|The Birth of Aphrodite|
|Aphrodite and the Argonauts|
|Aphrodite and Anchises|
|The Judgment of Paris|
|Aphrodite in the Trojan War|
|Aphrodite and Ares|
|Aphrodite and Hermes|
|Aphrodite and Adonis|
|The Daughters of Pandareos|
|The Curse of Tyndareus|
|Names of Aphrodite|
|Hymns to Aphrodite|
|Images of Aphrodite|
The birth of Aphrodite was not a simple matter … the creation of the Goddess of Love was the result of sheer brutality and revenge. To understand Aphrodite's birth we must return to the creation of the primal goddess, Gaia (Earth).
Gaia was one of the first Immortals to be born from Chaos … Gaia, Tartaros (the Pit) and Eros (the primal god of Love) were all created from Chaos. Gaia became the progenitor of almost all succeeding Immortals. She gave her child Ouranos (Uranus) the Heavens as his province … she also took him as her consort … from them, the race of Titans was born.
Ouranos became too concerned with the affairs of Gaia and aggressively tried to encroach on her authority. In desperation, Gaia begged her Titan children to slay Ouranos but only Kronos (Cronos) was willing to step forth and do the deed. Gaia created slate and formed a sickle for Kronos to use as a weapon … Kronos attacked Ouranos with the enormous sickle and castrated him. From the blood of Ouranos's injury were born a race of Giants, the Eumenides (Furies), and the Nymphs of the Ash Trees (the Meliae). When the immortal flesh of Ouranos mingled with the water of the sea, a circle of white foam formed … from this foam, Aphrodite was created.
The name Aphrodite literally means Foam-Born. When she was born she was attended by Eros and Himeros (Desire) but when she stepped ashore on the island of Kyprus (Cyprus) she was a modest and lovely Goddess, since known as the Lady of Kyprus, or simply, Kypros. Her gentle domain was intended to be the sweetness of love and the whispering of girls but her adventures and exploits caused as much misery and bloodshed as any of the Immortals except for Ares (god of War) and the Grim-Goddess, Athene (Athena).
The Quest for the Golden Fleece took place one generation before the Trojan War, i.e. circa 1280 BCE. The supervision of the quest was primarily the responsibility of Hera … she coordinated the assistance the other Immortals rendered to the Argonauts. Jason assembled the greatest heroes in Greece to help him retrieve the Golden Fleece from Kolchis (Colchis) at the eastern edge of the Euxine (Black Sea) … they were called Argonauts after their ship, the Argo. One of the first stops for the Argonauts was the island of Lemnos.
The women of Lemnos were cursed by Aphrodite because they failed to honor her … Aphrodite turned the passions of their husbands to foreign women. The men of Lemnos engaged in raiding the mainland cities … they began to consort with the women of the cities they raided and after this became a comfortable situation, they brought the foreign women to Lemnos and shunned their wives. The neglected wives got their revenge by killing the foreign women and their unfaithful husbands. When Jason and the Argonauts arrived on Lemnos Aphrodite put desire in the hearts of the women … the Argonauts were some of the finest specimens of manhood to ever step ashore on Lemnos … they were exactly what the women needed.
As the Argonauts ventured on, they stopped near Mysia in northern Asia Minor. A young man named Hylas went ashore for fresh water at the spring of Pegae (the spring that the flying horse Pegasos (Pegasus) created by striking her hoof on the earth). The Nymphs were gathering to dance to hymns sung for the goddess Artemis as Hylas approached the spring. When Hylas was dipping water from the spring, a Naiad Nymph (Water Nymph) was rising to the surface … she was captivated by his youthful beauty which was enhanced by the rising of the moon. In her confusion she could scarcely gather her spirit back to her. Aphrodite made her heart faint and in that distracted frame of mind, the Nymph reached up to embrace Hylas … she put her left hand behind his neck and rose to kiss him … she placed her right hand on his elbow and pulled him into the water. Hylas married the Nymph and was never seen upon the earth again.
Before the Argonauts reached Kolchis, they encountered the blind seer Phineus. Phineus had been blinded for crimes he committed against his sons … he had blinded them. To add to his worries, Phineus was also being tormented by the Harpies and could scarcely get enough to eat … the Harpies ate most of Phineus's food and defiled the food they didn't eat. The Argonauts helped rid Phineus of the Harpies … he granted them a prophecy in return for their kindness. He told the Argonauts that they could not complete their Quest for the Golden Fleece without the help of Aphrodite. Without understanding exactly what Phineus meant, they sailed on thinking that they would more likely need the help of Ares … not the goddess of Love.
When the Argonauts finally reached Kolchis, Hera and Athene were watching and worrying … they were sure that Jason could not retrieve the Golden Fleece without their assistance. They decided that the best way to help Jason would be to ask Aphrodite for help … their plan was to ask Aphrodite to persuade Eros to shoot King Aietes's daughter Princess Medeia (Medea) with an arrow of love. Eros was one of the original Immortals born from Chaos at the dawn of time … he is the primal god of Love and has never lost his childlike appearance … he is often called Aphrodite's son in much the same way that Aphrodite is called Zeus's daughter when she is in fact many years his senior.
Athene reminded Hera that she had no personal knowledge of love and therefore should not speak to Aphrodite … Hera agreed to do all the talking. They found Aphrodite on Mount Olympos in the palace of her husband Hephaistos (Hephaestus) … she looked upon the two goddesses and mockingly invited them to sit and asked them why two such most important goddesses would visit her. Aphrodite's crafty words were not lost on Hera but she let them go unchallenged … she told Aphrodite of her sincere desire to help Jason and the Argonauts.
Aphrodite was surprised to see Hera so humble and plaintive … she and Hera had never been allies or confidants but now it was clear that Hera needed help … Aphrodite changed her mocking tone to one of sympathy … she offered to help Hera in any way she could. Hera's request was simple … she wanted Aphrodite to go to Eros "her son" and persuade him to shoot Princess Medeia with an arrow of irresistible love for Jason. Aphrodite explained that she and Eros were not on the best of terms and it would be best if Hera went to him … he would not dare defy the queen of the Immortals. Hera insisted that Aphrodite go to Eros … she urged Aphrodite to be patient and not to provoke his anger … Aphrodite agreed to try.
Aphrodite found Eros on Olympos playing dice with Ganymede (Ganymedes) … she scolded Eros for cheating young Ganymede but quickly came to the point. She knew that he would help her if she offered him a gift so she promised him a ball that had once been the plaything of Zeus when he had been a child. "All of gold are its zones, and round each double seams run in a circle; but the stitches are hidden, and a dark blue spiral overlays them all. But if you should cast it with your hands, lo, like a star, it sends a flaming track through the sky." She told him that he could have the ball as soon as Medeia was smitten.
Medeia was in attendance when Jason entered the king's hall … Eros shot her and she nearly fainted … she became pale, then red … she was in love.
Jason was unsure as to how to deal with with King Aietes … should he use persuasion or force? He asked the Argonauts for their advice and as they were debating the issues, a dove fell from the sky and landed in Jason's lap … the dove had been in the clutches of a hawk but managed to escape … when the hawk swooped down after the dove it was impaled on the stern-ornament. Mopsos, a seer, correctly interpreted the omen as a fulfillment of Phineus's prophecy that they could not complete the Quest for the Golden Fleece without the help of Aphrodite, symbolized by the dove. Jason's trust in Medeia's love helped him steal the Golden Fleece from King Aietes … even though courage and mortal combat were necessary to complete their quest, the Argonauts were saved by Aphrodite's blessing.
The Argonauts had many trials to face before they were safely home … when they sailed past the island of the Sirens, Aphrodite saved an Argonaut named Boutes from drowning. The Sirens were bird-like goddesses who would sing to sailors with such hypnotic melodies, the seamen would lose there senses and either crash their ships on the rocky shore or jump in the water and drown in the surf. As the Argo sailed within range of the Sirens, Boutes lost his mind and jumped from the ship before his shipmates could stop him … Aphrodite swooped down and plucked him from the eddies and placed him on "the Lilybean height" … he was unable to rejoin the Argonauts but he was safe.
Aphrodite can cast a spell of irresistible love on all mortals and every type of beast … with the exception of three goddesses, the Immortals are also subject to her charms … Athene, Histia (Hestia) and Artemis cannot be tempted by Aphrodite … their chastity is inviolate. Aphrodite's enchantments are usually welcome but she sometimes uses her powers to embarrass the other Immortals … she even made Zeus share the bed of several mortal women. In order to humble the goddess so that she could not deride the other Immortals whom she caused to fall in love with mortals, Zeus made Aphrodite fall in love with a mortal man named Anchises.
Under the spell of Zeus, Aphrodite dressed in her finest clothing and adorned herself with beautiful jewelry … enshrouded in an aura of enchantment, she went to the glades of Mount Ida near Troy to seduce Anchises. When she arrived on the mountain, the beasts of the forest paid her homage … the wolves fawned on her … lions, bears and leopards became docile and followed her … she put desire in their hearts and they began to mate.
When Aphrodite arrived at Anchises's humble home he was as helpless as the woodland beasts in her presence. He marveled at her fine clothing and her exquisite form … he had never seen a mortal woman who was so beautiful … he suspected that she was a goddess and asked if she was Leto or Athene or Themis or Aphrodite or one of the Graces or a Nymph but Aphrodite convinced him that she was a mortal maiden who had been sent to him by the will of the Immortals.
Aphrodite told Anchises that she had been taken from her home in Phrygia by Hermes and left on Mount Ida … she said that she had been dancing at the rites of Artemis with other marriageable girls and that Hermes had snatched her up so that she could become the wife of Anchises and have many fine children. Anchises noticed that the fascinating young woman at his door spoke with the same regional accent he used … Aphrodite brushed his concerns aside by saying that she had been raised by a Trojan nurse and learned Greek from her.
Anchises willingly believed the lies because she was irresistible … he took her into his house and made love to her. While Anchises was still sleeping, Aphrodite arose and put aside all pretense … she called to Anchises and woke him from a sound sleep … when he looked upon her, he trembled in fear … he saw her for the goddess she was and there was no doubt in his mind that he would be punished for having loved her. Aphrodite told him not to be afraid and that he would not be harmed … she told him that he would become the father of a noble prince of the Trojans with many fine heirs. She informed him without apology that their son would be given to the Nymphs of Ida to be raised and would not be given to Anchises until the boy reached a suitable age. Also in complete honesty, Aphrodite told Anchises that their son would be named Aineias (Aeneas), meaning Awful, because Zeus had forced her to love a mere mortal and, even though Anchises was a righteous and handsome man, she found their union to be offensive and beneath her station.
The roots of the animosity between the Greeks and the Trojans might be traced to one defining moment … that incident has become known as The Judgment of Paris but a more appropriate name would have been The Judgment of Alexandros.
Prince Alexandros of Troy was sometimes called Paris in The Iliad but now the name Alexandros has been forgotten … the name Paris has supplanted that of Alexandros because modern artists and poets seem to prefer the name Paris for its simplicity and uniqueness.
The Judgment of Alexandros took place on the slopes of Mount Ida just prior to the Trojan War, i.e. prior to 1250 BCE … the occasion was the marriage of the Nereid Thetis and a mortal man named Peleus. Being allowed to marry a goddess was a reward for Peleus because of his undying devotion to the gods on Mount Olympos. Being forced to marry a mortal was a punishment for Thetis because she had refused the amorous advances of Zeus … now she was being taught a lesson in humility.
The goddess Hera made sure the wedding was well attended … one of the most notable Immortals at the wedding was the goddess of Discord, Eris. She did not come to celebrate … she came to cause trouble … she was very good at causing trouble. Eris tossed down a golden apple in the midst of the goddesses … the inscription on the apple said, 'For the most beautiful one.' Naturally, Hera, Athene and Aphrodite all assumed that the prize was for them and when the intended conflict arose, Hermes escorted the three goddesses to Mount Ida so that Prince Alexandros (Paris) could make the final decision as to which goddess deserved the golden apple. Alexandros was placed in a very difficult position but that's exactly what Zeus intended.
The drama that was unfolding at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus was simply the first step in a coordinated series of events that would culminate with the Trojan War. Zeus was using Aphrodite and the other Immortals to help him rid the earth of the demigods, i.e. the sons of Immortals and human women. His own daughter Helen was used to help perpetuate his plan but she was not sacrificed in the war or its aftermath. Aphrodite's son Aineias also survived the Trojan War … presumably he was allowed to live as a reward for his mother's invaluable assistance to Zeus in starting the war.
Alexandros could not escape his destiny … he had to choose the most beautiful goddess but which one should he choose? Hera has always been the most beautiful goddess on Mount Olympos … he could not ignore the fact that she was the sister/wife of Zeus … she seemed like an obvious choice. Athene is the virgin goddess of wisdom and even though she is sometimes called the Grim-Goddess, she is quite beautiful by any mortal standard. Aphrodite is the goddess of Love … her charms and enchantments were legendary … Alexandros should have chosen Aphrodite for those reasons alone but his choice was based on greed and desire … beauty had nothing to do with it. Aphrodite told Alexandros that if he selected her, she would give him the most desirable woman in the world … she would give him the daughter of Zeus … she would give him Helen of Sparta.
Alexandros immediately understood what that meant. Helen's beauty was beyond compare … when poets sang about her, she was always compared to a goddess … and rightly so. Even when she was a young girl, her grace would make men to swoon. When her father let it be known that he was seeking a husband for Helen, suitors came from all over the civilized world … not just ordinary men … Helen's suitors were the finest specimens of manhood to walk the earth. Her father made them all take a solemn oath that they would peacefully abide by his choice and more importantly, they would all come to Helen's defense if she should ever be taken from her husband. Helen's father knew all to well the hypnotic effect she had on men.
Alexandros chose Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess because he wanted Helen … he could not resist the thought of possessing her because Aphrodite had placed the desire in his heart. As part of her plan, Aphrodite arranged for her son Aineias to accompany Alexandros to Sparta when King Menelaos (Menelaus) was away from the city. With her husband out of the way, Helen was easily enchanted and agreed to leave Sparta and return to Troy with Prince Alexandros … a thousand ships sailed to Troy to bring her back.
By choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess, he rebuffed Hera and Athene … two goddesses no mortal man could insult and expect to live. Hera was indeed beautiful but she was also very dangerous … Athene was not called the Grim-Goddess for nothing. By the time the Trojan War ended, Alexandros, his family, his friends and allies were all killed or enslaved. When he was called upon to make his infamous judgment, Alexandros really had no choice in the matter … there was no way for him to make a choice that would not have resulted in death and destruction.
Even though Aphrodite used Alexandros in the most callous and selfish way, she still seemed to have genuine affection for the foolish young man. When the Achaean Greeks arrived at Troy to tear down the walls, Aphrodite gave whatever comfort she could to Alexandros … even though she knew full well that he was doomed.
The Trojan War was, of course, not Aphrodite's fault but her participation in The Judgment of Alexandros was only her first contribution to the bloodshed that followed. Her son Aineias fought for the Trojans and his pride always propelled him to the thick of the fighting … Aphrodite did her best to protect him. She also protected Alexandros … he too was a proud man … he did not deny the fact that his impulsive behavior brought the Achaean Greeks to Troy but he would not surrender Helen and thus stop the war … nor would he shirk his responsibilities as a warrior.
The Iliad begins in the tenth and final year of the Trojan War … the Greeks and the Trojans are weary of the fighting so a truce is called and the commanders agree to a man-to-man fight between Menelaos (Helen's Achaean husband) and Alexandros (Helen's Trojan lover). We must remember that Menelaos was allowed to marry Helen because he was one of the most able and wealthy men in Greece … Alexandros was able to abduct Helen because of the enchantments of Aphrodite … Alexandros was a capable fighter but Menelaos was more so.
As the two men fought, Menelaos quickly gained the advantage … Menelaos knocked Alexandros to the ground … he grabbed the plume of Alexandros's helmet and began to drag him through the dirt. Aphrodite restrained herself as long as she could but when she saw that Alexandros was seconds away from death, she swooped down invisibly and cut the helmet plume … Menelaos lost his hold on Alexandros … she covered Alexandros in a mist, whisked him from the battlefield and put him safely in his bedchamber.
As the two men fought, Menelaos quickly gained the advantage … Menelaos knocked Alexandros to the ground … he grabbed the plume of Alexandros's helmet and began to drag him through the dirt. Aphrodite restrained herself as long as she could but when she saw that Alexandros was seconds away from death, she swooped down invisibly and cut the helmet plume … Menelaos lost his hold on Alexandros … Aphrodite covered Alexandros in a mist, whisked him from the battlefield and put him safely in his bedchamber.
The Greeks and the Trojans were amazed at what they had witnessed … they all knew that Alexandros's disappearance was the work of one of the Immortals but that did not diminish the awe-factor. Menelaos was obviously the victor … or was he? Athene didn't wait for a debate to decide the mater … with her prompting, the war resumed with all its gruesome glory.
With Alexandros safely in his bedchamber, Aphrodite donned the disguise of an old woman and went to Helen … the goddess urged Helen to go to Alexandros to comfort him. Helen saw through the disguise chided Aphrodite … she told the goddess to go to Alexandros herself … she told her to marry him or became his slave. Needless to say, Aphrodite would not tolerate such behavior … she told Helen to obey her of she would be subjected to 'hard hate' … she then led Helen through the hallways of the palace and placed her in front of Alexandros … Helen obeyed Aphrodite without further disobedience.
As the fighting continued, Aphrodite kept her son Aineias from harm. Watching the battles from Mount Olympos, Zeus rebuked Hera and Athene for not protecting Menelaos and the other Achaeans as fiercely as Aphrodite protected Aineias. Athene was not pleased to hear that Zeus thought Aphrodite was more warlike than she was … she flew to Troy and chose one of the best of the Achaean soldiers to do her bidding … she chose Diomedes. She lifted the mist from his eyes so that he could see the otherwise invisible Immortals on the battlefield. She told him to avoid all of the Immortals except Aphrodite … if he encountered Aphrodite he was to stab her.
Diomedes saw Aphrodite in the thick of the fighting … she was again protecting Aineias. Diomedes lunged at Aphrodite with his pitiless bronze spear and tore through the robe the Graces had carefully woven and cut the flesh of Aphrodite's immortal palm. The ichor (immortal blood) of the goddess poured darkly on her perfect skin. The goddess Iris assisted Aphrodite as she withdrew from Diomedes … he was taunting Aphrodite and bragging of his prowess. Aphrodite and Iris found Ares … he too was fighting for the Trojans. Aphrodite begged Ares for the use of his chariot … he willingly let her have it. She and Iris flew to Mount Olympos where the goddess Dione tended to Aphrodite's wound. Athene was smug about Aphrodite's situation and asked if she had cut herself on a golden needle while attending the Trojan women. Zeus was sympathetic and told Aphrodite, "No, my child, not for you are the works of warfare. Rather concern yourself only with the lovely secrets of marriage." That was good advice but it was not a commandment … Aphrodite soon returned to the fighting.
The Immortals were divided as to which side they supported during the Trojan War but they did manage to cooperate when they were away form the fighting. Hera was an ardent supporter of the Achaeans whereas Aphrodite fought for the Trojans. Hera approached Aphrodite on Mount Olympos and asked for her assistance in seducing Zeus. Aphrodite readily agreed to help … she made a love-charmed corset that Hera could conceal beneath her robe. It's odd that Aphrodite would help Hera in that way because Hera's intention was to distract Zeus so Poseidon could rampage through the Trojan defenses … this could potentially threaten Aineias or Alexandros.
The fighting at Troy escalated to new levels of brutality … the battlefield was awash with Immortals and Achilles was on his blood-quest for Prince Hector. Athene attacked Ares and knocked him to the ground … Aphrodite tried to assist Ares and that enraged Hera … she called Aphrodite a dog-fly and urged Athene to attack her … Athene struck Aphrodite in the breast and again knocked Ares to the ground … she gave them both a stern warning not to help the Trojans. Even though she too is injured, Aphrodite helped Ares from the battlefield.
After Achilles had brutally killed Prince Hector, Aphrodite tended Hector's body so that it would not be disgraced … she drove the dogs from the corpse and anointed the body with immortal oils so that it would not be torn as Achilles dragged the lifeless body around the burial mound of Patroklos (Patroclus).
When the war ended, most of the Trojans and their allies were either killed or enslaved … Aphrodite's son Aineias was one of the few exceptions. The Romans believed that Aineias fled Troy and eventually made his way to Italy where he laid the foundations of what would eventually become Rome.
Ares is the god of War … he is the least favorite son of Zeus and considerably younger than Aphrodite … regardless, Aphrodite and Ares had an interesting relationship.
During the Trojan War, Aphrodite and Ares both fought with the Trojans … they had different reasons for fighting at Troy … Aphrodite was there to protect her son Aineias and Ares was there because he goes where the wars are. Ares gave Aphrodite his chariot after she was wounded … she returned the kindness by trying to help him when Athene knocked him to the ground.
Aphrodite and Ares had three children … Harmonia, Phobos and Deimos … Harmony, Panic and Fear.
Harmonia became very important in the development of Greece and the city of Thebes in particular. Phobos and Deimos are, as the saying goes, "sons of their father" … their presence is heralded by the names they so accurately represent.
Harmonia married Prince Kadmos (Cadmos) of Tyre after he settled in Boeotia and founded the city of Thebes. Kadmos had been led to Thebes by prophecy from Apollon so the city was blessed and therefore destined to achieve greatness. Harmonia had four daughters and one son … Ino, Agaue, Autonoe, Thyone (a.k.a. Semele) and Polydoros (Polydorus).
When Kadmos married Harmonia, Aphrodite gave her daughter a necklace designed and crafted by Hephaistos (Hephaestus) … it was called The Necklace of Harmonia until its reputation became tainted … it was then derisively called The Necklace of Eriphyle.
Harmonia gave the necklace to her son Polydoros … it was passed from father to son until it came into the possession of Polyneikes (Polyneices), the son of Oedipus. Polyneikes gave the necklace to Eriphyle as a bribe so that she would persuade her husband Amphiaraus to join Polyneikes's army in an attack on Thebes. Amphiaraus died during the battle at Thebes … the necklace was then called The Necklace of Eriphyle.
The necklace eventually found its was to the Temple of Apollon at Delphi but was allegedly stolen by a tyrant of Phokis (Phocis) … after that, the priceless artifact that Aphrodite gave to Harmonia was lost from the historical record.
Another interesting event marked their relationship but this time it involved Aphrodite's husband, Hephaistos (Hephaestus). Hephaistos is the lame son of Hera … his skills promoted him to the position of smith of the Immortals … he can fashion devices and structures with such cleverness they seem to have a life of their own.
In The Odyssey of Homer, the singer Demodokos (Demodocus) tells the tale of how Aphrodite and Ares became secret lovers … and got caught by Hephaistos. Aphrodite and Ares were very discrete about their relationship but nothing escapes the light of Helios (the Sun). When Helios told Hephaistos of Aphrodite's betrayal, he immediately began plotting his revenge.
Hephaistos went to work with his usual application of practicality and attention to detail … he devised clever fastenings that would enclose his bed and thus ensnare the lovers in an unbreakable trap. Aphrodite and Ares suspected nothing … they were trapped before they knew what was happening … try as they might there was no escape. Hephaistos called the other Olympians to witness the scene … as reimbursement for Aphrodite's infidelity he also demanded that his gifts of courtship be returned.
An agreement was reached where Ares promised to pay Hephaistos for his role in the adultery … Ares's uncle Poseidon offered to pay the adulterer's damages if Ares defaulted. Satisfied that he would be paid for his embarrassment, Hephaistos released the shamed lovers from their bonds. Aphrodite fled to the island of Kypros (Cyprus) where she was bathed by the Graces … Ares went to Thrake (Thrace).
Among the assembled Immortals, Apollon and Hermes watched the spectacle with more than a little amusement. Apollon asked Hermes how he would feel in such a situation. Hermes answered that he would suffer thrice the number of bonds if only he could share the bed of Aphrodite the Golden. Hermes did in fact share the bed of Aphrodite and their son was both masculine and feminine … his name was Hermaphroditus.
Hermaphroditus is the son Aphrodite and Hermes … since Aphrodite and Hermes are the quintessential female and male Immortals, it only stands to reason that their son would be endowed with the characteristics of both sexes. Hermaphroditus is both female and male … he has a body which is beautiful and delicate like that of a woman, but has the masculine quality and vigor of a man.
Aphrodite and Hermes have earned reputations that engender fear as well as respect … for that reason the acceptance and adulation of their son Hermaphroditus seems prudent. There were those however who find it difficult to think of Hermaphroditus as anything other than a monstrosity. The rare appearances of individuals with the traits of Hermaphroditus are sometimes associated with good or evil omens but that has yet to be proven.
In modern medicine, the term Hermaphrodite (taken from the combination of the names Hermes and Aphrodite) refers to someone born with the same physical attributes as Hermaphroditus.
There are conflicting stories as to Adonis's life and death but all three stories revolve around the goddess of Love, Aphrodite.
Adonis was the son of King Kinyras (Cinyras) of the island of Cyprus and the king's daughter Myrrha (Zmyrna). The unholy union of father and daughter was the result of Aphrodite's, revenge for Myrrha's disrespect.
At this point, the story of Adonis is unclear, either:
1) Myrrha was turned into a myrrh tree and Adonis was born from this tree. He grew to be a beautiful young man and Aphrodite fell in love with him; or
2) Aphrodite put Adonis in a chest and sent him to the Underworld. When Zeus discovered Adonis's fate, he had sympathy for the beautiful young man and allowed him to live half of the year with Persephone in the Underworld and the other half with Aphrodite on the earth's surface; or perhaps
3) Adonis was raised by Nymphs and met Aphrodite while he was hunting. Her affection for him was short lived because he was killed by a wild boar sent by Ares (god of War) and from Adonis's blood sprang the red rose.
Of the many kind and loving things Aphrodite has done for young women, she was unable to help Kameiro (Cameiro) and Klytie (Clytie), the daughters of Pandareos (Pandareus).
The Immortals killed Pandareos and his wife, leaving their daughters Kameiro and Klytie as orphans. It was said that Pandareos "was a Milesian from Miletus in Crete, and implicated in the theft of Tantalos (Tantalus) and in the trick of the oath." Tantalos was a son of Zeus who became presumptuous and was punished severly. He divulged secrets that he overheard on Mount Olympos to undeserving mortals … also, when Zeus offered him anything he desired, Tantalos became too extravagant in his demands … as an ironic punishment, after Tantalos died Zeus gave him everything he could possibly want but kept those things just out of Tantalos's reach so his desires could never be satisfied.
Pandareos shared Tantalos's overindulgent traits and was therefore killed by the Immortals. His daughters however were innocents and their plight did not escape the notice of the more sympathetic Immortals. Aphrodite fed the girls cheese, honey and wine … Hera gave them beauty and wisdom above all women … Artemis gave them stature and Athene schooled them in works that befit women.
In order for the young women to have happy marriages, Aphrodite ascended into heaven to ask for Zeus's blessing … during Aphrodite's absence, Kameiro and Klytie were carried off by the Harpies and given to the Furies. The plight of the young women turned out to be the opposite of what Aphrodite intended.
The entire family of King Tyndareus paid a bitter price when he incurred the wrath of Aphrodite.
There were many trials that King Tyndareus of Sparta had to suffer but it seems that he brought most of his troubles upon himself. His woes began when he neglected Aphrodite while sacrificing … after that, a series of misadventures plagued his life.
Tyndareus was married to a beautiful woman named Leda … she had three daughters and twin sons … two of the daughters were fathered by Tyndareus … one daughter and the two sons were fathered by Zeus.
Tyndareus's wife Leda was the mother of Helen but the girl's father was Zeus. Helen was the most beautiful woman in the world … before she became a woman she was the most beautiful girl in the world. While dancing with the other girls at a festival, Helen was kidnapped by the Athenian hero, Theseus … this was just a bitter foretaste of what was to come. Even though Helen had been enchanted by Aphrodite, the desertion of her husband Menelaos and the thousands of deaths around the walls of Troy were blamed on Helen.
Tyndareus's daughter Klytemnestra (Clytemnestra) became one of the most hated women in Greece when she murdered her husband, Agamemnon. Her betrayal and infidelity became legendary … when she was murdered by her son Orestes, he was not only forgiven, he was honored.
Tyndareus's daughter Timandra was not as infamous and her sisters but the desertion of her husband King Echemos (Echemus) of Arkadia (Arcadia) was disgraceful.
Leda had twin sons by Zeus … Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces) … they were called the Dioskuri (Dioscuri) meaning, Sons of God. They died young but became semi-divine … Zeus gave Kastor and Polydeukes immortality every-other day, i.e. one would dwell in the Underworld while the other lived on the face of the earth … eventually, the two brothers were placed in the heavens as the constellation Gemini, The Twins.
The final element of Aphrodite's curse on Tyndareus was the suicide of his wife Leda … we are not told exactly how her death was accomplished but we can assume that the disgraceful behavior of her daughters became too much to bear.
Surnames are important because they define specific aspects of the immortal gods and goddesses. Surnames are indicative of the temperament or influence each Immortal and placed after their proper name … for example, Aphrodite Pandemos is literally Aphrodite of All the People.
Aphrodite Ourania - Heavenly
Aphrodite Doritis - Bountiful
Aphrodite Akraea - Of the Height
Aphrodite Euploia - Fair Voyage
Aphrodite Morpho - Shapely
Aphrodite Melainis - Of the Black Night
Aphrodite Alosedne - Sea-Born
Aphrodite Amphipolos - The Busy One
Aphrodite Anadyomene - From the Sea
Aphrodite Pandemos - Of All the People
Aphrodite was sometimes referred to as the primary inhabitant of the place where she was worshipped … in those instances she was called for example, The Kyprian or simply Kyprian.
Kyprian - Of Kypros (Cyprus)
Kytherean - Of Kythera
Persian - Of Persia
Tauropolian - Of Tauris
Cretan - Of Crete
Ephesian - Of Ephesus
Knidian - Of Knidos
Syrian - Of Syria
Paphian - Of Paphos
Kytherian - Of Kythera
Erykinian - Of Mount Eryx
Koliad - Of Kolias
Mylitta - Aphrodite's Assyrian name
Alitta - Aphrodite's Arabian name
Mitra - Aphrodite's Persian name
Venus - Aphrodite's Roman name
Aphrodite took Phaethon, the son of Eos (Dawn) and Kephalos (Cephalus), and made him the keeper of her shrine.
When Phaethon was a young boy he was very beautiful and full of childish thoughts … Aphrodite was attracted to him and seized him … she made Phaethon a divine spirit and the keeper of her shrine by night. It is not clear where the shrine was located and by making him a divine spirit, we are not sure if Phaethon became immortal or just retained the divine spirit of his mother, Eos.
The Scythians said that they were given the art of divination by Aphrodite; they would twist and untwist the bark of the linden-tree as they uttered the oracle.
Aphrodite and Eros
Above all in importance is the study of the influence of the five stars known as planets. The Greek astronomers and astrologers called the planets "Interpreters" when speaking of them as a group. The sun is called Helios and the five planets are named Kronos (Cronos), Ares, Aphrodite, Hermes, and Zeus. Kronos is the most conspicuous and presages more events than the others.
The god Priapus was worshiped by the people of Lampsakos (Lampsacus) wherever goats and sheep pastured or there were swarms of bees. Priapus was thought to be the son of Aphrodite and Dionysos because of the obvious fact that men under the influence of wine (the gift of Dionysos) find the members of their bodies tense and inclined to the pleasures of love. Priapus's name was associated with satyrs thus indicating his virility.
Eryx was the son of Aphrodite and King Butas of Sicily. Eryx became king after his father and ruled the area around what came to be known as Mount Eryx.
When Herakles was returning to Greece after completing his Tenth Labor, Taking the Cattle of Geryon (Geryones), he encountered Eryx when he stopped over in northwestern Sicily … the two proud demigods decided test their strength with a wrestling match but they could not decide on a suitable wager. Herakles wanted Eryx to forfeit his land if he lost … whereas Herakles would surrender the cattle he had just "taken" from Geryon if he lost. At first, Eryx thought the arrangement was unfair but Herakles explained that if he did not return to Mycenae with the cattle he would lose his immortality, therefore his cattle were priceless.
Eryx agreed that the terms of the wager were fair and the two began to wrestle … Herakles won the match and took Eryx's land.
Kronios (Cronius), Kytos (Cytus) and Spartaeus were arrogant young sons of Poseidon and Halia who offended Aphrodite and paid a horrible price.
When Aphrodite was sailing from Kytherae (Cytherae) to Cyprus, she wanted to stop on the island of Rhodes but Poseidon's sons would not let her drop anchor. The boys were insolent and arrogant to the goddess and she lashed out in anger inflicting the boys with madness. In their deranged state of mind, they forced themselves on their mother Halia and committed acts of violence against the islanders. When Poseidon learned of their outrageous behavior, he buried them alive and they became known as "Eastern Demons." Halia was so shamed and distraught by her son's wanton actions, she threw herself into the sea … she became known as Leukothea (Leucothea) and was given Immortal honors by the islanders.
The traveler/historian Pausanias told of a curious statue he saw of Aphrodite while traveling on the Peloponnesian Peninsula. In the sanctuary of Aphrodite Morpho (Shapely) at Sparta she sits wearing a veil and has fetters on her feet. The story Pausanias was told said that King Tyndareus of Sparta put the fetters on the statue to punish Aphrodite for the curse of infidelity the goddess placed on Tyndareus's three daughters, Helen, Klytemnestra and Timandra.
Pausanias thought that the idea of punishing the goddess by putting fetters on her statue was "silly."
The city and spring of Argyra in Achaea were named after the Sea-Nymph Argyra. In the distant past, Argyra became attracted to a handsome young man named Selemnus who fed his flocks near the spring. Argyra would rise from the sea and lay bedside Selemnus but as time went on Selemnus began to age and Argyra lost her desire and finally deserted him completely. Selemnus was so distraught that he died of love-sickness. Aphrodite mercifully transformed Selemnus into a river but his sadness was not diminished … Aphrodite went one step further and blotted out Selemnus's memory so that he no longer mourned for his lost love.
The most famous priestess of Aphrodite was a young woman named Hero … she served the goddess at her temple in Sestos on the Hellespont in northern Greece. Hero was in love with a young man named Leander … he lived on the opposite side of the Hellespont in Abydos. Each night Leander would swim the Hellespont to be with Hero … she would hold a light on the shore so Leander could find his way to her. One cloudy night Leander became disorientated and drowned before he could reach the shore. When Hero learned of Leander's fate, she killed herself.
The Aphrodisia was a festival held in honor of Aphrodite Pandemos during the Attic month of Hekatombaion (approximately the third week of June to the third week of July of our calendar) … Pandemos means All the People.
The Temple of Aphrodite Ourania (Heavenly) in the city of Askalon (Ascalon) in ancient Syria was thought to be the oldest shrine to the goddess on earth. When the Scythians (Scythians) invaded what we call the middle east, they marched through Syria … most of the soldiers did not plunder or harm the Syrians but some of them looted the ancient Temple of Aphrodite Ourania. Aphrodite afflicted the soldiers and their descendants with a disease which is generally called the "female sickness" which causes loss of virility … the Scythians call the victims of this illness Enareis, i.e. hermaphrodites.
No one can escape the influence of Aphrodite no how fast the run … Atalanta is a perfect example of this fact.
Atalanta was a famous virgin huntress who distinguished herself during the Kalydonian (Calydonian) Hunt. Atalanta was the first to wound the fierce boar that the goddess Artemis had unleashed on the people of Kalydon (Calydon) for the impious behavior of King Oineus. The king's son Meleagros (Meleager) organized a band of renowned hunters to kill the boar … Atalanta was an excellent choice … she was awarded the boar's hide for her skill and bravery.
Atalanta vowed that she only marry a man if he could beat her in a foot race … she had no intention of getting married and assumed that with her athletic prowess she could defeat any man who raced against her. A young man named Hippomenes (or perhaps Meilanion) fell in love with Atalanta and accepted her challenge to the footrace.
Aphrodite wanted Atalanta to be married and used her wiles to accomplish that seemingly impossible feat. Aphrodite gave Hippomenes three golden apples that came from the Garden of the Hesperides … these were no ordinary golden apples … they were of divine creation and irresistible to any mortal female. Hippomenes was instructed to drop the golden apples in Atalanta's path during the race so that she would be temped to stop and pick them up … the trick worked just as Aphrodite intended. When Atalanta stopped for the enchanted apples, Hippomenes gained an advantage that Atalanta could not overcome. Hippomenes won the race and Atalanta became his wife.
Aphrodite was instrumental in the creation of the first woman, Pandora. The name Pandora means All-Endowed because, at the command of Zeus, she was given gifts from various Immortals and was thus Endowed By All.
Zeus created Pandora as a gift for Epimetheus and a punishment for all mankind. Epimetheus had been warned not to accept gifts from Zeus but when he saw Pandora he could not resist her charms … charms that Aphrodite gave her.
Hephaistos molded Pandora's body from earth into the likeness of a modest young girl … Athene taught Pandora the skills of weaving and gave her dexterity … Aphrodite put a mist upon her head to engender longing and desire … Hermes gave her treachery and shamelessness … the Graces and Peitho (Persuasion) gave her necklaces of gold … the Seasons put a halo of flowers on Pandora's head.
The Xaritas, known as the Graces or the Charities, are the only Immortals that might be considered Aphrodite's companions. Just as their name implies, they are the incarnation of Grace and Charm.
Their names are Euphrosyne, Aglaia and Thalia ... they weave Aphrodite's garments and tend to her every need ... they dance with the Seasons, Harmonia, Hebe and Aphrodite on Mount Olympos.