Aphrodite

Summary

In the ancient Greek religion, Aphrodite (in ancient Greek: Ἀφροδίτη

Her main festival, the Aphrodisies, was celebrated every year in midsummer. In Laconia, Aphrodite was venerated as a warrior goddess.

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite is sometimes married to Hephaestus, god of fire, forge and metallurgy. Legends also tell of her adventures with many lovers, including Ares, Dionysus and Hermes.

With Athena and Hera, Aphrodite is one of the three goddesses whose quarrel leads to the beginning of the Trojan War during which she plays a major role.

Later, the Romans equated Aphrodite with the Venus of Roman mythology.

Aphrodite has been presented in Western art as a symbol of feminine beauty and she appears in many artistic works from the Renaissance to the present day.

Already, the Greeks had asked the question of the origin of Aphrodite.

Herodotus, with the information of the time, advanced an Eastern origin.

In fact, she most probably corresponds to the goddess Ishtar-Astarte, with whom she shares many features: they are androgynous deities; Astarte is the “queen of the sky” while Aphrodite is said to be “the celestial one” (their cult includes the offering of incense and the sacrifice of doves. Moreover, the name of Aphrodite has not been found on the Linear B tablets, written testimonies of the Mycenaean civilization.

Since the 19th century, the origin of Aphrodite has been the subject of numerous studies and controversies. The dominant opinion is that she derives from Middle Eastern deities, which the Greeks adopted and transformed over time.

Indo-European goddess of the dawn

Some comparative mythologists have argued that Aphrodite was an aspect of the Greek goddess of the dawn, Eos, and thus ultimately a result of the Indo-European dawn goddess **h₂ewsṓs (Greek Eos, Latin Aurora, Sanskrit Ushas). Deborah Dickmann Boedeker thus points out that the designation of Aphrodite as “daughter of Zeus” or, depending on the tradition, of Ouranos, joins that of Aurora as daughter of Heaven in the Indo-European tradition. Most modern scholars have rejected the notion of a purely Indo-European Aphrodite, but it is possible that the Indo-European notion of a goddess of the dawn influenced that of the originally Semitic deity Aphrodite, who was also known for her erotic beauty, aggressive sexuality, and relationships with mortal lovers.

Michael Janda analyzes the name Aphrodite as an epithet of Eos meaning “she who rises from the foam” which refers to Hesiod”s theogonic account of the birth of Aphrodite as an archaic reflex of Indo-European myth. Jean Haudry also interprets it as meaning “walking on the foam” or “who has the brilliance of the foam”. The myth of Aphrodite emerging from the waters after Cronos has defeated Ouranos, would then be directly related to that of Indra defeating Vrtra and liberating Ushas, the goddess of the dawn in the Rig-Veda. This inherited image is found in her epiclesis of Aphrodite Anadyomene “she who comes out of the water”.

Originally the goddess of Dawn, she became the goddess of love in all its forms, including prostitution, along with the Aphrodite pórnē of Abydos, the Aphrodite hetaíra of Athens, this role deriving from the myth of the Dawn uniting with a mortal.

Aphrodite appears for the first time in Homer (Iliad, II, 819-821): “The Dardanians followed Aeneas, the noble son of Anchises, the fruit of the love of Anchises and the divine Aphrodite, goddess united to a mortal, on the slopes of Ida.” It will also be quoted in the Iliad in verses III, 374-382; V, 130-132; 311-318; 329-430; XIV, 188-224; XIX, 282; XX, 4-40; 105; XXI, 385-520; XXII, 470-472; XXIII, 184-187 …

She is quoted in the Odyssey: VIII, 266-366; 306-320; 363.

Birth

Aphrodite has several legends about her birth.

In the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the earliest known Greek literary works, Aphrodite is born of Zeus (XXIII, 184-187): “Then Aphrodite fell at the knees of Dione, her mother, and she clasped her daughter in her arms…” Dione is a poorly known figure whose name, related to the name of Zeus (Ζεύς, genitive Διός), suggests that she was initially his goddess.

In Hesiod”s Theogony, another version of the birth of Aphrodite is given (verses 173-206): Cronos has just cut off the purses of Ouranos. He then throws them “at random, behind him. It was not however a vain debris which then fled from his hand. Gaia (Earth) received them all, and, with the course of the years, she gave birth to the powerful Erinyes, and the great Giants, and the Nymphs that are called Melian. As for the purses, as soon as he had cut them with steel (the idea being “very hard material”) and thrown them from the earth into the flood (and, all around, a white foam came out of the divine member. From this foam a daughter was formed, who first touched Cythera the divine, from where she was then in Cyprus, which is surrounded by the waves; and there the beautiful and venerated goddess was born, who made the grass grow around her under her light feet, and whom the gods as well as men call Aphrodite, [The translator puts square brackets on verse 196, indicating that this is probably a later addition to the text of Hesiod: “goddess born of foam (aphrogenea), and also Cytherea with a crowned forehead”], for having been formed from a foam (aphrô), or Cytherea, for having landed in Cythera, [Brackets are put in verses 199-200: “or Cyprogeneia, for having been born in Cyprus beaten by the waves, or Philommedaea, for having come out of the purses.  “]. Eros (Love) and the beautiful Himéros (Desire), without delay, made her procession, as soon as she was born and was set out towards the gods “.

Assignments

The cult of Aphrodite is often associated with sexuality, but this is not the only function of the goddess. She is related to the activities of young girls in general.

The details of the myth of Theseus and his love affair with Ariadne show an Aphrodite involved in sexuality outside of marriage, while in the Illiad, Zeus attributes to her “the charming works of marriage”. The Athenian cult, as well as that of other Greek cities, associates her with fertility.

The attributions of Aphrodite have evolved according to the times and the cities. In Sparta, where the sexuality of young girls was more strictly controlled, she was associated with more severe deities.

In the late period, the authors try to separate more rigorously the attributions of the deities of Olympus, and those of Aphrodite are more narrowly circumscribed. However, in all times, it is especially the girls and the women, more than the men and the boys, who have duties towards the goddess.

The feminine beauty, precious to the young girls in view of their marriage, to the women to whom it facilitates the harmony with their husbands, and to the courtesans for whom it is a necessity of their trade, is reflected in the mirrors decorated with the figure of Aphrodite, sometimes offered to the temple of the goddess when their owners have aged.

Epiclesis

Aphrodite has many epithets that reflect the aspects of her cult. In other epithets are found the type and names of her places of worship and sanctuaries.

According to Herodotus, it was specifically the cult of Aphrodite Ourania (Ἀφροδίτη Οὐρανία

In Athens there was “in the gardens” (ἐν κήποις), which were probably on the banks of the Ilissos, a temple of Aphrodite Ourania, who, on a hermes, was described as “the oldest of the Moires.” There was also an important statue of the goddess of the hand of Alcamenes in the same place. A second Athenian temple of Ourania was found near Kerameikos and the stoa of the king (Stoa Basileios) with a statue of Phidias. In Piraeus was a temple of Aphrodite Syría Ouranía (Συρία Οὐρανία).

The epithet of Pandemos (Πάνδημος

The Attic Pandemos was also called epitragía (ἐπιτραγία “of the goat”). According to Plutarch, it had acquired this epithet from an episode in the life of Theseus when, on the recommendation of Apollo, the hero had sacrificed a goat to Aphrodite before setting out for Crete in the hope that she would guide him on his journey. The animal was suddenly transformed into a goat. Goat victims were characteristic of Aphrodite throughout the country. This image of the goddess riding the goat was not, however, the exclusive characteristic of Aphrodite Pandemos; the ex-votos, from Athens and elsewhere, which represent her in this way, frequently place her in a context where she is especially Ourania. For Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, Aphrodite, whether she was Pandemos or Epitragia, also seems to have been related to the passage of young people from adolescence to adult sexuality.

Aphrodite also played the role of goddess of the city probably in Cassope (en) in Epirus and in Metropolis in Thessaly. Sometimes her two epicleses appeared side by side. Thus, the Thebans boasted three archaic wooden paintings of Aphrodite Ourania, Pandemos, and Apostrophía (Ἀποστροφία “she who diverts”), said to have been donated by Harmony and created from the figureheads of the Cadmos” ships.

Various epithets also refer to the sphere of the sea and navigation: Pelagía (Πελαγία, see Saint Pelagia), Pontía (Ποντία) “marine”, Thalassía (Θαλασσία “she of the sea” ), Eúploia (Εὔπλοια “she who grants a good crossing, happy navigation”, so in Knidos) or Limenía (Λιμενία “she of refuge”) is called Aphrodite as a goddess born of the foam and protector of navigators.

One of the most remarkable temples of Aphrodite Pontia et Limenia is that of Hermione in Argolid, where there was an impressive marble statue. Last but not least, Thalassa “the sea” was the “mother” of the goddess of love according to one of the versions reporting her birth; she herself was often worshipped with Poseidon, especially in Argolid and Arcadia, in Corinth, Orchomena and Patras.

Attributes

Aphrodite is mainly associated with birds: the swan, the turtledove, the dove (a team of these birds guides her chariot), the goose.the representations of her birth also associate her with shells (see above for the gallery of images).she is also associated with the ram, the goat, the hare.

Homer (Iliad) does not give any intimate relationship with Aphrodite.

Concerning Hephaestus, Homer (Iliad, XVIII, 380-383) gives only Charis as wife to Hephaestus (at the time of the Trojan war). In Homer (Iliad, XX, 31-155), Aphrodite supports the Trojans (with Ares, Apollo Phoibos, Artemis, Leto and the river Xanthe) while Hephaestus supports the Greeks (with Hera, Pallas Athena, Poseidon and Hermes).

The union of Aphrodite, ancient goddess of the Dawn, with Hephaestus who is originally a god of Fire, is explained by the fire that is lit or rekindled in the morning and the rite of presentation of the young bride to the hearth fire.

Homer (Odyssey, VIII, 266-366) speaks of the love of Aphrodite and Ares: “The aedic, after a few chords, began a beautiful song about the loves of Ares and crowned Aphrodite. They united at first secretly at Hephaestus; Ares had spoiled her, and it is thus that he outraged the bed of Hephaestus. But this god was informed by Helios (Sun), who had surprised them in full embrace. As soon as Hephaestus had heard this painful story, he ran to his forge and forged thick and strong bonds to take the lovers. Hephaestus set his trap around his bed and pretended to leave for Lemnos. Ares then hurried to join Aphrodite in the palace of Hephaestus. “But, as soon as they lay down and slept, the clever network of the skilful Hephaestus closed on them, preventing them from moving and lifting their limbs. The blacksmith god, once again warned by Helios, returns. Drunk with rage, he alerts all the gods: ” Zeus father, and you too, eternally blessed! come here to see a monstrous and grotesque crime! As I am lame, the daughter of Zeus, Aphrodite, does nothing but outrage me; she loves the cruel Ares because he is attractive and well planted, whereas I am crippled. But my network will hold them prisoners as long as I would not have received from the hands of my father-in-law all the presents that cost me his daughter with the eyes of a bitch, this girl so beautiful and yet so wanton! At these words, the gods ran. An unquenchable laughter seized them “. Apollo and Hermes joked but Poseidon begged Hephaestus to free Ares and vouched for him. Hephaestus accepts and frees his prisoners. Ares flies to Thrace. Aphrodite joined her temple of Paphos in Cyprus.

Aphrodite cursed Helios and his descendants, including Pasiphae (wife of King Minos of Crete) and his daughters Ariadne and Phaedra.

Hesiod (Theogony, 930-937) mentions the descent of Aphrodite and Ares: “to Ares the slayer, Cytherea (Aphrodite) gave Phobos (Rout) and Deimos (Panic) as sons, who, terrible, jostle the compact battalions of the warriors in the shivering war, with the help of Ares the destroyer, and also Harmony, whom the ardent Cadmos gave himself for wife”. Paul Mazon, concerning this passage which begins with the descent of Poseidon, specifies: “Poseidon is the only one of the Cronides whose descent Hesiod has not yet mentioned. He therefore interposes his name here next to his sister, Hera; and he takes advantage of this digression to return to Aphrodite, who, by her birth, is attached to the previous generation, since she is an Ouranid, but who is nonetheless part of the group of Olympians.

Hermes

According to relatively recent sources, from Hermes, she gives birth to Hermaphrodite. Originally, Hermaphrodite is a male form of Aphrodite, who was called Aphroditos and was worshipped as a deity in Cyprus. The form of the name Hermaphróditos goes back to the representation of Aphrodite as a hermes and initially means only “hermes of Aphrodite”. Her name is documented for the first time in literature in Theophrastus” Characters.

For Cicero, who does not mention Hermaphrodite, the only son of Hermes and Aphrodite is Eros.

Dionysus

From Dionysus, she gave birth to Priape (the paternity is attributed alternatively to Zeus or Adonis), Hymenaios, the god of the nuptial song (also said to be born from one of the nine Muses), and, according to the Orphic Hymn 54, the chtonian or infernal Hermes.

Concerning the Charites, there are several versions of their genealogy: according to Hesiod and Pindar, they are the daughters of Zeus and Eurynome (or Eunomia). Some late traditions make them the daughters of Helios (the Sun) and Aegle, or of Dionysus and Aphrodite (or Hera).

Poseidon

From Poseidon, she gave birth to Rhodos.

Phaethon (son of Eos)

Hesiod (Theogony, 985-991) gives Phaethon as the son of the goddess Eos (Dawn) and Cephalus. He says: “gave birth to a glorious child, the mighty Phaethon, just like the gods. The tender flower of a noble youth was still the lot of the young child with the fresh soul, when Aphrodite, who likes the smiles, ravished him and left; and of him she made, in her divine temples, a guard of the nights of the sanctuary, a divine genius”. The translator Paul Mazon specifies that the passages from verse 965 to the end of the Theogony are suspected to be additions to Hesiod”s text. In a note, he adds “Phaethon, which is originally one of the names of the Sun, is here the name of the Evening Star, that is to say of Venus. This is why this Phaethon is described to us as a nocturnal genius, attached to Aphrodite.”

Adonis

Adonis, born of Myrrha (metamorphosed into a myrrh tree) will be the object of a dispute between Aphrodite and Persephone. Zeus decided to divide the time of Adonis between the two goddesses: one third of the year for each and the third at his choice. He will spend it with Aphrodite, until a boar mortally wounds him.

Priape sometimes passed to be born of this union, as well as the nymph and founding heroine Béroé, one of the innumerable mistresses of Dionysus (Nonnos of Panopolis, Dionysiacs, various songs).

Aphrodite”s vengeance is terrible. As far as vindictiveness is concerned, she does not yield to Hera in any way, but if the latter only pursues women out of jealousy, Aphrodite only strikes them when they serve her badly or refuse to serve her, and women are then both her victims and her instruments intended for men, more rarely out of jealousy, sometimes inspiring them to very difficult loves:

Her protected are hardly better off. Hélène complains bitterly about the favor of the goddess: “Unfortunate that I am, she says to her, here you are still at my side, full of perfidious plans”!

Pandora

When Zeus decides to create Pandora, the gods are put to work: Hesiod (Works, 59-68): “Aphrodite of gold on her forehead will spread the grace, the painful desire, the worries which break the members”.

The Lemnians

Pseudo-Apollodorus (the goddess, to be avenged, gave them all a so bad smell, that their husbands not being able to approach them, kidnapped in Thrace, which was close, young girls, and shared their bed with them. Irritated by this contempt, the Lemnian women killed their fathers and their husbands, with the exception of Hypsipyle who hid Thoas her father”. Thereafter, the Argonauts approach Lemnos.

The Argonauts

The ship Argo and the Argonauts, on their way back, pass by the Sirens. Orpheus, thanks to his lyre, manages to break the spell of their song. Only Boutès succumbs.

The Trojan War

With the Trojan Anchises, she gave birth to Aeneas, whom she protected in the battles around Troy. She will help him, at the time of the fall of Troy, to carry the Penates of Troy to Italy, before obtaining for him the Immortality that Zeus grants him.

The mythical cause of the Trojan War is essentially known by Ovid”s Metamorphoses and Lucian of Samosate”s Dialogues of the Gods.

Eris, the only goddess not invited to the wedding of King Peleus and the sea nymph Thetis, throws a golden apple into the banquet hall out of spite with the inscription “To the most beautiful”. The goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite fight over it. In order to decide between them, they ask Paris, prince of Troy, to be their referee. All three try to corrupt him : Hera promises him the royal power, Athena, the military glory, and Aphrodite, the most beautiful woman. Paris chooses Aphrodite and asks for Helen of Troy, wife of the Greek king Menelaus, as a reward. The kidnapping of Helen by Paris will provoke the Trojan War.

During this war, the Greek hero Diomedes slightly injured the goddess while she was helping her son Aeneas.

The festival of Aphrodisias (en) (Ancient Greek: Ἀφροδίσια), was an annual festival. It was held in several cities in ancient Greece, but was particularly important in Attica and on the island of Cyprus, where Aphrodite was celebrated with a magnificent celebration. The festival took place during the month of Hekatombaion, which modern scholars recognize as extending from the third week of July to the third week of August in the Gregorian calendar. Aphrodite was worshipped in most of the cities of Cyprus, as well as in Kythera, Sparta, Thebes, Delos and Elis, and her oldest temple was in Paphos.

Textual sources explicitly mention the Aphrodisia festivals in Corinth and Athens, where the many prostitutes who resided in the city celebrated it as a way to worship their patron goddess. The festival of Aphrodisia was one of the most important ceremonies in Delos, although we know little about the details of the celebration. The inscriptions simply indicate that the festival required the purchase of ropes, torches and wood, which were usual expenses of all the festivals on the island.

Asia Minor

Aphrodite is particularly venerated in Asia Minor.

Aphrodite has a sanctuary, the Aphrodision in the city of Aphrodisias, a city named after the goddess. The Aphrodite of Aphrodisias originates from the Archaic period or earlier as a local Carian goddess, but in the Hellenistic period, according to the habit of the interpretatio graeca, she is identified with the Greek Aphrodite and receives a completely new canonical image.

The city of Cnidus dedicated annual games to her, the Euploia or the Knidia. It also bought from the sculptor Praxiteles one of the most famous statues of Antiquity, called “Aphrodite of Knidos”.

The city of Nouvelle-Ilion (Novum Ilium) mints coins in its effigy.

Cyprus

At Amathonte, another important focus of her island cult, there was a bearded statue of a male Aphrodite. Philochorus in his Atthis (ap. Macrobius loc. cit.) identifies this deity, at whose sacrifice men and women exchanged clothes, with the Moon. A 7th century BC terracotta plaque depicting Aphroditos was found at Perachora, suggesting that this was an archaic Greek cult. This Cypriot Aphrodite is the same as the later Hermaphrodite, which simply means Aphroditos in the form of a hermes, a bust surmounting a quadrangular block: The latter is first documented in the literature in Theophrastus” Characters (XVI).

Cytherea

Aphrodite is also called “Cytherea” Κυθέρεια. According to Hesiod, the island of Cythera was the first to welcome Aphrodite emerging from the sea, but it is in Cyprus that he allows the goddess to really gain a foothold. The cult of the goddess in the island has a reputation of antiquity, the ancient authors attributing a Phoenician or Trojan origin.

There is a sanctuary of Aphrodite Ourania. The goddess is represented by an armed xoanon. Numismatics underlines the importance of the island cult. Bronze coins, dating from the third century BC, offer the image of a head of the goddess accompanied by doves.

Attic

In Attica, one discerns two great groups of cults, some in connection with the gesture of Theseus or other characters of this cycle of legends, in particular Aegeus, Phaedra and Hippolyta, the others which locate Aphrodite in gardens.

In Athens, on the agora, there is a sanctuary of Aphrodite Ourania including a monumental altar. Pausanias also evokes a cult of Aphrodite Ourania in Athmonia, a deme located at the north-east of the city. The Greek writer argues that it was Aegeus who established the cult in Athens motivated by his desire to have children and by his desire to appease the anger of the goddess who had brought misfortune on his sisters.

It is also likely that in the 2nd century, a sanctuary with statues of Aphrodite and Peitho stood between the temple of Themis and the entrance to the Acropolis, not far from a sanctuary of Ge and Demeter. Epigraphic evidence and literary sources also attest to the existence of a sanctuary of Aphrodite in connection with Hippolytus in Athens, on the southern flank of the Acropolis, since at least the 5th century BC.

Aphrodite has two sanctuaries in Piraeus, at the edge of the port of Kantharos, one attributed to Themistocles, the other to Conon that he “made build after the naval victory which he gained on the Lacédémonians, towards Cnide, in Chersonèse of Carie”.

Peloponnese

In the Peloponnese, her most famous place of worship is Corinth: in arms, she is venerated on the Acrocorinth and under the epiclesis of Melainis, in the wood of Cranion. According to Strabo, who wrote at the beginning of the Christian era, sacred prostitution was practiced there: “the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth was so rich, that it possessed as hierodules or sacred slaves more than one thousand courtesans, devoted to the worship of the goddess by donors of both sexes”. Already in the 5th century B.C., Xenophon of Corinth dedicates to the temple several sacred prostitutes in thanks for his double victory in the Olympic games and orders to Pindar a song of gala (scolie) which sings the ” very welcoming girls, servants of Peïtho in the sumptuous Corinth “. These hierodules take part in the local Aphrodisias and intercede for the city in case of danger. The reality of the Corinthian sacred prostitution has however been disputed by modern studies. Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, on the basis of important studies, demonstrated in the book L”Aphrodite grecque (1994) that this practice never existed in the city of Corinth. The city of the isthmus was famous for its number of prostitutes, but it would be a question of “profane” prostitution. The offerings that Aphrodite received from pornai and courtesans were the result of the honors that these women owed to the deity who patronized their profession.

In the port of Cenchreae, one of the two ports of Corinth, there is a temple and a stone statue of Aphrodite. Here, according to Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, it was undoubtedly the marine Aphrodite, protector of the navigation which reigned on the edges of the gulf.

In the city of Sparta, the goddess had an undeniable military character. On the acropolis is located a temple of Aphrodite Areia “armed, warrior”. Aphrodite has several sanctuaries there, the oldest of which has two archaic statues: an Aphrodite in arms and Aphrodite Morpho, whose statue is sitting, wearing a veil and chains on her feet. Morpho derives from μορφή which means form in what it has of harmonious, and thus “beauty”. Helen, human double of the goddess, assumed in Sparta prerogatives that are generally attributed to Aphrodite, and was honored so that she would grant beauty to all young girls who reached the age of marriage. This beauty signifies their ability to arouse male desire, an area where Aphrodite”s power is undisputed. Aphrodite is thus notably linked to the sexuality of young people, but here, it is the mothers of young brides who offer a sacrifice to the goddess.

In Gytheion, the port of Sparta located on the western coast of the Gulf of Laconia, Aphrodite Μιγωνῖτις

Greek colonies of the western Mediterranean

Orphism

pseudo-Orpheus (Orphic Hymns, 43, Perfume of Liknites – The Manna):

pseudo-Orpheus (Orphic Hymns, 52, Perfume of Aphrodite):

Pseudo-Orpheus (Orphic Hymns, 54, Perfume of Underground Hermes – The Styrax):

Platonism : Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos

In Plato”s Banquet, the discussion starts between Socrates and his relatives. One of them, Pausanias, declares “Everyone knows that Love is inseparable from Aphrodite. This being so, if Aphrodite were unique, Love would also be unique. But since there are two Aphrodite, necessarily there are also two loves. Now, how can we deny the existence of two goddesses? One, undoubtedly the most ancient, who has no mother and is a daughter of Heaven, is the one we call Ourania (Celestial). But there is another, less ancient, who is the daughter of Zeus and Dione, the one we call Pandemos (Common, Vulgar). Thereafter, Pausanias describes the two forms of love. The vulgar Aphrodite is the less moral. It directs those whose “aims go only to the achievement of the act”. They “do not care whether it is beautiful or not”. Celestial Aphrodite, on the other hand, is the most elevated. She inspires virile friendships.

Xenophon (-430 to -355, disciple of Socrates), in his Banquet, also speaks of a vulgar Aphrodite (Pandêmos) and a celestial Aphrodite (Ourania). The discussion gathers Socrates and several of his relatives (Charmides, Critobulus, Niceratus, Hermogenes, Antisthenes, Callias). Socrates says : “Is there only one Aphrodite or two, the Aphrodite Ourania and the Aphrodite Pandemos ? I do not know: for Zeus, who is undoubtedly alone, has so many names himself! But do they have their altars and their distinct temples? Do they offer to the Aphrodite Pandemos less elevated sacrifices, and to the Aphrodite Ourania more chaste offerings? This is what I do not ignore. And one can believe that Aphrodite Pandemos inspires the loves of the body, while Aphrodite Ourania offers more chaste offerings? This is what I do not ignore. And one can believe that the Aphrodite Pandemos inspires the loves of the body, while the Aphrodite Ourania inspires the union of the souls, the friendship, the generous acts.”

For Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, despite the success that this intellectual conception has had in its popular interpretation, the two epiclesis of the goddess did not divide her into such antagonistic divine figures. If there are differences between the cults of Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos, they do not justify in any case this irreducible opposition imagined by Plato and Xenophon.

Antiquity

In Paphos, its main center of Cypriot worship, the goddess was not represented in human form, but as a cone, a pyramid or an omphalos, according to ancient authors. This aniconic figuration is illustrated by coins, rings and seals.

Aphrodite is the only goddess who is often represented naked in antiquity. The representation of naked Aphrodite appeared in the 6th century BC, and was still very rare in the 5th century.

Around 460 BC, the Attic vases with red figures show the birth of Aphrodite. The goddess brings with her Eros and allegorical deities like Peitho (Persuasion), Pothos or Himeros (Desire). She is often accompanied by the nymphs, the Hours, the Charites, the Tritons and the Nereids.

The type of Aphrodite anadyomene, surprised coming out of the water, sometimes with her son Eros, dates from the 5th century BC. The variant known as Aphrodite Pudique appeared around 330 BC.

The statue of Aphrodite (found in 1820 on the island of Milos and improperly named Venus of Milo at the time) represents a more recent type (a drapery suggests the shape of the lower limbs (with a strong contrapposto). The Venus of Arles also illustrates this representation.

There are also effigies of Aphrodite courotrophe (with a child in her arms).

From the Renaissance to the present day

Aphrodite-Venus has been, since the Renaissance, the object of great interest, with many artistic interpretations.

In biology

Several biological species are dedicated to the goddess, such as the marine worms of the family Aphroditidae, whose type species is Aphrodita aculeata.

Audiovisual

Actress Lex King plays Aphrodite in the 2018 miniseries, Troy: The Fall of a City, which begins when Trojan Prince Paris chooses to give her the apple of discord.

References

Sources

  1. Aphrodite
  2. Aphrodite
  3. Il existe des représentations d”Aphrodite barbue et des mentions d”un « Aphroditos » (Burkert 1985, p. 152).
  4. Des mythologues comme Hermann Usener l”ont assimilée à cette déesse, ce qui s”explique par l”étymologie grecque pélagos signifiant « la pleine mer », Aphrodite étant la fille du Ciel et de la Mer dont elle surgit nue de l”écume.
  5. Première mention chez Simonide de Céos, frag. 575 PMG.
  6. La bisexualité semble exister dès la naissance chez Diodore ; elle résulte d”une fusion avec la nymphe Salmacis chez Ovide, Métamorphoses, IV, 285-388.
  7. Synésios de Cyrène atteste l’existence à Chypre d’un simulacre barbu d’Aphrodite, ainsi que Macrobe (Saturnales, iii. 8)
  8. I: texto griego en Wikisource.
  9. HESÍODO: Teogonía 176 y ss. Texto español en Wikisource. Texto griego.
  10. Texto español en Wikisource. Texto griego.
  11. a b c d e f Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge: Artikel Aphrodite. In: Der Neue Pauly. Enzyklopädie der Antike. Hrsg. von Hubert Cancik und Helmuth Schneider. Band 1, Metzler, Stuttgart und Weimar 1996, Sp. 838–844.
  12. Larousse Desk Reference Encyclopedia, The Book People, εκδόσεις Haydock, 1995, σελ. 215.
  13. Witt, Reginald Eldred (1997), «Isis in the ancient world», Johns Hopkins University Press, σελ. 125. ISBN 9780801856426
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