is the goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture. According to Hesiod, she was
born when Uranus (the father of the gods) was castrated by his son Cronus.
Cronus threw the severed genitals into the ocean which began to churn and foam
about them. From the aphros ("sea foam") arose Aphrodite, and
the sea carried her to either Cyprus or Cythera. Homer calls her a
daughter of Zeus and Dione.
After her birth, Zeus was afraid that the gods would fight
over Aphrodite's hand in marriage so he married her off to the smith god
Hephaestus, the steadiest of the gods. Hephaestus could hardly believe his good
luck and used all his skills to make the most lavish jewels for her. He made her
a girdle of finely wrought gold and wove magic into the filigree work. That was
not very wise of him, for when she wore her magic girdle no one could resist
her, and she was all too irresistible already. She loved gaiety and glamour and
was not at all pleased at being the wife of sooty, hard-working Hephaestus.
Aphrodite loved and was loved by many gods
and mortals. Among her mortal lovers, the most famous was perhaps Adonis.
Her festival is the Aphrodisiac which was celebrated in
various centers of Greece and especially in Athens and Corinth. Her priestesses
were women who represented the goddess and sexual intercourse with them was
considered just one of the methods of worship.
Aphrodite is known to incite feelings of love and lust
wherever she goes. She is a contender in the story of the Golden Apples, when
Paris chooses her as the fairest of the three goddesses (the others were Hera
and Athena) and Aphrodite decides to "reward" him for giving her the
Golden Apple (the prototype of most modern awards) by giving him the love of
Helen of Troy, something of a mixed blessing that led to the Trojan War.
The Roman Goddess of Love (Greek Aphrodite)
was also Goddess of the Oceans. The famous image, Venus rising from the seafoam,
comes from wall frescos at Pompeii, the Italian coastal city where she was
particularly venerated. As Goddess of Sexual Love, Her famous Renaissance
depiction, birthed from sea-foam, belies her earlier association with Artemis as
a Lady of the Hunt. Her horned consort was Adonis, and her worship by the Romans
included temple instruction in sacred sexual techniques for achieving heightened
spiritual consciousness. The metal associated with Aphrodite is copper which is
abundant on the Isle of Cyprus, an early place of worship.