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Aphrodite-Venus and wounded Aeneas | Greco-Roman fresco from Pompeii C1st A.D. | Naples National Archaeological Museum
Aphrodite-Venus and wounded Aeneas, Greco-Roman fresco from Pompeii C1st A.D., Naples National Archaeological Museum

APHRODITE was the Olympian goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation.

This page describes benefactions bestowed by the goddess on men and women in myth. The most famous of these stories include the statue of Pygmalion brought to life, the race of Hippomenes and Atalanta, the rescue of the Argonaut Boutes from the Seirenes, the love of Paris and Helene, and the flight of Aeneas from Troy.


ARIADNE A princess of the island of Krete (Greek Aegean), and wife of the goddess Dionysos. At her wedding to the god Aphrodite presented her with a fabulous crown which was afterwards placed amongst the stars as the constellation Corona.

DEXIKREON (Dexicreon) A shipmaster of Kypros (in the Eastern Meditteranean) who was rewarded for his devotion by Aphrodite with the advise to freight his ship with fresh water. When his vessel was subsequently becalmed he made a large profit by selling this to his fellow merchants.

HIPPOMENES A prince of Onkhestos in Boiotia (central Greece) who prayed to Aphrodite for assistance in his suit to win the hand of Atalanta in marriage. She gave him three golden apples and instructed him to cast them before the maiden in the suitor's race, slowing her enough to allow for victory.

KORONIDES (Coronides) Two daughters of the giant Orion, girls of the town of Thebes in Boiotia (central Greece). Aphrodite bestowed great beauty upon them.

PANDAREUS' DAUGHTERS Two princesses of Phokis (central Greece) who were raised by Aphrodite following the death of their father at the hands of the wrathful gods. She obtained great gifts for them from the goddesses, but they were snatched away by the Erinyes when the goddess was distracted.

PYGMALION A king of Kypros (in the Eastern Meditteranean) who fell in love with the ivory statue of a maiden he had crafted, and prayed to Aphrodite for love's fulfillment. The goddess granted his wish, making the statue flesh and blood.

OTHERS (HISTORICAL) Aphrodite is believed to personally intervene as the goddess of love in a number of historical stories. For example the tale of Ladike, the Greek wife of an Egyptian pharaoh.

OTHERS (IN FABLE) Aphrodite bestows her blessings as the goddess of love in several of the fables of Aesop. [see Aphrodite & the Fables of Aesop]


AENEAS A prince of Dardania in the Troad (Asia Minor) and the mortal son of Aphrodite herself. She came to his assistance numerous times during the Trojan War and later during his search for a new homeland.

ANDROMAKHE (Andromache) The wife of prince Hektor of Troy (Asia Minor) was presented with a lovely head-dress by Aphrodite on her wedding day. [see Aphrodite Myths 2: Hektor Marriage]

HEKTOR (Hector) A prince and Hero of Troy (Asia Minor) who earned Aphrodite's favour as the prime defender of Troy in its war against the Greeks. When he was slain and his body dragged off by Akhilleus, Aphrodite and Apollon, worked together to preserve it for burial while King Priamos organised for its ransom. [see Aphrodite Myths 2: Trojan War]

HELENE (Helen) A queen of Lakedaimonia (southern Greece) who was abducted by Paris to Troy through the machinations of Aphrodite. At the end of the Trojan War, Aphrodite bestowed her favour upon Helene, by ensuring that she was successfully reunited with her former husband Menelaos and protected from jealous wrath.

PARIS A prince of Troy (Asia Minor) who in the contest between the goddesses for the Apple of Discord awarded the prize to Aphrodite. She rewarded him with the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helene the queen of Sparta. She came to his assistance on numerous occassions during the Trojan War.

PENTHESILEIA A queen of the Amazones (Asia Minor) who came to the aide of King Priamos of Troy. When she was slain on the battlefield by Akhilleus, Aphrodite causing Akhilleus to fall in love with her and defend the sanctity of her corpse. [see Aphrodite Myths 2: Trojan War]


AENEAS OF ROME A prince of Dardania in the Troad (Asia Minor) who was assisted by his mother Venus (the Roman Aphrodite] in his voyage and colonisation of Lation (the future kingdom of Rome). She later obtained from Jupiter (the Roman Zeus) sanction to bestow upon him the gift of immortality and a place amongst the gods of Olympos.

BOUTES (Butes) A lord of Attika (southern Greece) who joined the Voyage of the Argonauts. Among his comrades, he was the only man to fall victim to the song of the Seirenes, leaping into the sea to face certain death. Aphrodite, saw his plight, and carried him away to safety.

HERMAPHRODITOS A boy of Mount Ida in the Troad (Asia Minor) who was transformed into an hermaphrodite after a forcible merging with the Naias Salmakis. He prayed to his parents, Hermes and Aphrodite, for compensation and the two bestowed upon his/her spring the power to turn men effeminate.

INO A princess of Thebes in Boiotia (central Greece) who was driven mad by Hera and leapt with her infant son into the sea. Aphrodite had pity on this grand-daughter of hers and petitioned Poseidon to transform mother and son into sea-gods.

ROME, CITY After the founding of the kingdom of Lation (Latium) by her son Aeneas, Venus (the Roman Aphrodite) remained protectress of the city. So when Juno (the Roman Hera) sought to open the gates of Rome for an invading army, Venus sought to thwart her by blocking their path with the waters of a fiery, thermal spring.

SKYLLA (Scylla) A princess of Megara (southern Greece) who was manipulated by Aphrodite into betraying her father to his enemy King Minos. When her father learned of her disloyalty he pursued her to a cliff, whereupon the goddess out of compassion transformed her into a bird to escape punishment.



LOCALE : Phokis (Central Greece)

Homer, Odyssey 20. 68 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"The Harpyiai (Harpies) bore off the daughters of Pandareus. The gods long before had slain their parents, and the girls were left orphans in their house. But Lady (Dia) Aphrodite had nurtured them with cheese and sweet honey and pleasant wine; Hera had given them beauty and wisdom beyond all other women; virgin Artemis made them tall, and Athene taught them the making of lovely things. But when Aphrodite went up to high Olympos to entreat Zeus to let these girls attain the moment of happy marriage--because Zeus knows all things perfectly, what is fated and what not fated for mortal men--meanwhile the Harpyiai snatched them away and delivered them to the ministrations of the detested Erinyes."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 30. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The daughters of Pandareos: Homer makes Penelope say in a speech that the parents of the maidens died because of the wrath of the gods, that they were reared as orphans by Aphrodite and received gifts from other goddesses : from Hera wisdom and beauty of form, from Artemis high stature, from Athena schooling in the works that befit women. He goes on to say that Aphrodite ascended into heaven, wishing to secure for the girls a happy marriage, and in her absence they were carried off by the Harpyiai and given by them to the Erinyes (Furies). This is the story as given by Homer. Polygnotos has painted them as girls crowned with flowers and playing with dice, and gives them the names of Kameiro and Klytie."


LOCALE : Thebes, Boiotia (Southern Greece)

Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 25 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"In Boiotia Orion, son of Hyrieos, had as daughters Metiokhe and Menippe. After Artemis had taken him away from the sight of mankind, they were brought up by their mother. Athena taught them to weave the loom and Aphrodite gave them beauty."


LOCALE : Kypros (Eatern Meditteranean)

Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 243 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Pygmalion [King of Kypros] lived celibate and long lacked the companionship of married love. Meanwhile he carved his snow-white ivory with marvellous triumphant artistry and gave it perfect shape, more beautiful than ever woman born. His masterwork fired him with love. It seemed to be alive, its face to be real girl's, a girl who wished to move--but modesty forbade. Such art his art concealed. In admiration his heart desired the body he had formed. With many a touch he tries it--is it flesh or ivory? Not ivory still, he's sure! Kisses he gives and thinks they are returned; he speaks to it, caresses it, believes the firm new flesh beneath his fingers yields, and fears the limbs may darken with a bruise. And now fond words he whispers, now brings gifts that girls delight in--shells and polished stones, and little birds and flowers of every hue, lilies and coloured balls and beads of amber . . . He decks her limbs with robes and on her fingers sets splendid rings, a necklace round her neck, pearls in her ears, a pendant on her breast; lovely she looked, yet unadorned she seemed in nakedness no white less beautiful. He laid her on a couch of purple silk, called her his darling, cushioning her head, as if she relished it, on softest down.
Venus' [Aphrodite's] day came, the holiest festival all Cyprus celebrates; incense rose high and heifers, with their wide horns gilded, fell beneath the blade that struck their snowy necks. Pygmalion, his offering given, prayed before the altar, half afraid, ‘Vouchsafe, O Gods, if all things you can grant, my bride shall be’--he dared not say my ivory girl--‘The living likeness of my ivory girl.’ And golden Venus [Aphrodite] (for her presence graced her feast) knew well the purpose of his prayer; and, as an omen of her favouring power, thrice did the flame burn bright and leap up high. And he went home, home to his heart's delight, and kissed her as she lay, and she seemed warm; again he kissed her and with marvelling touch caressed her breast; beneath his touch the flesh grew soft, its ivory hardness vanishing, and yielded to his hands, as in the sun wax of Hymettus softens and is shaped by practised fingers into many forms, and usefulness acquires by being used. His heart was torn with wonder and misgiving, delight and terror that it was not true! Again and yet again he tried his hopes--she was alive! The pulse beat in her veins! And then indeed in words that overflowed he poured his thanks to Venus [Aphrodite], and at last his lips pressed real lips, and she, his girl, felt every kiss, and blushed, and shyly raised her eyes to his and saw the world and him. The goddess graced the union she had made, and when nine times the crescent moon had filled her silver orb, an infant girl was born, Paphos, from whom the island takes its name."


LOCALE : Anthemoessa (Mythical Island) & Lilybaion (Southern Italy)

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 135 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"As they [the Argonautoi] sailed past the Seirenes (Sirens), Orpheus kept the Argonautoi in check by singing a song that offset the effect of the sisters' singing. The only one to swim off to them was Boutes, whom Aphrodite snatched up and settled at Lilybaion."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 14 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Butes, son of Teleon, though diverted by the singing and lyre of Orpheus [when the Argonauts encountered the Seirenes], neverthless was overcome by the sweetness of the Sirens' song, and in an effort to swim to them threw himself into the sea. Venus [Aphrodite] saved him at Lilybaeum, as he was borne along by the waves."

For the MYTH of Aphrodite's love for Boutes see Aphrodite Loves: Boutes


LOCALE : Arkadia (Southern Greece) or Boiotia (Central Greece)

Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 14 (from Papiri greci e latini, 2 No. 130) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Straightway there rose up against him [Hippomenes] the trim- ankled maiden [Atalanta], peerless in beauty: a great throng stood round about her as she gazed fiercely, and wonder held all men as they looked upon her. As she moved, the breath of the west wind stirred the shining garment about her tender bosom; but Hippomenes stood where he was: and much people was gathered together. All these kept silence; but Skhoineus cried and said : ‘Hear me all, both young and old, while I speak as my spirit within my breast bids me. Hippomenes seeks my coy-eyed daughter to wife; but let him now hear my wholesome speech. He shall not win her without contest; yet, if he be victorious and escape death, and if the deathless gods who dwell on Olympos grant him to win renown, verily he shall return to his dear native land, and I will give him my dear child and strong, swift-footed horses besides which he shall lead home to be cherished possessions; and may he rejoice in heart possessing these, and ever remember with gladness the painful contest. May the father of men and of gods grant that splendid children may be born to him . . ((lacuna))’
And on them was laid an unenviable struggle: for she, even fair, swift-footed Atalanta, ran scorning the gifts of golden Aphrodite; but with him the race was for his life, either to find his doom, or to escape it. Therefore with thoughts of guile he said to her : ‘O daughter of Skhoineus, pitiless in heart, receive these glorious gifts of the goddess, golden Aphrodite. . . ((lacuna))’
But he, following lightly on his feet, cast the first apple : and, swiftly as a Harpyia, she turned back and snatched it. Then he cast the second to the ground with his hand. And now fair, swift-footed Atalanta had two apples and was near the goal; but Hippomenes cast the third apple to the ground, and therewith escaped death and black fate."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 10 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"When her [Atalante's] father tried to talk her into getting married, she went off to a place that could be used as a race-track, placed a three-cubit stake midway in it, and had her suitors race ahead of her from there, while she ran fully armed. If she overtook her opponent, he paid with his life; if not, he reward was marriage. After many had already died, Melanion fell in love with her and entered the race. He brought along golden apples from Aphrodite, and as he was being pursued he let them drop. Atalante, by picking up the scattering apples, lost the race, and Melanion consequently married her."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 185 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Schoeneus is said to have had a most beautiful daughter, Atalanta, who by her swiftness used to surpass men in the race. She asked her father that she might remain a virgin. And so, since she was sought by many in marriage, her father set up a contest, that her suitors should contend with her first in a foot-race; then a limit being set, that the man, unarmed, should flee, and she should pursue him with a weapon; the one she overtook within the limits of the course, she should kill, and fix his head up in the stadium. [N.B. Hyginus is perhaps confusing the story with that of the barbaric contest for Hippodameia in Elis.] When she had overtaken and killed many, she was finally defeated by Hippomenes, son of Megareus and Merope. For he had received from Venus [Aphrodite] three apples of exceptional beauty, and had been instructed how to use them. By throwing them down in the contest. He had slowed up the speed of the girl, for as she picked them up and admired the gold, she lost time, and gave victory to the youth. Schoeneus willingly gave him his daughter because of his ingenuity, but as he was taking her home . . . [continues with the wrath of Aphrodite]."

Ovid, Metamorphoses10. 560 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"You may perchance have heard how in the races a girl outran the men who ran to win. That was no idle tale; she always won. Nor could one say her girt of glorious speed was more surpassing than her loveliness. An oracle that once she had consulted about a husband had declared ‘No husband, fair Atalanta, is for you; refuse a husband's kisses; yet you'll not refuse, and you, while still you live, yourself shall lose.’
The fate foretold appalled her, and she lived alone, unwedded in the shady woods, and angrily repulsed the pressing throng of suitors with a challenge : ‘No man's wife am I,’ she said, ‘unless he wins the race. Contend with me in speed. For speed the prize is wife and wedlock; for the slow the price is death: upon that rule the race is run.’
Her heart was pitiless, yet, such power of beauty, on that rule rash lovers thronged. To watch the unequal race Hippomenes sat in his seat and scoffed ‘Would any man at such dire peril wish to win a wife?’ And blamed the young men for their love's excess. But when he saw her face and, now unrobed [she raced naked], her body's beauty . . . he marvelled and, with hands upraised, exclaimed ‘Forgive my censuring words; I had not know the peerless prize you seek.' And with his praise love burgeoned and he prayed that none would run faster than she, and fear and envy filled his heart. ‘But why', he thought, ‘do I not try myself my fortune in this rivalry? The gods help those who dare.’
And, while he mused, on winged feet the glorious girl flew by. And though her speed seemed like an arrow's flight, yet more he marvelled at her glowing grace--and running gave her graze; the breeze blew back the ribbons from her ankles and her knees in fluttering colours; down her ivory back her long hair streamed behind; a rosy flush painted the girlish pallor of her limbs . . . These things the newcomer Hippomenes marked well; and then the final lap was run and Atalanta with the festal wreath of victory was crowned; the losers groaned and duly paid the appointed penalty.
But young Hippomenes was undismayed by the others' fate and in the midst stood forth and fixed his eyes upon the girl, and said ‘Why seek an easy fame defeating sluggards? Contend with me. If fortune favours me, there'll be no shame to yeild the victory. My father's Megareus Onchestius; his grandfather was Neptunus [Poseidon]; great-grandson of Ocean's king am I, nor does my birth exceed my prowess--or, if I should fail, the victor of Hippomenes shall win a memorable name, a great renown.’
And as he spoke Schoeneia [Atalanta daughter of Skhoineus] gazed with tender eyes and doubted in her heart whether this time she wished to win or lose. ‘What god,’ she thought, ‘who envies beauty's charms, desires his death and bids him seek a bride at hazard of his own dear life? So much is more than I am worth. It's not his beauty that touches me (though that could touch me too); but he is still a boy; it's not himself that moves me but his tender years, his youth. Think of his courage, unafraid of death, his lineage, fourth from mighty Origo Aequorea (Ocean's lord) [Poseidon], his love that counts our wedlock worth so much that he would die, if fate denied my love. Go, stranger, while you may! Blood stains my bed; oh cruel bane were I your bride!--But you none will refuse; some wiser girl than I one happy day will wish to be your bride. But why do I care for you, when other men have died before, so many, for my sake? So fend then for yourself! Yes, let him die since by so many deaths he is not warned and wearies of his life!--Then shall he perish because he longed to live with me, and pay the price of love in death so undeserved? My victory will bring more bitterness than I can bear! And yet the fault's not mine! Would that your heart might change, or, since your heart is crazed, you might outrun me in the race! Oh, how his boy's fair face is like a girl's! Oh, poor Hippomenes, that you should ever have looked on me! How you deserved to live! Were I not so ill-starred, would fate but yield and not deny me marriage, you alone I'd choose to be companion of my bed.’ Artless she was, and when at last love came, she burned, but never thought it was love's flame.
And now her father and the townspeople called for the usual race, and Neptunus' [Poseidon's] prince, Hippomenes, with anxious voice, invoked my [Aphrodite's] help and prayed : ‘Come, lovely Cytherea [Aphrodite], prosper the deed I dare and with thy grace nourish the flame of love that thou has lit.’ A kindly breeze wafted his charming prayer; it moved me [Aphrodite], I admit, and little time was left to succour him. There is a field the people call the close of Tamasenus, the richest part of all the isle of Cypria, which long ago was hallowed in my name and added as endowment to my shrine. A tree stands in the close with leaves of gold and golden branches rustling in the breeze. On my way thence it chanced that in my hand I held three golden apples I had picked and I stood by Hippomenes, unseen except by him, and taught the apples' use. The trumpets sound the start; both crouching low flash from their marks and skim the shady course with flying feet; it seemed that they could race dry-shod across the surface of the sea and over the standing heads of harvest corn. The shouting crowd cheered on the newcomer : ‘Run, run, Hippomenes! Now is your chance! Now! Faster! Faster! Run with all your speed! You're going to win!’
And hard it was to know who liked their words the more, Heros Megareius [Hippomenes] or Schoeneia [Atalanta]. Many a time she slowed when she might pass and gazed into his eyes, and with heavy heart left him behind. And now he flagged, his breath came fast and dry and there was far to go; so then he threw one of the three gold apples from the tree. She was amazed and, eager to secure the gleaming fruit, swerved sideways from the track and seized the golden apple as it rolled. He passed her and the benches roared applause. She with a burst of speed repaired her waste and soon again left him behind. He threw the second apple and again she stopped, and followed, and again ran past. And so the last lap came. ‘Be with me now, Goddess,’ he prayed, ‘who gavest me the gift.’ And then with all the strength of youth he threw the shining gold far out across the field, the longer to delay the girl; and she seemed undecided, but I [Aphrodite] made her chase the rolling apple and increased its weight, and by its weight alike and loss of speed I hindered her."

For the REST of this story see Aphrodite Wrath: Hippomenes


LOCALE : Naxos (Greek Aegean)

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 5 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Crown [Constellation Corona]. This is thought to be Ariadne's crown, placed by Father Liber [Dionysos] among the constellations. For they say that when Ariadne wed Liber on the island of Dia, and all the gods gave her wedding gifts, she first received this crown as a gift from Venus [Aphrodite] and the Horae (Seasons) . . .
Those who wrote the Argolica [say] . . . when Liber came to that place and was about to descend [into the underworld to fetch his mother], he left the crown, which he had received as a gift from Venus [Aphrodite], at that place which in consequence is called Stephanos, for he was unwilling to take it with him for fear the immortal gift of the gods would be contaminated by contact with the dead. When he brought his mother back unharmed, he is said to have placed the crown in the stars as an everlasting memorial."


LOCALE : Megara (Southern Greece)

For the PRELUDE to this story see Aphrodite Wrath: Nisos

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 [probably by Aphrodite out of pity] 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." [N.B. Aphrodite would have first tranformed the girl to save her, then Ares her father to exact his revenge.]


LOCALE : Thebes, Boiotia (Central Greece)

Ino was a grand-daughter of Aphrodite, the daughter of her daughter Harmonia.

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 416 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Ino and Athamas were driven mad by a wrathful Hera, and Ino, fleeing from her murderous husband, fled to the cliffs of the sea-shore :] A cliff hung by the shore; the bottom part was hollowed by the waves and formed a roof to shield the waters from the storms; the top stood hard and high and faced the open sea. Here Ino climbed (her madness gave her strength) and with her burden launched herself, unchecked by any thought of fear, out and away, and where she fell the waves were white with spray. But Venus [Aphrodite], pitying her grandchild's woes, so undeserved, addressed with winning words her uncle : ‘Lord of waters, whose power yields to heaven alone, great Neptunus [Poseidon], what I ask is much indeed, put pity those I love, now tossing in the vast Ionian Sea, and make them gods to join your company. I too should find some favour with the sea, for in its holy depths in days gone by from sea-foam I was formed, and still from foam I take my name in Greece.’ Her prayer was granted. Neptunus [Poseidon] removed their mortal essences, clothed them in majesty and awe, and changed features and names alike, the boy to be Palaemon, and his mother Leucothoe."

For MORE information on this woman and goddess see LEUKOTHEA


LOCALE : Halikarnassos, Karia (Anatolia)

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 285 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"When he [Hermaphroditos] saw the waters of the pool, where he had dived a man, had rendered him half woman [as he merged forms with the Nympha Salmakis] and his limbs now weak and soft, raising his hands, Hermaphroditus cried, his voice unmanned, ‘Dear father [Hermes] and dear mother [Aphrodite], both of whose names I bear, grant me, your child, that whoso in these waters bathes a man emerge half woman, weakened instantly [that is, made effeminate].’ Both parents hears; both, moved to gratify their bi-sexed son, his purpose to ensure, drugged the bright water with that power impure."

For MORE information on this minor god see HERMAPHRODITOS


LOCALE : Troy, Mysia (Anatolia) & Sparta, Lakedaimonia (Southern Greece)


For the MYTH of the Judgement see Aphrodite & the Judgement of Paris

Before the contest took place Aphrodite gave Paris the zither she had won at the first Pythian Games. In depictions of the Judgement he is shown playing the instrument.

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 7 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"She [Aphrodite] won and accepted as prize a zither [from Apollon at the first Pythian Games] which she gave as a gift to Alexandros [Paris]. It is of her that Homer says: 'But what help could your zither bring you."


For this MYTH see Aphrodite & the Seduction of Helene


In the tenth year of the war, Menelaos challenges Paris to a duel for Helene. Just as Paris is about to be slain by Menelaos, Aphrodite snatches him away, and carries him back to the safety of the bedchamber. She then draws a reluctant Helene back to the passions of love, when she is filled with doubt and thinks of returning to her former husband.

For this MYTH see Aphrodite & the Trojan War: Duel of Paris


LOCALE : Troy, Mysia (Anatolia)


For this MYTH see Aphrodite & the Seduction of Helene


For this MYTH see Aphrodite & the Trojan War: Paris Duel


For this MYTH see Aphrodite & the Fall of Troy: Helene


LOCALE 1: Troy, Mysia (Anatolia)


Stasinus of Cyprus or Hegesias of Aegina, Cypria Fragment 1 (from Proclus, Cherstomathia 1) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
"Alexandros [Paris] builds his ships at Aphrodite's suggestion [on his quest to abduct Helene from Greece] . . . and Aphrodite orders Aeneas [her son] to sail with him."


For this MYTH see Aphrodite & the Trojan War: Wounded


For this MYTH see Aphrodite & the Trojan War: Aeneas Final Battles


For this MYTH see Aphrodite & the Fall of Troy: Aeneas


LOCALE 2: Latium (Central Italy)

Venus' plays a prominent role in Virgil's Aeneid as the protectress of her son Aeneas (only partially quoted here).


Virgil, Aeneid 8. 372 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"Venus [Aphrodite], her mother's heat alarmed, as well it might be, perturbed by the threats [to Aeneas in Latium] and the fierce uprising of the Laurentines, spoke to her husband, Volcanos [Hephaistos], as they lay in their golden bed-chamber ‘. . . At the will of Jove [Zeus], he [Aeneas] has set foot in Italy : yet it is now that I'm asking a deity whom I reverence for arms, appealing to you on my son's behalf . . . See, what peoples are mustering, what cities have barred their gates and are sharpening weapons against me, to exterminate those I love!’ . . .
Volcanos, in love's undying thrall, said : ‘. . . If your purpose is to make all ready for warfare, any effort that's mine to give in the exercise of my craft, whatever can be done with iron and molten alloys, all work of furnace and bellows--nay, plead no more; why need you cast doubt upon your influence over me?’"


Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 581 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Aeneas' valour had constrained all heaven's gods and even Juno [Hera] herself to end their ancient anger. Safe and sound stood growing Iulus' fortunes; Venus' [Aphrodite's] son, that Hero Cytherius [Aeneas], was ripe for heaven. Venus [Aphrodite] had canvassed heaven's gods and thrown her arms about her father's [Zeus'] neck and said : ‘Father, you've never been unkind to me: now be most kind, I beg, and grant my son, Aeneas, your grandson, our own blue blood, divinity, even though not much, yet still grant some! Once is enough to have beheld the unlovely realm of Hell, once to have gone across the stream of Stygia!’
The gods approved, nor did the Consort-Queen (Coniunx Regia) [Hera] look stern and stiff, but seemed placated and gave assent. Then said the Father : ‘Both of you deserve the boon of heaven, you who ask and he for whom you ask. Receive, my child, your wish!’
With happy heart she gave her father thanks, and, carried by her doves across the sky, reached the Laurentian coast, where though his thatch of reeds Numicius' river winds his way down to the neighbouring shore. She bade the River wash from Aeneas all that death could waste and waft it in his silent stream to sea. Obeying Venus' [Aphrodite's] bidding the horned god purged in his waters every mortal part and washed it all away--the best remained. So purified, his mother anointed him with heavenly perfume and, upon his lips touching ambrosia and sweet nectar, made her son a god whom now the Romans name Indiges, with shrines and altars for his fame."


LOCALE : Rome, Latium (Central Italy)

Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 778 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Cures' warriors [led by Tatius King of the Sabines], like silent wolves stealing in whispers on the sleeping town [of Rome], made for the gates which Iliades [Romulus] had barred, but one of them Saturnia [Hera] herself unlocked, keeping the hinges silent. Only Venus [Aphrodite] perceived the gate's great bars had dropped, and would have closed it but that gods are never allowed to undo what gods have done. Beside the shrine of Janus lived the Naides Ausoniae, their watery home an ice-cold welling spring. The goddess begged their help, nor did the Nymphae baulk at her just request, but conjured forth the currents of their spring; but still the gate of open Janus was unblocked, the gush of water had not barred the passageway. Now they set yellow sulphur underneath their sparkling spring, until water that dared a moment past to vie with Alpine cold now matched the flame of fire. Splashed by the boiling flow the twin gateposts steamed and the gate, so vainly promised to the stern Sabini, was blocked by the strange stream till the defending force could spring to arms. Then Romulus attacked."


LOCALE : Kyrene, Libya (North Africa)

Herodotus, Histories 2. 181 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"Amasis [historical Egyptian pharaoh C5th BC] made friends and allies of the people of Kyrene. And he decided to marry from there . . . [so] he married a certain Ladike . . . But whenever Amasis lay with her, he became unable to have intercourse, though he managed with every other woman . . . So Ladike, when the king did not relent at all [in accusing her of witchcraft] although she denied it, vowed in her heart to Aphrodite that, if Amasis could have intercourse with her that night, since that would remedy the problem, she would send a statue to Kyrene to her. And after the prayer, immediately, Amasis did have intercourse with her. And whenever Amasis came to her thereafter, he had intercourse, and he was very fond of her after this. Ladike paid her vow to the goddess; she had an image made and sent it to Kyrene, where it stood safe until my time, facing outside the city."






A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.