Aphrodite: goddess of love and beauty
A tale of two births
According to Homer, Aphrodite was the offspring of Zeus and Dione, the daughter of Ocean. However, Hesiod reports a much more unusual origin story for the goddess of love. He says that Cronos castrated his father, Ouranos, and threw away his genitals. When these landed in the sea, near the island of Cythera, they created a ball of foam which began to grow the baby Aphrodite. The ball of foam floated across the sea to Cyprus, where Aphrodite was born, in adult form. This version gives Aphrodite two of her nicknames: Cytherean and Cyprian.
Aphrodite in myth
Aphrodite can be a dangerous goddess, because she causes other gods and humans to fall in love, even when the resulting relationships are problematic or inappropriate. Sometimes she does this deliberately to cause trouble, such as when she made Phaedra, the wife of Theseus, fall in love with her stepson, Hippolytus, a passion which destroyed them both.
In Homer’s Odyssey she is married to Hephaistos, but is having an affair with Ares. In the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Zeus punishes Aphrodite for her mischief by making her fall in love with the Trojan prince Anchises, which results in the birth of the Trojan hero, Aeneas.
Aphrodite was the winner of the beauty contest judged by Paris, and gave him Helen of Sparta as a reward, which caused the Trojan War.
- Love: The love that Aphrodite brings is passionate and often destructive. She represents sexual desire rather than a more wholesome, lasting love.
- Beauty: Aphrodite is the most beautiful of the Olympian goddesses.
Seashell, mirror, nudity.
The video below explains the nature and deeds of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty.