Who is Aphrodite? - Greek Goddess
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Who was Aphrodite?

painting of a white woman lying on a big seashell in the water
Birth of Aphrodite (from Pompeii, about 50 AD)

October 2016 - Aphrodite (a-fro-DIE-tee) was the Greek goddess of love. Naturally she was always falling in love with somebody, or somebody was falling in love with her. She is one of the oldest goddesses, the daughter of Ouranos. In some stories, Aphrodite was born out of the sea foam and blood from when Zeus attacked Ouranos - she rose out of the ocean on a sea-shell. The most famous story about Aphrodite is that she started the Trojan War.

Another story is the one about Actaeon. She is supposed to have had Ares for her boyfriend, and to have been married to Hephaistos.

Nobody is sure yet what the relationship is between Aphrodite and West Asian love goddesses like Astarte.

The Romans thought Aphrodite was like their goddess Venus. And the Germans thought she was like their goddess Freya. She was also something like the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.

Aphrodite is a fertility goddess, like Demeter. But while Demeter makes the earth grow grain, Aphrodite makes women have babies. Aphrodite herself, however, does not have children herself.

Learn by doing: compare Aphrodite and Astarte and Lakshmi
More about the Roman goddess Venus

Bibliography and further reading about Aphrodite:

Aphrodite's Blessing, by Clemence McLaren (2002). A feminist retelling of Greek myths about Aphrodite, for teenagers.

We Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera by Doris Orgel and Marilee Heyer. With a feminist view.

D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, by Edgar and Ingri D'Aulaire.

Greek Religion, by Walter Burkert (reprinted 1987). By a leading expert. He has sections on each of the Greek gods, and discusses their deeper meanings, and their function in Greek society.

Worshipping Aphrodite: Art and Cult in Classical Athens, by Rachel Rosenzweig (2004). By a specialist, for specialists.

More about the goddess Artemis
Ancient Greece
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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