her two jealous elder sisters what had happened; they rejoiced secretly and each separately walked to the top of the mountain and did as Psyche described her entry to the cave, hoping Eros would pick them instead. Zephyrus did not pick them and they fell to their deaths at the base of the mountain.

    Psyche searched for her lover across much of Greece, finally stumbling into a temple to Demeter, where the floor was covered with piles of mixed grains. She started sorting the grains into organized piles and, when she finished, Demeter spoke to her, telling her that the best way to find Eros was to find his mother, Aphrodite, and earn her blessing. Psyche found a temple to Aphrodite and entered it. Aphrodite assigned her a similar task to Demeter's temple, but gave her an impossible deadline to finish it by. Eros intervened, for he still loved her, and caused some ants to organize the grains for her. Aphrodite was outraged at her success and told her to go to a field where golden sheep grazed and get some golden wool. Psyche went to the field and saw the sheep but was stopped by a river-god, whose river she had to cross to enter the field. He told her the sheep were mean and vicious and would kill her, but if she waited until noontime, the sheep would go the shade on the other side of the field and sleep; she could pick the wool that stuck to the branches and bark of the trees. Psyche did so and Aphrodite was even more outraged at her survival and success. Finally, Aphrodite claimed that the stress of caring for her son, depressed and ill as a result of Psyche's unfaithfulness, had caused her to lose some of her beauty. Psyche was to go to Hades and ask Persephone, the queen of the underworld, for a bit of her beauty in a black box that Aphrodite gave to Psyche. Psyche walked to a tower, deciding that the quickest way to the underworld would be to die. A voice stopped her at the last moment and told her a route that would allow her to enter and return still living, as well as telling her how to pass Cerberus, Charon and the other dangers of the route. She pacified Cerberus, the three-headed dog, with a sweet honey-cake and paid Charon an obolus to take her into Hades. On the way there, she saw hands reaching out of the water. A voice told her to toss a honey cake to them. Once there, Persephone said she would be glad to do Aphrodite a favor. She once more paid Charon, threw the cake out to the hands, and gave one to Cerberus.

    Psyche left the underworld and decided to open the box and take a little bit of the beauty for herself, thinking that if she did so Eros would surely love her. Inside was a "Stygian sleep" which overtook her. Eros, who had forgiven her, flew to her body and wiped the sleep from her eyes, then begged Zeus and Aphrodite for their consent to his wedding of Psyche. They agreed and Zeus made her immortal. Aphrodite danced at the wedding of Eros and Psyche and their subsequent child was named Pleasure, or (in the Roman mythology) Volupta.

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    Adonis



    Aphrodite was Adonis' lover and had a part in his birth. She urged Myrrha or Smyrna to commit incest with her father, Theias, the King of Assyria. Another version says Myrrha's father was Cinyras of Cyprus. Myrrha's nurse helped with the scheme. When Theias discovered this, he flew into a rage, chasing his daughter with a knife. The gods turned her into a myrrh tree and Adonis eventually sprang from this tree. Alternatively, Aphrodite turned her into a tree and Adonis was born when Theias shot the tree with an arrow or when a boar used its tusks to tear the tree's bark off.

    Once Adonis was born, Aphrodite took him under her wing, seducing him with the help of Helene, her friend, and was entranced by his unearthly beauty. She gave him to Persephone to watch over, but Persephone was also amazed at his beauty and refused to give him back. The argument between the two goddesses was settled either by Zeus or Calliope, with Adonis spending four months with Aphrodite, four months with Persephone and four months of the years on his own.

    Adonis was eventually killed by a jealous Ares. Aphrodite was warned of this jealousy and was told that Adonis would be killed by a boar that Ares transformed into. She tried to persuade Adonis to stay with her at all times, but his love of hunting was his downfall. While Adonis was hunting, Ares found him and gored him to death. Aphrodite arrived just in time to hear his last breath. It is also said that Aphrodite bore a daughter to Adonis, Beroe.

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    The Judgment of Paris



    The gods and goddesses as well as various mortals were invited to the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (the eventual parents of Achilles). Only the goddess Eris (Discord) was not invited, but she arrived with a golden apple inscribed with the words "to the fairest," which she threw among the goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena all claimed to be the fairest, and rightful owners of the apple. The goddesses chose to put the matter before Paris, a shepherd known for his solving matters, who later turned out to be a prince of Troy. Hera tried to bribe Paris with the Asia Minor, while Athena offered glory and fame in battle, but Aphrodite whispered to Paris that if he were to choose her as the fairest he would have the most beautiful mortal woman as a wife, and he accordingly chose her. This woman was Helen. The other goddesses were enraged by this and through Helen's abduction by Paris they stirred up the Trojan War. This abduction led to the Trojan war because Helen had already been married to a Greek. In this way, the Greeks found out that Paris had taken Helen to far away Troy and so they sieged Troy for an almost endless ten years which led up to Homer's book, The Iliad.

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    Pygmalion and Galatea



    Pygmalion was a sculptor who had never found a woman worthy of his love. Aphrodite took pity on him and decided to show him the wonders of love. One day, Pygmalion was inspired by a dream of Aphrodite to make a woman out of ivory resembling her image, and he called her Galatea. He fell in love with the statue and decided he could not live without her. He prayed to Aphrodite, who carried out the final phase of her plan and brought the exquisite sculpture to life. Pygmalion loved Galatea and they were soon married.

    Another version of this myth tells that the women of the village in which Pygmalion lived grew angry that he had not married. They all asked Aphrodite to force him to marry. Aphrodite accepted and went that very night to Pygmalion, and asked him to pick a woman to marry. She told him that if he did not pick one, she would do so for him. Not wanting to be married, he begged her for more time, asking that he be allowed to make a sculpture of Aphrodite before he had to choose his bride. Flattered, she accepted.

    Pygmalion spent a lot of time making small clay sculptures of the Goddess, claiming it was needed so he could pick the right pose. As he started making the actual sculpture he was shocked to discover he actually wanted to finish, even though he knew he would have to marry someone when he finished. The reason he wanted to finish it was that he had fallen in love with the sculpture. The more he worked on it, the more it changed, until it no longer resembled Aphrodite at all.

    At the very moment Pygmalion stepped away from the finished sculpture Aphrodite appeared and told him to choose his bride. Pygmalion chose the statue. Aphrodite told him that could not be, and asked him again to pick a bride. Pygmalion put his arms around the statue, and asked Aphrodite to turn him into a statue so he could be with her. Aphrodite took pity on him and brought the statue to life instead.

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