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Aphrodite | Greco-Roman marble statue C1st A.D. | Archaeological Museum of Rhodes
Aphrodite, Greco-Roman marble statue C1st A.D., Archaeological Museum of Rhodes

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

This page describes the goddess' divine roles and privileges including love, sexual desire, procreation, beauty, grace, pleasure, erotic poetry, and the star Venus, as well as her identification with foreign goddesses.

The information here is best read in conjunction with the "Cult of Aphrodite" and "Titles & Epithets" pages.




Hesiod, Theogony 176 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Her gods and men call Aphrodite . . . and Philommeides (Genital-Loving) because sprang from the members [of Ouranos the Sky]. And with her went Eros (Love), and comely Himeros (Desire) followed her at her birth at the first and as she went into the assembly of the gods. This honour she has from the beginning, and this is the portion allotted to her amongst men and undying gods,--the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness."

Hesiod, Works and Days 60 ff :
"Golden Aphrodite shed grace upon her [Pandora's] head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs."

Hesiod, Works and Days 520 ff :
"The tender maiden who stays indoors with her dear mother, unlearned as yet in the works of golden Aphrodite."

Homer, Iliad 5. 429 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Zeus to Aphrodite :] ‘Concern yourself only with the lovely secrets of marriage [sex].’"

Homer, Iliad 5. 349 ff :
"[Diomedes to Aphrodite :] ‘It is not then enough that you lead astray women.’"

Homer, Iliad 5. 422 ff :
"[Athene speaks to Zeus mocking Aphrodite :] ‘[Is] Kypris [Aphrodite], [again] moving some woman of Akhaia to follow after those Trojans she loves to hopelessly, laying hold on the fair dresses of the Akhaian women.’"

Homer, Iliad 3. 389 ff :
"[During the Trojan War Aphrodite rekindled the love of Helene and Paris :] Likening herself to this woman [a handmaiden of Helene] Aphrodite spoke to her : ‘Come with me: Alexandros [Paris] sends for you to come home to him. He is in his chamber now, in the bed with its circled pattern.’ . . .
[Helene following reluctantly] went to the high-vaulted bedchamber [of Paris]. Aphrodite the sweetly laughing (philomeides) drew up an armchair, carrying it, she, a goddess, and set it before Alexandros [Paris], and Helene daughter of Zeus of the aigis took her place there . . .
[Paris to Helene :] ‘Come, then, rather let us go to bed and turn to love-making. Never before as now has passion enmeshed my senses [inflamed by Aphrodite], not when I took you the first time from Lakedaimon the lovely and caught you up and carried you away in seafaring vessels, and lay with you in the bed of love on the island Kranae, not even then, as now, did I love you and sweet desire seize me.’
Speaking, he led the way to the bed; and his wife went with him. So these two were laid in the carven bed."

Homer, Iliad 14. 187 ff :
"[Hera asks Aphrodite if she may borrow her girdle of desire :] ‘Long time they [the married couple Okeanos and Tethys] have stayed apart from each other and from the bed of love, since rancour has entered their feelings. Could I win over with persuasion the dear heart within them and bring them back to their bed to be merged in love with each other.’ . . .
She spoke, and from her breasts unbound the elaborate, pattern-pierced zone, and on it are figured all beguilement (philotes), and loveliness is figured upon it, and passion of sex (himeros) is there, and the whispered endearment (oaristos) that steals the heart away even from the thoughtful . . . ‘Take this zone, and hide it away in the fold of your bosom. It is elaborate, all things are figured therein. And I think whatever is your heart's desire shall not go unaccomplished.’"

Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"Golden Aphrodite Kypria, who stirs up sweet passion in the gods and subdues the tribes of mortal men . . . these love the deeds of rich-crowned Kythereia . . . there is nothing among the blessed gods or among mortal men [except for Athena, Artemis and Hestia] that has escaped Aphrodite."

Alcman, Fragment 59 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (C7th B.C.) :
"At the command of Kypris [Aphrodite], Eros once again pours sweetly down and warms my heart."

Anacreon, Fragment 346 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (C6th B.C.) :
"Eros' (Love's) bonds, bonds made harsh by Aphrodite."

Ibycus, Fragment 284 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III) (Greek lyric C6th B.C.) :
"Unless he [Eros, Love], going down once to the girl's room, had his melting heart completely tinged by his skilled mother [Aphrodite] with her gift of desire."

Ibycus, Fragment 287 :
"Again Eros (Love), looking at me meltingly from under his dark eyelids, hurls me with his manifold enchantments into the boundless nets of Kypris [Aphrodite]. How I fear his onset."

Theognis, Fragment 1. 1381 (trans. Gerber, Vol. Greek Elegiac) (Greek elegy C6th B.C.) :
"Men though that you had come with a gift from golden Kyprogeneia [Aphrodite]. But the gift [love or longing desire] of the violet-crowned Kyprogeneia becomes a most painful burden for men to bear, if she does not grant release from the pain."

Theognis, Fragment 1. 1386 ff :
"Cyprus-born (kyprogenes) Kythereia [Aphrodite], weaver of wiles, to honour you Zeus gave you this special gift. For you overwhelm the sound minds of men and there is no one strong or clever enough to escape you."

Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 998 ff (trans. Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"Your [the maidens'] youthful loveliness attracts men's gaze. The tender ripeness of summer fruit is in no way easy to protect . . . Kypris [Aphrodite] spreads news abroad of fruit bursting ripe . . . So all men, as they pass, mastered by desire, shoot an alluring arrow of the eye at the delicate beauty of virgins."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 850 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"Kypris [Aphrodite], the goddess of desire, had done her sweet work in their hearts [and mated the visiting Argonauts with the widowed women of Lemnos]. She wished to please Hephaistos, the great Artificer, and save his isle of Lemnos from ever lacking men again . . . The whole city [of Lemnos] was alive with dance and banquet. The scent of burnt-offerings filled the air; and of all the immortals, it was Hera's glorious son Hephaistos and Kypris [Aphrodite] herself whom their songs and sacrifices were designed to please."

Orphic Hymn 55 to Aphrodite (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Aphrodite . . . laughter-loving (philommeideia) queen . . . producing, nightly, all-connecting dame. 'Tis thine the world with harmony to join, for all things spring from thee, O power divine . . . Goddess of marriage, charming to the sight, mother of the Erotes (Loves), whom banquetings delight; source of Peitho (Persuasion), secret, favouring queen, illustrious born, apparent and unseen; spousal Lukaina, and to men inclined, prolific, most-desired, life-giving, kind. Great sceptre-bearer of the Gods, 'tis thine mortals in necessary bands to join; and every tribe of savage monsters dire in magic chains to bind through mad desire."

Aphrodite, Hermes and the scales of love | Athenian red-figure calyx krater C4th B.C. | National Archaeological Museum, Athens
Aphrodite, Hermes and the scales of love, Athenian red-figure calyx krater C4th B.C., National Archaeological Museum, Athens

Plato, Cratylus 400d & 406b (trans. Fowler) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"[Plato invents philosophical etymologies for the names of the gods:]
Sokrates: Let us inquire what thought men had in giving them [the gods] their names . . . The first men who gave names [to the gods] were no ordinary persons, but high thinkers and great talkers . . .
Hermogenes: What of Dionysos and Aphrodite?
Sokrates: You ask great things of me . . . You see there is both a serious and a facetious account of the form of the name of these deities . . . As for Aphrodite, we need not oppose Hesiod; we can accept his derivation of the name from her birth out of the foam (aphrou)." [N.B. By "foam" Plato means "semen."]

Plato, Letters 335b (trans. Bury) :
"Satiating himself with the slavish and graceless pleasure which is miscalled by the name Aphrodisios (of the Goddess of Love)." [N.B. In Greek aphrodisios means sexual pleasures, literally "belonging to the goddess of love."]

Plato, Philebus 12b (trans. Fowler) :
"Sokrates: Let us begin with the very goddess who Philebos says is spoken of as Aphrodite but is most truly named Hedone (pleasure) . . . My awe in respect to the names of the gods is always beyond the greatest human fear. And now I call Aphrodite by that name which is agreeable to her; but pleasure I know has various aspects, and since, as I said, we are to begin with her, we must consider and examine what her nature is. For, when you just simply hear her name, she is only one thing, but surely she takes on all sorts of shapes which are even, in a way, unlike each other."

Plato, Republic 329c (trans. Shorey) :
"How about your Aphrodisios (service of Aphrodite), Sophokles--is your natural force still unabated?"

Plato, Republic 403a :
"‘Do you know of greater or keener pleasure than Aphrodisios (that associated with Aphrodite)?’ ‘I don't, nor yet of any more insane.’"

Plato, Phaedrus (trans. Lamp) :
"Sokrates : The divine madness was subdivided into four kinds, prophetic, initiatory, poetic, erotic, having four gods presiding over them . . . the fourth that of Aphrodite and Eros (Love). In the description of the last kind of madness, which was also said to be the best."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 6. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"This surname [Melaina the Black] of the goddess [Aphrodite] is simply due to the fact that men do not, as the beasts do, have sexual intercourse always by day, but in most cases by night."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 31. 5 :
"The surname Machanitis (Deviser) given to the goddess [Aphrodite] is, in my opinion, a most apt one; for very many are the devices, and most varied are the forms of speech [words of seduction] invented by men because of Aphrodite and her works."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 16. 3 :
"Harmonia [daughter of Aphrodite] gave to Aphrodite the surname of Ourania (Heavenly) to signify a love pure and free from bodily lust; that of Pandemos (Common), to denote sexual intercourse; the third, that of Apostrophia (Rejecter), that mankind might reject unlawful passion and sinful acts. For Harmonia knew of many crimes already perpetrated not only among foreigners but even by Greeks, similar to those attributed later by legend to the mother of Adonis [who committed incest with her father], to Phaidra, the daughter of Minos [who lusted after her son-in-law], and to the Thrakian Tereus [who raped his sister-in-law]."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 22. 1 :
"The island Kranai [off the coast of Lakedaimonia] : Homer says that when Alexandros [Paris of Troy] had carried off Helene he had intercourse with her there for the first time. On the mainland opposite the island is a sanctuary of Aphrodite Migonitis (Sexual Union)."

Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 6. 3 (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to 2nd A.D.) :
"Apollonios [pagan prophet C1st A.D.] asked : ‘Do you sacrifice to Aphrodite, my boy?’ And Timasion answered : ‘yes, by Zeus, every day; for I consider that this goddess has great influence in human and divine affairs.’"

Ovid, Heroides 3. 116 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The zither, and night, and Venus [i.e. Aphrodite, sex personified], bring delight."

Ovid, Heroides 4. 167 ff :
"Spare me, by Venus [Aphrodite] I pray, who is chiefest with me now. So may you never love one who will spurn you."

Ovid, Heroides 9. 11 ff :
"More than Juno [Hera], Venus [Aphrodite] has been your [Herakles'] bane. The one, by crushing you down, has raised you up; the other has your neck beneath her humbling foot [i.e. he is often conquered by desire]."

Statius, Silvae 1. 2. 51 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"About the posts and pillows of her [Aphrodite's] couch swarm a troop of tender Amores [Erotes, Loves], begging her make sign where she bids them bear her torches, what hearts they shall transfix; whether to wreak their cruelty on land or sea, to set gods at variance or yet once more to vex the Thunderer [Zeus]."

Seneca, Phaedra 195 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"'Tis base and sin-mad lust that has made love into a god [ie. Amor, the Greek Eros] and, to enjoy more liberty, as given to passion the title of an unreal divinity. Erycina (the goddess of Eryx) [Aphrodite] sends her son, forsooth, wandering through all lands, and he, flying through heaven's void, wields wanton weapons in his boyish hands, and, though least of gods, still holds such mighty empire! 'Tis love-mad souls that have adopted these vain conceits and have feigned Venus' [Aphrodite's] divinity and a god's archery."

Seneca, Phaedra 574 ff :
"Oft-times does Amor [Eros, Love] put curb on stubborn hearts and change their hate. Look at [the Amazones] . . . those warlike women feel the yoke of Venus [Aphrodite]."

Seneca, Phaedra 909 ff :
"[Theseus believing his son Hippolytos has raped his wife complains :] ‘This, truly, is the madness of that warlike race [the Amazones], to contemn Venus; [Aphrodite's] laws and to prostitute the long-chaste body to the crowd. O abominable race, yielding to no laws of a better land! Even the very beasts do shun incestuous love, and instinctive chastity guards Venus' laws.’"

Apuleius, The Golden Ass 11. 218 ff (trans. Walsh) (Roman novel C2nd A.D.) :
"At another time you [Egyptian Isis] are heavenly Venus [Aphrodite]; in giving birth to Amor [Eros, love] when the world was first begun, you united the opposing sexes and multiplied the human race by producing ever abundant offspring; now you are venerated at the wave-lapped shrine of Paphos.
At another time you are Proserpina [Hekate], whose howls at night inspire dread, and whose triple form restrains the emergence of ghosts as you keep the entrance to the earth above firmly barred. You wander through diverse groves, and are appeased by various rites."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5. 88 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Soon Harmonia yoked by the cestus-girdle [of Aphrodite] that guides wedded desire, carried in her womb the seed of many children whom she brought forth soon one by one."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 15. 392 ff :
"[Nemesis the goddess of retribution:] Pointed out the newly slain corpse [of a boy callously slain by the Nymphe he loved] to the Kyprian [Aphrodite], and upbraided Eros (Love) himself [at the injustice] . . . Pan and Phoibos [Apollon] cried out aloud [at the injustice] : ‘A curse on the fife! Where is Nemesis? Where is Kypris [Aphrodite]? Eros, handle not your quiver [summoning them to come avenge the lover].’"

Suidas s.v. Aphrodision (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Aphrodision (Of Aphrodite, Aphrodisiac) : The work of Aphrodite. It is used for lustful men, those who are disposed erotically and excessively to intercourse . . .
A proverb : ‘an Aphrodisian oath may be violated with impunity’, [applied] to those who because of passion swear [oaths] often and swear falsely."

Suidas s.v. Anorgias :
"Anorgias (Being uninitiated, state of uninitiation) : Also anorgiastois [un-rited], unexperienced in the mysteries. ‘The rites of Aphrodite are uncelebrated by you [for a long time].’ Meaning you have not engaged in rites for Aphrodite [i.e. sexual intercourse]; you have not completed them."

Suidas s.v. Ephkhoi Pyroi:
"Ephkhoi Pyroi (boiled wheat-grains) : Aphrodisiacs. And they used to offer wheat-grains to Aphrodite."

Suidas s.v. Gennesin :
"Gennesin (Reproduction, procreation) : The intercourse of the acts of Aphrodite."

Suidas s.v. Kythereia :
"She [Aphrodite] has love hidden (keuthomenon) within herself, which she sends to all; for through her charmed girdle she has the power." [N.B. This is an unusual etymology.]

Suidas s.v. Kypris :
"Kypris: Epithet of Aphrodite; since she furnishes pregnancy (kuoporis). The same [goddess] is known as the Kytherian. Because she hides (keuthein) love-affairs." [N.B. Another unusual etymology. The epithet really means "of Cyprus."]

For MYTHS of Aphrodite as the goddess of love and sexual desire see the pages: 
(1) APHRODITE STORIES 3 (with Eros inspires love in gods & men)
(2) APHRODITE FAVOUR (stories of Hippomenes, Paris, Pygmalion, others)
(3) APHRODITE WRATH 1 (stories of the Lemnian Women, Hippomenes, others)
(4) APHRODITE WRATH 2 (stories of Hippolytos, Narkissos, Anaxerete, others)
(5) Aphrodite Treasures: the Magic Girdle (inspires passion)
(6) Aphrodite in the Fables of Aesop (love, marriage, female promiscuity)

Aphrodite and a flock of Erotes | Italian red-figure vase C4th B.C.
Aphrodite and a flock of Erotes (Loves), Italian red-figure vase C4th B.C.


Aphrodite along with Zeus, Hera, Eileithyia and Hymenaios were the Theoi Gamelioi (Gods of Marriage) who presided over the wedding rites. She was invoked as the goddess of the consumation of marriage and the fertility of the bride.

Sappho, Fragment 194 (from Himerius, Orations) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I) (C6th B.C.) :
"[Aphrodite poetically presides over a wedding ceremony :] After the contests [mock contests of suitors] she goes into the bridal chamber, garlands the room and makes up the bed, then she (gathers) the girls into the bridal room and brings in Aphrodite herself on the Kharites' (Graces') chariot with her chorus of Erotes (Loves) to join in the fun. She binds Aphrodite's hair in hyacinth . . . she adorns the Erotes' wings and tresses with gold and urges them on in procession before the [bridal] chariot, waving their [wedding] torches in the air."

Aeschylus, Eumenides 213 ff (trans. Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"Then truly you [the Erinyes, who do not punish those who murder their spouses] dishonor and bring to nothing the pledges [of marriage] of Hera, the Fulfiller, and Zeus. Kypris [Aphrodite] too is cast aside . . . and from her come the dearest things for mortals. For marriage ordained by fate for a man and a woman is greater than an oath and guarded by Dike (Justice)."

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 862 ff :
"For each bride shall take the life of her lord, dyeing a two-edged sword in his blood--in such ways may Kypris [Aphrodite, goddess of marriage] come upon my enemies!"

Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 1030 ff :
"May pure Artemis look upon this band [of unwed maidens] in compassion, and may marriage never come through Kythereia's [Aphrodite] compulsion . . . Yet there is no disdain of Kypris [Aphrodite] in this our friendly hymn [to the gods of marriage]; for she, together with Hera, holds power nearest to Zeus, and for her solemn rites [of marriage] the goddess of varied wiles is held in honor. And in the train of their mother are Pothos (Desire) and she to whom nothing is denied, winning Peitho (Persuasion); and to Harmonia (Harmony) has been given a share of Aphrodite, and to the whispering touches of the Erotes (Loves)."

Orphic Hymn 55 to Aphrodite (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Aphrodite . . . Goddess of marriage."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 30. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Homer] represented Athena and Enyo as supreme in war, and Artemis feared in childbirth, and Aphrodite heeding the affairs of marriage."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 34. 11 :
"Among the honors paid her [Aphrodite] by the Hermionians is this custom: maidens, and widows about to remarry, all sacrifice to her before wedding."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 13. 9 :
"[In Sparta:] A mother is wont to sacrifice to the goddess [Aphrodite surnamed Hera] when a daughter is married."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 15. 10 :
"[In Sparta is an image of Aphrodite] 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."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 13. 7 :
"[There is] an image of Aphrodite in Temnos [in Elis] . . . It is a tradition among us that it was dedicated by Pelops when he was propitiating the goddess and asking for Hippodameia to be his bride."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 38. 12 :
"In a cave [in Naupaktos] Aphrodite is worshipped, to whom prayers are offered for various reasons, and especially by widows who ask the goddess to grant them marriage."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 9. 795 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Venus [Aphrodite], Juno [Hera] and Hymenaeus [god of the marriage hymn] joined to bless the wedding rite; their love was sanctified, and Iphis gained Ianthe, groom and bride."

Seneca, Medea 56 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"[A wedding hymn or epithalamium:] May the high gods who rule over heaven, and thy who rule the sea, with gracious divinity attend on our princes' marriage, amid the people's solemn applause. First to the sceptre-bearing Thunderers [Zeus and Hera] let the bull with white-shining hide offer his high-raised neck. Lucina [Eileithyia or Hera] let a heifer appease, snow-white, untouched by the yoke; and let her [Aphrodite] who restrains the bloody hands of rough Mars [Ares], who brings peace to warring nations and holds plenty in her rich horn, mild goddess, be given a tender victim. And do thou [Hymenaeus], who the torches of lawful marriage attendest, dissipating the night with propitious hand, hither come, reeling with drunken footstep, binding thy temples with garlands of roses. And thou star [Hesperos, the star of Aphrodite], forerunner of twilight, who returnest ever slowly for lovers--thee, mothers, thee, brides eagerly await, to see the full soon thy bright beams scattering."

Colluthus, Rape of Helen 15 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poetry C5th to 6th A.D.) :
"Aphrodite, queen of the bridal bower."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 333 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Kypris [Aphrodite] together with the Erotes (Loves) decked out a fine bed for the wedding, hanging in the bridal chamber golden fruit [apples] from the Nymphai's garden, a worthy lovegift for the bride."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 33. 4 ff :
"[Aphrodite to Eros :] ‘Honour my bridesmaid bird of love [the dove] and yours, the herald of lifelong wedding and happy hearts!’"


Peitho and Aphrodite | Apulian red-figure krater C4th B.C. | Dallas Museum of Art
Peitho (Persuasion) and Aphrodite, Apulian red-figure krater C4th B.C., Dallas Museum of Art

See also Goddess of Love & Sex (section above)

The name of Aphrodite was often used as a metaphor for sexual union.

Hesiod, Theogony 979 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Kallirrhoe was joined in the love of rich Aphrodite with stout hearted Khrysaor."

Hesiod, Theogony 1011 ff :
"She [Kirke] brought forth Telegonos by the will of golden Aphrodite."

Hesiod, Theogony 820 ff :
"Huge Gaia (Earth) bare her youngest child Typhoeus of the love of Tartaros [the pit], by the aid of golden Aphrodite."

Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 12 (from Eustathius) :
"Polykaste . . . was joined in love with Telemakhos through golden Aphrodite."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 48 ff :
"And all night long he lay with his modest wife, delighting in the gifts of golden Aphrodite."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 33. 34 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[Aphrodite] O mother of the Erotes (Loves)! O sower of life in the everlasting universe!."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 41. 155 ff :
"Kythereia [Aphrodite] the pilot of human life."

Suidas s.v. Genetyllis (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Genetyllis : A spirit [of genitals] associated with Aphrodite, responsible for procreation, taking its name from the procreation (genesis) of children. The name is created from genesis."

For MYTHS of Aphrodite as the driver of sexual procreation see
APHRODITE MYTHS 3 (works with Eros to inspire love in gods & men)


Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite 1 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"Golden Aphrodite Kypria, who stirs up sweet passion in the gods and subdues the tribes of mortal men and birds that fly in air and all the many creatures that the dry land rears, and all the sea: all these love the deeds of rich-crowned Kythereia."

Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite 68 ff :
"She [Aphrodite] came to many-fountained Ida, the mother of wild creatures . . . After her came grey wolves, fawning on her, and grim-eyed lions, and bears, and fleet leopards, ravenous for deer: and she was glad in heart to see them, and put desire in their breasts, so that they all mated, two together, about the shadowy coombes."

Aeschylus, Fragment 25 Danaides (from Athenaeus, Deipnosophists xiii. 73. 600B) (trans. Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"The holy Heaven (ouranos) yearns to wound the Earth (khthon) [i.e. Gaia], and yearning layeth hold on the earth to join in wedlock; the rain, fallen from the amorous heaven, impregnates the earth, and it bringeth forth for mankind the food of flocks and herds and Demeter's gifts; and from that moist marriage-rite the woods put on their bloom. Of all these things I [Aphrodite, goddess of procreation] am the cause."

Orphic Hymn 55 to Aphrodite (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"To Aphrodite . . . 'Tis thine the world with harmony to join, for all things spring from thee, O power divine . . . all productions yield alike to thee: whatever the heavens, encircling all, contain [that is, the birds], earth fruit-producing [animals], and the stormy main [fish], thy sway confesses, and obeys thy nod."

Orphic Hymn 58 to Eros :
"Eros (Love) . . . keeper of the keys of heaven and earth, the air [birds], and spreading seas [fish]; of all that earth's fertile realms contains [animals], by which the all parent Goddess [Aphrodite] life sustains, or dismal Tartaros is doomed to keep, widely extended, or the sounding deep; for thee all nature's various realms obey, who rulest alone, with universal sway."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 6 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"The hare possesses the gift of Aphrodite [fertility] to an unusual degree. At any rate it is said of the female that while she suckles the young she has borne, she bears another litter to share the same milk; forthwith she conceives again, nor is there any time at all when she is not carrying young."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 33. 34 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[Aphrodite] O mother of the Erotes (Loves)! O sower of life in the everlasting universe!"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 41. 155 ff :
"Kythereia [Aphrodite], root of life, seedsowing of being, midwife of nature, hope of the whole universe, at the bidding of your will the unbending Moirai (Fates) do spin their complicated threads!"


Pindar, Eulogies Fragment 122 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Guest-loving girls [courtesans and prostitutes]! Servants of Peitho (Suasion) in wealthy Korinthos! Ye that burn the golden tears of fresh frankincense, full often soaring upward in your souls unto Aphrodite."

Strabo, Geography 8. 6. 20 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The temple of Aphrodite [in Korinthos (Corinth)] was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple slaves, prostitutes, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with people."

Strabo, Geography 12. 4. 36 :
"[In] Korinthos (Corinth), there, on account of the multitude of prostitutes, who were sacred to Aphrodite, outsiders resorted in great numbers and kept holiday."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 220 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The obscene Propoetides [of Kypros] 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."

For MYTHS of Aphrodite as the goddess of prostitution see
Aphrodite Wrath: the Propoitides (curses them to become the first prostitutes)


Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite 188 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"[Ankhises addresses Aphrodite :] ‘Yet by Zeus who holds the aegis I beseech you, leave me not to lead a palsied life among men, but have pity on me; for he who lies with a deathless goddess is no hale man afterwards.’"

Herodotus, Histories 1. 105 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"The Skythians [barbarian army C7th B.C.] who pillaged the temple [of Aphrodite-Ashtarte in Syria], and all their descendants after them, were afflicted by the goddess with the ‘female’ sickness (enares) [i.e. loss of virility]: and so the Skythians say that they are afflicted as a consequence of this and also that those who visit Skythian territory see among them the condition of those whom the Skythians call ‘Hermaphrodites’." [N.B. N.B. Men made permanently impotent by disease were called "hermaphrodites" by the Greeks, the same term used to describe individuals with both male and female genitalia.]

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 2. 69b-d (trans. Gullick) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Kallimakhos [grammarian C3rd B.C.], too, says that Aphrodite hid Adonis in a lettuce-bed, since the poets mean by this allegory that constant eating of lettuce produces impotence. So also Euboulos, in the Defectives, says : ‘Don't put lettuce on the table before me, wife, or you will have only yourself to blame. For in that plant, the story goes, Kypris [Aphrodite], once laid out Adonis when he died; therefore it is dead men's food.’"

For MYTHS of Aphrodite as the goddess of impotence see:
(1) Aphrodite Favour: Hermaphroditos (bathing in his spring causes impotent)
(2) Aphrodite Favour: Ladike (cures a husband of impotence)


Aphrodite holding mirror | Paestan red-figure calyx krater C4th B.C. | Musée du Louvre, Paris
Aphrodite holding mirror, Paestan red-figure calyx krater C4th B.C., Musée du Louvre


Hesiod, Works and Days 60 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Golden Aphrodite shed grace upon her [Pandora's] head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs."


Homer, Iliad 19. 282 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Briseis, in the likeness of golden (khrysee) Aphrodite [in beauty]."

Homer, Iliad 24. 699 ff :
"Kassandra a girl like Aphrodite the golden (khrysee)."

Homer, Odyssey 4. 14 (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Helene once had borne Hermione, a girl as lovely as golden (khrysee) Aphrodite."

Homer, Odyssey 17. 37 & 19. 54 (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Penelope came from her room, looking like Artemis or golden (khrysee) Aphrodite."

Hesiod, The Shield of Heracles 6 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Her [Alkmene's] face and her dark eyes wafted such charm as comes from golden Aphrodite."

For MYTHS of Aphrodite goddess of beauty see Aphrodite in the Fables of Aesop


Aphrodite's attendants in Athenian vase painting indicate her role as the goddess of parties and merriment: Paidia (Play), Eudaimonia (Happiness), Pandaisia (Banquets), Pannyakhis (Parties & Night Revels), and Antheia (Floral Decoration).

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 1. 28f (trans. Gullick) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Antiphanes: There is at hand a good relish, very inviting, and Thasian wine and ointment and fillets. For Kypris [Aphrodite] dwells where plenty is, but among those who are hard up Aphrodite will not stay."

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 2. 36d :
"Panyasis, the epic poet, ascribes the first toast [of wine from a large Greek drinking cup] to the Kharites (Graces), the Horai (Seasons), and Dionysos, the second to Aphrodite and Dionysos again, the third, however, to Hybris (Violence) and Ate (Ruin). He says : ‘The first portion fell to the lot of the Kharites and the merry Horai, and to noisy Dionysos, the very gods who inspired the first round [of drinking]. For the next following Kyprogeneia [Aphrodite] and Dionysos drew the lot. Here men great the greatest good from drinking wine. If a man, content with that, goes back home from the still pleasant feast, he can never meet with nay harm.’"


Aphrodite presided over love poetry and songs along with Apollon and the Mousa Erato.

Callimachus, Fragment 116 (from Hephaestion 15. 17) (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Apollon, too, is in the choir; I hear the lyre; I note the presence of the Erotes (Loves); Aphrodite, too, is here."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 7 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"Hermes contributed to it [the first Phthian Games], like Aphrodite; she won and accepted as prize a zither which she gave later as a gift to Alexandros [Paris]."

For a MYTH of Aphrodite the musician see Aphrodite & the Pythian Games


As the goddess who restrained the hand of Ares, god of war, Aphrodite was represented as a goddess of peace.

Orphic Hymn 65 to Ares (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Magnanimous, unconquered, boisterous Ares . . . Stay furious contests, and avenging strife, whose works with woe embitter human life; to lovely Kypris [Aphrodite] and to Lyaios [Dionysos] yield, for arms exchange the labours of the field; encourage peace, to gentle works inclined, and give abundance, with benignant mind."

Seneca, Medea 62 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"Her [Aphrodite] who restrains the bloody hands of rough Mars [Ares], who brings peace to warring nations and holds plenty in her rich horn, mild goddess."


The ancestral gods of a state were those which were traditionally honoured before all others. Aphrodite was worshipped in this capacity by a number of ancient city states. In times of war these ancestral gods were called upon to come to the defence of the nation.

In the following passage from Aishkylos, the Theban women invoke Aphrodite, along with Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Ares, Artemis, Apollon and Hera, as their ancestral gods.

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 87 ff (trans. Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"[The Theban women invoke all of their ancestral gods, including Artemis, when the hostile army of the Seven Against Thebes approaches their gates:] Ah, ah, you gods (theoi) and goddesses (theai), raise your war cry over our walls to drive away the onrushing evil! . . . You too, Ares--pity us!--guard the city named for Kadmos and make evident your closeness to us! And Kypris [Aphrodite], you who are the first mother of our race, defend us who are sprung from your blood. We come to you, crying out in prayers for your divine ears. . . All-powerful divinities, you gods and goddesses who wield the power to guard the towers of our land, do not betray our city that now toils under the spear to an alien-tongued army. Hear us, hear, as is right, the prayers we maidens offer with outstretched hands."


Aphrodite-Venus as Friday | Greco-Roman mosaic from Orbe C3rd A.D. | Roman Villa of Orbe-Boscéaz
Aphrodite-Venus as Friday, Greco-Roman mosaic from Orbe C3rd A.D., Roman Villa of Orbe-Boscéaz

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 4 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Planets. It remains for us to speak of the five stars which many have called wandering, and which the Greeks call Planeta . . . The fourth star is that of Venus [Aphrodite], Lucifer by name. Some say it is Juno's [Hera's]. In many tales it is recorded that it is called Hesperus, too. It seems to be the largest of all stars. Some have said it represents the son of Aurora [Eos] and Cephalus, who surpassed many in beauty, so that he even vied with Venus [Aphrodite], and, as Eratosthenes [Greek writer C3rd B.C.] says, for this reason it is called the star of Venus. It is visible both at dawn and sunset, and so properly has been called both Lucifer [Eosphoros] and Hesperus . . .
Euhemerus [Greek mythographer C4th B.C.] says that Venus [Aphrodite] first established the constellations and taught Mercurius [Hermes]."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 42 :
"The third star is that of Mars [Ares], though others say it belongs to Hercules . . . Since she [Aphrodite] inflamed him violently with love, she called the star Pyroeis (the fiery), indicating this fact."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 41. 339 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"The seven planets . . . the third has your [Aphrodite's] name [the planet Venus]."

Suidas s.v. Astarte (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Astarte: The one called Aphrodite by the Greeks, who took the name from the planet. They tell in myth that the morning star (Eosphoros) [the planet Venus] is hers."


Aphrodite was identified with the Assyrian goddess Ashtarte and the Roman goddess Venus, amongst others.


Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 547 ff (trans. Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"And through the land of Asia she gallops, straight through . . . the land of Aphrodite [i.e. Syria, the land of Astarte] that teems with wheat."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 14. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Aphrodite Ourania (Heavenly) : the first men to establish her cult were the Assyrians, after the Assyrians the Paphians of Kypros and the Phoinikians who live at Askalon in Palestine; the Phoinikians taught her worship to the people of Kythera [an island off the coast of Lakonia in Greece]."

Herodotus, Histories 1. 105 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"When they [barbarian army of the Skythians C7th B.C.] came on their way to the city of Askalon in Syria, most of the Skythians passed by and did no harm, but a few remained behind and plundered the temple of Aphrodite Ourania (Heavenly). This temple, I discover from making inquiry, is the oldest of all the temples of the goddess, for the temple in Kypros was founded from it, as the Kyprians themselves say; and the temple on Kythera was founded by Phoinikians from this same land of Syria. But the Skythians who pillaged the temple, and all their descendants after them, were afflicted by the goddess with the ‘female’ sickness [i.e. impotency] : and so the Skythians say that they are afflicted as a consequence of this."

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 3. 101f (trans. Gullick) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"King Antigonos [general of Alexandros the Great C4th B.C.] celebrated the Aphrodisia (Festival of Aphrodite) [probably that of Ashtarte in Syria]."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 197 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Into the Euphrates River an egg of wonderful size is said to have fallen, which the fish rolled to the bank. Doves sat on it, and when it was heated, it hatched out Venus [Aphrodite], who was later called the Syrian goddess."

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 21-23 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"[One form of Aphrodite] we [the Greeks and Romans] obtained from Syria and Cyprus, and is called Astarte; it is recorded that she married Adonis."

Suidas s.v. Astarte (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Astarte : The one called Aphrodite by the Greeks, who took the name from the planet. They tell in myth that the morning star (Eosphoros) [the planet Venus] is hers."


Herodotus, Histories 1. 131 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"They [the Persians] learned later to sacrifice to Aphrodite Ourania (Heavenly) from the Assyrians and Arabians. She is called by the Assyrians Mylitta, by the Arabians Alilat, by the Persians Mitra."

Herodotus, Histories 1. 199 :
"The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger once in her life . . . most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite [Mylitta] . . . Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, ‘I invite you in the name of Mylitta’ (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite)."

Herodotus, Histories 3. 8 :
"They [the Arabians] believe in no other gods except Dionysos and Aphrodite Ourania (Heavenly) . . . They call Dionysos, Orotalt; and Aphrodite, Alilat."


Herodotus, Histories 2. 41 :
"There are many other towns on Prosopitis; the one from which the boats come to gather the bones of the bulls is called Atarbekhis [probably named after Athor-Hathor]; a temple of Aphrodite [i.e. the Egyptian goddess Hathor] stands in it of great sanctity."


Herodotus, Histories 4. 59 :
"The only gods whom they [the Skythians] propitiate are these . . . and Aphrodite Ourania ( Heavenly) . . .  In the Skythian tongue Aphrodite Ourania is called Argimpasa."

Herodotus, Histories 4. 67 :
"The Enarees [priests of the Skythians], who are hermaphrodites [meaning men left impotent by sickness], say that Aphrodite [the Skythian goddess Argimpasa] gave them the art of divination."


Venus was fully equated with the Greek Aphrodite in Latin literature. Only her Roman cult remained distinctive.

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 2. 27 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"Venus was so named by our countrymen as the goddess who ‘comes’ (venire) to all things; her name is not derived from the word venustas (beauty) but rather venustas from it."






A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.