Mythology Mondays: Aphrodite

Every Monday, I highlight a different Greek myth that has woven its way into the Turning Creek series. The first book, Lightning in the Dark, is out now. If you pay close attention to the details, you will see where some of the elements and history of the series originated.

Technically, Aphrodite has not appeared in Turning Creek. I am not saying she won’t at some point, but I wanted to give her a Mythology Monday because it is February after all.

There are things many of us can recall about Aphrodite from school. She is the goddess of love and beauty. Her symbols are a golden apple, a dove, a scalloped shell, and a mirror.

What you may not have known about her is that she was born under mysterious and unbelievable circumstances, even for the Greeks. The most common tale goes something like this:

The Titan Kronos wanted to rule so he did the only logical thing. He overthrew his father, Uranus, and then castrated him to ensure no other heirs were born. To seal the deal, he threw his father’s genitals into the sea. This is where the story gets a dose of crazy poured all over it. The sea foam swirls around Uranus’s severed genitals and Aphrodite springs from that mix.

Only the Greeks would have created a goddess of beauty and love from a mix of blood, genitals, other body fluids, and sea foam. Aphrodite is well known throughout the world, even places far outside of Greek and Roman influence. The picture shown below is a fountain of Aphrodite in Mexico City.

"Aphrodite fountain" by Doctor_Doomsday (talk) (Uploads) - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia.
Aphrodite fountain” in Mexico City by Doctor_Doomsday

Aphrodite did many things during the course of her life. You may remember from a previous post that she helped Hippomenes win the love of Atalanta through the use of her golden apples. How do you like them apples? (Sorry, not sorry.)

You may also recall that one version of Hippomenes and Atalanta’s demise is through Aphrodite who was affronted that they did not attribute their wonderful love to her deceptive intervention during the courtship. Like all goddesses, she often claimed and demanded more credit than she was due and lashed out vengefully when her desires were not met.

Aphrodite’s list of misdeeds and revenge include:

  • Cheating on her husband, Hephaestus, with her lover Ares. She was caught and punished for this misdeed.
  • During the Trojan War, she went to rescue her son, Aeneas from the battle, Diomedes wounded her in her hand, she dropped her son, and ran home to Mount Olympus to complain of her misfortune.
  • Causing the gods to become inflamed with lust for mortals as amusement.
  • A mortal named Smyrna, failed to give homage to Aphrodite. As punishment, Aphrodite caused her to be inflamed with lust for her father. She bore a son through this unholy union named Adonis. Aphrodite later fell madly in love with the adult Adonis, who was gored by a bull.

Aphrodite was the goddess of love and there are numerous stories of her helping out lovers or assisting in the cause of true love.

This month, celebrate love and Aphrodite with a good book, snuggle close to someone you love, and try not to think too much about that sea foam. Unless that’s your thing.