(Have you read my Intro?
It explains a lot.)
My second cousin Aphrodite was
the Greek goddess of love, beauty, desire and fertility, and was rumored
to be the oldest of the twelve Olympian gods.
How old was she? Hey, I wasn't about to ask her age...are you crazy?
If you thought Athena's birth
was rather odd, springing as she did full-grown out of the head of Zeus,
wait until you hear about how the proud, gorgeous - and sometimes cruel
Aphrodite came to be!
(But first send the little ones
to bed - some content may be inappropriate for younger readers.)
It was an arranged marriage, wouldn't you know - Aphrodite was so
beautiful that, after her birth, Zeus was afraid that the gods would
fight over her hand in marriage, causing discord on Olympus. So he married her off to Hephaestus,
the steadiest of the gods.
Titan Cronus was the son of the great god
Uranus (Heaven, Sky) and Gaia (Mother Earth). I vaguely remember them, I
was so young when they left the scene. The stories I heard say that as his children were born, nasty old Uranus went and
imprisoned them so they wouldn't challenge his paranoid rule, causing Mother
Earth great grief.
You should never mess with Mother Earth, boys and
Here's the short version - with his mother's help Cronus got free,
scored himself a real sharp sickle, ambushed his father and castrated him.
Ouch! I don't care if you're a god, that's got to hurt!
Cronus threw Uranus' severed parts into the sea, and
a host of giants and nymphs arose from the water, including cousin
I'm not making this stuff up. Seriously. Hesiod told me it's all true.
Man, my cousin always knew how to
make an appearance...Aphrodite - "Afros" is Greek for "foam of the sea"
emerged wonderfully naked from the foam and strutted ashore at Cyprus, or Cythera,
we're not quite sure.
You see, people were so stunned at her sensuality and beauty, they
forgot where they were, or so the story goes.
Incidentally, some say the goddess of
desire's connection with water may be one reason seafood has been
considered an aphrodisiac throughout the ages. Yummy.
Grass and flowers sprang up wherever
her feet touched the earth. The Seasons clothed (bummer!), perfumed and covered
her in jewels, and brought her before the Immortals.
It was the hottest ticket in town. "APHRODITE DEBUTANTE!" screamed the
headlines of the Mount Olympus Chronicle. Gods and mortals alike were in
a tizzy, getting their hair done and ordering spiffy new attire from Niko of Athens and Armani of Patra.
Nobody could wait for the coming-out ball.
That's the story of Aphrodite's birth according to Hesiod, circa 800BC.
Homer, on the other hand, in the Iliad claims that she was the
daughter of Zeus and Dione. Boring version, dude. Stick to the war
stories, will ya?
From these two different origins, my
favorite philosopher Plato (man
was he cerebral, you asked him what time it was, he told you how to
build a sundial) identified
One, the daughter of Uranus, also called Urania, was the
noble goddess of pure love. The kind of girl you didn't mind sending a
dozen roses to on impulse, dinner, candlelight, music, the works.
The other, the daughter of Dione,
also called Pandemos, was the goddess of 'common' love. Heavy
into sex. She could be a
real bitch, if you know what I mean, pardon my Greek. Hey, you want me
Conniving Aphrodite in her Pandemos persona broke up many a
decent Hellenic home. My postman Hermes tells me she's now taken up
modern residence in a place called Washington, DC. We think it's near Hades.
Which one did I prefer? I enjoyed hanging with Pandemos Aphrodite very
much (duh!), but it was Urania Aphrodite I'd bring home to meet mama
Nyx. You get the gist.
So who to believe, Homer or Hesiod? In this instance, I prefer Hesiod's
version of Aphrodite's origin, it's so much more credible. Besides, Hesiod always told the
neatest stories! Sometimes, though, I swear he was making stuff up just
to amuse the gullible Greeks.
And talk about a plum job! As
a goddess, Aphrodite had only one divine duty: to make love and to
inspire others to do so as well. Her primary function was to preside
over reproduction, ensuring the survival of the community.
Hard humanitarian work, but hey, someone's got to
Where do I apply?
Aphrodite was desired by all and had
her choice of partners. But my beautiful blonde cousin was no mere
bimbo. She was also the patroness of smithcraft and the mechanical arts
and was married to Hephaestus, the most famous craftsman of all.
(Which begs the question: How on earth did those two ever tie the
knot? Here's the most beautiful and desirable goddess, in the form of
Aphrodite, married to the only ugly god on Mount Olympus. Hephaestus had
a face only a mother could love.
(Okay, forget that last statement. His mother Hera, the wife of Zeus,
was initially disgusted by the sickly child she had delivered, and threw
homely Hephaestus from the heights of Mount Olympus, splattering him in
the sea. He was brutally ugly, at times ill-tempered, and lame in the
legs due to his fall from Olympus.
(But man, was he gifted! Hephaestus eventually got even with Hera and
joined the major gods on Mount Olympus, but that's a delightful story for another
I guess you can call it a shotgun
wedding in reverse - a thunderbolt wedding, perhaps. I remember the
tantrum cousin Aphrodite threw at Zeus when she found out he had already
given Hermes the wedding invitations to mail. The girl flipped!
fact that the event was being catered by Dionysus didn't appease her.
"One of these days, I'm going to
turn you into a bull, old man!" I overheard her mutter. Let's just say
she wasn't thrilled with Zeus' matchmaking.
Can't blame her...even though Heph wasn't a bad god, man was he homely!
Hephaestus on the other hand could
hardly believe his good luck and utilized all his skills to make the most
lavish presents and jewels for her. His greatest gift for her was an exquisite girdle
of finely wrought gold, and he wove magic in the filigree work to please her.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. How can an
Olympian god be so bloody stupid?
You see, whenever Aphrodite wore her magic golden girdle, it
caused men and gods to fall hopelessly in love with her. Whoever beheld
her would instantly melt with desire. No one could resist her, and she
was all too irresistible already!
The girl loved to party
and her glamorous and fast-paced lifestyle clashed horribly with that of
the lame, sooty and hard-working Hephaestus.
Obviously, for Hephaestus, "marriage"
was a word; for Aphrodite, a sentence...
Click on Chapter Two to continue the
satirical Aphrodite Myth of the Month.