Aphrodite – Goddess of Love
The cult of Aphrodite was largely derived from that of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, a cognate of the East Semitic goddess Ishtar, whose cult was based on the Sumerian cult of Inanna. Aphrodite’s main cult centers were Cythera, Cyprus, Corinth, and Athens. Her main festival was the Aphrodisia, which was celebrated annually in midsummer. In Laconia, Aphrodite was worshipped as a warrior goddess. She was also the patron goddess of prostitutes, an association which led early scholars to propose the concept of “sacred prostitution”, an idea which is now generally seen as erroneous.
In Hesiod’s Theogony, Aphrodite is born off the coast of Cythera from the foam (aphros) produced by Uranus’s genitals, which his son Cronus has severed and thrown into the sea. In Homer’s Iliad, however, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Plato, in his Symposium 180e, asserts that these two origins actually belong to separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania (a transcendent, “Heavenly” Aphrodite) and Aphrodite Pandemos (Aphrodite common to “all the people”). Aphrodite had many other epithets, each emphasizing a different aspect of the same goddess, or used by a different local cult. Thus she was also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus), both of which claimed to be her place of birth.
In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths and metalworking. Despite this, Aphrodite was frequently unfaithful to him and had many lovers; in the Odyssey, she is caught in the act of adultery with Ares, the god of war. In the First Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, she seduces the mortal shepherd Anchises. Aphrodite was also the surrogate mother and lover of the mortal shepherd Adonis, who was killed by a wild boar. Along with Athena and Hera, Aphrodite was one of the three goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of the Trojan War and she plays a major role throughout the Iliad. Aphrodite has been featured in western art as a symbol of female beauty and has appeared in numerous works of western literature. She is a major deity in modern Neopagan religions, including the Church of Aphrodite, Wicca, and Hellenismos.
Aphrodite is one of the best-known Greek goddesses, but her temple in Greece is relatively small.
The Temple of Aphrodite Urania is located northwest of the Ancient Agora of Athens and northeast of the temple of Apollo Epikourios.
It’s believed that in the sanctuary of Aphrodite’s temple, there used to be a marble statue of her, made by sculptor Phidias. The temple today still stands but in pieces. Over the years, people have found remnants of the important site, such as animal bones and bronze mirrors.
Many travelers visit Aphrodite’s temple when they are visiting Apollo’s.
Aphrodite’s appearance: Aphrodite is a gorgeous, perfect, eternally young woman with a beautiful body.
Aphrodite’s symbol or attribute: Her Girdle, a decorated belt, which has magical powers to compel love.
Strengths: Potent sexual attractiveness, dazzling beauty.
Weaknesses: A bit stuck on herself, but with a perfect face and body, who can blame her?
Photo by Following Hadrian