phrodite, the goddess of love and desire, was said to have arisen from the foam of the sea. After her birth, she rode a large sea shell to Cythera, a small island off the Peloponnesian coast, but then moved on to Paphos on Cyprus, which became a great centre of her worship. Hence her names of Cytherea or the Cyprian. Aphrodite was also the daughter of Zeus and Dione, the Titaness goddess of oak trees, in which doves nest.
Aphrodite was married to the lame blacksmith god Hephaestus.
She was in love with Ares, the god of war. She also loved Dionysus, Hermes and Poseidon. When Hephaestus discovered his wife's affair with Ares he set a trap for them in the form of a gossamer net of invisible and unbreakable mesh and invited all the gods from Olympus to witness her infidelity (Out of a sense of delicacy the goddesses of Olympus declined to attend).
When the two went to bed they became entangled in the net, naked and unable to escape. When the gods saw Aphrodite's predicament Hermes swore to Apollo that by his own head he would not mind being in Ares position.
Poseidon, at the sight of Aphrodite's naked body, immediately fell in love with her. He concealed his jealousy of Ares, and pretended to sympathise with Hephaestus. Zeus was so disgusted he refused to hand back her marriage gifts and declared that Hephaestus was a fool to have made the affair public.
Aphrodite was then released and the goddess restored her virginity by bathing in the sea near Paphos. In shame she fled to Cypress and Ares her lover the god of war fled to Thrace. Her three children by Ares were Phobos, Deimos, and Harmonia. In beauty Aphrodite surpassed all the other goddesses..
One day on Mount Ida Eris (the god of discord) posed the question as to who was the most beautiful among godesses, Hera, Athena, or Aphrodite. Paris was to be the judge and the prize was to be a golden apple (the apple of strife). Hera offered Paris kingdom of the universe, Athena invincibility in war and Aphrodite the hand of Helen, the most beautiful woman on the Earth. Aphrodite won the prize and in this way became the instigator of the Trojan War.
Aphrodite bore the Hermaphroditus to Hermes and two boys to Poseidon. She presented Dionysus with a son, Priapus. Unable to properly manage her love life, Aphrodite wreaked havoc on that of others. When the wife of the first King of Cyprus claimed that the beauty of her daughter Smyma exceeded Aphrodite's, the goddess arranged for the girl to fall in love with her father, Cinyras, and to trick him into lying with her.
Out of this union was born Adonis, who died of a wound from a wild boar. Adonis was beloved by Aphrodite and the grief of the goddess was so great that the gods of the lower world allowed him to spend six months every year on the earth with her. His death and return to life was celebrated in annual festivals (Adonia) at Byblos and Alexandria. Aphrodite had two of his children, Golgos, founder of Cyprian Golgi and a daughter Beroe, founder of Beroea in Thrace. By Butes, one of the Argonauts, she gave birth to Eryx, a future King of Sicily.
She also loved the shepherd Anchises, visiting him in the guise of a Phyrgian princess. Thus she became the mother of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who sailed to Italy after the destruction of Troy and established a dynasty that ultimately led to the founding of Rome.
Charm, seduction and sensuality were all qualities of Aphrodite. She had the power of granting beauty and charm to mortals as well as gods. Whoever wore her magic girdle could immediately became an object of love and desire.
Young women discard the qualities of Artemis with age but are forever plagued with the madness of Aphrodite. Aphrodite is often accompanied by doves and sparrows. Triton-shells, cuttle fish and sea urchins are sacred to her. Her emblems are the oak tree and petals as grass and flowers sprung up on the earth wherever she trod.