When most people hear the name Aphrodite they think of love and beauty. Usually negative thoughts wouldn’t appear since typically love and beauty are positive qualities and possessions, but that is exactly the way that the Greek goddess of love is remembered. Being in the center of many controversies, it is a surprise as to why majority of people do not know the truth behind this scandalous goddess.
There are two different stories as to how the goddess Aphrodite was born. It is often said that she was born from the sea-foam in the ocean. Yet a less common version comes from Homer that states that Aphrodite was the daughter of Zues and Dione. The fact she was born an adult makes the first of the two situations more probable. Even though she had no childhood she often was childish and vain. Her vanity is even said to be the start of the infamous Trojan War.
Despite all her beauty that she was naturally given, she was given away for marriage to the least attractive Greek God, Hephaestus. Researchers who have found ancient Greek vases with paintings have put the most common story together. His mother Hera had thrown Hephaestus from Heaven at birth since she was embarrassed that she produced a crippled son. Thankfully he was rescued by Thetis and Eurynome and raised him into becoming a skilled smith.
With his new smith abilities, he would send various gifts up to Olympus; one of which was a Golden Throne for Hera. When she sat in this throne, she was bound to it quickly. Zues wanted to release Hera so he sought help from the rest of the Gods and offered his daughter, Aphrodite, for marriage to whatever God would bring Hephaestus to Olympus. Aphrodite only agreed since she believed that her beloved Ares would succeed. Like she thought, Ares went and tried his best. He stormed where Hephaestus lived with armory but was driven off with showers of flaming metal sent from the smith God himself. Once he was defeated, Dionysus was next to approach the God. Instead of trying to capture him, Dionysus suggested that Hephaestus were to take Aphrodite as wife and release his mother. He was very happy with the plan and agreed to it. He released his mother and wed the unhappy Goddess of love.
Not happy with her marriage, Aphrodite still sought love from other men. With having bore children for half a dozen mates, and none being from her husband, one can only imagine how many affairs she had. The most famous of these affairs were with Ares, the same god who had already tried fighting for her marriage. She didn’t care that her affair with the god of war was public as she continued the scandalous behavior. The relationship of the two was seen as symbolic to some with combining female beauty and male competitiveness.
The couple had multiple children; Phobos and Deimos (the embodiment of fear and terror), Eros (the god of love), Harmonia (the goddess of harmony), Himerus (the personification of lust), Adrestia, Arethousa and Anteros (the god of love returned). Everyone seemed to know of his or her affair except Hephaestus. When he found out, just like any married man who finds out his wife is cheating, he was not happy and sought revenge. Being a smith, he created a mesh made of gold and caught the lovers. With this mesh, they quickly became quite the laughingstock to all of the gods as they were captured naked and entangled in each other.
Another popular affair that Aphrodite was apart of was hers with the mortal Adonis. The more disturbing part of this story would be how she was a mother figure to him as well. As an infant, his mother Myrrha abandoned him. The boy was sent to live with Persephone (the queen of the underworld) and developed into a striking young man. While he was living with Persephone, Aphrodite cursed Myrrha by driving her mad as a form of revenge for what she had done to her son. As Adonis was growing up, Aphrodite fell in love with him. She took him away, but sadly the story didn’t end well between the two of them. It came to a sudden end when a wild boar shockingly killed the young man. It is said that the boar was Ares who was very jealous of his potential rival.
The most famous legend involving the goddess would not be an affair, but the fact she was the behind why the Trojan War began. Aphrodite was among two other goddess who were invited to the wedding of King Peleus and Thetis. Eris, the goddess of discord, was so furious that she was not invited to attend that she threw a golden apple labeled “to the fairest” which landed in the center of the floor. The three goddesses there all believed that they were the fairest, so a fight was in store to happen. Zues did not want to be the one making the decision so he looked to Paris, the Prince of Troy to help determine the verdict. All the goddess’s took turns offering a bribe to the Prince, but Aphrodite was one that he did not want to turn down. She offered him the most beautiful woman of the world, Helen of Troy. Despite being offered away, Helen was already married to the Greek King Menelaus. Paris ended up abducting Helen which led to the start of the Trojan War.
Aphrodite’s controversies and extreme behaviors were not accepted well by the other gods. She was basically incapable to live up with to typical Greek Culture. At a time where intellectualism was growing rapidly, it did not sit well to have a Goddess who was impersonal and full of lust. In order to incorporate the goddess back into society, they converted her into a personification of physical beauty. In typical Aphrodite fashion, she remained very problematic. Plato finally had enough and created two new identities for the problematic god. She was now Urania (the ruler of spiritual love) and Aphrodite Pandemos (basically the same position she has always been but of the common people).
Written by Brittany Hanna 2010 BestOfAllTopics.com
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