Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty and pleasure

aphroditeAphrodite was Olympian goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation. She was the most beautiful of all goddesses in terms of appearance but her personality was rather damaged because she is described as weak and frightened as well as ill-tempered and easily offended. She had many affairs with both gods and mortals. The reason behind all of this might be that she had no childhood and never learned how to deal with a relationship. Her belief was that no woman should stay and die a virgin. Therefore, she gladly helped men to charm women with love spells. Aphrodite was also the main reason for the Trojan war when she, in exchange for the golden apple that would make her as the fairest of all goddesses, promised Paris eternal love from Helen who was thought to be the most beautiful woman on earth, and of course Paris couldn't resist the offer.

Appearance in the works of art

Aphrodite is usually depicted as a naked or half-naked beautiful woman with curly hair. On many occasions, she is also depicted in the company of her lovers.

Birth of Aphrodite

According to Hesiod's Theogony, she was born as an adult when Uranus' testicals fell in the sea, after Cronus castrated him, and that puts her in the older Titans generation. It is said that she had emerged from the foam which gathered on surface of the water. However, another source is presented in Homer's Iliad where she was a descendant of Zeus and Dione, who Homer also placed to Olympus, which makes her a second generation Olympian goddess. Regardless of different sources, she is always depicted or has a reference of being born as an adult, nubile and infinitely desirable. She is also always referred to be among Olympian gods and was a part of the family on Mount Olympus.

Love affairs

Divine lovers

Because of her beauty and uncontrollable desire, she was seen as a threat to interrupt peace between gods because of jealousy. Zeus married Aphrodite to Hephaestus, when the god demanded her in order to release Hera from a magical trap. Zeus also saw this marriage as a solution to prevent others from their rivalry to possess the goddess of beauty. This, however, didn't stop Aphrodite to have her affairs. Most notably and most desirable was the one with Ares, with whom Aphrodite was having a passionate but secret love affair. The fruits of this affair were Phobos(god of fear) and Deimos(god of terror). They usually accompanied Ares into a battle, causing fear and terror before destruction. And there were also Erotes which include Eros (love), Anteros(counter-love), Himeros(sexual-desire), Pothos(yearning) and Harmonia(harmony). However, for each of these, there are many sources connecting them to other origins and bloodline. For example, according to Hesiod, Eros is a primeval god and there are no reference to him by Homer. Aphrodite is also noted for having an affair with Poseidon who showed her support when Aphrodite and Ares were chained on the bed by Hephaestus for displaying adultery in his chambers. She was grateful to Poseidon who managed to get them released from the chains and she mated with the god of the Sea. Allegedly, she bore him a daughter Rhodos, a sea-nymph of the island Rhodes. She was also having a short affair with Dionysus, a god of wine and pleasure. They succumbed into having the pleasures of love under the influence of wine and Aphrodite then allegedly gave birth to Priapus(minor god of fertility). She was also seduced by Hermes and gave birth to Hermaphroditus(minor god of bisexuality and effeminacy). Unlike other gods, except Ares, Aphrodite was the one who made her move when it came to Nerites, a young sea-god. She was trying to seduce him and was on the right course, until she asked him to join her at Olympus. When the god refused, she in revenge transformed him into a shell-fish.

Mortal lovers

Most notable among mortals was Adonis, a mortal god of beauty and desire, who was loved by the goddess. He was a god of ever-cycling rebirth and his cycle was annual in which he lived, died and was reborn and therefore never aged. When Adonis was born for the first time, he was taken by Aphrodite who became so obsessed with the him, when he reached boyhood, that she began neglecting her duties of being a goddess. Venus and Adonis Therefore, she had given him to Persephone in the underworld to be taken care of and hidden from the rest of goddesses and women. Persephone, however, also fell in love with Adonis and refused to give him back when Aphrodite came for him. Their quarrel became so fierce that Zeus had to intervene and find a compromise. Afterwards, Adonis was set to spend four months with Persephone and four months with Aphrodite and for rest of the months, he was free from clasps of the goddesses. One day, when Adonis was spending his time in Aphrodite's care, he went into a forest where he was killed by Ares who had transformed himself into a wild boar and out of jealousy pierced Adonis with his tusks. Adonis then passed into the realm of the dead where Persephone welcomed him with open arms. But Aphrodite went after him and another heated quarrel began, between the goddesses, over who has the rightful possession over him in this case. Zeus once again had to interviene and, after a long patient period, they agreed that he would spend half a year with Aphrodite and half a year with Persephone. Aphrodite also threw her eyes on a semi-god Phaethon, the Athenian lord. He was carried to Syria by the goddess who made him a guardian of her temple and bore him a son Astynoos. Another of her lovers was an Argonaut called Boutes. She saved him on their voyage for the Golden fleece, when he had fallen asleep and fell into the water. She carried him off to Italy as her lover and bore him a son Eryx. She was also interested in Anchises, prince of Dardania, where the goddess seduced him by transforming herself into the Phrygian princess and making him love with her for two weeks straight. Aphrodite bore him two sons Aeneas and Lyrus

Aphrodite as the main cause for Trojan war

Aphrodite was also responsible for Trojan war. It all started when Eris, a goddess of discord and rivalry, appeared at the wedding of king Peleus and sea-nymph Thetis. Because of her discovery, that she had not been invited to the wedding, she threw the golden apple, a fruit of temptation which should go to "the fairest one among godesses", to a banquet table. The problem appeared when Aphrodite, Hera and Athena all started arguing that their existence suits the entitlement of golden apple. Zeus couldn't decide himself because all three were very dear to him and therefore passed the decision to a handsome mortal man called Paris. Athena and Hera promised him power and glory while Aphrodite promised him eternal love from the most beautiful mortal woman on earth. That appeared to be Helen of Sparta. Paris chose Aphrodite and set things in motion as Helen traveled to Troy with Paris and became Helen of Troy. Aphrodite then naturally supported Paris during the war and convinced her lover Ares to side with her and the Trojans.