Aphrodite: Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty

Updated on June 5, 2018
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Angela is a lover of the supernatural and, although naturally skeptical, loves hearing theories and stories of the unknown.

Aphrodite: Greek goddess
Aphrodite: Greek goddess | Source

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, which 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 actually 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. She was believed to be a red head, so here is one depiction that is not indecent for hubpages standards.
There are very few depictions of Aphrodite where she is not naked. She was believed to be a red head, so here is one depiction that is not indecent for hubpages standards. | Source

The Greek Goddess

Aphrodite is not only seen as the goddess of love, but she also embodies a very unique personality. Although she is seen as 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 very beautiful.

Although do not confuse the love she is to represent as the kind we should all strive for. She was definitely 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. The kind of love where you might do something stupid to get someone's attention or do risky behavior for.

Source

Haphaestus: Her First Husband

It is believed that 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 Haphaestus who was crippled by his mother, Hera. Haphaestus 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 Haphaestus 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 to how she became married to the ugliest of gods. The first one was a result of the gods fear that her brilliant beauty would cause jealousy among the gods. Therefore, to compensate for her magnitude of beauty she was forced to marry Haphaestus, 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 Haphaestus.

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 actually 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. It is known that she had three children while she was married to Ares: Phobos, Deimos, and Harmonia.

Eros and Aphrodite

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. | Source

Eros: Information About 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 to only meet her at night, so she would believe he was truly hideous.

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 discovered 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.

Golden Apple of Discord

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. | Source

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. She was not invited. 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. This 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: The Goddess of Love and Beauty

Aphrodite, though believed to be the goddess of love, did not live her life with loving intentions. She was conceited, self-centered, and had no qualms about destroying people's lives. Like most Greek gods, she too had a Roman version of herself, in which we know as Venus. The biggest 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

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz

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      • profile image

        Ashley Leehans 

        5 years ago from Covington, Louisiana

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

        She is a Hindu Goddess

      • profile image

        vidyadhara 

        7 years ago

        why is Aphrodite listed in the Hinduism group??

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

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

      • Trish_M profile image

        Tricia Mason 

        7 years ago from The English Midlands

        Hi angela_michelle :)

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

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

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

      • Monika Rumin profile image

        Monika Rumin 

        7 years ago from Croatia

        Nice hub :)

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

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

      • sueroy333 profile image

        Susan Mills 

        7 years ago from Indiana

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

        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 profile image

        Jason R. Manning 

        7 years ago from Sacramento, California

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

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

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

        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 profile image

        Mentalist acer 

        7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

        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;)

      • dahoglund profile image

        Don A. Hoglund 

        7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

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

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        7 years ago from United States

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

      • suziecat7 profile image

        suziecat7 

        7 years ago from Asheville, NC

        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.

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