Worship of Aphrodite
The epithet Aphrodite Acidalia was occasionally added to her name, after the spring of the same name in which she used to bathe in, located in Boeotia (Virgil I, 720). She was also called Kypris or Cytherea after her alleged birth-places in Cyprus and Cythera, respectively. The island of Cythera was a center of her cult. She was associated with Hesperia and frequently accompanied by the Oreads, nymphs of the mountains.
Aphrodite had a festival of her own, Aphrodisiac, which was celebrated all over Greece but particularly in Athens and Corinth. Intercourse with her priestesses was considered a method of worshipping Aphrodite.
Aphrodite was associated with, and often depicted with dolphins, doves, swans, pomegranates and lime trees.
Her Roman analogue is Venus. Her Mesopotamian counterpart was Ishtar and her Syro-Palestinian counterpart was Astarte; her Etruscan equivalent was Turan.
Venus was often referred to with epithet Venus Erycina ("of the heather") after Mt. Eryx, Sicily, one of the centers of her cult.
Birth of Aphrodite
Originally she was considered a daughter of Zeus and
Dione, one of the ocean nymphs. By classical times, however,
an alternate story of her birth had gained precedence, that
she was born of the sea foam
near Paphos, Cyprus after Cronus cut off Uranus' genitals and the god's blood dropped on the sea. The Iliad refers to both versions. After this story became standard, Aphrodite was sometimes referred to as "Dione". Sometimes she was considered to have two manifestations, reflecting both stories, Aprhodite Ourania ("heavenly"), and Aphrodite Pandemos ("Common"). According to Plato these two manifestations represented her role in homos--uality and heteros--uality, respectively (homos--uality being more divine for Plato). Alternatively, Aphrodite was a daughter of Thalassa and Zeus.
Aphrodite's Marriage With Hephaestus
Due to her immense beauty, Zeus was frightened she would be the cause of violence between the other gods. He married her off to Hephaestus, the dour, humorless god of smithing. Hephaestus was overjoyed at being married to the goddess of beauty and forged her beautiful jewelry, including a girdle that made her even more irresistible to men. Her unhappiness with her marriage caused Aphrodite to seek out companionship from others, most frequently Ares, but also Adonis, Anchises and more. Hephaestus once cleverly caught Ares and Aphrodite in bed with a net, and brought all the other Olympian gods together to mock them. Hephaestus would not free them until they promised to end their affair, but both escaped as soon as the net was lifted and their promise was not kept.
Aphrodite and Psyche
Aphrodite was jealous of the beauty of a mortal woman named Psyche. She asked Eros 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, or by accidentally pricking himself with a golden arrow. Meanwhile, Psyche's parents were anxious that their daughter remained unmarried. They consulted an oracle who told them she was destined for no mortal lover, but a monster who lived on top of a particular mountain. Psyche was resigned to her fate and climbed to the top of the mountain. 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 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 to do so one night and she lit a lamp, recognizing him instantly. A drop of hot lamp oil fell on Eros' chest and he awoke, then fled.
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. Zephyrus did not pick them and they fell to their deaths at the base of the mountain.
Psyche searched for her lover across much of Greece, finally stumbling into a temple to Demeter, 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 golden sheep grazed and get some golden wool. Psyche went to the field and 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 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 and ask Persephone, 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 Cerberus, Charon and the other dangers of the route. She pacified Cerberus, the three-headed dog, with a sweet honey-cake and paid Charon an obolus to take her into Hades. Once there, Persephone offered her a feast but Psyche refused, knowing it would keep her in the underworld forever.
Psyche left the underworld and decided to open the box and take a little bit of the beauty for herself. Inside was a "Stygian sleep" which overtook her. Eros, who had forgiven her, flew to her body and healed her, then begged Zeus and Aphrodite for their consent to his wedding of Psyche. They agreed and Zeus made her immortal.
Adonis and Aphrodite
Aphrodite was Adonis' lover and had a part in his birth. She urged Myrrha or Smyrna to commit incest with her father, Theias, the King of Assyria. Another version says Myrrha's father was Cinyras of Cyprus. Myrrha's nurse helped with the scheme. When Theias discovered this, he flew into a rage, chasing his daughter with a knife. The gods turned her into a myrrh tree and Adonis eventually sprung from this tree.
Alternatively, Aphrodite turned her into a tree and Adonis was born when Theias shot the tree with an arrow or when a boar used its tusks to tear the tree's bark off.
Once Adonis was born, Aphrodite took him under her wing, seducing him with the help of Helene, her friend, and was entranced by his unearthly beauty. She gave him to Persephone to watch over, but Persephone was also amazed at his beauty and refused to give him back. The argument between the two goddess' was settled either by Zeus or Calliope, with Adonis spending four months with Aphrodite, four months with Persephone and four months of the years with whomever he chose. He always chose Aphrodite because Persephone was the cold, unfeeling goddess of the underworld.
Adonis was eventually killed by a jealous
The Judgement of Paris
The gods and goddesses as well as various mortals were invited to the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (the eventual parents of Achilles). Only the goddess Eris (Discord) was not invited, but she arrived with a golden apple inscribed with the words "to the most beautiful," which she threw among the goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena all claimed the apple, and the matter was put before Paris, the most handsome mortal. Hera tried to bribe Paris with an earthly kingdom, while Athena offered great military skill, but Aphrodite was judged most beautiful when she offered Paris the most beautiful mortal woman as a wife. This woman was Helen, and her abduction by Paris led to the Trojan War.
Pygmalion and Galatea
Pygmalion was a lonely sculptor who made a woman out of ivory and called her Galatea. He prayed to Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love, who took pity on the lovesick artist, and brought to life the exquisite sculpture, which was named Galatea. Pygmalion loved Galatea and they were soon married.
Other Aphrodite Stories
In one version of the story of Hippolytus, Aphrodite was the catalyst for his death. He scorned the worship of Aphrodite for Artemis and, in revenge, Aphrodite caused his step-mother, Phaedra to fall in love with him, knowing Hippolytus would reject her. In the most popular version of the story, Phaedra seeks revenge against Hippolytus by killing herself and, in her suicide note, telling Theseus, her husband and Hippolytus' father, that Hippolytus had raped her. Theseus then murdered his own son before Artemis told him the truth.
King Glaucus of Corinth angered Aphrodite and she made her horses angry during the funeral games of King Pelias. They tore him apart. His ghost supposedly frightened horses during the Isthmian Games.
Aphrodite was often accompanied by the Charites.
Aphrodite was very protective of her son, Aeneas, who fought in the Trojan War. Diomedes almost killed Aeneas in battle but Aphrodite saved him. Diomedes wounded Aphrodite and she dropped her son, fleeing to Mt. Olympus. Aeneas was then eneveloped in a cloud by Apollo, who took him to Pergamos, a sacred spot in Troy. Artemis healed Aeneas there.
Aphrodite turned Abas to stone for his pride.
Aphrodite turned Anaxarete to stone for reacting so dispassionately to Iphis' pleas to love him, even after his suicide.
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