Fast Facts: Aphrodite
- Pronunciation: a-fro-DYE-tee
- Origin: Greek
- Role: Goddess
- Symbols: Girdle, Mirror
- Husband: Hephaestus
- Siblings: Apollo, Athena, Helen
- Other Names: Acidalia, Cytherea, Cerigo
Who Is Aphrodite?
Aphrodite is the goddess of Beauty, Love, Pleasure and Procreation. She is one of the twelve great Olympian gods and has a very important place in mythological and poetic narratives. It was assimilated to Venus among the Romans.
She is said to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Although married to Hephaestus she had many lovers, most notably Ares. She was depicted as a beautiful woman usually accompanied by her son Eros. Her symbols include the rose, scallop shell, and myrtle wreath. Her sacred animal is the dove.
Aphrodite is said to have no mother and be born of Ouranos. This means she is actually the sister of Cronus and Rhea. In other versions she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. In Homer, Aphrodite, venturing into battle to protect her son, Aeneas, is wounded by Diomedes and returns to her mother, to sink down at her knee and be comforted.
After her birth, Zeus was afraid that the gods would fight over Aphrodite’s hand in marriage so he married her off to the smith god Hephaestus, the steadiest of the gods. He could hardly believe his good luck and used all his skills to make the most lavish jewels for her. He made her a girdle of finely wrought gold and wove magic into the filigree work. That was not very wise of him, for when she wore her magic girdle no one could resist her, and she was all too irresistible already. She loved happiness and glamour and was not at all pleased at being the wife of sooty, hard-working Hephaestus. Being the Goddess of love and beauty EVERYONE wanted to date Aphrodite.
Aphrodite’s most prominent avian symbol was the dove, which was originally an important symbol of her Near Eastern precursor Inanna-Ishtar. In addition to her associations with doves, Aphrodite was also closely linked with sparrows and she is described riding in a chariot pulled by sparrows in Sappho’s “Ode to Aphrodite”.
Because of her connections to the sea, Aphrodite was associated with a number of different types of water fowl, including swans, geese, and ducks. Aphrodite’s other symbols included the sea, conch shells, and roses. The rose and myrtle flowers were both sacred to Aphrodite. Her most important fruit emblem was the apple, but she was also associated with pomegranates
She trained Eros , Nymphs , Hours , Charities , Tritons and Nereids, and allegorical characters such as Peitho (Persuasion), Pothos or Himeros (Desire).