Mighty Myth Month: All you need is Love. And a clamshell. And some cherubs. And a stylist.
Aphrodite (Greek) or Venus (Roman) is the goddess of love. But…not the personification of ‘motherly’ love, or the “I ‘heart’ (fill in the blank) love” but lovey-love. K-I-S-S-I-N-G SITTING IN A TREE kind of love. Aphrodite (aff-fro-dye-tee) is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. She is made from sea foam and lip gloss. She embodies beauty, romantic love, and the epitome of femininity.
Well, she IS all that and a bag of chips, girlfriend. If she was characterized by a modern representation, not just any vapid female celebrity with a toy-sized dog in her purse would suffice. Those would just be wannabes. The real Venuses are very powerful in their allure, appeal, and knee-buckling abilities on mortal men.
In mythology, she is married to Hephaistos, the lame blacksmith of the gods, but it’s a marriage of convenience, not of love. She cheats on her lumpy little husband constantly with the likes of Ares, she starts the Trojan War, and is a mean mother-in-law. She is one who of the original evil “mother” figures, apples and all.
Once upon a time, around 1250 BC, toward the end of the Bronze Age in Greece, three goddesses were having an argument (said the Greeks). The goddesses Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera were arguing about which one of them was the most beautiful. They agreed to choose a human man and let him decide. More or less at random, the goddesses picked Paris, the youngest son of King Priam of Troy, to be their judge.
Each of the goddesses offered Paris a bribe to get him to vote for her. Athena offered him wisdom. Hera offered him power. But Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, and Paris voted for her.
What would one expect if a young man is given those items for choices? Of course he’s going to think with his heart, and not his brain! Paris, that punk, didn’t want power or smarts–he wants the girl! Duh! Aphrodite is no slouch–she knew exactly what she was doing.
And if starting the Trojan War wasn’t bad enough, she is really not a very nice person. A young girl named Psyche (psyche means ‘soul’) is so beautiful, so enchanting, the people in her father’s kingdom stop paying homage to Aphrodite/Venus, and start worshipping her. Venus is so angry, she sends her son, Eros (Cupid) to hurt her. Well, he falls in love with Psyche. Mumsy is most displeased. Curses, threats, and a lot of damage happens before the dysfunctional family is repaired. However, this tale gave us the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” “Snow White,” and other tales of love with the motif of ‘mistaken identity’ or ‘proof of trust and faith.’ Oh, and there might be a worm in that apple.
From these deities we get the words: aphrodisiac (love potions), erotic, and cupidity, and others.
More information: http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Aphrodite.html