Aphrodite
Overview
Aphrodite is the Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 of love
Love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

, beauty
Beauty
Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture...

, pleasure, and procreation.
Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .
Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte
Astarte
Astarte is the Greek name of a goddess known throughout the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to Classical times...

 in Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

.

According to Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

's Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

, she was born when Cronus
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

 cut off Uranus
Uranus (mythology)
Uranus , was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, according to Hesiod in his Theogony, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth...

' genitals and threw them into the sea, and from the sea foam (aphros) arose Aphrodite. Thus Aphrodite is of an older generation than Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

.

Because of her beauty other gods feared that jealousy would interrupt the peace among them and lead to war, and so Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 married her to Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

, who was not viewed as a threat.
Encyclopedia
Aphrodite is the Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 of love
Love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

, beauty
Beauty
Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture...

, pleasure, and procreation.
Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .
Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte
Astarte
Astarte is the Greek name of a goddess known throughout the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to Classical times...

 in Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

.

According to Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

's Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

, she was born when Cronus
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

 cut off Uranus
Uranus (mythology)
Uranus , was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, according to Hesiod in his Theogony, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth...

' genitals and threw them into the sea, and from the sea foam (aphros) arose Aphrodite. Thus Aphrodite is of an older generation than Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

.

Because of her beauty other gods feared that jealousy would interrupt the peace among them and lead to war, and so Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 married her to Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

, who was not viewed as a threat. Aphrodite had many lovers, both gods like Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

, and men like Anchises
Anchises
In Greek mythology, Anchises was the son of Capys and Themiste . His major claim to fame in Greek mythology is that he was a mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite . One version is that Aphrodite pretended to be a Phrygian princess and seduced him for nearly two weeks of lovemaking...

. Aphrodite also became instrumental in the Eros and Psyche legend, and later was both Adonis
Adonis
Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

' lover and his surrogate mother. Many lesser beings were said to be children of Aphrodite.

Aphrodite is also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus) after the two cult-sites, Cythera
Kythira
Cythera is an island in Greece, once part of the Ionian Islands. It lies opposite the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula. It is administratively part of the Islands regional unit, which is part of the Attica region , Greece.For many centuries, while naval travel was the only means...

 and Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, which claimed her birth. Myrtles, dove
Dove
Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes, which include some 300 species of near passerines. In general terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably...

s, sparrow
Sparrow
The sparrows are a family of small passerine birds, Passeridae. They are also known as true sparrows, or Old World sparrows, names also used for a genus of the family, Passer...

s, horses, and swan
Swan
Swans, genus Cygnus, are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae...

s are sacred to her. The Greeks further identified the Ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor
Hathor
Hathor , is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt...

 with Aphrodite.
Aphrodite also has many other local names, such as Acidalia, Cytherea and Cerigo, used in specific areas of Greece. Each goddess demanded a slightly different cult but Greeks recognized in their overall similarities the one Aphrodite. Attic philosophers of the fourth century separated a celestial Aphrodite (Aprodite Urania) of transcendent principles with the common Aphrodite of the people (Aphrodite Pandemos).

Etymology

The archaic (Homeric
Homeric Greek
Homeric Greek is the form of the Greek language that was used by Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey. It is an archaic version of Ionic Greek, with admixtures from certain other dialects, such as Aeolic Greek. It later served as the basis of Epic Greek, the language of epic poetry, typically in...

) pronunciation of the name
was approximately [ˌapʰroˈdiːtɛː]. In Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

, this became [ˌafroˈdiːtɛː], changing further to [ˌafroˈditi] in Byzantine Greek by iotacism
Iotacism
Iotacism is the process by which a number of vowels and diphthongs in Ancient Greek converged in pronunciation so that they all sound like iota in Modern Greek....

. The most common English pronunciation of Aphrodite is ˌ.

The etymology of Greek is unknown.
Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 connects it by with (aphros) "foam," interpreting it as "risen from the foam".
This has been widely classified as a folk etymology, and numerous speculative etymologies, many of them non-Greek, have been suggested in scholarship.
Yet Janda (2010) considers the connection with "foam" genuine, identifying the myth of Aphrodite rising out of the waters after Cronus defeats Uranus as a mytheme of Proto-Indo-European age.
According to this interpretation, the name is from aphrós "foam" and déatai "[she] seems" or "shines" (infinitive form *déasthai), meaning "she who shines from the foam [ocean]", a byname of the dawn goddess
Hausos
One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the dawn goddess. Her name is reconstructed as Ausōs , besides numerous epithets....

 (Eos). J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from "very" and "to shine".

A number of speculative non-Greek etymologies have been suggested in scholarship.
The connection to Phoenician religion
Canaanite religion
Canaanite religion is the name for the group of Ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries of the Common Era....

 claimed by Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

  I.105,131) has led to inconclusive attempts at deriving Greek Aphrodite from a Semitic Aštoret, via hypothetical Hittite transmission.
Another Semitic etymology compares Assyrian barīrītu, the name of a female demon found in Middle Babylonian and Late Babylonian texts.
The name probably means "she who (comes) at dusk," which would identify Aphrodite in her personification as the evening star
Hesperus
In Greek mythology, Hesperus is the Evening Star, the planet Venus in the evening. He is the son of the dawn goddess Eos and is the brother of Eosphorus , the Morning Star. Hesperus' Roman equivalent is Vesper...

, a significant parallel she shares with Mesopotamian Ishtar.

Another non-Greek etymology suggested by M. Hammarström, looks to Etruscan
Etruscan language
The Etruscan language was spoken and written by the Etruscan civilization, in what is present-day Italy, in the ancient region of Etruria and in parts of Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna...

, comparing (e)pruni "lord", an Etruscan honorific loaned into Greek as
πρύτανις
Prytaneis
The Prytaneis were the executives of the boule of ancient Athens. The term is probably of pre-Greek origin ....

. This would make the theonym in origin an honorific, "the lady". Hjalmar Frisk
Hjalmar Frisk
Hjalmar Frisk was a Swedish linguist in Indo-European studies and rector of Göteborg University 1951-1966..His most noted work was the three-volume "Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch" written in years 1954 - 1972 and published in Heidelberg..In 1968, he became a member of the Royal Swedish...

 rejects this etymology as implausible.

The Etymologicum Magnum
Etymologicum Magnum
Etymologicum Magnum is the traditional title of a Greek lexical encyclopedia compiled at Constantinople by an unknown lexicographer around 1150 AD. It is the largest Byzantine lexicon and draws on many earlier grammatical, lexical and rhetorical works...

 presents a medieval learned pseudo-etymology, explaining Aphrodite as derived from the compound habrodiaitos ("she who lives delicately" from habros + diaita) explaining the alternation between b and ph as a "familiar" characteristic of Greek "obvious from the Macedonians
Ancient Macedonian language
Ancient Macedonian was the language of the ancient Macedonians. It was spoken in the kingdom of Macedon during the 1st millennium BCE and it belongs to the Indo-European group of languages...

".

Birth

Aphrodite is usually said to have been born near Paphos
Paphos
Paphos , sometimes referred to as Pafos, is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and the capital of Paphos District. In antiquity, two locations were called Paphos: Old Paphos and New Paphos. The currently inhabited city is New Paphos. It lies on the Mediterranean coast, about west of the...

, on the island of Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, for which reason she is called "Cyprian", especially in the poetic works of Sappho. Her chief center of worship was at Paphos, where the goddess of desire had been worshipped from the early Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 in the form of Ishtar
Ishtar
Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte.-Characteristics:...

 and Astarte
Astarte
Astarte is the Greek name of a goddess known throughout the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to Classical times...

. However, other versions of her myth have her born near the island of Kythira
Kythira
Cythera is an island in Greece, once part of the Ionian Islands. It lies opposite the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula. It is administratively part of the Islands regional unit, which is part of the Attica region , Greece.For many centuries, while naval travel was the only means...

 (Cythera), for which reason she is called "Cytherea". Kythira was a stopping place for trade and culture between Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 and the Peloponesus
Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

, so these stories may preserve traces of the migration of Aphrodite's cult from the Middle East
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 to mainland Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

.

In the most famous version of her myth, her birth was the consequence of a castration: Cronus
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

 severed Uranus'
Uranus (mythology)
Uranus , was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, according to Hesiod in his Theogony, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth...

 genitals and threw them behind him into the sea. The foam from his genitals gave rise to Aphrodite (for which reason she is called "foam-arisen"), while the Erinyes
Erinyes
In Greek mythology the Erinyes from Greek ἐρίνειν " pursue, persecute"--sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses" -- were female chthonic deities of vengeance. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath"...

 (furies) emerged from the drops of blood. Hesiod states that the genitals "were carried over the sea a long time, and white foam arose from the immortal flesh; with it a girl grew." This girl became Aphrodite. She floated ashore on a scallop
Scallop
A scallop is a marine bivalve mollusk of the family Pectinidae. Scallops are a cosmopolitan family, found in all of the world's oceans. Many scallops are highly prized as a food source...

 shell. This image of a fully mature "Venus rising from the sea" (Venus Anadyomene
Venus Anadyomene
Venus Anadyomene was one of the iconic representations of Aphrodite, made famous in a much-admired painting by Apelles, now lost, but described in Pliny's Natural History, with the anecdote that the great Apelles employed Campaspe, a mistress of Alexander the Great, for his model...

) was one of the iconic representations of Aphrodite, made famous in a much-admired painting by Apelles
Apelles
Apelles of Kos was a renowned painter of ancient Greece. Pliny the Elder, to whom we owe much of our knowledge of this artist rated him superior to preceding and subsequent artists...

, now lost, but described in the Natural History of Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

.

In another version of her origin, she was considered a daughter of Zeus and Dione
Dione (mythology)
Dione was a Greek goddess primarily known as the mother of Aphrodite in Book V of Homer's Iliad. Aphrodite journeys to Dione's side after she has been wounded in battle protecting her favorite son Aeneas. In this episode, Dione seems to be the equivalent of the earth goddess Gaia, whom Homer also...

, the mother goddess whose oracle was at Dodona
Dodona
Dodona in Epirus in northwestern Greece, was an oracle devoted to a Mother Goddess identified at other sites with Rhea or Gaia, but here called Dione, who was joined and partly supplanted in historical times by the Greek god Zeus.The shrine of Dodona was regarded as the oldest Hellenic oracle,...

. Aphrodite herself was sometimes also referred to as "Dione." "Dione" seems to be a feminine form of "Dios", the genitive form case of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, and could be taken to mean simply "the goddess" in a generic sense. Aphrodite might then be an equivalent of Rhea
Rhea (mythology)
Rhea was the Titaness daughter of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth, in Greek mythology. She was known as "the mother of gods". In earlier traditions, she was strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, the Great Goddess, and was later seen by the classical Greeks as the mother of the Olympian...

, the Earth Mother, whom Homer relocated to Olympus. Some scholars have hypothesized an original Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-Europeans
The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language , a reconstructed prehistoric language of Eurasia.Knowledge of them comes chiefly from the linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics...

 pantheon, with the chief male god (Di-) represented by the sky and thunder, and the chief female god (feminine form of Di-) represented as the earth or fertile soil. After the worship of Zeus had displaced the oak-grove oracle at Dodona, some poets made Zeus the father of Aphrodite. In some tales, Aphrodite was a daughter of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 and Thalassa
Thalassa (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Thalassa is a primordial sea goddess, daughter of Aether and Hemera. With sea god Pontus, she was the mother of the nine Telchines and Halia. Sometimes, she was thought of as the mother of Aphrodite with Uranus or with Zeus. She is the personification of the Mediterranean Sea....

 (the sea).

In Homer, Aphrodite, venturing into battle to protect her son, Aeneas
Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

, is wounded by Diomedes
Diomedes
Diomedes or Diomed is a hero in Greek mythology, known for his participation in the Trojan War.He was born to Tydeus and Deipyle and later became King of Argos, succeeding his maternal grandfather, Adrastus. In Homer's Iliad Diomedes is regarded alongside Ajax as one of the best warriors of all...

 and returns to her mother, to sink down at her knee and be comforted.

Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos

By the late 5th century BC, philosophers might separate Aphrodite into two separate goddesses, not individuated in cult: Aphrodite Ourania, born from the sea foam after Cronus castrated Uranus, and Aphrodite Pandemos, the common Aphrodite "of all the folk," born from Zeus and Dione
Dione (mythology)
Dione was a Greek goddess primarily known as the mother of Aphrodite in Book V of Homer's Iliad. Aphrodite journeys to Dione's side after she has been wounded in battle protecting her favorite son Aeneas. In this episode, Dione seems to be the equivalent of the earth goddess Gaia, whom Homer also...

. Among the neo-Platonists and eventually their Christian interpreters, Aphrodite Ourania figures as the celestial Aphrodite, representing the love of body and soul, while Aphrodite Pandemos is associated with mere physical love. The representation of Aphrodite Ourania, with a foot resting on a tortoise, was read later as emblematic of discretion in conjugal love; the image is credited to Phidias
Phidias
Phidias or the great Pheidias , was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect, who lived in the 5th century BC, and is commonly regarded as one of the greatest of all sculptors of Classical Greece: Phidias' Statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World...

, in a chryselephantine
Chryselephantine
Chryselephantine is a term that refers to the sculptural medium of gold and ivory...

 sculpture made for Elis
Elis
Elis, or Eleia is an ancient district that corresponds with the modern Elis peripheral unit...

, of which we have only a passing remark by Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

.

Thus, according to the character Pausanias
Pausanias (Athenian)
Pausanias an Athenian of the deme Kerameis, and was the lover of the poet Agathon.Although Pausanias is given a significant speaking part in Plato's Symposium, very little is known about him. Ancient anecdotes tend to address only his relationship with Agathon and give us no information about his...

 in Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's Symposium
Symposium (Plato)
The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–380 BCE. It concerns itself at one level with the genesis, purpose and nature of love....

, Aphrodite is two goddesses, one older while the other younger. The older, Urania, is the daughter of Uranus, and inspires homosexual male (and more specifically, ephebic
Ephebic Oath
The Ephebic Oath was an oath sworn by young men of Classical Athens upon induction into the Ephebic College, graduation from which was required to attain status as citizens. The oath was quoted by the Attic orator Lycurgus, in his work Against Leocrates , though it is certainly archaic...

) love/eros; the younger is named Pandemos, the daughter of Zeus and Dione, and all love for women comes from her. The speech of Pausanias
Pausanias (Athenian)
Pausanias an Athenian of the deme Kerameis, and was the lover of the poet Agathon.Although Pausanias is given a significant speaking part in Plato's Symposium, very little is known about him. Ancient anecdotes tend to address only his relationship with Agathon and give us no information about his...

 distinguishes two manifestations of Aphrodite, represented by the two stories: Aphrodite Ourania ("heavenly" Aphrodite), and Aphrodite Pandemos ("Common" Aphrodite).

Adulthood

Aphrodite had no childhood: in every image and each reference she is born as an adult, nubile, and infinitely desirable. Aphrodite is often depicted nude in many of the images she is in. Aphrodite, in many of the late anecdotal myths involving her, is characterized as vain, ill-tempered and easily offended. Though she is one of the few gods of the Greek Pantheon to be actually married, she is frequently unfaithful to her husband. Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

 is one of the most even-tempered of the Hellenic deities; in the narrative embedded in the Odyssey Aphrodite seems to prefer Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

, the volatile god of war, as she was attracted to his violent nature. She is one of a few characters who played a major part in the original cause of the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

 itself: not only did she offer Helen of Troy to Paris
Paris (mythology)
Paris , the son of Priam, king of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the best-known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War...

, but the abduction was accomplished when Paris, seeing Helen for the first time, was inflamed with desire to have her—which is Aphrodite's realm.

Due to her immense beauty, Zeus was frightened that she would be the cause of violence between the other gods. He married her off to Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

, the dour, humorless god of smithing. In another version of this story, Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

, Hephaestus' mother, had cast him off Olympus; deeming him ugly and deformed. His revenge was to trap her in a magic throne, and then to demand Aphrodite's hand in return for Hera's release. Hephaestus was overjoyed at being married to the goddess of beauty and forged her beautiful jewelry, including the cestus, a girdle
Girdle
A girdle is a garment that encircles the lower torso, perhaps extending below the hips, and worn often for support. The word girdle originally meant a belt. In modern English, the term girdle is most commonly used for a form of women's foundation wear that replaced the corset in popularity...

 that made her even more irresistible to men. Her unhappiness with her marriage caused Aphrodite to seek out companionship from others, most frequently Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

, but also Adonis
Adonis
Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

.

Aphrodite and Psyche

Aphrodite figures as a secondary character in the Tale of Eros and Psyche, which first appeared as a digressive story told by an old woman in Lucius Apuleius' novel, The Golden Ass
The Golden Ass
The Metamorphoses of Apuleius, which St. Augustine referred to as The Golden Ass , is the only Latin novel to survive in its entirety....

, written in the second century AD. In it Aphrodite was jealous of the beauty of a mortal woman named Psyche. She asked Eros
Eros
Eros , in Greek mythology, was the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid . Some myths make him a primordial god, while in other myths, he is the son of Aphrodite....

 to use his golden arrows to cause Psyche to fall in love with the ugliest man on earth. Eros agreed, but then fell in love with Psyche on his own, by accidentally pricking himself with a golden arrow.

Meanwhile, Psyche's parents were anxious that their daughter remained unmarried. They consulted an oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 who told them she was destined for no mortal lover, but a creature that lived on top of a particular mountain, that even the gods themselves feared. Eros had arranged for the oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 to say this. Psyche was resigned to her fate and climbed to the top of the mountain. She told the townsfolk that followed her to leave and let her face her fate on her own. There, Zephyrus, the west wind, gently floated her downwards. She entered a cave on the appointed mountain, surprised to find it full of jewelry and finery. Eros visited her every night in the cave and they made passionate love; he demanded only that she never light any lamps because he did not want her to know who he was (having wings made him distinctive). Her two sisters, jealous of Psyche, convinced her that her husband was a monster, and she should strike him with a dagger. So one night she lit a lamp, but recognizing Eros instantly, she dropped her dagger. Oil spilled from the lamp onto his shoulder, awaking him, and he fled, saying "Love cannot live where there is no trust!"

When Psyche told her two jealous elder sisters what had happened, they rejoiced secretly and each separately walked to the top of the mountain and did as Psyche described her entry to the cave, hoping Eros would pick them instead. Eros was still heart broken and did not pick them and they fell to their deaths at the base of the mountain.

Psyche searched for her love across much of Greece, finally stumbling into a temple to Demeter
Demeter
In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains, the fertility of the earth, and the seasons . Her common surnames are Sito as the giver of food or corn/grain and Thesmophoros as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society...

, where the floor was covered with piles of mixed grains. She started sorting the grains into organized piles and, when she finished, Demeter spoke to her, telling her that the best way to find Eros was to find his mother, Aphrodite, and earn her blessing. Psyche found a temple to Aphrodite and entered it. Aphrodite assigned her a similar task to Demeter's temple, but gave her an impossible deadline to finish it by. Eros intervened, for he still loved her, and caused some ants to organize the grains for her. Aphrodite was outraged at her success and told her to go to a field where deadly golden sheep grazed and get some golden wool. Psyche went to the field and saw the sheep but was stopped by a river-god, whose river she had to cross to enter the field. He told her the sheep were mean and vicious and would kill her, but if she waited until noontime, the sheep would go into the shade on the other side of the field and sleep; she could pick the wool that stuck to the branches and bark of the trees. Psyche did so and Aphrodite was even more outraged at her survival and success.

Finally, Aphrodite claimed that the stress of caring for her son, depressed and ill as a result of Psyche's unfaithfulness, had caused her to lose some of her beauty. Psyche was to go to Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

 and ask Persephone
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

, the queen of the underworld, for a bit of her beauty in a black box that Aphrodite gave to Psyche. Psyche walked to a tower, deciding that the quickest way to the underworld would be to die. A voice stopped her at the last moment and told her a route that would allow her to enter and return still living, as well as telling her how to pass the three-headed dog Cerberus
Cerberus
Cerberus , or Kerberos, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed hound which guards the gates of the Underworld, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping...

, Charon
Charon (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Charon or Kharon is the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. A coin to pay Charon for passage, usually an obolus or danake, was sometimes placed in or on...

 and the other dangers of the route. She was to not lend a hand to anyone in need. She baked two barley cakes for Cerberus, and took two coins for Charon. She pacified Cerberus with the barley cake and paid Charon to take her to Hades. On the way there, she saw hands reaching out of the water. A voice told her to toss a barley cake to them. She refused. Once there, Persephone said she would be glad to do Aphrodite a favor. She once more paid Charon, and gave the other barley cake to Cerberus.

Psyche left the underworld and decided to open the box and take a little bit of the beauty for herself, thinking that if she did so, Eros would surely love her. Inside was a "Stygian sleep," which overtook her. Eros, who had forgiven her, flew to her body and wiped the sleep from her eyes, then begged Zeus and Aphrodite for their consent to his wedding of Psyche. They agreed and Zeus made her immortal. Aphrodite danced at the wedding of Eros and Psyche, and their subsequent child was named Hedone, or Voluptas
Voluptas
In Roman mythology, Voluptas or Volupta is the beautiful daughter born from the union of Cupid and Psyche. She is often found in the company of the Charites, or Three Graces, and she is known as the goddess of "sensual pleasures" whose Latin name means "pleasure" or "bliss".Some Roman authors...

 in Roman mythology.

Adonis

Aphrodite was Adonis
Adonis
Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

' lover and a surrogate mother to him. Cinyras
Cinyras
In Greek mythology, Cinyras was a king of Cyprus. Accounts vary significantly as to his genealogy and provide a variety of stories concerning him; in many sources, however, he is associated with the cult of Aphrodite on Cyprus, and Adonis, a consort of Aphrodite, is mentioned as his son.In the...

, the King of Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, had an intoxicatingly beautiful daughter named Myrrha
Myrrha
Myrrha , also known as Smyrna , is the mother of Adonis in Greek mythology. She was transformed into a myrrh tree after having had intercourse with her father and gave birth to Adonis as a tree...

. When Myrrha's mother commits Hubris
Hubris
Hubris , also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power....

 against Aphrodite by claiming her daughter is more beautiful than the famed goddess, Myrrha is punished with a never ending lust for her own father. Cinyras is repulsed by this, but Myrrha disguises herself as a prostitute, and secretly sleeps with her father at night. Eventually, Myrrha becomes pregnant and is discovered by Cinyras. In a rage, he chases her out of the house with a knife. Myrrha flees from him, praying to the gods for mercy as she runs. The gods hear her plea, and change her into a Myrrh tree so her father cannot kill her. Eventually, Cinyras takes his own life in an attempt to restore the family's honor.

Myrrha gives birth to a baby boy named Adonis. Aphrodite happens by the Myrrh tree and, seeing him, takes pity on the infant. She places Adonis in a box, and takes him down to Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

 so that Persephone
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

 can care for him. Adonis grows into a strikingly handsome young man, and Aphrodite eventually returns for him. Persephone, however, is loath to give him up, and wishes Adonis would stay with her in the underworld. The two goddesses begin such a quarrel that Zeus is forced to intercede. He decrees that Adonis will spend a third of the year with Aphrodite, a third of the year with Persephone, and a third of the year with whomever he wishes. Adonis, of course, chooses Aphrodite.

Adonis begins his year on the earth with Aphrodite. One of his greatest passions is hunting, and although Aphrodite is not naturally a hunter, she takes up the sport just so she can be with Adonis. They spend every waking hour with one another, and Aphrodite is enraptured with him. However, her anxiety begins to grow over her neglected duties, and she is forced to leave him for a short time. Before she leaves, she gives Adonis one warning: do not attack an animal who shows no fear. Adonis agrees to her advice, but, secretly doubting her skills as a huntress, quickly forgets her warning.

Not long after Aphrodite leaves, Adonis comes across an enormous wild boar, much larger than any he has ever seen. It is suggested that the boar is the god Ares, one of Aphrodite's lovers made jealous through her constant doting on Adonis. Although boars are dangerous and will charge a hunter if provoked, Adonis disregards Aphrodite's warning and pursues the giant creature. Soon, however, Adonis is the one being pursued; he is no match for the giant boar. In the attack, Adonis is castrated by the boar, and dies from a loss of blood. Aphrodite rushes back to his side, but she is too late to save him and can only mourn over his body. Wherever Adonis' blood falls, Aphrodite causes anemone
Anemone
Anemone , is a genus of about 120 species of flowering plants in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae in the north and south temperate zones...

s to grow in his memory. She vows that on the anniversary of his death, every year there will be a festival held in his honor.

On his death, Adonis goes back to the underworld, and Persephone is delighted to see him again. Eventually, Aphrodite realizes that he is there, and rushes back to retrieve him. Again, she and Persephone bicker over who is allowed to keep Adonis until Zeus intervenes. This time, he says that Adonis must spend six months with Aphrodite and six months with Persephone, the way it should have been in the first place.

The Judgement of Paris

The gods and goddesses as well as various mortals were invited to the marriage of Peleus
Peleus
In Greek mythology, Pēleus was a hero whose myth was already known to the hearers of Homer in the late 8th century BCE. Peleus was the son of Aeacus, king of the island of Aegina, and Endeïs, the oread of Mount Pelion in Thessaly; he was the father of Achilles...

 and Thetis
Thetis
Silver-footed Thetis , disposer or "placer" , is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient one of the seas with shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical vestiges of most later Greek myths...

 (the eventual parents of Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

). Only the goddess Eris
Eris (mythology)
Eris is the Greek goddess of strife and discord, her name being translated into Latin as Discordia. Her Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia. Homer equated her with the war-goddess Enyo, whose Roman counterpart is Bellona...

 (Discord) was not invited, but she arrived with a golden apple
Apple of Discord
An apple of discord is a reference to the Golden Apple of Discord which, according to Greek mythology, the goddess Eris said that she would give "to the fairest" at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, sparking a vanity-fueled dispute between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite that eventually led to the...

 inscribed with the word kallistēi ("to the fairest one"), which she threw among the goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

, and Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

 all claimed to be the fairest, and thus the rightful owner of the apple.

The goddesses chose to place the matter before Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, who, not wanting to favor one of the goddesses, put the choice into the hands of Paris
Paris (mythology)
Paris , the son of Priam, king of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the best-known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War...

. After bathing in the spring of Mount Ida
Mount Ida
In Greek mythology, two sacred mountains are called Mount Ida, the "Mountain of the Goddess": Mount Ida in Crete; and Mount Ida in the ancient Troad region of western Anatolia which was also known as the Phrygian Ida in classical antiquity and is the mountain that is mentioned in the Iliad of...

 (where Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 was situated), the goddesses appeared to Paris, but Paris couldn't decide, so they resorted to bribes. Hera tried to bribe Paris with control over all Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, while Athena offered wisdom, fame and glory in battle, but Aphrodite came forth and presented herself to Paris naked. She whispered to Paris that if he were to choose her as the fairest he would have the most beautiful mortal woman in the world as a wife, and he accordingly chose her. This woman was Helen, who was, unfortunately for Paris, already married to King Menelaus
Menelaus
Menelaus may refer to;*Menelaus, one of the two most known Atrides, a king of Sparta and son of Atreus and Aerope*Menelaus on the Moon, named after Menelaus of Alexandria.*Menelaus , brother of Ptolemy I Soter...

 of Sparta. The other two goddesses were enraged by this and through Helen's abduction by Paris they brought about the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

.

Pygmalion and Galatea

Pygmalion
Pygmalion (mythology)
Pygmalion is a legendary figure of Cyprus. Though Pygmalion is the Greek version of the Phoenician royal name Pumayyaton, he is most familiar from Ovid's Metamorphoses, X, in which Pygmalion was a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he had carved.-In Ovid:In Ovid's narrative, Pygmalion was a...

 was a sculptor who had never found a woman worthy of his love. Aphrodite took pity on him and decided to show him the wonders of love. One day, Pygmalion was inspired by a dream of Aphrodite to make a woman out of ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 resembling her image, and he called her Galatea
Galatea (mythology)
-Name "Galatea":Though the name "Galatea" has become so firmly associated with Pygmalion's statue as to seem antique, its use in connection with Pygmalion originated with a post-classical writer. No extant ancient text mentions the statue's name...

. He fell in love with the statue and decided he could not live without her. He prayed to Aphrodite, who carried out the final phase of her plan and brought the exquisite sculpture to life. Pygmalion loved Galatea and they were soon married.

Another version of this myth tells that the women of the village where Pygmalion lived grew angry that he had not married. They asked Aphrodite to force him to marry. Aphrodite agreed and went that very night to Pygmalion, and asked him to pick a woman to marry. She told him that if he did not pick one, she would do so for him. Not wanting to be married, he begged her for more time, asking that he be allowed to make a sculpture of Aphrodite before he had to choose his bride. Flattered, she accepted.

Pygmalion spent a lot of time making small clay sculptures of the goddess, claiming it was needed so he could pick the right pose. As he started making the actual sculpture he was shocked to discover he actually wanted to finish, even though he knew he would have to marry someone when he finished. The reason he wanted to finish it was that he had fallen in love with the sculpture. The more he worked on it, the more it changed, until it no longer resembled Aphrodite at all.

At the very moment Pygmalion stepped away from the finished sculpture Aphrodite appeared and told him to choose his bride. Pygmalion chose the statue. Aphrodite told him that could not be, and asked him again to choose a bride. Pygmalion put his arms around the statue, and asked Aphrodite to turn him into a statue so he could be with her. Aphrodite took pity on him and brought the statue to life instead.

Consorts and children

  1. Hephaestus
    Hephaestus
    Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

  2. Ares
    Ares
    Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

    1. Phobos
      Phobos (mythology)
      Phobos is the personification of horror in Greek mythology. He is the offspring of Ares and Aphrodite. He was known for accompanying Ares into battle along with his brother, Deimos, the goddess Enyo, and his father’s attendants. Timor is his Roman equivalent...

    2. Deimos
      Deimos (mythology)
      In Greek mythology, Deimos was the personification of terror.He was the son of Ares and Aphrodite. He is the twin brother of Phobos and the goddess Enyo who accompanied Ares into battle, as well as his father's attendants, Trembling, Fear, Dread, and Panic...

    3. Adrestia
      Adrestia
      Adrestia in Greek mythology was the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite and known to accompany her father Ares to war. She was venerated as a goddess of revenge and balance because she was usually portrayed with Nemesis, and sometimes identical to Nemesis herself, who had the epithet of Adrestia or...

    4. Harmonia
      Harmonia (mythology)
      In Greek mythology, Harmonia is the immortal goddess of harmony and concord. Her Roman counterpart is Concordia, and her Greek opposite is Eris, whose Roman counterpart is Discordia.-Origins:...

    5. The Erotes
      Erotes (mythology)
      The erotes are a group of winged gods and demi-gods from Classical mythology, associated with love and sex, and part of Aphrodite's retinue. The collective term ἔρωτες - erotes is simply the plural of ἔρως - eros, or "desire"....

      1. Eros
        Eros
        Eros , in Greek mythology, was the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid . Some myths make him a primordial god, while in other myths, he is the son of Aphrodite....

      2. Anteros
        Anteros
        In Greek mythology, Anteros was the god of requited love, literally "love returned" or "counter-love" and also the punisher of those who scorn love and the advances of others, or the avenger of unrequited love....

      3. Himeros
      4. Pothos
  3. Poseidon
    Poseidon
    Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

    1. Rhode
  4. Hermes
    Hermes
    Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

    1. Tyche
      Tyche
      In ancient Greek city cults, Tyche was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny....

    2. Peitho
      Peitho
      In Greek mythology, Peitho is the goddess who personifies persuasion and seduction. Her Roman name is Suadela. Pausanias reports that after the unification of Athens, Theseus set up a cult of Aphrodite Pandemos and Peitho on the south slope of Acropolis at Athens. Peitho, in her role as an...

    3. Eunomia
      Eunomia (goddess)
      Eunomia was a minor Greek goddess of law and legislation, and one of the daughters of Themis and Zeus.-Mythology:...

    4. Hermaphroditos
  5. Dionysus
    Dionysus
    Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

    1. The Charites
      Charites
      In Greek mythology, a Charis is one of several Charites , goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility. They ordinarily numbered three, from youngest to oldest: Aglaea , Euphrosyne , and Thalia . In Roman mythology they were known as the Gratiae, the "Graces"...

       (Graces)
      1. Thalia
        Thalia (grace)
        In Greek mythology, Thalia was one of the three Graces or Charites with her sisters Aglaea and Euphrosyne, and a daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Eurynome or the hour Eunomia...

      2. Euphrosyne
        Euphrosyne (mythology)
        In Greek mythology, Euphrosyne In Greek mythology, Euphrosyne In Greek mythology, Euphrosyne (Εὐφροσύνη; was one of the Charites, known in English also as the "Three Graces". Her best remembered representation in English is in Milton's poem of the active, joyful life, "L'Allegro". She is also the...

      3. Aglaea
        Aglaea
        Aglaea or Aglaïa is the name of several figures in Greek mythology.-Charis:The youngest of the Charites, Aglaea or Aglaia was one of three daughters of Zeus and the Oceanid Eurynome. Her other two sisters were Euphrosyne, and Thalia. Together they were known as the Three Graces, or the Charites...

    2. Priapus
      Priapus
      In Greek mythology, Priapus or Priapos , was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his absurdly oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism...

  6. Adonis
    Adonis
    Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

    1. Beroe
      Beroe
      Beroe is a Procurement intelligence company which works for fortune 500 companies.Positioned at the forefront of procurement intelligence operations and customized market research, Beroe is unique in its 100% exclusive focus on procurement....

  7. Phaethon (son of Eos
    Eos
    In Greek mythology, Eos is the Titan goddess of the dawn, who rose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, the ocean that surrounds the world, to herald her brother Helios, the Sun.- Greek literature :...

    )
    1. Astynoos
  8. Anchises
    Anchises
    In Greek mythology, Anchises was the son of Capys and Themiste . His major claim to fame in Greek mythology is that he was a mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite . One version is that Aphrodite pretended to be a Phrygian princess and seduced him for nearly two weeks of lovemaking...

    1. Aeneas
      Aeneas
      Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

    2. Lyrus
  9. Butes
    Butes
    In Greek mythology, the name Butes referred to nine different people.*An Argonaut, son of Teleon and Zeuxippe . When the Argonauts were sailing past the Sirens, he was the only one to not resist the charm of their singing and swim off to them. But Aphrodite saved Butes by transferring him to...

    1. Eryx
      Eryx
      In Greek mythology, Eryx was a king of the city of Eryx in Sicily. He was either the son of Poseidon or Aphrodite and King Butes of the Elymian people of Sicily. Eryx was an excellent boxer but died when Heracles beat him in a match....


Other tales

In one version of the story of Hippolytus
Hippolytus (mythology)
thumb|260px|The Death of Hippolytus, by [[Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema]] .In Greek mythology, Hippolytus was a son of Theseus and either Antiope or Hippolyte...

, she was the catalyst for his death. He scorned the worship of Aphrodite for Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

 and, in revenge, Aphrodite caused his stepmother, Phaedra
Phaedra (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Phaedra is the daughter of Minos and Pasiphaë, wife of Theseus and the mother of Demophon of Athens and Acamas. Phaedra's name derives from the Greek word φαιδρός , which meant "bright"....

, to fall in love with him, knowing Hippolytus would reject her.

In the most popular version of the story, as told in the play Hippolytus
Hippolytus (play)
Hippolytus is an Ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides, based on the myth of Hippolytus, son of Theseus. The play was first produced for the City Dionysia of Athens in 428 BC and won first prize as part of a trilogy....

 by Euripides
Euripides
Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

, Phaedra seeks revenge against Hippolytus by killing herself and, in her suicide note
Suicide note
A suicide note or death note is a message that states the author has died by suicide, and left to be discovered and read in anticipation of suicide....

, telling Theseus
Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

, her husband and Hippolytus' father, that Hippolytus had raped her. Hippolytus was oath-bound not to mention Phaedra's love for him and nobly refused to defend himself despite the consequences. Theseus then cursed his son, a curse that Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 was bound to fulfill and so Hippolytus was laid low by a bull from the sea that caused his chariot-team to panic and wreck his vehicle. Hippolytus forgives his father before he dies and Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

 reveals the truth to Theseus before vowing to kill the one Aphrodite loves (Adonis
Adonis
Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

) for revenge.

Glaucus of Corinth angered Aphrodite and she made her horses angry during the funeral games of King Pelias
Pelias
Pelias was king of Iolcus in Greek mythology, the son of Tyro and Poseidon. His wife is recorded as either Anaxibia, daughter of Bias, or Phylomache, daughter of Amphion. He was the father of Acastus, Pisidice, Alcestis, Pelopia, Hippothoe, Asteropia, and Antinoe.Tyro was married to Cretheus...

. They tore him apart. His ghost supposedly frightened horses during the Isthmian Games
Isthmian Games
The Isthmian Games or Isthmia were one of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, and were named after the isthmus of Corinth, where they were held...

.

In one Greek myth, Aphrodite placed the curse of snakes for hair and the stone-gaze upon Medusa
Medusa
In Greek mythology Medusa , " guardian, protectress") was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone...

 and her sisters. Aphrodite was jealous of the three sisters beauty, and she grew so jealous she cursed them.

Ancient Near Eastern parallels

The religions of the Ancient Near East
Religions of the Ancient Near East
The religions of the ancient Near East were mostly polytheistic, with some early examples of primitive monolatry , Ashurism and Monism...

 have a number of love goddesses that can be argued to be predecessors of certain aspects of Aphrodite.

The Sumerian love goddess was Inanna
Inanna
Inanna, also spelled Inana is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare....

, reflected as Ishtar
Ishtar
Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte.-Characteristics:...

/Astarte
Astarte
Astarte is the Greek name of a goddess known throughout the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to Classical times...

 in Semitic religion.

Other comparanda are Armenian Astghik
Astghik
In the earliest prehistoric period Asdghig, commonly referred to as Asya, Astghik, or Astlik, had been worshipped as the Armenian pagan deity of fertility and love , later the skylight had been considered her personification, and she had been the wife or lover of Vahagn...

 and Etruscan Turan
Turan (mythology)
Turan was the Etruscan goddess of love and vitality and patroness of the city of Velch. In art, she was usually depicted as a young winged girl. Turan appears in toilette scenes of Etruscan bronze mirrors. She is richly robed and jeweled in early and late depictions, but consistently appears nude...

.
Hans Georg Wunderlich further connects Aphrodite with the Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 snake goddess
Snake Goddess
Snake Goddess, indicates figurines of a woman holding a snake in each hand found during excavation of Minoan archaeological sites in Crete dating from approximately 1600 BCE.It seems that the two elegant idols found in Knossos represented goddesses and by implication, the term 'snake goddess'...

.
The Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet
Wadjet
In Egyptian mythology, Wadjet, or the Green One , was originally the ancient local goddess of the city of Dep , which became part of the city that the Egyptians named Per-Wadjet, House of...

 was associated with the city known to the Greeks as Aphroditopolis (the city of Aphrodite).
Lucian of Samosata  (De Dea Syria
De Dea Syria
De Dea Syria is the conventional Latin title of a work, written in a Herodotean-style of Ionic Greek, which has been traditionally ascribed to the Hellenized Syrian essayist Lucian of Samosata. It is a description of the various religious cults practiced at Hierapolis Bambyce, now Manbij, in Syria...

 .4) identifies Aphrodite with Europa
Europa (mythology)
In Greek mythology Europa was a Phoenician woman of high lineage, from whom the name of the continent Europe has ultimately been taken. The name Europa occurs in Hesiod's long list of daughters of primordial Oceanus and Tethys...

, the Phoenecian princess who Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 transformed into a white bull abducted and carried to Crete.

Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 states that the first to establish a cult of Aphrodite were the Assyrians, after the Assyrians the Paphians
Paphos
Paphos , sometimes referred to as Pafos, is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and the capital of Paphos District. In antiquity, two locations were called Paphos: Old Paphos and New Paphos. The currently inhabited city is New Paphos. It lies on the Mediterranean coast, about west of the...

 of Cyprus and then the Phoenicians at Ascalon
Ashkelon
Ashkelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, south of Tel Aviv, and north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age...

. The Phoenicians in turn taught her worship to the people of Cythera.

An origin of (or significant influence on) the Greek love goddess from Near Eastern traditions was seen with some skepticism in classical 19th century scholarship. Authors like A. Enmann (Kypros und der Ursprung des Aphroditekultes 1881) attempted to portray the cult of Aphrodite as a native Greek development.
Scholarly opinion on this question has shifted significantly since the 1980s, notably due to Walter Burkert
Walter Burkert
Walter Burkert is a German scholar of Greek mythology and cult.An emeritus professor of classics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, he also has taught in the United Kingdom and the United States...

 (1984), and the significant influence of the Near East on early Greek religion in general (and on the cult of Aphrodite in particular) is now widely recognized as dating to a period of Orientalization
Orientalizing Period
In the history of ancient Greece, the Orientalizing period is the cultural and art historical period informed by the art of Anatolia, Syria, Assyria, Phoenicia and Egypt, which started during the later part of the 7th century BCE. It encompasses a new, Orientalizing style, spurred by a period of...

 during the 8th century BC, when archaic Greece was on the fringes of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

An important parallel between Ishtar and Aphrodite is their identification as the evening star
Hesperus
In Greek mythology, Hesperus is the Evening Star, the planet Venus in the evening. He is the son of the dawn goddess Eos and is the brother of Eosphorus , the Morning Star. Hesperus' Roman equivalent is Vesper...

. Babylonian astrology
Babylonian astrology
In Babylon as well as in Assyria as a direct offshoot of Babylonian culture, astrology takes its place in theofficial cult as one of the two chief means at the disposal of the priests for ascertaining the will and intention of the gods, the other being through the inspection of the liver of the...

 associated the planet Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

 with Ishtar. This presumably follows a yet earlier Sumerian tradition identifying Inanna
Inanna
Inanna, also spelled Inana is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare....

 with the planet Venus.
Scholars such as Bendt Alster have suggested that this identification may go back to the Early Bronze Age.
This identification is later than the archaic period of "Orientalization". In native Greek tradition, the planet had two names, Hesperos as the evening star and Eosphoros as the morning star. The Greeks adopted the identification of the morning and the evening star as well as its identification as Ishtar/Aphrodite during the 4th century BC, along with other items of Babylonian astrology such as the zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

 (Eudoxus of Cnidus
Eudoxus of Cnidus
Eudoxus of Cnidus was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student of Plato. Since all his own works are lost, our knowledge of him is obtained from secondary sources, such as Aratus's poem on astronomy...

).

The Ancient Greeks and Romans often equated their deities with foreign ones in a process known as interpretatio graeca
Interpretatio graeca
Interpretatio graeca is a Latin term for the common tendency of ancient Greek writers to equate foreign divinities to members of their own pantheon. Herodotus, for example, refers to the ancient Egyptian gods Amon, Osiris and Ptah as "Zeus", "Dionysus" and "Hephaestus", respectively.-Roman...

. Aphrodite was equated by the Greeks to Egyptian
Egyptian mythology
Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals which were an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians' interaction with a multitude of deities who were believed to be present in, and in control of, the forces and elements of nature...

 Hathor
Hathor
Hathor , is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt...

, Assyrian Mylitta, Canaanite/Phoenician Astarte
Astarte
Astarte is the Greek name of a goddess known throughout the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to Classical times...

 and Arabian
Arabian mythology
Arabian mythology comprises the ancient, pre-Islamic beliefs of the Arabs. Prior to Islam the Kaaba of Mecca was covered in symbols representing the myriad demons, djinn, demigods, or simply tribal gods and other assorted deities which represented the polytheistic culture of pre-Islamic Arabia...

 Alilat
Allāt
' or ' was a Pre-Islamic Arabian goddess who was one of the three chief goddesses of Mecca. She is mentioned in the Qur'an , which indicates that pre-Islamic Arabs considered her as one of the daughters of Allah along with Manāt and al-‘Uzzá....

.

Comparison with the Indo-European dawn goddess

It has long been accepted in comparative mythology
Comparative mythology
Comparative mythology is the comparison of myths from different cultures in an attempt to identify shared themes and characteristics. Comparative mythology has served a variety of academic purposes...

 that Aphrodite (regardless of possible oriental influences) preserves some aspects of the Indo-European dawn goddess *Hausos
Hausos
One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the dawn goddess. Her name is reconstructed as Ausōs , besides numerous epithets....

 (properly Greek Eos
Eos
In Greek mythology, Eos is the Titan goddess of the dawn, who rose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, the ocean that surrounds the world, to herald her brother Helios, the Sun.- Greek literature :...

, Latin Aurora
Aurora (mythology)
Aurora is the Latin word for dawn, the goddess of dawn in Roman mythology and Latin poetry.Like Greek Eos and Rigvedic Ushas , Aurora continues the name of an earlier Indo-European dawn goddess, *Hausos....

, Sanskrit Ushas
Ushas
Ushas , Sanskrit for "dawn", is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well.Sanskrit is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is . It is from PIE , cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora....

).

Janda (2010) etymologizes her name as "she who rises from the foam [of the ocean]" and points to Hediod's account of Aphrodite's birth as an archaic reflex of Indo-European myth. Aphrodite rising out of the waters after Cronus defeats Uranus as a mytheme would then be directly cognate to the Rigvedic
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

 myth of Indra
Indra
' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

 defeating Vrtra, liberating Ushas
Ushas
Ushas , Sanskrit for "dawn", is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well.Sanskrit is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is . It is from PIE , cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora....

.

Roman Venus
Venus (mythology)
Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

 was in origin a genuinely Italic reflex of the dawn goddess (besides Aurora
Aurora (mythology)
Aurora is the Latin word for dawn, the goddess of dawn in Roman mythology and Latin poetry.Like Greek Eos and Rigvedic Ushas , Aurora continues the name of an earlier Indo-European dawn goddess, *Hausos....

), but she became identified with Aphrodite at such an early time that it is now difficult to recover elements of her native cult.

Cult of Aphrodite

The epithet Aphrodite Acidalia was occasionally added to her name, after the spring she used to bathe in, located in Boeotia
Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

 (Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 I, 720). She was also called Kypris or Cytherea after her birth-places in Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 and Cythera, respectively, both centers of her cult. She was associated with Hesperia
Hesperides
In Greek mythology, the Hesperides are nymphs who tend a blissful garden in a far western corner of the world, located near the Atlas mountains in North Africa at the edge of the encircling Oceanus, the world-ocean....

 and frequently accompanied by the Oread
Oread
In Greek mythology, an Oread or Orestiad was a type of nymph that lived in mountains, valleys, ravines. They differ from each other according to their dwelling: the Idae were from Mount Ida, Peliades from Mount Pelia, etc...

s, nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

s of the mountains. Her festival, Aphrodisia, was celebrated across Greece but particularly in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Corinth
Ancient Corinth
Corinth, or Korinth was a city-state on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta. The modern town of Corinth is located approximately northeast of the ancient ruins...

. At the temple of Aphrodite on the summit of Acrocorinth
Acrocorinth
Acrocorinth , "Upper Corinth", the acropolis of ancient Corinth, is a monolithic rock overseeing the ancient city of Corinth, Greece. "It is the most impressive of the acropoleis of mainland Greece," in the estimation of George Forrest. Acrocorinth was continuously occupied from archaic times to...

 (before the Roman destruction of the city in 146 BC) intercourse with her priestesses was considered a method of worshiping Aphrodite. This temple was not rebuilt when the city was reestablished under Roman rule in 44 BC, but it is likely that the fertility rituals continued in the main city near the agora.

Aphrodite was associated with, and often depicted with, the sea, dolphins, doves, swans, pomegranate
Pomegranate
The pomegranate , Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall.Native to the area of modern day Iran, the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. From there it spread to Asian areas such as the Caucasus as...

s, sceptres, apples, myrtle, rose trees, lime trees, clams, scallop shells, and pearls.

One aspect of the cult of Aphrodite and her precedents that Thomas Bulfinch
Thomas Bulfinch
Thomas Bulfinch was an American writer, born in Newton, Massachusetts. Bulfinch belonged to a well educated Bostonian merchant family of modest means. His father was Charles Bulfinch, the architect of the Massachusetts State House in Boston and parts of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C....

's much-reprinted The Age of Fable; or Stories of Gods and Heroes (1855 etc.) elided was the practice of ritual prostitution
Religious prostitution
Sacred prostitution, temple prostitution, or religious prostitution is a practice of worship that includes hieros gamos or sacred marriage performed as a fertility rite and part of sacred sexual ritual.-Ancient Near East:...

 in her shrines and temples. The euphemism in Greek is hierodoule, "sacred slave." The practice was an inherent part of the rituals owed to Aphrodite's Near Eastern forebears, Sumerian Inanna
Inanna
Inanna, also spelled Inana is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare....

 and Akkadian Ishtar
Ishtar
Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte.-Characteristics:...

, whose temple priestesses were the "women of Ishtar," ishtaritum. The practice has been documented in Babylon, Syria and Palestine, in Phoenician cities and the Tyrian colony Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, and for Hellenic Aphrodite in Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, the center of her cult, Cythera, Corinth
Ancient Corinth
Corinth, or Korinth was a city-state on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta. The modern town of Corinth is located approximately northeast of the ancient ruins...

 and in Sicily (Marcovich 1996:49); the practice however is not attested in Athens. Aphrodite was everywhere the patroness of the hetaira
Hetaira
Hetaira is a genus of bush cricket in family Tettigoniidae subfamily Phaneropterinae....

 and courtesan. In Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

 on the coast of Asia Minor, hierodoulai served in the temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis , also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to a goddess Greeks identified as Artemis and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was situated at Ephesus , and was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction...

.

External links

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