‘All you need is love’, so write John Lennon and Paul McCartney and its true. The basis of every human need is love. If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, love falls in the middle and includes love from your friends, family and sexual intimacy.
A sense of belonging, being needed and nurtured is extremely important to us all and where growth as a person develops and grows. Without it, people feel ostracised, become depressed and in extreme situations do things against societal norms. No wonder the Olympian Gods misbehaved. In Aphrodite’s case, she was the antithesis of what love should be.
Her name means ‘risen from sea-foam’ and was the goddess of love and beauty. What is interesting about Aphrodite is that she predates the birth of Zeus and his siblings. She was conceived from violent means and from an elder god, the progenitor of the Titan’s. These immortals were a querulous sort and family bickering was a generational issue. Ouranos, Father Sky, son and husband to Gaia, fathered the Titans. Ouranos was a bit of twat and so Gaia and Kronos, their son, conspired to do something about him. In short, Kronos cuts off his genitals, blood and semen dropped on the sea and began to foam. Aphrodite was born fully grown from the foam. (This is why I love Greek mythology.)
She was characterised as vain, ill-tempered and easily offended. Like all goddesses, she was beautiful but being the goddess of love and beauty, she oozed sexuality. Though married to Hephaestus, she had many affairs with immortals and humans. Ares was her most frequented consort as was Adonis and Anchises. She really didn’t love anyone except her son Eros, and was driven by her desires.
She was also spiteful and punished those for the smallest of offences. In one myth, a mortal woman called Psyche was stunning and a jealous Aphrodite, made her fall in love the ugliest man on earth. But the joke was on her as Eros fell in love with Psyche. In another myth, she was enamoured by Adonis, a mortal of extraordinary beauty, and seduced him. She had to share him with Persephone, after an incident between the two goddesses, each wanting to keep him. Unfortunately, he was killed by a jealous Ares one fateful date when he was out hunting.
She was the catalyst for the Trojan War when she offered Paris the most beautiful woman in the world. She caused the death of Hippolytos, Athenian prince and son of Theseus, who refused to worship her by making Phaedra fall in love with him and who then betrayed prince when he rejected her. She punished Narcissus by making him fall in love with his own reflection after he spurned the love of others.
She was also attributed to prostitutes and the most famous of ‘temples’ dedicated to this oldest practice was in Corinth. The most notable fact about these priestesses of Aphrodite was written on the sole of their sandals. When they walked along the shores of the Corinthian Gulf, a message was left behind in the wet sand—‘follow me’.
She is perhaps, one of the most interesting goddesses in the pantheon. In the next post, I will start on the gods, starting with Hermes.
If you have any questions or wish to make a comment, please do so. I enjoy reading and responding to them.