Aphrodite was the Olympian Goddess of beauty, love, and desire in Greek Mythology. She was born on the island of Cyprus in a city called Phaphos – located on the southwest coast of Cyprus.
The Greek Goddess Aphrodite
The meaning of the name Aphrodite is said to be “arisen from the foam”, although there is some debate as to the origins of the word and Goddess herself. Currently, many scholars believe her to be a form of Ishtar, a Goddess imported from the Phoenicians in the guise of Astarte.
Regardless of her origins, Aphrodite was soon adopted as one of the main Olympian Gods and Goddesses in Greek Mythology. She was famous for great feminine beauty and a constant smile, elegant jewellery and dress. Her beauty beguiled mortals and deities alike, and she was considered a goddess that was the most attractive of all in the Kingdom of Mount Olympus.
The Birth of Aphrodite
According to myth, she was born from sea-foam caused by the genitals of Uranus when they were thrown into the sea near Cythera’s coast. Kronos dismembered his own father and when throwing it into the sea, the foam it created was how Aphrodite was “formed”. According to Homer writing in the Iliad, however, Aphrodite was the daughter of Zeus and Dione.
What powers and skills does she have?
The Greek Goddess Aphrodite held the powers of fertility, pleasure and eternal youth, along with extraordinary beauty. Her beauty and sexuality were of such high regard that it could spark a war between the Gods and was even believed to have caused the Trojan War.
Aphrodite sometimes used her powers to help the other Gods, and in particular Zeus. She and Eros, also known as Cupid, caused her father Zeus (according to Homer, Zeus gave birth to Aphrodite) to fall in love with a mortal named Europa.
Aphrodite of Milos
Many people have heard of the famous statues the Venus of Milos which is on display in the Louvre, France. In actual fact, this statue should be called the Aphrodite of Milos! It is recognised as a very important and influential masterpiece dating from the first century BC. It also gives us a very good indication of how the ancients Greeks though Aphrodite would look.
Aphrodite had a short temper
There do not seem to be many Gods or Goddesses from Greek Mythology who are renowned for their patience! Aphrodite was no exception, and was at times short tempered and vengeful.
One myth passed down is that Aphrodite cursed women of Lemnos because they refused to make sacrifice to her. Aphrodite’s curse was that the women should smell so badly their men would refuse to have sex with them!
Aphrodite and Hephaestus
The Goddess of Love and the God of Volcanoes might seem a mismatched pair to be husband and wife, and indeed they were. Aphrodite had numerous affairs, and in particular with Ares, the God of War.
On one occasion, Hephaestus was said to have found the couple in bed, where he trapped them in a cleverly crafted net. He then called in the other Gods and Goddesses to mock them!
What interesting children did she have?
Although Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, she never had children with him. She did have plenty of children with other people though, especially Ares.
Perhaps the most famous of her offspring is Eros, more commonly known nowadays as Cupid, God of Love. They were often found in each other’s company and caused gods and mortals to fall in love.
Another child she had with Ares was called Phobos, and was personified as fear. Today, we get the word “phobia” from this source. Twin brother to Phobos was Deimos, personified as terror that came from war including the dreaded feelings attached to fear. His name literally means “dread” according to Greek Mythology.
What role does Aphrodite play in the Percy Jackson books?
In the Lightening Thief, Aphrodite is mentioned as always cheating on her husband. At one point, Percy and Annabeth become stuck in a trap that Hephaestus had set for Aphrodite and Hephaestus.
In the Titan’s Curse, Percy meets Aphrodite outside the Junkyard of the Gods. Here, Aphrodite says that she will not make Percy’s love life easy. She is not totally against him though, and votes against him being disintegrated at the winter solstice.
Aphrodite later goes on to play more important roles in the Heroes of Olympus series.
Temples in Greece dedicated to Aphrodite
Corinth was the centre of Aphrodite worship on mainland Greece, but she is known to have been worshipped in temples throughout the country. In the ancient agora in Athens, there was a temple which has since been destroyed, and there is also one in Thessaloniki.
Sadly, there are very few temples in good standing dedicated to Aphrodite today. In order to fully understand Aphrodite worship and her temples, we suggest taking a Percy Jackson Day Tour from Athens. As you explore the site of Acrocorinth with one of our passionate Greek Mythology guides, you will learn more about Aphrodite, her myths, and her role in Ancient Greece.