Greek mythology is full of impressive stories, with fantastic characters that, despite having been written years ago, today continue to be studied by new generations. We all know about the three great gods, Zeus, Hades and Poseidon but do we really know about the stories of other important gods? We invite you to read this article so you can learn everything about the history of Aphrodite.
Table of Contents
- 1 Who is Aphrodite?
- 2 The origin of Aphrodite
- 3 Cult
- 4 the two aphrodites
- 5 Romance with Ares
- 6 Aphrodite and Psyche
- 7 Adonis
- 8 The trial of Paris
- 9 Pygmalion and Galatea
- 10 Other stories
- 11 Aphrodite powers
- 12 Children of Aphrodite
- 13 Who was Venus?
- 14 Temples in ancient Greece and Rome
- 15 Iconography
- 16 Aphrodite in popular culture
- 17 The importance of Aphrodite
- 18 The Aphrodite Complex
- 19 Eros, Aphrodite and the feeling of love
Who is Aphrodite?
When we talk about Greek mythology, we notice that there are names that stand out among others. That's because over the years, the stories of these characters have become better known. One of the cases of this phenomenon is that of Aphrodite.
Although known as the goddess of love, in mythology, she is also defined as the goddess of beauty and sensuality. It is believed that Aphrodite was considered the most beautiful goddess in all of Greece. Furthermore, she ranked high among the twelve Olympian gods, making her even more attractive.
Although it is true that in modern culture this goddess was the goddess of love, what many do not know about her is that in fact, her love was related more to eroticism than to romanticism. It is noteworthy that the god of romantic love was Eros. Aphrodite was the worthy representation of sexuality, carnal desire, beauty and the compatibility of two people.
Like almost all the Greek gods, Aphrodite also has her Roman equivalent which is Venus, who we will talk about later and clarify some differences. In the story, Aphrodite marries Hephaestus. However, that does not prevent her from taking several lovers, of which she ends up mentioning Ares, the god of war, her favorite.
If you are interested in more articles like this, we invite you to explore the different categories that we have on our blog. In fact, we recommend you read mythological characters
The origin of Aphrodite
As we have said before, Aphrodite was considered the goddess of love, which is why her story remained in the collective for years. Few people recognize the origin of this goddess. Unlike other stories within mythology, Aphrodite has various origins and this only happens because she has numerous equivalents within different cultures.
Aphrodite for the Greeks, Inanna in Sumerian mythology, Astarte in the Phoenician, Turan in the Etruscan, Xochiquétzal in the Aztec and Venus in the Roman. Aphrodite is a goddess whose history has changed to adapt to the multiple cultures that have used her as a reference.
While it is true that it is impossible to explain the exact origin of this goddess, it has been recorded that the Assyrians were the first people to establish a cult of her. Eventually, Aphrodite or Ἀφροδίτη, which is her Greek name, passed through several Indo-European cultures until she settled in Greek culture. Here, at last, she was given a recognizable name and a myth that would follow her for years to come.
Although it is true that in modern times we can only observe Greek mythology as a fantasy story, the reality is that, for the ancient Greeks, these stories and deities were part of their real culture. That is, its existence was undeniable and incontrovertible. Aphrodite was one of the most revered goddesses in Greek culture. That's because much more to her powers than she was attributed to her than to her own personality.
In Athens and Corinthians, the cult of Aphrodite represented a large part of the population of these places, for years, different celebrations were held in her honor. Corinthians, especially, was known as the city of Aphrodite, since there was an enormous number of sacred temples with the aim of worshiping this goddess.
The most recognized of these was the temple that stood on top of Acrocorinth, which existed until the Roman destruction in the 146th century BC Within this place, intercourse with its priestesses was considered an effective method of worship. In addition, various pouring rituals were carried out.
On the other hand, the cult of Aphrodite related her to the sea, which is why many of her representations and images refer to this element. Aphrodite, as an image of her, was seen in conjunction with different sea creatures.
The creation of new religions and deities caused many of the old cults to die out. However, today, many people have rescued these traditions. The dodecatheism cult, assures that Aphrodite is one of its most adored deities.
The common offerings that are offered to this goddess with food, fruits, especially, to refer to her myths. Additionally, rituals are still used, only now, more modern and simple methods are used, being more traditional than effective.
It is due to the immense number of religions that exist on the planet, that the human being has begun to adopt old beliefs so that they can be applied in a more modern thought. Why join a new religion when you can base your faith on an archetype that fits your personality or tastes? Traditionally, the cults of the Greek gods are seen as pagan cults, however, this does not make it invalid before other religions, after all, they all started as a cult.
Although it is true that Aphrodite is the goddess of love, this love is more related to sexual attraction than to romanticism. That is why, universally, the cult of Aphrodite (and other similar goddesses) has been involved in a quite particular aspect: religious prostitution.
Today, many of the religions tend to condemn sexuality and carnal desire. In the case of the cult of Aphrodite, sensuality is a key element. Both in the practice of modern worship, and centuries ago in ancient Greece, the sacred temples of veneration of this goddess. These witnessed various sexual acts with the sole purpose of worshiping the goddess.
Although it began as a sacred form of worship, the Greeks took advantage of these traditions for mutual benefit. The priestesses obtained a ritual where they could venerate their goddess and the people who accompanied them, if they were outside the cult, obtained satisfaction.
The Greek euphemism for these "prostitutes" was hierodula, which could mean a sacred servant. This custom of using temples as places of prostitution was practiced by different ancient cultures, such as the Middle East. There, Aphrodite's veneration was not recognized by her Greek counterpart, but instead she was worshiped as the Sumerian Inanna and the Akkadian Ishtar.
the two aphrodites
By the end of the XNUMXth century BC, the philosophers of the time had divided Aphrodite into two different goddesses, although her worship continued to belong to the same cult. The aphrodite Urania, was the version that had been born from the foam after an event where Cronus castrated Uranus. While the Aphrodite Pandemos, was the common Aphrodite that everyone revered, the version born of Zeus and Dione.
Why the philosophers decided to make this division is quite simple. The two Aphrodites represent different stages of the goddess, moreover, for the people of her cult, it was easier to venerate her in this way. Aphrodite of Urania represented an old goddess considered celestial, while Aphrodite of Pandemos was the younger and more common version of her.
There are several versions that speak about the birth of Aphrodite, especially, the stories began to become a little more complex when the philosophers separated Aphrodite in two. One of the best known versions implies that Aphrodite was born in a foam generated in the sea, near Paphos.
This foam was the result of Crono's act, where he decides to cut off Uranus's genitals with a sickle made of diamonds and throw them into the sea. Hence Aphrodite's association with the sea, additionally, this would imply that she looks a generation older than Zeus.
Homer, however, tells a second, quite different version, where he implies that Aphrodite is in fact the daughter of Dione, an oracular goddess (who can predict the future). In this version, it is told that Dione is in fact the equivalent of Gaia, the Earth mother.
On the other hand, when the cult of Zeus usurped the oracle-oak grove of Dodoma, where Dione resided, then they began to believe that perhaps Zeus was the father of Aphrodite. This fact is only an adaptation and may not make any sense in the original version.
Additionally, many believed that Aphrodite was the daughter of Thelassa, a female personification of the sea. Within the cult of Aphrodite, her main center of worship was at Paphos, the place where she was supposed to have been born. From there, millions of people performed rituals to worship the goddess and ask for her powers.
Each Greek god, demi-god, creature, and mortal has a different story. Some must go through the natural stages that we know now, others do not. If one thing is clear in the knowledge about Aphrodite, it is that this goddess did not have a childhood, since when she was born, she is said to have been born as an adult.
This is supported by the fact that all existing references and images of the goddess already describe her as a desirable adult goddess. On the other hand, several lesser myths explain how Aphrodite's personality was terrible, despite her beautiful beauty.
She was vain, moody, and quite touchy. She married Hephaestus and cheated on him with a host of lovers, both mortal and deity, a fairly common practice on Olympus, in fact.
He had an important role in the Trojan War, but in addition to this, he was not really an important character for the myths but for the Greek people.
Although it is true that today the institution of marriage is quite careful, the reality of the Greek myths is completely different. Gods, faced with an immortal existence, commonly find themselves unfaithful to their partners with other gods or mortals.
Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, the god of fire, this was her complete antithesis, she was lame, extremely moody and ugly. This marriage is executed, since Zeus was afraid that Aphrodite's beauty would generate some violent conflict between the gods, so he decides to force her to marry.
In other versions of this myth, Hephaestus's mother, Hera, expels her son from Olympus for being deformed. He takes her revenge on her by locking himself in her magic throne and asks her to free her from her so he must grant her the hand of Aphrodite. Hera accepts and Aphrodite and Hephaestus marry, making the god of fire extremely happy and the goddess of beauty unhappy.
Romance with Ares
Although Aphrodite had many lovers, among her favorites was Ares, the Olympian god of war, with whom she had several children. Hephaestus knew that his wife was unfaithful to him, since Helios had told him about the relationship that existed between Ares and Aphrodite. So he planned a revenge that would embarrass them enough that they would never get together again.
He decided to catch them in the act, for this, he would use an invisible net that he himself had made on the bed where his wife would meet Ares. This network would manage to immobilize the couple. Ares, being quite cunning, knew exactly that Hephaestus was up to something, so he asked Alectrion, his favorite henchman, to let him know when the sun rose.
Unfortunately, Alectrion fell asleep and was unable to tell Ares about the sunrise, causing the trap nets to fall on him and Aphrodite. Hephaestus found them and called the other gods to watch the scene and mock them. However, what happened was something completely different, since the gods who did attend the scene only mocked Hephaestus.
More information about this romance
Some admired Aphrodite's beauty, others talked about how much they wanted to be in Ares's place. Hephaestus did not release them until Poseidon promised that Ares would comply with a punishment, which did not really happen, since by lifting the net, both escaped and continued with their adventure.
Eventually, Ares turned Alectrion into a rooster so that he would never fall asleep again and would always call when the sun rose.
We invite you to read more articles like this on our blog, especially this Gorgona in the mythology category.
Aphrodite and Psyche
In many of the stories of Aphrodite, she only represents a minor person. This is not the exception with the story of Eros, her son and Psyche, where Aphrodite is only a secondary character. This story was written in the XNUMXnd century BC by Apuleius, the Golden Ass narrative implies that Aphrodite had sent him an extremely beautiful mortal woman named Psyche.
The temples of the cult of Aphrodite began to empty out as the villagers began to worship this new woman. Aphrodite then asks Eros to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest man with a golden arrow. Eros accepted but when he goes to fulfill the mission, he is the one who ends up falling in love with Psyche since he accidentally sticks himself with a golden date.
On the other side of the story, Psyche's parents were very worried since their daughter, despite being of marriageable age, was still single. They consulted the oracle who told them that she was not destined to marry an immortal creature that lived on top of a mountain and that everyone, even the gods, feared this creature.
Eros had planned this story so that he and Psyche could meet. She asked her followers to let her face her new destiny alone and decided to climb to the top of a mountain. There Cefiro, the west wind, lowered her slowly to the cave where she would meet the creature.
To his surprise, what was in the cave was not a hideous monster but it was covered with jewels but in a lot of darkness. Eros met his lover and they made passionate love. Eros asked her to please not turn on the light when she was with him, he didn't want her to recognize him since her wings were quite unmistakable.
More about the story of Psyche, Aphrodite and Eros
Psyche's two sisters were completely jealous of her relationship with her lover. So they convinced her that she should kill him because she was sure it was a creature that took advantage of her. So much was her insistence that Psyche decided to listen to them and when she was having sex she decided to stick a dagger into him. However, before doing so, Psyche turned on the light and dropped the dagger.
Eros fled the cave saying that love cannot live where trust does not exist. Psyche told his sisters what had happened and, rejoicing, they decided to go to the mountain to see if Eros would choose them to be his new lovers.
That didn't happen, since he really was in love, so Psyche's sisters ended up dying when they tried to get out of the cave not finding Eros. The young mortal sought Eros throughout Greece, stumbling upon the temple of Demeter. Once he ordered some things there, Demeter told him that the best way to find Eros was to find Aphrodite and get her blessing.
Pisque arrived at the temple of Aphrodite, there she had to face various tasks that the goddess asked of her, from ordering some grains to going to the underworld for a bit of beauty. Despite all the adversities, Psyche managed to fulfill each of the tasks that Aphrodite asked her, doing what no mortal had ever achieved.
Denouement of the story of Psyche
Eros, seeing all that Psyche had gone through to get his love and her mother's blessing, begged Zeus and Aphrodite to allow him to be together, explaining that a love as pure as theirs deserved to be recognized.
This couple had a history full of challenges, however, they showed the gods that love is the most important force of all. So they complied with what Eros asked of them and agreed for the couple to marry. Finally, Zeus transformed Psyche into an immortal creature allowing her to spend her life at Eros's side.
Aphrodite blessed the union between her son and the young mortal, expressing her happiness at seeing them so in love. Interestingly, Aphrodite was so happy that she danced at the wedding. Eros and Psyche had a daughter whom they named Hedone (Pleasure), which in her Roman counterpart is named Voluptas.
These two characters had shown Aphrodite something she didn't think was possible, that love was enough strength to sacrifice even your life if necessary. They were the life image that love could exist without physical attraction, something that until now, they thought did not exist.
On the other hand, another of Aphrodite's lovers was Adonis. What some people do not know is that Aphrodite was a participant in the birth of Adonis. Cinira was the king of Cyprus, his daughter was Mirra, a very beautiful and intelligent young woman.
The mother of this girl committed hybris against Aphrodite, claiming that the girl was much more beautiful than the goddess. This managed to infuriate her and in her desire for revenge on her, she condemned Mirra to lust after her own father. Cinyras rejected her but Mirra disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced her father into sleeping with her. From this union, Mirra becomes pregnant and when she is discovered by Ciniras, he chases her with a knife to kill her.
Mirra asks the gods for mercy and they decide to help her, they end up turning her into a tree, managing to avoid her death. Ciniras decides to commit suicide to restore the honor of his family. From Mirra a baby is born, to whom she was named Adonis. Aphrodite passes by the place where the tree is, seeing the infant.
She decides to get him out of there and took him to the underworld for Persephone and Hades to take care of him, saying that she would go get him when he was older. Adonis grew up to be a beautiful young man, when Aphrodite came for him, she and Persephone fought to see who would get the boy.
More about Adonis and his encounter with the goddess of love
Zeus, trying to avoid a conflict, proposes the same deal he offered Demeter when Persephone was kidnapped. Adonis would spend a third of the year with Aphrodite, a third of the year with Persephone, and the rest he would spend wherever he wished.
Both accept and Adonis begins his year with Aphrodite, there they fall intensely in love and discover Adonis's passion for hunting. Despite not having much knowledge in this practice, Aphrodite tells him that he should never fight an animal that does not seem to be afraid.
After spending some time together, Aphrodite returns to her duties, leaving Adonis alone. He meets a giant boar that he believes he can defeat, not knowing that in fact this boar is not normal, it is Ares, Aphrodite's former lover who is extremely jealous.
Adonis chases the boar but realizes that he cannot beat him, the boar castrates Adonis and he bleeds to death. Aphrodite tries to save him but does not arrive in time, Adonis returns to the Underworld where he meets his adoptive parents.
Aphrodite, learning that Adonis is in the underworld, decides to search for him, fighting Persephone to give him one more time. Zeus intervenes again and proposes that Adonis spend six months in the underworld with his parents and six months with Aphrodite, a more reasonable deal than the first time.
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The trial of Paris
Among the stories of Aphrodite, one of the best known and most prominent talks about her participation in the Trojan War, to understand it, we must go back a few years in the past. All gods, demigods and mortals were invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (the future parents of Achilles).
The only person who wasn't invited was Eris, the goddess of discord, though. She managed to sneak into the wedding and showed up with a golden apple carved with the word kallistēi, which meant for the most beautiful. Eris threw the apple between the goddesses Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena, who immediately quarreled, claiming the apple was theirs. To resolve the conflict, they asked Zeus to choose the most beautiful goddess but Zeus, not wanting any goddess' favor, asked Paris to make the choice.
Paris, on her own, found herself being bribed by the goddesses. Hera told him that if he chose her, she would give him an incredible kingdom (Asia Minor). Athena, on the other hand, dedicated herself to offering him all the wisdom, fame and glory that he wanted. And Aphrodite was the only one who whispered in her ear her true wish, she would grant him the most beautiful mortal woman in the world. Paris ended up choosing Aphrodite and she gave him Helena.
The other two enraged goddesses took revenge against Paris and due to the kidnapping of Helen, they managed to provoke the Trojan War.
Pygmalion and Galatea
The myth of Pygmalion has been widely used to refer to Aphrodite and that is because it is perhaps one of the most interesting myths that exist, unlike other stories, the myth of these two people does not speak of any heroic act impressive, it only speaks of love.
Pygmalion was a sculptor who dedicated his entire life to art, despite his talent, he had not been able to find the woman of his dreams. Aphrodite, taking pity on him, decides to teach him on her own the wonders of love. Some time passed, until Pygmalion manages to make a sculpture similar to Aphrodite, since she appeared to him in her dreams.
Pygmalion as a sculptor of romance
He decides to name the ivory sculpture Galatea and falls madly in love with her. Realizing that he cannot live without her, he decides to pray to Aphrodite to allow him to live her life with her. Aphrodite, executing the last part of her plan, brings the sculpture to life so that Pygmalion and Galatea can share her life, eventually marrying.
In other versions of this myth, it is said that in reality, it was the people close to the town who asked Aphrodite to force him to marry one of them, since they were angry that Pygmalion did not want to choose a wife. Aphrodite accepted and tells the artist that she must choose a woman to marry or that she would do it herself in her place.
Not wanting to do this, Pygmalion asks Aphrodite to give him more time to create a sculpture in her image before choosing a wife, the enchanted goddess agrees. Pygmalion made many small clay sculptures, expressing that these were completely necessary to choose a good pose, when he set out to make the sculpture, he noticed that he really wanted to make it and finish it, despite knowing that his time was running out.
At this point in the story, the artist was completely in love with his work, working hard so that it no longer looked like Aphrodite, but instead looked like the woman of his dreams. At the end, Aphrodite appeared before him, asking him to choose a wife, he chose Galatea, the statue, however, Aphrodite told him that this was not possible so she should choose someone else.
Completely devastated, Pygmalion decides to hug the statue and implore the goddess to turn him into a sculpture. Aphrodite, leaning on the poor man, decides to infuse the statue with a spark of life by turning it into a real human being. Pygmalion and Galatea decide to live happily ever after.
A common feature in mythology is the number of different versions that exist of the same story. Greek myths are characterized by having many origins and differences in the same character. For example, one of the versions of the Hippolytus story that exists talks about how Aphrodite was the catalyst for his death. That is, Hippolytus belonged to the cult of Aphrodite until he changed her for Artemis. In revenge, Aphrodite provoked his stepmother into falling in love with him knowing that Hippolytus would reject her.
On the other hand, the most popular version of this myth talks about how Phaedra, the stepmother, wanted to take revenge against Hippolytus and decides to take her own life. She left behind a note for Theseus, her husband and father of Hippolytus, explaining that she had raped her. In fact, Hippolytus had sworn not to mention Phaedra's love for him, so she did not defend herself against the accusations and assumed the consequences of what Phaedra had done.
Theseus cursed Hippolytus, this curse had to be fulfilled by Poseidon, the god of the sea. It scared the horses of his carriage causing the carriage to overturn and he died. Interestingly, that was not Aphrodite's original plan, as she wanted Phaedra and Hippolytus to fall in love and Theseus to discover them together.
Other stories about the goddess of sensual love
In other versions of the myth of the abduction of Persephone, it is said that Aphrodite and Eros, her son, were the ones who incited Hades to kidnap the goddess of spring. It is said that Aphrodite was upset with Demeter for taking Persephone away from Olympus, plus she wanted to have some control in the underworld.
Aphrodite was also one of the women who taunted Momo, causing her to be expelled from Olympus. Another theme that is also touched on a lot in the myths is that the goddess of love was very protective of her son Aeneas, who was a soldier in the Trojan War.
Diomedes was about to kill Aeneas, however, Aphrodite managed to rescue him in time. Despite this, Diomedes wounds Aphrodite causing her to drop her child, who is in fact saved once again by a cloud created by Apollo. Apollo decides to take Aeneas to Pergamon, a sacred place in Troy, where Artemis manages to cure him definitively.
If you want to read other myths like this one about Aphrodite, we invite you to explore the different categories that we have on our blog. In fact, we recommend you read gods of buddhism, an original and very entertaining article.
Like all the gods of Olympus, Aphrodite also has important powers that help her fulfill the missions and objectives that the Greeks wrote for there. Among the most notable we can mention.
- Love towards the physical body.
Children of Aphrodite
Although her husband was Hephaestus, during various myths, their engagement was expressed to be very different from what we would consider a stable marriage today. Aphrodite was known for taking several lovers, obviously from her union with these gods, heroes and mortals they created several descendants, of which there is much record.
It is said that among all the lovers, Ares (the god of war) was her favorite, with him she had a total of 6 children who had their own role in mythology, these were: Anteros, Deimos, Eros, Phobos, Harmonía and Homer.
In the case of Aphrodite and Dionysus, they only had two children: Hymenaeus and Priapus. While she with Hermes she had three: Hermaphrodite, Peite and Tyche. On the other hand, it is said that Aphrodite maintained an important relationship with Poseidon, the god of the sea and that with him she had Rodo, with Adonis, on the other hand, she had Beroe.
And although those were her most recognized conquests, the history of Aphrodite is even longer. With Anchises he had Aeneas, with Butes he had Erice. The long life that the gods have according to the myths, allows them to have a large number of children. Sometimes, this amount of offspring leads to the creation of several versions of the same myth, since it is impossible to record the kinship of all the characters correctly.
If you want to read more articles like this, we recommend you read god hermes in our category of gods.
Who was Venus?
Aphrodite's best-known counterpart is her Roman version, Venus. The Romans adopted Greek mythology and transformed it so that she adapted to her own customs, Venus, was the goddess of love, beauty and fertility, she was married to Vulcan.
On the other hand, it was not until the third century BC that he began to be identified with Aphrodite. That is to say, although the Romans already spoke of the existence of this goddess, the Roman upper class managed to identify her origins, determining that the same goddess Venus that they adored so much was a direct reference to Aphrodite.
Julius Caesar used the image of Venus quite often. In fact, he adopted her as his own protector, something not many people did, as Aphrodite was not associated with protection very often.
Within Venusian mythology
Although Venus is always compared to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Thus, several of her characteristic aspects are a combination of two characters, the first Aphrodite, as we all know, and the second is the Etruscan Turan. Venus, like other Roman deities, has a literary concept that stems from Greek myths. The Romans used to take these myths and adapt them to fit their cultural narrative.
Unlike Aphrodite, Venus for the Romans did not have a personality so marked in sensuality or cruelty that characterize the Greek goddess. Although she retained several symbolic attributes, reality exemplified Venus as a calm, humble and, of course, loving goddess. It is then that the feeling of love that was attributed to Venus was more similar to that given to Eros than to Aphrodite.
Some Roman myths state that the birth of Cupid, a character that we associate a lot with love, is due to a relationship between Venus and Mars, the god of war. Mars is the Roman version of Ares.
Temples in ancient Greece and Rome
The deities did not only exist as a part of the culture to create stories and already, most of the gods were revered. Many different cults were created at that time, each one had different traditions, rituals and goals, however, they were united by an element quite characteristic of antiquity.
The creation of temples to worship deities is not a new concept, in fact, in ancient Greece there were many different temples that served as a place of meeting and veneration. Although not much is known about the different rituals that revolved around this goddess, if different temples that existed in honor of this goddess have been recorded, these temples are:
- from Paphos.
- Santolina or Thera.
- The temple of Cnidus (This temple was quite important, since the Aphrodite of Cnidus was made here, by the artist Praxiteles)
- That of Aphrodite, in Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli
- The temple of Aphrodisias.
- Several temples of Aphrodite in Corinth (Consequently, Corinth was known as the city of Aphrodite, since it had at least three sanctuaries of this goddess)
- The three temples of Pandemos (Located in Athens, Megalopolis and Thebes)
- Aphrodite Urania (In Athens)
- Of Aphrodite in Kippis (the name in Spanish would be Aphrodite of the Gardens, located in the Acropolis of Athens)
- Sparta (Which interestingly, Aphrodite was revered as Areia and is recorded to be the only cult to have featured using weapons as a method of worship)
- Aphrodite Praxis Πραξις.
And although these are the best known, the reality is that the cult of Aphrodite grew very quickly in ancient Greece. So it is possible that many more altars and temples were erected than are on record, most depicting Aphrodite in her guise as her lover, never as the wife of Hephaestus. Aphrodite was a goddess quite revered and adored, she represented a sentiment that humanity has been obsessed with for centuries.
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Before we begin to discuss the iconography of Aphrodite, we must first define what an iconography is. This concept is known as the set of images that relate to a specific character or theme. Such representations then, are a conceptualization of the object, its appearance or traditional symbols, for example.
In the case of Aphrodite, the oldest image of her is recorded in the Mycenaean tradition, where she appears together with a dove, while riding a bull. In ancient Greece, female deities were always depicted wearing an outfit that covered their entire body, even Aphrodite was imagined this way.
The whole image changed when little by little its iconography changed to have a more sensual model that would significantly attract the masses. The image of Aphrodite has always been beautiful however as ancient Greece falls and the Roman Empire rises this goddess evolves to be an all-round symbol of beauty and sexuality.
Describing each of Aphrodite's iconographies is impossible, there are so many versions of her that it would be useless to represent her in only one way. The different representations of the goddess allow us to clearly see how the influence of culture has been essential to describe her.
From icon to cult and myth
Each myth, each generation and each person, has been an integral part in the creation of the image we have of Aphrodite, consequently, she was the sum of all those elements. The same thing happened with the iconography of other gods of the time, although it is true that her representations alluded to their original myths, the image was modified to adapt cultural elements necessary for the time.
When we talk about Aphrodite, we know that iconically her image is always represented in pink or red tones, always wearing a tunic, with long golden hair and, in turn, seen positioned near the sea. This image is a clear representation of the multiple adaptations that she has undergone over the years. Does it resemble the first impressions created in ancient Greece? She probably doesn't, but she's still the same goddess.
Interestingly, not only art and culture influence the modification of the iconography of this goddess, but also the most modern adaptations of ancient writings add characteristic elements that allow a better evolution of her image, even if these elements are not were considered from the beginning.
You can read more stories like this on our blog, we recommend reading gods of roman mythology in the category of myths and legends.
Aphrodite in popular culture
The Greek gods and their mythology have had a great impact on current popular culture, the stories created millions of years ago are still remembered and studied from different parts of the world. Aphrodite is remembered as the goddess of beauty and love, however, this conception of her is wrong. When we talk about her today, we see her represented as a benign love, who does not express any kind of lust or passion.
Despite this misconception, her image and name have been marketed in many ways, making her an object of everyday life for a wide variety of people. The stories speak of the gods as divine beings who perform impressive feats that mortals cannot do. Currently, the logic of man has turned these narratives into fanciful stories, forgetting that for many years, they were an important element in the culture of a civilization.
The importance of Aphrodite
If we look for the importance of Aphrodite in Greek mythology, we will find that she is not really one of the most important or relevant characters outside of her own attributes. Despite belonging to the Olympian pantheon, compared to other gods, her status is quite low.
However, this did not create a conflict to be venerated. Outside the stories, Aphrodite was one of the most loved goddesses by the Greek people, her beauty, intelligence and power, managed to impact the civilization of ancient Greece.
Although it may seem surprising to many that this goddess of low power has achieved so much worship, in fact, it is not very strange. For him, the citizens of Greece, Aphrodite represents the first conceptualization of love, a feeling that they had already been experiencing but could not explain. This reason made the goddess become an important part of her culture and traditions.
In turn, the cult of this goddess grew very fast in a short time, managing to create a precedent to continue being active through the years. Even in modern times, there are people who still venerate Aphrodite and all thanks to that first approach to the Greeks.
The Aphrodite Complex
Within the world of psychology, there is a way to explain or relate certain personality traits to an established concept, these are known as complexes. These complexes specify the traits and behaviors of a person and relate them to a character from mythology in order to study and understand him better.
Although one of the largest known complexes is, for example, the Oedipus complex, created by Sigmund Freud, other researchers have managed to identify and classify other different complexes. In the case of Aphrodite, this goddess has her own complex, which identifies a woman whose psychological process is characterized by believing that she cannot be happy if she does not have a relationship with a man.
This complex occurs mostly in heterosexual women, however, sexuality has little to do with the complex. Like Aphrodite, the endless search for relationships is a necessity, they look for the ideal man in each person they meet. If things end up failing, then they can go into a depressive existence deal with symptoms like: low self-esteem, chronic low mood, demotivation and frustration.
On the other hand, women who suffer from this complex are terrified by the idea of being single, they seek to be accompanied at all times, regardless of whether they are treated well or badly. Your relationship will always be above your mental and physical health.
Transcendence of the cult and figure
Within studies, it has been noted that this complex mostly affects women above the age of thirty. There you can see how attractive and intelligent women are faced with the traditional ideas of life that they have learned for years.
By not finding a man who meets all their expectations, instead of working on their fullness or the fullness of their partner, they begin to feel like failures and start the cycle with a different partner. The consequence is that these women go from relationship to relationship for short periods of time since they cannot find what they have idealized all their lives.
It is believed that the woman has an indefinite and weak self, a mirror that does not allow her to see herself reflected as an independent, strong and loved person for herself. When they suffer from this complex, they need constant approval, their essence is to need, so loneliness is negatively outside their comfort zone.
Additionally, it is also believed that women tend to be vague with their needs, ideas or opinions, creating conflicts for the other people who inhabit their relationship and are predisposed to fight.
You can read other articles like this on our blog, in fact, we recommend you read Mayan Jaguar in the category of Gods.
Aphrodite needs to be wanted
Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, psychologist and essayist, described true love as a sacrifice of the illusion of one's own possibilities, that is, a person who truly loves must face a state of vulnerability and pain to achieve make a personal gift and that another person manages to recognize the sacrifice and honor it by doing exactly the same.
This sounds like something that all people have gone through, however, women who have the Aphrodite complex find that they do not want to make that sacrifice, but rather expect the other person to do it for them, without They match this activity. Hence the notion that more than loving, Aphrodite needs to be loved.
The archetypal pattern of the Aphrodite woman shows us an individual who falls in love easily, that is, they are not aware of the effect they have on other people or the consequences that their actions can bring when they pay attention to someone or abandon them for their interests. personal.
Contemporaneity of the aphrodite complex
They are people who can easily detach themselves from their feelings, abandoning a relationship is extremely easy if they really are not willing to let their guard down. Jean Shinoda in "The Goddesses of Every Woman" described that Aphrodite's consciousness is a centered and receptive woman, a bright light on stage, which on its own, manages to attract attention, even when the object below is the protagonist , without the light, this is nothing.
On the other hand, Robert Rosenthal called this archetypal pattern a Pygmalion effect, since he describes that there was a power of positive hope over the behavior of other people. The name comes from the story of Pygmalion, who falls in love with the perfect statue that he himself made, a statue with the image of Galatea.
Pygmalion asks Aphrodite to bring the statue to life, and Aphrodite grants it. Ortega y Gasset make a very important reflection on this complex, where they imply that there are people who come into the world to fall in love with a single ideal individual and consequently, it is possible that they will never find him.
The Aphrodite complex does not mean that a person is useless in love relationships, but rather that he must work harder to overcome these psychological problems and thus find fulfillment in his life, regardless of whether he has a partner by his side or not. We must understand that our happiness always depends on monsters as individuals, although life as a couple is satisfactory, not having one should not be a terrible ending.
You can read more articles like this in our league myth category, in fact, we recommend you read Pallas Athena
Eros, Aphrodite and the feeling of love
If there is something quite clear in the history of humanity, it is the obsession that the human race has with love. The subject of feelings is so complex that many people question its existence. Do we really understand what love is?
Few people can say with certainty that they know what love is, and even fewer people say they have internalized and expressed it. Defining love is useless, all its concepts are extremely contradictory, from spiritual love, which defines its existence as something immaterial and pure, to physical love, which is defined as passionate.
Love has too many facets to be definitive in a single belief, if there is something that many people emphasize about love, it is that there are many types of love and many ways to express it, so love is not always the same feeling?
No, it is not. If we look for the word love in the dictionary, we will find that it has twelve direct definitions and twenty other meanings of use, even the language makes an emphasis on defining this word in multiple ways, since as individuals, our conceptualization of love is very different from the others.
From worship to idyllic love
Why, if love has multiple definitions, was there only one goddess in ancient times? Curiously, the birth of Aphrodite has nothing to do with the human need to define love itself, it is something more cultural to explain its existence or origin as such, that is why although we all know Aphrodite as the goddess of love, the reality is that there are other representations.
Aphrodite was lucky to be the most recognized, however, as we delve deeper into Greek mythology, we find other people with very similar myths, missions and attributes. Love already existed long before there was the myth of Aphrodite, Eros or even Cupid, the Greeks did not wish to define it, they wished to explain it and divide it effectively.
The Greek myths are quite clear when she represents Aphrodite, her marriage to Hephaestus is one of the best-known stories of this goddess, however, her popularity does not stem from being a married goddess of love, her popularity stems from the multiple lovers she has , superimposing the lustful love for the romantic one. Both mortals and deities have been involved in intimate relationships with Aphrodite.
Romantic love in the new millennium
Although modern culture appreciates the chastity of holy matrimony, for the Greeks the situation was different, their gods believed that marriage was only a stage, most had relationships outside of it (this was an effect of being immortal). What led to many people of the time not believing in fidelity either, this phenomenon represented a division between what was believed to be love.
Mythology is quite confusing regarding love, the Greeks were forced to create new representations of this feeling to fit the complex human mind. Eros, the son of Aphrodite and Ares, is the god of romantic love, however, his job is to help his mother, making a link between romantic and sexual love.
Since ancient times, humans have wanted to try to rationalize our feelings, the human mind prefers to apply logic rather than instinct. Myths not only served to explain incredible natural events, but also helped humans understand common situations.
The Greeks believed that Aphrodite controlled the love between women and men, while Eros was in charge of being the mentor of love between men, so humans did not have a decision about their own feelings, it was easier to explain that their actions were a divine destiny, instead of being a moral choice with consequences.
You can explore other articles like this on our blog, in fact, we recommend you read the god Aeolus in the category of gods.
Why do humans love representations of love?
The answer to that question is quite simple, love, being a very complex and at the same time misunderstood feeling, causes it to be constantly questioned, making it a highly discussed topic by almost all people, regardless of their religion, race, age or ideology. . The representations of love do not need to be in a specific dialect to understand them, regardless of where they are from, someone will always feel identified with some representation, whether it is history, art or literature.
Of all the feelings expressed by man, love is the only one that still represents a lot of doubt, it is impossible to define and it is unique for each individual. Humanity, for centuries, has added important nuances to this feeling, which generates that millions of people try to recreate it that somehow, making it one of the most used muses in the world, the human loves love and uses it for his convenience .
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