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Birth of Aphrodite (from Pompeii, about 50 AD)

Birth of the goddess Aphrodite (from Pompeii, about 50 AD)

The goddess of love

Aphrodite (a-fro-DIE-tee) was the Greek goddess of love. So naturally she was always falling in love with somebody. Or somebody was falling in love with her. Aphrodite 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 up out of the ocean on a sea-shell. The most famous story about Aphrodite is that she started the Trojan War.

Gaia and Ouranos
How did Aphrodite start a war?
More Greek gods
All our Ancient Greece articles

A fertility goddess

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

All about Demeter



Other myths about Aphrodite

Aphrodite had Ares for her boyfriend, and she was married to Hephaistos. When you’re a love goddess, you need more than one partner! She liked to encourage other women to get married too: it was Aphrodite who tricked Atalanta with the golden apples.

Who was Ares?
The god Hephaistos
Atalanta and the apples

The goddess Aphrodite in other cultures

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

More about Astarte
And about Ishtar

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

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
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