"Muse, tell me the deeds of golden Aphrodite the Cyprian, who stirs up sweet passion in the gods and subdues the tribes of mortal men and birds that fly in air and all the many creatures that the dry land rears, and all that the sea: all these love the deeds of rich-crowned Cytherea." (Hom.Hym.5.5) Aphrodite was beautiful, and often depicted with flowers and vegetation that surrounding her golden aura representing her connection with fertility. The name Aphrodite literally means foam born, and according to the poet Hesiod she was born from the sea foam that surrounded the immortal flesh which was the result of the castration of Kronos (Theogony 190). That explains why the Renaissance artist Botticelli depicted her on a giant scallop shell. The Theogony is just one explanation of her creation where she was born from Kronos alone, and not from a sexual union. As a result she is "characterized as the goddess of pure love that has its end not physical satisfaction but spiritual gratification (CCM)." In contrast, Homer, who is most famous for the Odyssey and Iliad, tells of her birth from Zeus and Dione, connecting her as the "goddess of sex and procreator of children, whose concerns are of the body and not of the mind, the spirit or the soul (CCM)". These different myths of her creation are just the beginning of the discrepancies throughout her eternal existence.
Aphrodite was worshipped by the Greeks as the goddess of love, feminine beauty, marriage, fertility, and was the patroness of prostitutes. She s often depicted with her sacred animals that include the dove, sparrow, swallow, swan and turtle. According to book 14 of the Iliad, Aphrodite possessed a magical girdle (referred to as a cestus) In Rome, however, the goddess Venus primarily was the patroness of vegetable gardens. Not until the end of the third century BC when the cult of Aphrodite began did Venus take on Aphrodite's attributes and legends. Aphro... Continue Reading