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        Aphrodite is one of the most famous figures of Greek mythology. Because

Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sexual rapture,1 she was desired by

nearly all of the Greek gods. Aphrodite was one of the twelve main gods on Mt.

Olympus,2 and she was the most powerful goddess when it came to members of the

opposite sex.


        There are many origins to Aphrodite's birth. Some of them are:

1) She arose full-grown out of the foam of the sea,

2) She is the daughter of Zeus and Dionne,

3) She is the daughter of Uranus and Gaia, which would make her a Titaness, or

4) She is the daughter of Titans Oceanus and Tethys, making her an Oceanid.3

        The most common origin of her birth is her being foam-born, which is what her

name means. This origin says that Aphrodite arose nude and full-grown out of the foam

of the sea and riding into the shore of Cythera on a scallop shell. She found Cythera to be

too small of an island, so she went to live in Paphos, in Cyprus, which is still the principal

seat of her worship.4


        Although Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, she had a magic girdle

that she wore that made everyone fall in love with her. She could hardly ever be

persuaded to lend it to anyone. Since Aphrodite had the magic girdle and was so

beautiful, all of the gods fell in love with her.        

        All of the goddesses were jealous of Aphrodite because all of the gods loved her

instead of the other goddesses. Because of this, Zeus arranged a marriage for her with

Hephaestus, the lame smith-god.5 Aphrodite didn't really mind this marriage arrangement,

though, because she thought Hephaestus would never notice her having marital affairs.6

        Hephaestus knew nothing of deception until, one night, he caught his wife and

Ares, the god of war, making love at Ares' home. Hephaestus went back to his home very


Hephaestus was so angry that he decided to get revenge on Aphrodite by literally catching

the while they were making love. He got out a bronze hunting-net and attached to the

posts and sides of the bed. He told Aphrodite that he was to a short holiday trip to

Lemnos. Aphrodite did not offer to go with him. When Hephaestus left, she sent

hurriedly for Ares and the two immediately went to sleep together. When they went to

bed, they got tangled in the net.8

        At dawn, Hephaestus returned from his trip. He summoned all of the gods

together so they could see what Aphrodite and Ares did. Hephaestus thought that, by

Zeus seeing how Aphrodite deceived him, Zeus would return all of the marriage gifts.

Instead, Zeus told Hephaestus that this should handled by him and Aphrodite instead of

being made a public affair, therefore Zeus did not return the marriage gifts.9



        After Aphrodite had been publicly humiliated, she returned to Paphos and renewed

her virginity to the sea. Soon afterwards, Hermes confessed his love for her, and she slept

with him. She eventually bore a double-sexed child name Hermaphroditus.


        Poseidon, like Hermes, also confessed his love for her, and she bore him two sons

named Rhodus and Herophilus. Later Aphrodite also slept with Dionysus in which she

bore a deformed son by him. The deformity was caused by Hera; she did this in

disapproval of Aphrodite's permiscuity.10


        Later, Zeus wanted to humiliate Aphrodite by making her fall in love with a mortal

named Anchises. He was a handsome man, and he was the King of the Dardanians. One

night Aphrodite visited him without him knowing who she was. When they Parted at

dawn, she revealed her identity and told him not to tell anyone that they had slept


        Anchises was terrified when he learned that he had uncovered the nakedness of a

goddess, and he begged her to kill him. She told him that he had nothing to worry about

and that their son would become famous.11

        A few days later, Anchises was drinking with one of his friends. His friend asked,

"Would you rather sleep with the daughter of so-and-so than with Aphrodite herself?"12

Anchises' reply was, "No, having slept with both of them, I find the question inept."13

        Zeus overheard Anchises boasting, so he threw a thunderbolt at him that would

have killed him immediately, but Aphrodite put her magic girdle in front of him, so the bolt

dropped down at his feet. The shock of the bolt was so strong though, he could never

walk upright again. Aphrodite, soon after bearing his son, lost all interest in Anchises.


        One day, the wife of King Cinyrus was foolishly boasting that her daughter Smyrna

was more beautiful than Aphrodite. She heard this insult and got revenge by Smyrna fall

in love with her father and sleep with him. Smyrna got pregnant, and the baby she was

carrying was actually the King's son and his grandson. When the King learned this, he

chased his daughter out of the palace with a sword. Aphrodite saw this and, before he

could do anything, changed her into a tree. When he swung the sword at her, the sword

broke in half, and the infant Adonis came tumbling out.14

        Aphrodite, already regretting the trouble she had caused, took Adonis, and put him

in a chest. She gave the chest to Persephone, asking her to hide it in a dark place.

Persephone couldn't stand not knowing what was inside the chest, so she opened the chest

and found Adonis.15

        Persephone found Adonis to be a very cute baby, so she took hi into her own

palace to raise him. Aphrodite did not find out about this until Adonis was a grown man.

When she did find out about this though, she immediately went to Persephone's palace to

claim Adonis. Persephone would not give him back to Aphrodite though, because she had

made him her lover. Persephone appealed to Zeus, but Zeus knew that Aphrodite wanted

to have him as her own lover. He refused to settle this case and transferred it to a lower


The court's verdict was that Persephone and Aphrodite should get equal claims to Adonis,

since Aphrodite arranged his birth and Persephone rescued him from the chest. They also

decided that Adonis should get some time to without these goddesses in his life, so they

divided a year up into three equal parts:

1) Four months with Persephone

2) Four months with Aphrodite

3) Four months to be with whomever he wanted to be with.17

        Although this is what the court ruled, Aphrodite wore her magic girdle and

persuaded Adonis to let her not only her time with him, and she persuaded him to let her

have his time to himself to be with him.18

        Persephone did not agree with this at all. She went to Ares and told him how

angry she was. Ares got jealous of Persephone's true love for Adonis, so he disguised him

self as a wild boar and killed Adonis right in front of Aphrodite.

        Aphrodite had two children. She had a son, Golgas, who was the founder of the

Cyprian Golgi. She also had a daughter, Beroe, who was the founder of Beroea in

Thrace. Some also say that, instead of Dionysus, Adonis was the father of her son



        There is a myth called the Judgement of Paris that has to do with Paris, the son of

Priam and Hecuba, having to judge who is the fairest goddess.         

        This myth starts off at a wedding. Eris threw out a golden apple into the midst of

the female crowd that was inscripted "For the Fairest". There was a quarrel between

Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. Each of the goddesses were claiming that they should get

the apple because they thought themselves to be the fairest. After arguing endlessly, they

eventually agreed to make Paris the settler of their dispute.20

        All three of the goddesses offered Paris bribes. Aphrodite offered him lust. Hera

and Athena offered him kingship and victory in war. Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite

and rejected the other goddesses.        


        Hephaestus was an unattractive Smith-god that was married to Aphrodite.

Hephaestus was the only god who worked or suffered from a physical disability.

Although he was ugly and deformed, Hephaestus was a kind, peace-loving god and he was

popular on Mt. Olympus.

        Hephaestus was a muscular man with a thick neck with a hairy chest. He had a

shortened leg and a club foot, and both of his feet facing backwards. Because his legs

were like this, he had to use a crutch to support himself. He had a beard, and he usually

dressed in a ragged sleeveless tunic and a wool hat.21

        There is a myth that says Hephaestus was so weakly at birth that his mother, Hera,

dropped him from the top of Mt. Olympus to rid herself of the embarrassment of an ugly

child. He survived this, though, because he fell into the sea and Thetis and Eurynome

saved him. These goddesses took them into their care and he thanked them by making

them all kinds of ornamental and useful items.

        After about nine years, Hera met Thetis who was wearing a jewel that Hephaestus

made. Hera asked her where she found the jewel. Thetis hesitated, but Hera forced the

truth out of her.

        When Hera found out that she got the jewel from Hephaestus, she immediately

brought him back to Olympus where he could put his talent to a better use. Hera made

him work day and night and she made something of him.22

        When Hephaestus moved back to Olympus, he was reconciled with Hera. When

Hera rebelled against Zeus, Hephaestus reproached Zeus for hanging her from the wrists

from heaven. He should have kept silent though, because Zeus just became angry and

threw him from Mt. Olympus for a second time. It took a whole day to fall. He landed on

the island of Lemnos and broke both of his legs. When he went back to Olympus, he

could only walk with help of golden-leg supports.23

        Hephaestus was an ill-tempered, ugly god, but he had immense power in his arms

and shoulders. One time, he made a set of golden mechanical women to help him in his

work. The women could talk and complete very difficult tasks. He also made a set of

three-legged tables with golden wheels that could run by themselves.24

        Hephaestus' twenty-three three legged tables have much of the same origin

as Gasterocheires who built the Tiryns. The origin of the three-legged tables is that they

represent the three-season years, and they denote the length of his reign was twenty years



        According to most myths, the reason Hephaestus and Aphrodite were married is

because Hephaestus asked Zeus for her as a reward for reconciling his parents. Aphrodite

didn't refuse.

        Some people think this marraige is appropriate because it is a union of inner and

outer beauty. But many people do not agree because they have nothing in common--her

sensual beauty differs from his ugliness; her playful spirit contrasted with his steady,

serious temperament; her unfaithfulness and irresponsibility, and his workmanship ethics.

        Although these two were so different, Hephaestus loved Aphrodite. She didn't

exactly feel the same way about him though. Instead, she had frequent affairs with many

different Gods.        

        In one particular affair that Aphrodite had with Ares, Hephaestus set up a trap that

caught them while they were making love. Hephaestus summoned all the gods together,

in hope that he make Aphrodite the laughing stock of Olympus. His plan backfired on him

though, actually revealing himself as someone who was attempting to retain the love and

devotion from his wife.25

        Now that Hephaestus had embarrassed himself in front of all of the gods,

Hephaestus became unhappy in his marriage to Aphrodite. He lost all interest in her and

turned his attention to Athena who, like Aphrodite, was not in love with him. Hephaestus

fell in love with Athena when she came to him for a spear. When he tried to initiate

intercourse, she rejected him.26


        Both Hephaestus and Aphrodite are powerful and popular figures of Greek

mythology. They did many great, and maybe not so great, things during their lifetimes

that are still remembered today. They were both main gods on Mt. Olympus. They may

have not had many great times with each other according to myth, but they were still

significant gods who had great lives. Many people use both of these gods to relate to

things today, and they will be remembered for years and years to come. Their characters

in Greek mythology are very significant and they will not be forgotten anytime soon.
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