APHRODITE was the great Olympian goddess of pleasure, joy, beauty, love and procreation.
This page describes the wrath of the goddess against those who scorned her worship or failed to pay her the correct dues. The most famous of these stories include:
1. Hippolytos the Boy who Scorned Love
2. Curse of the Lemnian Women
The second Wrath page contains stories connected with personal vengeance, and the avenging of love scorned.
|(1) WRATH PROTECTION DIVINE PRIVILEGE
|AKMON A Companion of Lord Diomedes of Argos (Southern Greece) who vociferously criticised the punishments metted out by Aphrodite upon his lord. The goddess transformed him into a sheerwater for the lack of respect shown her divinity.
|HALIA, BROTHERS OF Six Princes of Rhodes (in the Greek Aegean) who drove Aphrodite away when she tried to land on their island following her sea-birth. The goddess was wrath and inflamed them with unnatural passions. They then committed various sexual crimes, including the rape of their own mother. Poseidon ashamed of his sons, had them buried beneath the island.
|HIPPOLYTOS A Prince of Troizenos (in Southern Greece) who scorned the worship of Aphrodite. The goddess punished him by having his stepmother Phaidra fall in love with him, a curse which ultimately led to the boy's death through the curses of his father Theseus.
|HIPPOMENES A Prince of Onkhestos in Boiotia (Central Greece) who was punished by Aphrodite for failing to pay her his due thanks for the assistance given him in the race of the golden apples. She drove him to have intercourse with his wife in the temple of Rhea, causing that goddess to transform the pair into lions.
|KERASTAI, THE A group of men native to the Island of Kypros (in the Eastern Meditteranean) who Aphrodite transformed into wild as punishment for murdering foreign visitors to the island (probably pilgrims visiting the goddess' famous shrine).
|KINYRAS, THE DAUGHTERS OF Three princesses of the Island of Kypros (in the Eastern Meditteranean) who were driven by to cohabit with foreigners by Aphrodite as punishment for scorning her divinity.
|LEMNIAN WOMEN, THE The Women of the Island of Lemnos (in the Greek Aegean) who were infused with a terrible stench by Aphrodite as punishment for scorning her worship. When they were abandoned by their husbands for Thrakian brides, Aphrodite drove them to murder their menfolk.
|MENELAOS A Prince of Mykenai (in Southern Greece) and later King of Lakedaimonia who with a hundred other suitors sought the hand of Helene in marriage. He promised to sacrifice to Aphrodite a hundred head of cattle should he win the contest, but after the wedding failed to honour his pledge. The goddess was wrathful and so designed that Helene should elope with Paris to Troy.
|MYRRHA (aka SMYRNA) A Princess of Kypros (in the Eastern Meditteranean) who Aphrodite filled with an incestuous desire for her father as punishment for either failing to pay the goddess her due honours, or for the prideful boasts of her mother Kenkhreis.
|NISOS A King of Megara (in Southern Greece) who must have offended Aphrodite in some manner for when King Minos came to conquer his city, Aphrodite was instrumental in his defeat. She caused the king's daughter Skylla to fall in love with the invader, and betray him by cutting the magical lock of hair that crowned his head that guaranteed the security of his kingdom.
|PASIPHAE A Queen of Krete (in the Greek Aegean) who, according to some, was punished by Aphrodite with an unnatural lust to mate with a bull as punishment for neglecting to worship the goddess. (Most sources, however, say that Poseidon was the author of the curse).
|PROPOITIDES, THE Women of the Island of Kypros (in the Eastern Meditteranean) who were cursed by Aphrodite with a passion to prostitute their bodies (the first women to do so) as punishment for denying her divinity. Their hearts were dulled to the hardness of flint, and eventually their forms were transformed to like substance.
|TYNDAREUS A King of Lakedaimonia (in Southern Greece) who failed to pay Aphrodite due worship and as punishment his three daughters: Helene, Klytaimnestra, and Timandra, were all cursed with the notoriety of betraying their husbands.
APHRODITE WRATH: WOMEN OF LEMNOS
LOCALE: Lemnos (Greek Aegean)
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 114 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Lemnos happened to have no males at the time [when the Argonauts visited the island], and was ruled by Hypsipyle, the daughter of Thoas. The reason for this was that the women of Lemnos had failed to give due honour to Aphrodite, in return for which she afflicted them with a foul odour. Whereupon their husbands took to bed women whom they captured from neighbouring Thrake. For this dishonourable treatment the Lemnian women slew their fathers and husbands."
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 9. 368 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"Vine-clad Lemnos, where in far-off days the wives wreaked murderous vengeance on their lords, in fierce wrath that they gave them not their due, but couched beside the handmaid-thralls of Thrake, the captives of their spears when they laid waste the land of warrior Thrakians. Then these wives, their hearts with fiery jealousy's fever filled, murdered in every home with merciless hands their husbands: no compassion would they show to their own wedded lords - such madness shakes the heart of man or woman, when it burns with jealousy's fever, stung by torturing pangs. So with souls filled with desperate hardihood in one night did they slaughter all their lords; and on a widowed nation rose the sun."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 15 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"On the island of Lemnos the women for several years did not make offerings to Venus [Aphrodite], and because of her anger their husbands married Thracian wives and scorned their former ones. But the Lemnian women (all except Hypsipyle [daughter of the king]), instigated by the same Venus [Aphrodite], conspired to kill the whole tribe of men who were there."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 13. 399 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Lemnos, land of Queen Hypsipyle and glorious Thoas, island infamous for husbands murdered in the days of old."
Suidas s.v. Lemnion kakon blepon (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Lemnion kakon blepon (Looking Lemnian Evil): Fiery. Also a proverb: Lemnian Evil. For after the Lemnian men had abducted women from Athens and gotten children from them, they slaughtered the women together with the children. But then the women killed all the men, together with their Thrakian wives, because they did not devote themselves to them due to the noxious odor. Myrsilos says the odor came from Medea out of her rivalry with Hypsipyle, but Kaukasos [Kaukalon historian C4th BC] says it took hold of the Lemnians due to their being contemptuous of Aphrodite. Because of that, big evils are called Lemnian."
Other references: Statius' Thebaid Book 5 & Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica Book 2 both contain very long versions of this story.
APHRODITE WRATH: HIPPOLYTOS
LOCALE: Troizenos, Argolis (Southern Greece)
The story is the subject of Euripides' play Hippolytus (not currently quoted here).
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 32. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[At Troizenos, Argos] is a race-course called that of Hippolytos, and above it a temple of Aphrodite Spy. For from here, whenever Hippolytos practised his exercises, Phaidra, who was in love with him, used to gaze upon him. Here there still grew the myrtle, with its leaves, as I have described above, pierced with holes. When Phaidra was in despair and could find no relief for her passion, she used to vent her spleen upon the leaves of this myrtle. There is also the grave of Phaidra, not far from the tomb of Hippolytus, which is a barrow near the myrtle."
Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 6. 3 (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to 2nd A.D.) :
"Hippolytos the son of Theseus insulted Aphrodite; and that perhaps is why he never fell a victim to the tender passion, and why love never ran idiot in his soul; but he was allotted an austere and unbending nature. But our friend here admits that he is devoted to the goddess, and yet did not respond to his step-mother's guilty overtures, but went away in terror of the goddess herself, in case he were not on his guard against another’s evil passions; and the mere aversion to any one of the gods, such as Hippolytos entertained in regard to Aphrodite, I do not class as a form of sobriety."
Seneca, Hercules Furens 461 (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Wilt thou [Hippolytos], as a harsh wood-dweller, ignorant of life, spend thy youth in gloom and let Venus [Aphrodite] be forgot?"
APHRODITE WRATH: PASIPHAE
LOCALE: Krete (Greek Aegean)
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 40 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Pasiphae, daughter of Sol [Helios] and wife of Minos, for several years did not make offerings to the goddess Venus [Aphrodite]. Because of this Venus [Aphrodite] inspired in her an unnatural love for a bull. At the time when Daedalus came there as an exile, he asked her to help him. For her he made a wooden heifer, and put in it the hide of a real heifer, and in this she lay with the bull. From this intercourse she bore the Minotaur, with bull’s head but human body."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 148 :
"To Sol’s [Helios'] progeny [perhaps meaning Pasiphae and Kirke], however, Venus [Aphrodite], because of his disclosure [he revealed her adultery to Hephaistos], was always hostile."
Seneca, Phaedra 112 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"I recognize my wretched mother’s [Pasiphae's] fatal curse . . . swept away by ill unspeakable, thou didst boldly love the wild leader of the savage herd [the Kretan bull] . . . Venus [Aphrodite], detesting the offspring of the hated Sol [Helios the Sun], is avenging through us [i.e. Pasiphae, Phaedra] the chains that bound her to her loved Mars [Ares], and loads the whole race of Phoebus [Helios] with shame unspeakable. No daughter of Minos’ house hath found love’s bondage light; ever ‘tis linked with guilt."
For MORE information on this demi-goddess see PASIPHAE
APHRODITE WRATH: TYNDAREUS
LOCALE: Sparta, Lakedaimonia (Southern Greece)
Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 67 (from Scholiast on Euripides, Orestes 249) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Stesikhoros says that while sacrificing to the gods Tyndareus forgot Aphrodite and that the goddess was angry and made his daughters twice and thrice wed and deserters of their husbands . . . And Hesiod also says: ‘And laughter-loving Aphrodite felt jealous when she looked on them and cast them into evil report. Then Timandra deserted Ekhemos and went and came to Phyleus, dear to the deathless gods; and even so Klytaimnestra deserted god-like Agamemnon and lay with Aigisthos and chose a worse mate; and even so Helene dishonoured the couch of golden-haired Menelaus.’ "
Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 16. 10 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[In Sparta is a cult statue of Aphrodite] who sits wearing a veil and with fetters on her feet. The story is that the fetters were put on her by [the mythical king] Tyndareus, who symbolized by the bonds the faithfulness of wives to their husbands. The other account, that Tyndareus punished the goddess with fetters because he thought that from Aphrodite had come the shame of his daughters, I will not admit for a moment. For it were surely altogether silly to expect to punish the goddess by making a cedar figure and naming it Aphrodite."
APHRODITE WRATH: MENELAOS
LOCALE: Sparta, Lakedaimonia (Southern Greece)
Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 4 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"It is said, following the resentment of Aphrodite against Menelaos who had arranged the abduction of Helene: he had promised a hecatomb to Aphrodite as the price of the marriage, and didn't offer it."
APHRODITE WRATH: BROTHERS OF HALIA
LOCALE: Rhodes (Greek Aegean)
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 55. 4 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Poseidon . . . became enamoured of Halia . . . and lying with her he begat six male children . . . And while these were still young men, Aphrodite, they say, as she was journeying [after her birth in the sea] from Kytherea to Kypros and dropped anchor near Rhodes, was prevented from stopping there by the sons of Poseidon, who were arrogant and insolent men; whereupon the goddess, in her wrath, brought a madness upon them, and they lay with their mother [Halia] against her will and committed many acts of violence upon the natives. But when Poseidon learned of what had happened he buried his sons beneath the earth, because of their shameful deed, and men called them the Proseoous Daimones (Eastern Demons); and Halia cast herself into the sea."
APHRODITE WRATH: DAUGHTERS OF KINYRAS
LOCALE: Kypros (Eatern Meditteranean)
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 183 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Kinyras took some people with him to Kypros and founded Paphos there; he married Metharme, a child of King Pygmalion of Kypros, and they had Oxyporos and Adonis, as well as daughters named Orsedike, Laogore, and Braesia. These girls, because of Aphrodite’s anger at them, slept with foreigners and ended up their lives in Aigyptos (Egypt)."
APHRODITE WRATH: THE KERASTAI
LOCALE: Kypros (Eastern Meditteranean)
Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 220 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Should you ask ore-laden Amathus [town in Kypros] if [the Kerastai] . . . brought her pride, she would reject . . . those whose brows twin horns made hideous, whence their name, Cerastae (Horned Ones). Once an altar stood before their doors to Jove Hospitus [Zeus, God of Hospitality]. A newcomer who did not know their guilt, seeing that altar stained with blood, would think that suckling calves or lambs of Amathus were offered there. It was the blood of guests! Kind Venus [Aphrodite], outraged by these wicked rites, prepared to leave her cities and the land of Ophiusia [Kypros]. ‘Yet’, she said, ‘these towns of mine, these charming places, what have they done wrong? Rather this impious race shall pay the price by death or exile or some means half-way between the two, and that, what can it be except to change their shape to something new?’ What change to choose, she wondered; then, her eyes lighting upon their horns, she realized those could be left to them, and she transformed their bulky bodies into savage bulls."
APHRODITE WRATH: THE PROPOITIDES
LOCALE: Kypros (Eastern Meditteranean)
Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 220 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Should you ask ore-laden Amathus [town in Kypros] if her Propoetides have brought her pride, she would reject them . . . The obscene Propoetides had dared to deny Venus' [Aphrodite's] divinity. For that the goddess’ rage, it’s said, made them the first strumpets to prostitute their bodies' charms. As shame retreated and their cheeks grew hard, they turned with little change to stones of flint. Pygmalion [King of Kypros] had seen these women spend their days in wickedness, and horrified at all the countless vices nature gives to womankind lived celibate."
APHRODITE WRATH: HIPPOMENES
LOCALE: Boiotia (Central Greece)
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 185 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[Aphrodite helped Hippomenes defeat Atalanta in a race and so win her hand in marriage:] but as he was taking her home, forgetting that he had won by the favour of Venus [Aphrodite], he did not give thanks to her. While he was sacrifice to Jove Victor [Zeus] on Mount Parnassus, inflamed with passion through the anger of Venus [Aphrodite], he lay with Atalanta in the shrine, and Jupiter [Zeus] because of this changed them into lion and lioness, animals to whom the gods deny intercourse of love [the Greeks believed that lions mated only with leopards and never amongst themselves]."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 681 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"She [Atalanta] lost the day and he [Hippomenes], victorious, led his prize [Atalanta as bride] away. And I, did I [Aphrodite] not deserve especial thanks and incense in my honour [for her assistance in the winning the race]? But he forgot; he gave no thanks and burnt no incense; then to sudden wrath I turned. Stung by his scorn and lest I [Aphrodite] be despised in days to come, I set my heart against them both, to warn the world by their example. A temple stands hidden in shady woods, which once Echion [one of the Spartoi of Thebes] to fulfil a vow had raised to the great Mater Deum (Mother of the Gods) [Rhea]. There they had journeyed and were glad to rest; and there ill-timed importunate desire, roused by my power, possessed Hippomenes. Beside the temple was a dim-lit grotto, a gloomy cavern, roofed with natural rock, an ancient holy shrine, filled by the priest with wooden statues of the gods of old. He entered here and with forbidden sin defiled the sanctuary. The holy statues turned their shocked eyes away and the Mater Turrita (tower-crowned Mother) [Rhea-Kybele] pondered should she plunge the guilty pair beneath the waves of Stygia. Such punishment seemed light. Therefore their necks, so smooth before, she clothed with tawny manes, their fingers curved to claws; their arms were changed to legs; their chests swelled with new weight; with tails they swept the sandy ground; and in their eyes cruel anger blazed and growls they gave for speech. Their marriage-bed is now a woodland lair, and feared by men, but by the goddess tamed, they champ - two lions - the bits of Cybele [Rhea]."
APHRODITE WRATH: NISOS
LOCALE: Megara (Southern Greece)
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 198 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Nisus [King of Megara] . . . is said to have had a purple lock of hair on his head. An oracle had told him that he would rule as long as he preserved that lock. When Minos, son of Jove [Zeus], had come to attack him, Scylla, daughter of Nisus, fell in love with him at the instigation of Venus [Aphrodite]. To make him the victor, she cut the fatal lock from her sleeping father, and so Nisus was conquered by Minos. He said that holy Crete would not receive such a criminal. She threw herself into the sea to avoid pursuit. Nisus, however, in pursuit of his daughter, was changed into a palliates, that is, a sea-eagle [perhaps by Ares]. Scylla, his daughter, was changed into a fish [perhaps by Aphrodite] which they call the ciris [Greek sources describe this as a sea-bird], and today, if ever that bird sees the fish swimming, he dives into the water, seizes it, and rends it with his claws."
- Hesiod, Catalogues of Women - Greek Epic C8th-7th BC
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
- Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th AD
- Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd AD
- Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st BC
- Plutarch, Lives - Greek Historian C1st-2nd AD
- Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History - Greek Scholar C1st-2nd AD
- Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana - Greek Biography C2nd AD
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd AD
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st BC - C1st AD
- Seneca, Phaedra - Latin Tragedy C1st AD
- Photius, Myriobiblon - Byzantine Greek Scholar C9th AD
- Suidas - Byzantine Lexicographer C10th AD