Greek Mythology and Aphrodite

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Grace Furtwengler
CLS 121


According to the ancient Greeks, the beautiful goddess Aphrodite exemplified the attributes of love, procreation, beauty, and gracefulness. However, she showed her wrath to those who neglected or despised her supremacy. She acquired great power to persuade the gods and men by using her lustful ways to carry out her plans. Venus, the Roman version, characterized attributes of pure love, vegetation, and chastity in women. The divine goddess possesses many temples, cults, and services dedicated to her worship.

There lived two myths about the birth of Aphrodite. The most common story was her birth in sea foam of the castrated genitals of the sky-god, Ouranos: The genitalia themselves, freshly cut with flint, were thrown clear of the mainland into the restless, white-capped sea, where they floated a long time. A white foam from the god-flesh collected around them, and in that foam a maiden developed and grew (Trzaskoma, Smith, and Brunet 2004, 137). The second myth (which was not as popular) stated that she was the younger generation goddess born to Zeus and Dione.

Aphrodite had many mythical stories. One of these included the Judgment of Paris (figure 3). This contest existed between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Aphrodite won the golden apple from Paris when she used her lustful ways of offering Helen’s hand in marriage. The abduction of Helen was thought to be the beginning of the Trojan War. Aphrodite used her beauty for the good of her own.

The imagery of Aphrodite showed her beauty with long hair, partially or fully nude, with Eros at her side (Figure 1 and 2). Many of the symbols associated with the goddess were: Eros (one of her children), a dove, an apple, a scallop shell, or even a mirror. Sometimes the goddess was depicted wearing a belt called the “magic girdle.” She used her magical girdle to make others fall in love. Hera sometimes borrowed the girdle to cast love spells between two gods....
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