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Aphrodite: Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty

Angela is a lover of the supernatural and Greek mythology. Although naturally skeptical, she loves hearing theories of the unknown.

Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty

Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty

The Legend

The Greek gods are unlike any other idols that people have created. The Greeks felt that gods should be able to go about their daily lives just as humans do, except they would be in charge of certain aspects of life, with superhuman abilities, and of course, immortality. Aphrodite was chosen as the goddess of love and is believed to embody all things that deal with love, desire, beauty, fertility, and the sea. Some also believe that she is the goddess of vegetation. As most Greek gods do, she has a Roman version of herself, whom we know as Venus. There have been many temples built in her honor. Through the years, she has become the symbol of love and beauty—so much so, that her name today, is often synonymous with eroticism.

One legend has it that the goddess of love is the daughter of Uranus—well, kind of. According to mythology, Uranus was a very evil man and was mean to his children and wife. His wife teamed up with their son Cronus (aka Kronus), who decided to send his father, Uranus, out of heaven. In the process, Uranus castrated Cronus and threw his penis into the sea. When it hit the sea, so did much of Cronus' blood. The blood began to foam as it transformed into a beautiful woman.

The sea nymphs became enamored by the beauty and dressed her in the most magnificent garments made of gold and flowers. As the lady formed, she became known as Aphrodite. It is in this description where she got her Greek name. "Aphro" in Greek means foam, and it was from this foam that she was born.

There are very few depictions of Aphrodite where she is not naked. Here is a more modest pose.

There are very few depictions of Aphrodite where she is not naked. Here is a more modest pose.

The Greek Goddess

Aphrodite is not only the goddess of love, but she also embodies a unique personality. Although she is thought to be gentle and pure, she is viewed as fierce and—well—whorish, for lack of a better description. She is unpredictable and complex, but most of all, she is stunning.

Although do not confuse the love she is to represent as the kind we should all strive for. She was not the goddess of marital love that endures forever. No, she represents the animal kind of love or rather lust. The kind that fills you with passion, but is temporal and the type of love where you might do something stupid to get someone's attention or do risky behavior.

Hephaestus was Aphrodite's first husband

Hephaestus was Aphrodite's first husband

Hephaestus: Her First Husband

Aphrodite had many lovers (as any true goddess of love would be expected to have), but she only married twice. Her first marriage was to the ugly god of fire named Hephaestus, who was crippled by his mother, Hera. Hephaestus resented his mother for crippling him and tricked her so that she became imprisoned by a golden throne.

Zeus promised the hand of Aphrodite to whoever could release Hera from her prison. Aphrodite convinced Ares to try, for she was madly in love with him. Unfortunately for her, he was unable to. Since Hephaestus was the one who trapped Hera in the first place, he was able to free her. Therefore, Aphrodite became married to him.

There are two alternate versions of how she became married to the ugliest of gods. The first one was a result of the god's fear that her brilliant beauty would cause jealousy among the gods. Therefore, to compensate for her magnitude of beauty, she was forced to marry Hephaestus, who was considered deformed and ugly. The alternate is that Zeus was punishing her for her arrogance, forcing the two to get married. Regardless of which version, it is clear that she did not love Hephaestus.

The Love Affair of Ares and Aphrodite

It was a well-known fact that Aphrodite was not faithful to her husband. She often cheated on him with mortals and god alike, but the one god she had the most passionate affair with was the god of war, Ares. It makes sense since they both represent passion but to different extremes. Often the idea of love and war has fascinated many since they seem like opposites, yet very similar in passion and cause.

Some of the myths state that she not only had a love affair with Ares but was able to marry him after she divorced her first husband. He is supposedly her one true love, despite her multiple affairs.

She has had many children, as you would expect any goddess of erotic love to have. Since the Greek gods did not have paternity tests, I am unsure of who all of the fathers are. She had three known children while she was married to Ares: Phobos, Deimos, and Harmonia.

This is one of the few depictions of Eros and Aphrodite, aka Cupid and Venus, where she is fully dressed.

This is one of the few depictions of Eros and Aphrodite, aka Cupid and Venus, where she is fully dressed.

Eros (aka Cupid): The God of Love

Of all her children, Eros became the most famous of her sons. We often send cards with his picture on them once a year on Valentine's Day. Yes, Eros does go by another name, which we use more often, and that is Cupid.

He is the god of love who is often the symbol of both Valentine's Day and Sweetheart's Day. Eros fell in love with a mortal by the name of Psyche. Unfortunately, Aphrodite was jealous of Psyche because of her extreme beauty. As any good mother would do, she told Eros that he must convince Psyche to fall in love with a monster. Eros didn't want to disobey his mother but wanted to be true to Psyche, so he disguised himself as the hideous being, and agreed only to meet her at night, so she would believe he was truly ugly.

Then one day, Psyche's curiosity got the best of her, so she decided to peak on this hideous monster and discovered it was Eros. When Eros found that she had peaked, he became enraged and forced her to wander the world alone in misery for the rest of her life. He regretted his decision and became overcome by his great love for Psyche that he asked Zeus to make Psyche immortal. Zeus granted this wish, and Psyche and Eros married.

Aphrodite began the Trojan War as a result of the Golden Apple of Discord.

Aphrodite began the Trojan War as a result of the Golden Apple of Discord.

The Trojan War

Aphrodite is most infamous for starting the Trojan War. All the gods were invited to the wedding of King Peleus and Thetis, a sea nymph (parents of Achilles), well, all the gods except one, Eris, the goddess of discord. When Eris found out, she became outraged, so she made a plan that would cause complete chaos. She placed a golden apple that labeled, "to the fairest," at the wedding. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all believed themselves to be the fairest of them all and felt that the golden apple was intended for them.

First, they looked to Zeus to reveal who was the fairest. Being the wise man he was, he refused to answer. They then decided to ask the most handsome man at the wedding who the fairest god was. They all decided the most handsome man was Paris, a noble Trojan. Wanting to be chosen as the fairest, the three bribed Paris through promises.

Hera offered him the chance to rule over the world with her, while Athena promised him to be victorious in war.

Only Aphrodite was able to give him what he wanted. She promised him the love of the most beautiful maiden in the land, Helen of Troy, which would have been okay, except Helen of Troy was already married to the Greek King Menelaus of Sparta. So when Eris took Helen of Troy as his wife, the beginning of the Trojan War began.

Venus: Goddess of Love and Beauty

Aphrodite, though believed to be the goddess of love, did not live her life with loving intentions. She was arrogant, self-centered, and had no qualms about destroying people's lives. Like most Greek gods, she too had a Roman version of herself, which we know as Venus. The most significant difference is that her parents were Jupiter and Dionne. Jupiter's Greek name is Zeus. Venus also tends to be thought of as a little softer side of Aphrodite. She is the patroness of prostitutes, goddess of fertility and vegetation, as well as the goddess of love and beauty like Aphrodite.

References

© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz

Comments

brian from uk on January 01, 2020:

I have always found greek mythology facinating even as a child i was drawn to there differences

Kylee on March 15, 2019:

I am working on a school project so helpful thanks.

Ashley Leehans from Covington, Louisiana on January 26, 2013:

I have to do a huge project for school on one of the Gods or Goddesses. I chose Aphrodite. This is PERFECT for helping me out. This is a really GREAT summary! So happy I found this! I loved this!

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on February 13, 2011:

She is a Hindu Goddess

vidyadhara on February 10, 2011:

why is Aphrodite listed in the Hinduism group??

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on January 12, 2011:

Definitely okay, I might have to link back. I'll check it out!!!

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on January 09, 2011:

Hi angela_michelle :)

I have linked to this hub on my own about 'Brilliant Venus - Goddess and Planet' ~ hope that's ok? :)

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on November 24, 2010:

Thanks so much Monika! Is that a photo of yourself in your avatar? If so, you are beautiful!

Monika Rumin from Croatia on November 24, 2010:

Nice hub :)

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on November 21, 2010:

Sueroy! LOL, aren't daughters a blast!!! I'm glad that you enjoyed this article! :)

Susan Mills from Indiana on November 21, 2010:

Thank you so much for this hub!

I just finished reading this out-loud to my daughter. She enjoyed every second of it, I just wish I could pronounce these names better as she was rolling with laughter when I read about "Uranus" (he was such a butt mom!) and "Haphaestus" (which I pronounced Half-ass-to-us... I'll let you imagine the comment)

She was interested all the way through- even after the article moved passed the butt humor. (well, butt humor to us, sorry about that. We're a little twisted). This was great and informative.

We love your articles!!

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on November 21, 2010:

Thanks so much for your comment, and I agree with you one hundred percent. In answer to your question, because our God is so magnificent, it's hard for us humans to believe a being so wonderful and loving could possibly exist. Well, that's just one of the many reasons, then there's the misconceptions of God, and well, every person has individual reasons for not believing. Those two seem to cover majority of disbelief.

Jason R. Manning from Sacramento, California on November 21, 2010:

These stories of the god’s are great insight into the minds that explore unrepentantly. It is interesting the intricacies and interactions, there is such real human strife revealed among the Greek gods. It is equally interesting to see the clarity of our one true God and the expectations he laid before us versus the squabbling gods of yore. Why is it the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is so difficult for humans to grasp? Great hub, I enjoyed this topic.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on November 21, 2010:

So true acer! I think she is one of the most dangerous of the goddesses in that respect. :)

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on November 21, 2010:

Yeah, that's actually one of the reasons I chose to do this. Plus I just read the Percy Jackson series, and it intrigued me so much, that I wanted to learn more about the gods/goddesses. I figured the goddess of love would interest people more than some of the others, we'll see.

Mentalist acer from A Voice in your Mind! on November 21, 2010:

Aphrodite,to me,would be the definition of,be careful for what you wish for,not because of her erotic nature,but because of the jealousy it invokes on others,perhaps in an spell-induced manner from Zeus,even I would be driven to fits over her,lol;)

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on November 21, 2010:

Thanks for the overview of the mythology. I never seem to get around to reading the myths.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on November 20, 2010:

Oh that is so neat! I didn't know that! Thanks for adding to my hub info!

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on November 20, 2010:

Great Hub. I used to live in Paphos, Cyprus where Aphrodite was said to emerge from the foam. So Cyprus calls itself the island of love. Enjoyed the read - thanks.